onsdag 13 januari 2010

Ethics vs. Morality

Dear Dino
Haven't you read Jürgen Habermas?
i don't believe any serious philosopher or sociologist deals with these terms any longer without having Habermas' distinctions of ethics (right vs wrong) and morality (good vs evil) in mind. His whole oeuvre on communicative ethics is based on these firm distinctions.
Distinctions are futhermore not decided by democratic vote, but rather through practice through force. They depend on who uses the terms and in what context. Here it helps no one to confuse ethics and morality with each other. It is as meaningless as confusing "truth" with "faith" (which unfortunately millions and millions of people do every day to no use whatsoever). And we still have remind people that truth and faith are not the same thing, tirelessly, don't we?
Because it serves a noble purpose. And we use our accumulated force to do so.

2010/1/13 Special Kain

Dear friends

I know, I know, I know. We have been through this a million times already, but I have studied several sources on the distinction between ethics and morality, and it seems that the distinction that we (or some of us) favor can't be assumed to be generally known. It seems that it's a Deleuzian-Spinozist distinction. So I always get the same distinction: that both ethics and morality deal with our customs, but ethics is also concerned with studying our customs and motivations formally, borrowing heavily from sociology, psychology, economics etc.

Both ethics and morality deal with our value judgments and how they affect our behavior and habits. So let me please propose the following (based on our previous discussions and arguments):

Morality ("mores", Latin) deals with the prevailing customs in one or another community - for reasons of tradition and conformity. Just think of polite manners or someone's outraged outcry about transvestites: "They simply can't do this! It's disgusting! Why would he dress like a woman? I mean, he's a man!" In this sense morality is theological, since it's about authorities and the strict rules they're imposing. It's looking back at the past: it has always been this way, it's traditional, our dear spooky father figure has told our ancestors so. Binary code: good/evil. It's about other people and their expectations, other people's eyes are our cage.

Ethics ("ethos", Greek) is quite similar, but philosophical rather than theological, because it's based on our knowledge about causes and their effects. Ethics is to reflect on morality and the moralistic conduct of life, but it's also about one's character and attitude in life. While morality is telling us how to act in different situations, ethics starts with the question of how we want to greet the new day - for example, if we want to start separating out our garbage and using energy economically. It's looking forwards to the future: to make wise choices and smart decisions, to see that our choices determine who we are going to be. Binary codes: constructive/destructive, right/wrong. It's about who we are to ourselves and what decisions have to be made in order to become who we'd like to be.

My two cents,
Dino // hopes that Alexander won't get too mad ;-)

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