Can people arrive at a common set of morality and ethics using only logic and reason?

Nov 2018
13
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Reason is limited in normative ethics. Regardless, I don't think morality is something that comes out of some people sharing some common beliefs. In that sense, it'd be subject-given, or subjectivist, and based on their personal whims and desires. Morals actually are object-given, in a way that some objects are worth achieving on their own intrinsically. The purpose of moral discourse is to come to understanding of the metaphysics so we can establish an objective groundwork for ethics, that's based on simple object-given axioms. And from there-on, we can arrive at institutions like law that are based on historical conceptual growth through dialectics. But it all starts from an objective framework, independent of subjective thought.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,574
Las Vegas, NV USA
In the Old West of the US stealing horses was a hanging offense. Shooting someone wasn't unless he was unarmed and no man between the ages of 15 and 55 went around without his gun. Gunfights were common and few men lived past 50. At least that's the version of morality in the Old West that I read about when I was in Europe. In Wyoming Territory so many men were killed that they had to give women the vote; the first jurisdiction in the US to do so. :rolleyes:
 
Last edited:
Sep 2019
23
Georgia, US
I think one can start with the principle of self-ownership. One owns his own body. From there, you can deduce that he owns, or is responsible for his words and his actions; and hence his
toil and the fruits of his toil. You arrive at the idea that there is a property ethic, and one has the right to defend one's self and one's property (because one has the ability to reason- with a conscience) when one feels violated. We have a natural instinct to care and protect our offspring, but we also mourn and have the ability to empathize the loss of others we are connected to or, even, those we do not even know. These form the basis of our morality. We manifest these natural instincts and principles into an ethical code of conduct- or laws- by our ability to reason.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,832
In the Old West of the US stealing horses was a hanging offense. Shooting someone wasn't unless he was unarmed and no man between the ages of 15 and 55 went around without his gun. Gunfights were common and few men lived past 50. At least that's the version of morality in the Old West that I read about when I was in Europe. In Wyoming Territory so many men were killed that they had to give women the vote; the first jurisdiction in the US to do so. :rolleyes:
Allowing women to vote in the remoter parts of the US was considerably simplified by there just not being that many about.

The 19th c. US as an immigrant country always had a lopsided demographic, with more men coming in than women. As a consequence Europeans marveled at the sheer amount of freedom and free-spiritedness of US women compared to their own.
 
Jun 2016
1,863
England, 200 yards from Wales
I think one can start with the principle of self-ownership. One owns his own body. From there, you can deduce that he owns, or is responsible for his words and his actions; and hence his
toil and the fruits of his toil. You arrive at the idea that there is a property ethic, and one has the right to defend one's self and one's property (because one has the ability to reason- with a conscience) when one feels violated. We have a natural instinct to care and protect our offspring, but we also mourn and have the ability to empathize the loss of others we are connected to or, even, those we do not even know. These form the basis of our morality. We manifest these natural instincts and principles into an ethical code of conduct- or laws- by our ability to reason.
To me the first, basic, part of that seems to treat humans as isolated individuals, the only relationship with others being defence, and some empathy in extreme situations.
I am not sure about any ethical position starting from the indiovidual, for one thing that's unrealistic, ever since people have evolved enough to think about such things they have lived in groups/societies (whether a gathering/scavenging troop on the savanna, or any other of the myriad societies developed since}. In such structures the 'this is mine' aspect is not so uncomplicaed, in producing what is mine I have also benefitted from being part of that group, whether in protection from enemies, or learning or help in doing things. So from the beginning it must involve also relationships with others.
Also, personally, I don't really see that ethical issues arise at all except in interaction with others. Could an individual alone on an island really do anything unethical?
 
May 2018
134
Houston, TX
My personal view of this has been helped greatly by re-reading the first 2 or 3 chapters of C.S. Lewis' book called "Mere Christianity''. He refers to the subject of this thread as 'The Law of Human Nature'.

Way before he gets to the subject of God or Christianity, he points out: "These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."

Don't worry about where Lewis is leading the discussion, just see if you can agree with his first couple of chapters on Moral Law.

https://www.dacc.edu/assets/pdfs/PCM/merechristianitylewis.pdf
 
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Sep 2019
23
Georgia, US
I’m not sure how you read into what I wrote that individuals don’t benefit from living in groups. Or, how you read that defense and empathy in extreme situations is the only time that individuals have these qualities. These are natural abilities humans have. Also, even as individuals live within a groups, they’re still individuals that perform individual tasks. With those individuals tasks, they have the fruits of those tasks- like shelter making. Obviously, if one builds shelter for his family within a group, another individual taking the fruits of that labor will make the owner of laborer feel violated. That’s human nature.