Click Map for Details

Flag Counter

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Nasty Part of Ethics

I once had a law professor state that if you are not sure of the statutes pertaining to a given situation, then follow the Golden Rule.  That will protect you most of the time.

The nasty part of ethics is that what would appear as simple (the Golden Rule) is complicated by the scope of application.  To demonstrate by an extreme example, the most despotic and merciless of drug lords may well have a tight cadre of loyalist around him with whom he assiduously practices the Golden Rule. Outside that cadre, anything goes and no extreme of depravity is beyond the pale. In other words, it makes little sense to judge the effective power of this ethic so long as scope of application is ignored.  In fact, fast loyalty to a group often materializes for the very purpose of mustering disrespect for those beyond the inner-circle.

It is obvious in a way that charity begins at home.  Say I have a wife, two children, and a dog and a cat.  Very few indeed would consider me a responsible and loving father if I monthly contributed $1,000 to the humane society while at the same time totally neglecting the needs of my children subjecting them to chronic malnutrition and inadequate clothing.

Despite this, we find that for the Golden Rule to have ethical meaning relevant beyond our own doorstep, we must see with the heart of the Good Samaritan entailing the broadest of human sympathies.  In the United States the Bill of Rights covers everyone (the inalienable right of respect and dignity)--but not really.  Those holding opposing views can swiftly find themselves outside the inner-circle of respect.  The very mustering of disrespect itself can then become the reflexive obsession of the Assured Self-Righteous.      

Print Page