Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Morals are not the same as Ethics

This is an important distinction where law making is concerned.

Currently in New Zealand there is a not very new but freshly hot *discussion* in play regarding abortion law. To cut a long story short; a quite left winged party has a policy to change the laws regarding abortion, to legalise and extend the rules applying to abortion. And we have an election soon. Dynamite + flame = BOOM. 

Here's something I wrote a while back - LINK - that isn't technically about abortion but about choice and how religious doctrine is not the boss of me. I'm putting this here to save me having to reiterate the basic idea that your belief set is NOT THE SAME as mine; and until you can actually prove that I'm wrong, or at least have an open discussion about it, rather than just shouting your beliefs at me I don't much care what your opinion is.

What I want to discuss now is the difference between morals and ethics in this situation. People love to tell me what is morally correct - usually while telling me that I'm not. Morally correct is however a subjective interpretation of what is right - a moral set comes side by side with a belief set and the two are usually intertwined. For what it's worth - the first person to suggest that I have no beliefs because I identify as an Agnostic is likely to get a metaphorical smack; call that fair warning.  The first person to suggest that my morals are worth less because I don't believe in any deity can expect to hear the following, only with my caps lock on... I don't need a god figure to tell me whats right or wrong - I make my own decision based on fairness and decency and without the threat of eternal damnation. If you think this makes my morals worth less than yours you probably need to examine the concept more closely.

Morals are often arrived at by attachment to the belief set of a larger group, but they are arrived at by an individual based on those beliefs and can vary quite wildly both from group to group AND within a group. 

Ethics look at a situation from the perspective of the group definition of right. Ethics are reached by consensus and while they may mirror the morals of many they will sometimes be contrary to the morals & beliefs of even quite large groups. Ethics take the group consensus and turn it into a guideline for behaviour. The law takes ethical decisions and turns them into a rule set for common behaviour practices. The judicial system sets a system of punishments for the infringement of that rule set. There is no judicial or legal system in place for the transgression of a moral choice that is not also a transgression of an ethical choice. To put that more plainly, or at least differently. You will not be punished under civil law for a moral transgression UNLESS that transgression is also a breach of ethics. All the politicians would be in prison if you were. *Zing*. Your immortal soul is your own problem.  

The argument over abortion is currently mainly in the sphere of morals, as individuals argue over what they feel to be right. The decision on what is legally right is quite another story. While the moral opinion of the population at large should certainly be considered,  it is the facts of the case that will decide the ethics for the most part. 

So each and every one of you; if you want to be taken seriously in this debate there are several things you need to understand...

  • The only thing you gain from the hurling of abuse at your opposites is the disdain of every sane voice.
  • Saying 'I disagree' without following up with how, why and what could be changed to fix this is utterly without value. This is a debate not a poll of opinion.
  • Stating an opinion as a fact is stupid. Backing up your opinion with facts is awesome.
  • Facts you learned by googling and taking the first answer that agreed with you is not the same as backing your opinion up with facts. Though they may bear a close resemblance. Research is not a filthy word.
  • Moist is a filthy word.
  • Personal abuse is utterly unacceptable as a means of validating your argument. I'm fat, what's your point?
  • If you call someone stupid merely because you disagree with them, you are saying far more about yourself than you are about them.
  • I may be harping on about not being a dick - but have you READ some of the comments on these debates? 
  • I will have far more respect for reasoned argument from someone I disagree with than for a throw away comment from someone I do agree with.
  • Debate is GOOD; better ethical decisions are made the more members of the group affected by the decision talk about it.
  • Trying to shut people out of the discussion because you don't think their opinion counts is a DICK MOVE. Yes, I know a lot of women feel that men shouldn't get any kind of a vote here BUT men are also half of the conception equation. What weight different opinions carry is in the end up to those who actually get to decide the matter. 
  • Be willing to THINK about what your opposites are saying; if we dismiss everything we disagree with we will never reach any kind of consensus. We will only reach a bloody minded decision based on one set of ideals.
This decision is far to important to not take seriously; make your voice heard but don't forget that everyone else's voice gets to be heard too. Dickishness not withstanding. 

Peace. Out.

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