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Ethics and Social Life

Our Core Obligations

Primary Hierarchy of Purpose with the Approaches to Making an Ethical Choice nested in Level-6.

The exercise of ethical choice, consciously or unconsciously, is the way that everyone everyday demonstrates responsible membership of their society—as well as membership of humanity. (For the difference between these two memberships, go here.)

Ethical conflicts are just another example of diversity in society, a diversity that occurs whatever the political context or form of government. Many, perhaps most, conflicts are based on the use of sharply different doctrines for choosing.

Inquiry has revealed that distinct approaches to making ethical choice (PH'6) are part of the levels of purpose framework (PH6). The approaches are a special sort of «value system» and form a nested Principal Typology as shown in the diagram at right.

There are seven fundamentally distinct ways of going about making an ethical choice, with each built on a distinctive core obligation.

For details, download Ch.6 in Working with Values.

ClosedThe 7 Core Obligations & Approaches/Doctrines

The various obligations do not prescribe exactly what choice must be made in any particular situation. Instead they determine how a person approaches the making of a choice so that it can be deemed and defended as genuinely ethical within their social groups and society.

The approach determines a person's choice to a large degree i.e.…Closed differences of opinion commonly flow from the different assumptions applied, rather than any idiosyncratic personal element in choosing.

Some Properties relevant to Politics.

L' The Ethical Choice
Approach urges:
I Be reasonable!
The Rationalist
Find solutions
(given the realities)
II Follow what is acceptable!
The Conventionalist
Maintain continuity
(in the face of change)
III Benefit your group!
The Pluralist
Pursue group ideals
(using potentials)
IV Benefit yourself!
The Individualist
Develop strength
(despite vulnerabilities)
V Benefit everyone!
The Commmunalist
Be altruistic
(on the basis of egoism)
VI Be fair!
The Legitimist
Seek the common good
(allowing for autonomy)
VII Be authentic!
The Transcendentalist
Foster spirituality
(in a temporal context)

How People Differ

Each approach has its own assumptions; and these generate logical and emotional incompatibilities with the others.

People differ in their preferences—typically preferring one or two as «truly ethical», even if they use them all from time to time. So «mentality» or «mindset» rather than «preference» better fits a person’s use of an approach.

As a result, hostility and condemnation may emerge amongst people pursuing what is good and right in their own «personally correct» way.

What do philosophers say?Closed The ethical approaches appear as doctrines or theoretical paradigms. Philosophers endlessly debate their relative merits and difficulties—often using the dualistic classification teleological versus deontological.

Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 24-Feb-2014

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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