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Zephyr López Cervilla
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Rather entertaining video. Use YouTube English subtitles in case you don't understand Russian. They seem to have been properly transcribed.

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On Subjective Illusions and Make-Believes

«An interesting article in The Atlantic talks about studies showing that liberals think in terms of fairness while conservatives think in terms of morality. So if you want to persuade someone on the other team, you need to speak in their language.
As I often say, fairness is a concept invented so children and idiots can participate in debates. Fairness is a subjective illusion. It isn’t a rule of physics, and it isn’t an objective quality of the universe. We just think it is.

On the conservative side, morality is usually seen as coming from God. I’m not a believer, so I see morality as a set of rationalizations for our biological impulses.»

— Scott Adams. "How to Persuade the Other Party." Scott Adams' Blog (February 15, 2017)

— Exactly!

«… Luckily, we evolved with some instincts for taking care of each other.»
~Scott Adams (February 15, 2017)

• Dr Charles Pigden. "Hume on Is and Ought." Philosophy Now (2011)

"Is–ought problem." Wikipedia–ought_problem

"The Is / Ought Problem." A History of Ideas, BBC Radio 4 (2014) [1 min]

«Logic, morality, and fairness are three different approaches to persuasion. But there is a fourth way to persuade that involves ignoring both fairness and morality without giving up logic. You can take most debates out of the weeds of fairness and morality to what I call the High Ground, where everyone already agrees.»
~Scott Adams (February 15, 2017)

— There's a "fifth" approach to this or any other debate that ignores all the others: self-interest. I have nothing to gain forcing a pregnant woman to give birth against her will. I'm not an embryo nor will I be one ever again, therefore, the enforcement of such measure has no chance to ever protect my life.

So who can possibly have some personal interest in forcing women to give birth? For instance, men who have a desire to father children even if this is against the will of those women who they have managed to impregnate. What I would label as "procreation rapists", freeloaders more than willing to maximise their reproductive success at the expense of the woman's interest.

Additionally, some close relatives of the unwanted embryo may harbour the desire to keep them alive, such as some predecessor with the fixed idea to seed the world with a numerous progeny (e.g., patriarchs).

Which side of the dispute would you rather support in order to further your personal interest, the side of those seeking to become procreation freeloaders or the side of the "selfish" women?

«Here’s another one of these civic customs: swearing on the Bible. Do you understand that shit? They tell you to raise your right hand, place your left hand on the Bible. Does this stuff really matter? Which hand? Does God really give a fuck about details like this?

Suppose you put your right hand on the Bible, you raise your left hand. Would that count? Or would God say: “Sorry, wrong hand, try again!”

And what… why does one hand have to be raised? What is the magic in this gesture? This seems like some sort of a primitive voodoo mojo shtick. Why not put your left hand on the Bible, let your right hand hang down by your side. It’s more natural. Or put it in your pocket! Remember what your mother used to say? “Don’t put your hands in your pockets!” Does she know something we don’t know? Is this hand shit really important? Let’s get back to the Bible, America’s favorite national theatrical prop.

Suppose the Bible they hand you to swear on is upside-down. Or backward. Or both! And you swear to tell the truth on an upside-down backward Bible. Would that count? Suppose the Bible they hand you is an old Bible and half the pages are missing. Suppose all they have is a Chinese Bible—in an American court. Or a braille Bible, and you’re not blind!

Suppose they hand you an upside-down backward Chinese braille Bible with half the pages missing.

At what point does all of this stuff just break down and become just a lot of stupid shit that somebody made up. They fucking made it up, folks, it’s make-believe! It’s make-believe.

Now… alright… ok. Let’s leave the Bible aside we’ll get back to the science fiction reading later.

The more important question is: What is the big deal about swearing to God in the first place? Why does swearing to God mean you gonna tell the truth? Wouldn’t affect me! If they said to me, you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God, I’d say yeah! I’ll tell you just as much truth as the people who wrote that fucking Bible, how’d you like that, hm? Hah?

Swearing on the Bible doesn’t mean anything. It’s, it’s kid’s… swearing to God is kid’s stuff! Did you know, do you remember when you were a kid if you… if you told another kid something he didn’t quite believe he said, you swear to God? I would always say yeah, swear to God, even if I was lying. Why not? What’s gonna happen if I lie? Nothing! Nothing happens if you lie! Unless you get caught and that’s a whole different story.

Sometimes a kid would think he was being slick with me, and he’d say, you swear on your mothers grave? I’d say yeah! Why not? First of all, my mother was alive, she didn’t even have a grave. Second of all, even if she was dead, what’s she gonna do, rise from the grave and come and haunt me? Come and haunt me? All because I told a lie to an eight-year old? Get fucking real, will you?

Sometimes I would say, I swear on my mothers tits. Kids are impressed with things like that. I mean I don’t care about my mothers tits either, I don’t care if they fell off, fuck her. Not my problem, they’re your tits Ma, you keep an eye on ’em.

Swearing to God doesn’t mean anything, swearing on the Bible doesn’t mean anything, you know why? Because Bible or no Bible, God or no God, if it suits their purposes, people are gonna lie in court. The police do it all the time. All the time. Yes they do. It’s part of their job: to protect, to serve, and to commit perjury whenever it supports the state’s case. Swearing on the Bible is just one more way of controlling people and keeping them in line, and it’s one more thing that holds us back as a species.

Here’s one more item for you, the last in our civics book: Rights. Why everyone in this country is always running around yammering about their fucking rights. I have a right, you have no right, we have a right, they don’t have a right… Folks, I hate to spoil your fun but—there’s no such thing as rights, okay? They’re imaginary. We made them up! Like the Boogie Man… the Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, Mother Goose, shit like that. Rights are an idea, they’re just imaginary, they are a cute idea, cute… but that’s all, cute, and fictional. But if you think you do have rights, let me ask you this, where do they come from? People say, well, they come from God, they’re God-given rights… Aw fuck, here we go again… here we go again. The God excuse. The last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument, it came from God. Anything we can’t describe, must have come from God.

Personally, folks, I believe that if your rights came from God, he would have given you the right to have some food every day, and he would have given you the right to a roof over your head, God would have been looking out for you. God would have been looking out for you. You know that? He wouldn’t have been worrying about making sure you have a gun so you can get drunk on Sunday night and kill your girlfriend’s parents.

But let’s say it’s true, let’s say God gave us these rights. Why would he give us a certain number of rights? The Bill of Rights of this country has ten stipulations, okay? Ten rights. And apparently God was doing sloppy work that week because we had to amend the Bill of Rights an additional seventeen times. So God forgot a couple of things. Like… slavery! Just fucking slipped his mind. But let’s say, let’s say God gave us the original ten. He gave the British thirteen, the British Bill of Rights has thirteen stipulations. The Germans have twenty-nine, the Belgians have twenty-five, the Swedish have only six, and some people in the world have no rights at all. What kind of a fucking goddamn god-given deal is that? No rights at all? Why would God give different people in different countries different numbers of different rights? Boredom? Amusement? Bad arithmetic? Do we find out at long last after all this time that God is weak in math skills? Doesn’t sound like divine planning to me. Sounds more like human planning. Sounds more like one group trying to control another group. In other words, business as usual in America.

Now, if you think you do have rights, one last assignment for you. Next time you’re at the computer, get on the Internet, go to Wikipedia. When you get to Wikipedia, in the search field for Wikipedia, I want you to type in “Japanese Americans 1942,” and you’ll find out all about your precious fucking rights, okay? All right. You know about it. You know about it. Ya. In 1942, there were a 110,000 Japanese American citizens in good standing, law-abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had, “right this way”—into the internment camps. Just when these American citizens needed their rights the most, their government sucked ’em away. And rights aren’t rights if someone can take ’em away. They’re privileges, that’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter and shorter.

Yeah… sooner or later the people in this country gotta realize the government does not give a fuck about them. The government doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare, or your safety, it certainly doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’s interested in its own power, that’s the only thing, keeping it and expanding it wherever possible.

Personally, when it comes to rights, I think one of two things is true. I think either we have unlimited rights, or we have no rights at all. Personally, I lean toward unlimited rights, I feel for instance I have the right to do anything I please. But—if I do something you don’t like I think you have the right to kill me. So where you’re gonna find a fairer fucking deal than that? So the next time some asshole says to you, I have a right to my opinion, you say, oh yeah, well I have a right to my opinion, and my opinion is you have no right to your opinion. Then shoot the fucker and walk away. Thank you.»

— George Carlin. "It's Bad for Ya." (2008)
7/8 [10 min]
8/8 [9 min]
16/16 [5 min]
1/2 [31 min]
2/2 [37 min]
Transcript 8/8:

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Scott Adams on Shadowbanning and Throttling

• Scott Adams. "Freedom of Speech is Now Largely an Illusion." Scott Adams' Blog (February 13, 2017)

• Scott Adams. "The Social Media Hive Mind." Scott Adams' Blog (February 4, 2017)

• Mister Metokur. "Throttling Theory." Mister Metokur's YouTube channel (February 4, 2017) [8 min]

• Scott Adams. "Should Twitter and Facebook be Regulated as Utilities?" Scott Adams' Blog (January 25, 2017)

"Stealth banning." Wikipedia

• Scott Adams. "Twitter and Periscope Shadowban Update." Scott Adams' Blog (October 23, 2016)

• Scott Adams. "Is Twitter Shadowbanning me?" Scott Adams' Blog (October 18, 2016)

• Scott Adams. "The Week I Became a Target." Scott Adams' Blog (October 3, 2016)

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• Martin Enserink. "Popular doping drug may not actually help cyclists." Science News (July 13, 2016)

• Enserink M. "DOPING. Cyclists' favorite drug falls flat in trial." Science (2016) vol. 353 (6296) pp. 206-7

• Heuberger JA et al. "Erythropoietin doping in cycling: lack of evidence for efficacy and a negative risk–benefit." Br J Clin Pharmacol (2013) vol. 75 (6) pp. 1406–1421
Press release:

• van Breda E et al. "Little soldiers in their cardboard cells." Br J Clin Pharmacol (2014) vol. 77 (3) pp. 580-1

• Heuberger JA and Cohen AF. "World-class cyclists on erythropoietin." Br J Clin Pharmacol (2014) vol. 77 (3) p. 582
Hhahhaha... Good.. looks like this cheating, tyrannical, blackmailing, piece of garbage is about to lose his other nut....

JIM VERTUNO Associated PressFebruary 13, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge on Monday refused to block the government's $100 million lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, putting the former cyclist on course for trial in a 2010 case stemming from his performance-enhancing drug use.

The lawsuit was filed by Armstrong's former U.S. Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis. The federal government joined in 2013 after Armstrong publicly admitted he cheated to win the Tour de France seven times from 1999-2005. Armstrong was stripped of those titles and banned from competition.

Armstrong has also taken huge hits financially, losing all his major sponsors and being forced to pay more than $10 million in damages and settlements in a series of lawsuits . The Landis lawsuit would be the biggest by far, and the ruling from U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington was a major setback for Armstrong with a trial most likely in the fall.

Landis, himself a former doping cheat who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, sued Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act, alleging Armstrong and his team committed fraud against the government when they cheated while riding under the Postal Service banner. According to court records, the contract paid the team, which was operated by Tailwind Sports Corp., about $32 million from 2000 to 2004. Armstrong got nearly $13.5 million.

The law allows Landis and the government to sue to get that money back and for "treble" damages, or triple the amount, and Armstrong could be forced to pay all of it. Landis stands to receive up to 25 percent of any damages awarded.

Armstrong claims he and the team don't owe the Postal Service anything because the agency made far more off the sponsorship than it paid. Armstrong's lawyers have introduced internal studies for the agency that calculated benefits in media exposure topping $100 million.

The government has countered that the negative fallout from the doping scandal tainted the agency because of its association with Armstrong.

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No donation for you! [5 min]

"Wikipedia bans ‘unreliable’ Daily Mail as source." (9 February, 2017)

• Jasper Jackson. "Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as 'unreliable' source." The Guardian (8 February 2017)

• Jon Sharman. "Wikipedia bans the Daily Mail as a source for being 'unreliable'" The Independent (February 9, 2017)

• Narjas Zatat. "The founder of Wikipedia had the perfect response to a Daily Mail journalist upset about the ban." Indy100 (February 9, 2017)

• Agence France-Presse (AFP). "Wikipedia editors ban 'unreliable' Daily Mail as source." (February 9, 2017)
The Economic Times (Updated: February 9, 2017)

• Sasha Lekach. "Wikipedia banned this media outlet as an 'unreliable' source." Mashable (February 8, 2017)

• Tareq Haddad. "Wikipedia labels Daily Mail as 'unreliable' and bans it as a source for entries." International Business Times (February 9, 2017)

• RT. "Wikipedia Bans ‘Unreliable’ Daily Mail As Source." (February 9, 2017)

Wikipedia editors' "Survey":


• David Rose. "Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data." Daily Mail (4 February 2017; Updated: 5 February 2017)


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• fed, ssi, dan. «“Börder Wåll”: IKEA offers Trump an affordable solution.» The Postillon (31 January 2017)

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"Hide the Decline" 2.0

• David Rose. "Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data." The Mail on Sunday (4 February 2017; Updated: 5 February 2017)

Related articles:

• John Bates. "Climate scientists versus climate data." Climate Etc. (February 4, 2017)

• Seth Borenstein and Michael Biesecker. "Major global warming study again questioned, again defended." (February 7, 2017)

• Fox News Investigative Unit and Brainroom. "Federal scientist cooked climate change books ahead of Obama presentation, whistle blower charges." (February 07, 2017)

• Anthony Watts. "BOMBSHELL – NOAA whistleblower says Karl et al. “pausebuster” paper was hyped, broke procedures." WattsUpWithThat (February 4, 2017)

• Scott Waldman. "'Whistleblower' says protocol was breached but no data fraud." E&E News (February 7, 2017)

• Paul Homewood. "Whistleblowers In NOAA." Not a Lot of People Know That (November 19, 2015)

• Warren Cornwall and Paul Voosen. "How a culture clash at NOAA led to a flap over a high-profile warming pause study." Science News (February 8, 2017)

• Phil Plait. "Sorry, climate change deniers, but the global warming 'pause' still never happened." SyFyWire (February 6, 2017)

• Vanessa Schipani. "No Data Manipulation at NOAA." (February 9, 2017)

• Julie Kelly. "A Climate Scientist Is Smeared for Blowing the Whistle on ‘Corrected’ Data." National Review (February 15, 2017)

John J. Bates' bio:


«‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’
‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’
‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’
‘and they never really justified what they were doing.’
‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’
‘there needs to be a fundamental change to the way NOAA deals with data so that people can check and validate scientific results. I’m hoping that this will be a wake-up call to the climate science community – a signal that we have to put in place processes to make sure this kind of crap doesn’t happen again.

‘I want to address the systemic problems. I don’t care whether modifications to the datasets make temperatures go up or down. But I want the observations to speak for themselves, and for that, there needs to be a new emphasis that ethical standards must be maintained.’
‘How ironic it is that there is now this idea that Trump is going to trash climate data, when key decisions were earlier taken by someone whose responsibility it was to maintain its integrity – and failed.’
‘for courageously stepping forward to tell the truth about NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion’. […] ‘The Karl study used flawed data, was rushed to publication in an effort to support the President’s climate change agenda, and ignored NOAA’s own standards for scientific study.’»

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"Trevor Blake at Mother Foucault’s." Union of Egoists Podcast (May 22, 2016) ep. 2 [26 min]

"Union of Egoists: A Bibliographic Resource of Egoism & Home of Der Geist Journal." (April 1, 2016)

« What is
This is an informational resource publicly launched April 1st of 2016. The website initially focuses on providing historical, biographical and bibliographical details of a select few Egoist philosophers and the worldview in a historical and scholarly context. It is also integrating the archives of egoist website [], and the project. Further, it will be home to Der Geist [], a Journal of Egoism. The Union of Egoists is not an advocacy site, nor is it presenting egoism in a dogmatic way. The egoism found here is historical and flourishes from Stirner, Walker and Tucker. This website is growing and being built “live”, so there will be pages that are incomplete or otherwise need revision.»

"Podcast of the Union of Egoists and Der Geist Journal (UoE Podcast)"

• Sidney E Parker (interviewee). "Interview with Sidney E. Parker." UoE Podcast (April 11, 2016) ep. 1 [42 min]
Audio file:

• Trevor Blake. "Trevor Blake at Mother Foucault’s." UoE Podcast (May 22, 2016) ep. 2 [26 min]
Audio file:

• Jeff Riggenbach. "Jeff Riggenbach’s Biographical Sketch of Max Stirner." UoE Podcast (August 11, 2016) ep. 3 [55 min]
Audio file:
Alternative audio file:

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Google+ Consistently Dumbed Down

Google keeps removing features with every Google+ update, and those that keep working go worse than they did in previous iterations. For instance, they removed ripples (the way to track who had shared a particular post and to readily read the comments in those replicas), they removed circle sharing, they removed access to the list of users in the circles of other users (when public), the exact date of publication of each comment is gone as well as the date of the last edition, etc.

As for example of what has changed for the worse, quite often the text editor of the newer "non-classic" Google+ UI messes up "_" and "*" special characters when you edit one of your posts or comments, or the text editor removes part or all of them when you update your comment, or it fails to use them. Most often it doesn't refresh the view to show the last update either. At times it also fuses two URLs in one so none of them will work any longer.

The internal search engine fails to find certain posts that with the keywords used it should be able to find (what is quite annoying since there is no other way on Google+ to easily access to them). Also, after a search or in any other stream, for some reason in most web browsers (including Google Chrome) the Find option is unable to navigate along the text of the hidden comments of the posts and the comment section to show you the words that it found (albeit it is able to count them). This last bug was already present in the latest non-classic version, but it didn't show up until a couple of years ago or so. Likewise, the maximum number of characters allowed when sharing a YouTube video has been drastically reduced (and so was it in the comment section of the posts), etc.

Over the last months there has also been a bug in the Google UI (including the classic version) with the upper bar that has rendered unclickable the three icons on the upper right on Safari browser, so in that browser it's impossible to open the notifications window, sign out/access to your profile, or open a different Google app from there.

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On Ethics and Morality


«Ethics, also called moral philosophy, the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles.
The terms ethics and morality are closely related. It is now common to refer to ethical judgments or to ethical principles where it once would have been more accurate to speak of moral judgments or moral principles. These applications are an extension of the meaning of ethics. In earlier usage, the term referred not to morality itself but to the field of study, or branch of inquiry, that has morality as its subject matter. In this sense, ethics is equivalent to moral philosophy.»

— Peter Singer. "Ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 3-5-2015)

Normative ethics:

«The central question of normative ethics is determining how basic moral standards are arrived at and justified. The answers to this question fall into two broad categories—deontological and teleological. The principal difference between them is that deontological theories do not appeal to value considerations in establishing ethical standards, while teleological theories do. Deontological theories use the concept of their inherent rightness in establishing such standards, while teleological theories consider the goodness or value brought into being by actions as the principal criterion of their ethical value. In other words, a deontological approach calls for doing certain things on principle or because they are inherently right, whereas a teleological approach advocates that certain kinds of actions are right because of the goodness of their consequences. Deontological theories thus stress the concepts of obligation, ought, duty, and right and wrong, while teleological theories lay stress on the good, the valuable, and the desirable. Deontological theories set forth formal or relational criteria such as equality or impartiality; teleological theories, by contrast, provide material or substantive criteria, as, for example, happiness or pleasure.»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Normative ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 7-20-1998)

Comparative ethics:

«Comparative ethics, also called Descriptive Ethics, the empirical (observational) study of the moral beliefs and practices of different peoples and cultures in various places and times. It aims not only to elaborate such beliefs and practices but also to understand them insofar as they are causally conditioned by social, economic, and geographic circumstances. Comparative ethics, in contrast to normative ethics, is thus the proper subject matter of the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, history, sociology, and psychology).

Empirical studies show that all societies have moral rules that prescribe or forbid certain classes of action and that these rules are accompanied by sanctions to ensure their enforcement. Of particular interest in comparative ethics are the similarities and differences between the moral practices and beliefs of different people, as explained by physical and economic conditions, opportunities for cross-cultural contacts, and the force of inherited traditions facing new social or technological challenges.
Others are more concerned with the diversity of moral practices—e.g., monogamy versus polygamy; caring for the aged versus parricide; the forbidding of abortion versus voluntary feticide. The question then arises whether similarity or diversity is more fundamental, whether similarity supports the validity of the practice, and whether diversity supports a relativism and skepticism. Clearly a consensus of all peoples in a moral opinion does not of itself establish validity. On the other hand, widespread agreement may support the argument that morality is rooted in human nature, and, if human nature is fundamentally everywhere the same, it will also manifest this similarity in significant ways, including morality. Such questions are philosophical and lie beyond the scope of the social sciences, which are restricted to empirically verifiable generalizations.

Another question concerns the development of morals. Insofar as this is an empirical issue, it must be distinguished from the question whether there is progress in morality. For progress is an evaluative term—whether the moral ideals, for example, or the practices of civilized peoples, or both, are higher than those of primitive peoples is itself a question of moral judgment rather than of social science. Still, social scientists and moral philosophers alike have noted important changes that have taken place in the historical development of various peoples.»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Comparative ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 7-20-1998)

Deontological ethics:

«The first great philosopher to define deontological principles was Immanuel Kant, the 18th-century German founder of critical philosophy. Kant held that nothing is good without qualification except a good will, and a good will is one that wills to act in accord with the moral law and out of respect for that law rather than out of natural inclinations. He saw the moral law as a categorical imperative—i.e., an unconditional command—and believed that its content could be established by human reason alone. Thus, the supreme categorical imperative is: “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Kant considered that formulation of the categorical imperative to be equivalent to: “So act that you treat humanity in your own person and in the person of everyone else always at the same time as an end and never merely as means.” The connection between those two formulations, however, has never been entirely clear. In any event, Kant’s critics questioned his view that all duties can be derived from a purely formal principle and argued that, in his preoccupation with rational consistency, he neglected the concrete content of moral obligation.

That objection was faced in the 20th century by the British philosopher Sir David Ross, who held that numerous “prima facie duties,” rather than a single formal principle for deriving them, are themselves immediately self-evident. Ross distinguished those prima facie duties (such as promise keeping, reparation, gratitude, and justice) from actual duties, for “any possible act has many sides to it which are relevant to its rightness or wrongness”; and those facets have to be weighed before “forming a judgment on the totality of its nature” as an actual obligation in the given circumstances. Ross’s attempt to argue that intuition is a source of moral knowledge was, however, heavily criticized,»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Deontological ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 3-16-2015)

Teleological ethics:

«Modern ethics, especially since the 18th-century German deontological philosophy of Immanuel Kant, has been deeply divided between a form of teleological ethics (utilitarianism) and deontological theories.

Teleological theories differ on the nature of the end that actions ought to promote. Eudaemonist theories (Greek eudaimonia, “happiness”), which hold that ethics consists in some function or activity appropriate to man as a human being, tend to emphasize the cultivation of virtue or excellence in the agent as the end of all action. These could be the classical virtues—courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom—that promoted the Greek ideal of man as the “rational animal”; or the theological virtues—faith, hope, and love—that distinguished the Christian ideal of man as a being created in the image of God.

Utilitarian-type theories hold that the end consists in an experience or feeling produced by the action. Hedonism, for example, teaches that this feeling is pleasure—either one’s own, as in egoism (the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes), or everyone’s, as in universalistic hedonism, or utilitarianism (the 19th-century English philosophers Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Sidgwick), with its formula the “greatest happiness [pleasure] of the greatest number.” Other teleological or utilitarian-type views include the claims that the end of action is survival and growth, as in evolutionary ethics (the 19th-century English philosopher Herbert Spencer); the experience of power, as in despotism (the 16th-century Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli and the 19th-century German Friedrich Nietzsche); satisfaction and adjustment, as in pragmatism (20th-century American philosophers Ralph Barton Perry and John Dewey); and freedom, as in existentialism (the 20th-century French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre).»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Teleological ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 4-24-2008)


«Consequentialism, In ethics, the doctrine that actions should be judged right or wrong on the basis of their consequences. The simplest form of consequentialism is classical (or hedonistic) utilitarianism, which asserts that an action is right or wrong according to whether it maximizes the net balance of pleasure over pain in the universe. The consequentialism of G.E. Moore, known as “ideal utilitarianism,” recognizes beauty and friendship, as well as pleasure, as intrinsic goods that one’s actions should aim to maximize. According to the “preference utilitarianism” of R.M. Hare (1919–2002), actions are right if they maximize the satisfaction of preferences or desires, no matter what the preferences may be for. Consequentialists also differ over whether each individual action should be judged on the basis of its consequences or whether instead general rules of conduct should be judged in this way and individual actions judged only by whether they accord with a general rule. The former group are known as “act-utilitarians” and the latter as “rule-utilitarians.” See also deontological ethics.»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Consequentialism." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 3-3-2009)

Ethics of care:

«Ethics of care, also called care ethics, feminist philosophical perspective that uses a relational and context-bound approach toward morality and decision making. The term ethics of care refers to ideas concerning both the nature of morality and normative ethical theory. The ethics of care perspective stands in stark contrast to ethical theories that rely on principles to highlight moral actions—such as Kantian deontology, utilitarianism, and justice theory—and is not meant to be absolute and incontrovertible.
Although it was not necessary that feminine moral theory be aligned with the ethics of care, it so happens that those writing in the feminine tradition have come to associate care and responsibility to others with a female-gendered approach to ethics and individual rights and justice with a male-gendered approach to ethics. Feminist philosophers have argued that the deontological, utilitarian, and justice moral theories are grounded in the masculine experience. More specifically, those theories are seen to emerge in concert with the traditionally masculine forum of economic activity. Within that perspective, the values of competition and domination are seen to undergird both the activities of the marketplace and the rational moral theories. Philosophers such as American feminist Virginia Held have argued for adopting more compassionate bases for human interaction(s).

Feminist moral theory has tended to mirror the differing gender experiences of women and men, particularly as those affect the development of understanding with respect to the ways the ethical life is conducted. However, it has been noted that “feminist” moral theory is not “feminine” moral theory, as feminist perspectives are not fully determined by gendered points of view. Nevertheless, the suggestion that gender matters, particularly as gender relates to one’s ethical predispositions, calls into question the inherent “objectivity” of ethical theories, which are advanced in part because of their universal merit and application. Feminine moral theory thereby deals a blow to the exclusively rational systems of thought, which have as their grounding an inherent disregard for the inherently personal—and sometimes gender-biased—nature of knowledge construction.»

— Craig P Dunn, Brian K Burton. "Ethics of care." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 3-17-2016)


«Biocentrism, ethical perspective holding that all life deserves equal moral consideration or has equal moral standing. Although elements of biocentrism can be found in several religious traditions, it was not until the late decades of the 20th century that philosophical ethics in the Western tradition addressed the topic in a systematic manner.
As a normative theory, biocentrism has practical implications for human behaviour. The good of all living beings creates responsibilities on the part of human beings, summarized in the four basic duties of biocentric ethics: non-maleficence, noninterference, fidelity, and restitutive justice. The duty of non-maleficence requires that no harm be done to living beings, although it does not commit human beings to the positive duties of preventing harm from happening or of aiding in attaining the good. The duty of noninterference requires not interfering with an organism’s pursuit of its own goals. The duty of fidelity requires not manipulating, deceiving, or otherwise using living beings as mere means to human ends. The duty of restitutive justice requires that humans make restitution to living beings when they have been harmed by human activity.

Numerous challenges suggest that biocentrism is too demanding an ethics to be practical. The duties to do no harm to living beings and to refrain from interfering with the lives of other beings ask a great deal of humans. It is difficult to understand how any living being, and especially humans, could survive without doing harm to and interfering with other living beings. Not only would abstaining from eating meat seem to be required, but even vegetables would seem to be protected from harm and interference. This presents a dilemma because a biocentrist has ethical duties to beings with equal moral standing and yet must eat those beings to survive. As a solution to this problem, some argue that strict equality can be abandoned in certain situations and that a distinction between basic and nonbasic interests can provide guidance in cases where the interest of living beings conflict. In such a case, one would conclude that basic interest should trump nonbasic interest. For example, the interest in remaining alive should override the interest in being entertained. Thus, it is unethical to hunt animals but ethically justified to kill an animal in self-defense. But the second alternative quickly threatens the consistency of biocentric equality.
In response to such concerns, defenders of biocentric ethics often argue for the principle of restitutive justice. When inevitable harms do occur in the conflicts between living beings, a duty to make restitution for the harms is created. Thus, the harms inflicted in harvesting trees or crops can be compensated for by restoring the forest or planting more crops. But that response raises the second major challenge to biocentric ethics.

Critics highlight that a strictly biocentric ethics will conflict with a more ecologically influenced environmentalism. Protecting individual lives may actually harm rather than protect the integrity of ecosystems and species, as is evidenced by the need to remove invasive species for ecosystem health. It is, of course, always open for the biocentric approach to accept that conflict by simply denying the value of ecological wholes, thus shifting the focus of biocentrism to have only incidentally overlapping concerns with environmental ethics. However, as Taylor’s reliance on restitutive justice suggests, biocentric ethics may need the value of ecological wholes to solve its serious practical problems and compensate for harmed individuals.

An important environmentalist perspective, identified as “ecocentrism” to distinguish it from biocentrism, holds that ecological collections such as ecosystems, habitats, species, and populations are the central objects for environmental concern. That more holistic approach typically concludes that preserving the integrity of ecosystems and the survival of species and populations is environmentally more crucial than protecting the lives of individual elements of an ecosystem or members of a species. In fact, ecocentric environmental ethics often would condone destroying the lives of individuals as a legitimate means of preserving the ecological whole. Thus, culling members of an overpopulated herd or killing an invasive nonnative plant or animal species can be justified.

Finally, challenges remain to the fundamental claim that life itself is the nonarbitrary criterion of moral standing. The biocentric perspective relies on a problematic teleological hypothesis. Living beings are said to have an intrinsic moral value because each has a good of its own, derived from the fact that living things are goal-directed (teleological) beings. However, the teleological assumption that being goal-directed entails having a good may be unwarranted. The biological sciences do commonly refer to an object’s purpose, goals, or function, and in that sense they seem to adopt a teleological framework. The question is whether all goal-directed activity implies that the goal must be understood as a “good.” Such an inference was made in the Aristotelian and natural law traditions, but it is not obviously valid. The fundamental philosophical challenge to biocentric ethics thus involves two questions. Is the activity of living really goal-directed in itself, even when non-intentional? Even if it is goal-directed, why assume that a living thing serves its own good rather than the good of something else?»

— Joseph R DesJardins. "Biocentrism." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 12-17-2013)


«Environmentalism, political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities; through the adoption of forms of political, economic, and social organization that are thought to be necessary for, or at least conducive to, the benign treatment of the environment by humans; and through a reassessment of humanity’s relationship with nature. In various ways, environmentalism claims that living things other than humans, and the natural environment as a whole, are deserving of consideration in reasoning about the morality of political, economic, and social policies.
Beginning in the 1970s many environmentalists attempted to develop strategies for limiting environmental degradation through recycling, the use of alternative-energy technologies, the decentralization and democratization of economic and social planning and, for some, a reorganization of major industrial sectors, including the agriculture and energy industries. In contrast to apocalyptic environmentalism, so-called “emancipatory” environmentalism took a more positive and practical approach, one aspect of which was the effort to promote an ecological consciousness and an ethic of “stewardship” of the environment. One form of emancipatory environmentalism, human-welfare ecology—which aims to enhance human life by creating a safe and clean environment—was part of a broader concern with distributive justice and reflected the tendency, later characterized as “postmaterialist,” of citizens in advanced industrial societies to place more importance on “quality-of-life” issues than on traditional economic concerns.
Leopold introduced the concept of a land ethic, arguing that humans should transform themselves from conquerors of nature into citizens of it; his essays, compiled posthumously in A Sand County Almanac (1949), had a significant influence on later biocentric environmentalists.»

— Lorraine Elliott. "Environmentalism." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 12-18-2007)

Christian ethics:

«Moral theology, also called Christian ethics, Christian theological discipline concerned with identifying and elucidating the principles that determine the quality of human behaviour in the light of Christian revelation. It is distinguished from the philosophical discipline of ethics, which relies upon the authority of reason and which can only call upon rational sanctions for moral failure. Moral theology appeals to the authority of revelation, specifically as found in the preaching and activity of Jesus Christ.»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Christian ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 5-23-2008)


«Anthropocentrism, philosophical viewpoint arguing that human beings are the central or most significant entities in the world. This is a basic belief embedded in many Western religions and philosophies. Anthropocentrism regards humans as separate from and superior to nature and holds that human life has intrinsic value while other entities (including animals, plants, mineral resources, and so on) are resources that may justifiably be exploited for the benefit of humankind.

Many ethicists find the roots of anthropocentrism in the Creation story told in the book of Genesis in the Judeo-Christian Bible, in which humans are created in the image of God and are instructed to “subdue” Earth and to “have dominion” over all other living creatures. This passage has been interpreted as an indication of humanity’s superiority to nature and as condoning an instrumental view of nature, where the natural world has value only as it benefits humankind. This line of thought is not limited to Jewish and Christian theology and can be found in Aristotle’s Politics and in Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy.

Some anthropocentric philosophers support a so-called cornucopian point of view, which rejects claims that Earth’s resources are limited or that unchecked human population growth will exceed the carrying capacity of Earth and result in wars and famines as resources become scarce. Cornucopian philosophers argue that either the projections of resource limitations and population growth are exaggerated or that technology will be developed as necessary to solve future problems of scarcity. In either case, they see no moral or practical need for legal controls to protect the natural environment or limit its exploitation.

Other environmental ethicists have suggested that it is possible to value the environment without discarding anthropocentrism. Sometimes called prudential or enlightened anthropocentrism, this view holds that humans do have ethical obligations toward the environment, but they can be justified in terms of obligations toward other humans. For instance, environmental pollution can be seen as immoral because it negatively affects the lives of other people, such as those sickened by the air pollution from a factory. Similarly, the wasteful use of natural resources is viewed as immoral because it deprives future generations of those resources. In the 1970s, theologian and philosopher Holmes Rolston III added a religious clause to this viewpoint and argued that humans have a moral duty to protect biodiversity because failure to do so would show disrespect to God’s creation.

Prior to the emergence of environmental ethics as an academic field, conservationists such as John Muir and Aldo Leopold argued that the natural world has an intrinsic value, an approach informed by aesthetic appreciation of nature’s beauty, as well as an ethical rejection of a purely exploitative valuation of the natural world. In the 1970s, scholars working in the emerging academic field of environmental ethics issued two fundamental challenges to anthropocentrism: they questioned whether humans should be considered superior to other living creatures, and they also suggested that the natural environment might possess intrinsic value independent of its usefulness to humankind. The resulting philosophy of biocentrism regards humans as one species among many in a given ecosystem and holds that the natural environment is intrinsically valuable independent of its ability to be exploited by humans.

Although the anthro in anthropocentrism refers to all humans rather than exclusively to men, some feminist philosophers argue that the anthropocentric worldview is in fact a male, or patriarchal, point of view. They claim that to view nature as inferior to humanity is analogous to viewing other people (women, colonial subjects, nonwhite populations) as inferior to white Western men and, as with nature, provides moral justification for their exploitation. The term ecofeminism (coined in 1974 by the French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne) refers to a philosophy that looks not only at the relationship between environmental degradation and human oppression but may also posit that women have a particularly close relationship with the natural world because of their history of oppression.»

— Sarah E Boslaugh. "Anthropocentrism." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 1-11-2016)

Virtue ethics:

«Virtue ethics, Approach to ethics that takes the notion of virtue (often conceived as excellence) as fundamental. Virtue ethics is primarily concerned with traits of character that are essential to human flourishing, not with the enumeration of duties. It falls somewhat outside the traditional dichotomy between deontological ethics and consequentialism: It agrees with consequentialism that the criterion of an action’s being morally right or wrong lies in its relation to an end that has intrinsic value, but more closely resembles deontological ethics in its view that morally right actions are constitutive of the end itself and not mere instrumental means to the end. See also eudaemonism.»

—The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Virtue ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 5-22-2013)


«Eudaemonism, also spelled eudaimonism, or eudemonism, in ethics, a self-realization theory that makes happiness or personal well-being the chief good for man. The Greek word eudaimonia means literally “the state of having a good indwelling spirit, a good genius”; and “happiness” is not at all an adequate translation of this word. Happiness, indeed, is usually thought of as a state of mind that results from or accompanies some actions. But Aristotle’s answers to the question “What is eudaimonia?” (namely, that which is “activity in accordance with virtue”; or that which is “contemplation”) show that for him eudaimonia was not a state of mind consequent on or accompanying certain activities but is a name for these activities themselves. “What is eudaimonia?” is then the same question as “What are the best activities of which man is capable?”

Later moralists, however—for instance, the 18th- and 19th-century British utilitarians Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill—defined happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain. Others, still regarding happiness as a state of mind, have tried to distinguish it from pleasure on the grounds that it is mental, not bodily; enduring, not transitory; and rational, not emotional. But these distinctions are open to question. A temporal dimension was added to eudaemonism in ancient times by Solon, who said, “Call no man happy till he is dead,” suggesting that happiness and its opposite pertain, in their broadest sense, to the full course of one’s life. Contemporary moralists have tended to avoid the term.»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Eudaemonism." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 7-20-1998)


«Altruism, in ethics, a theory of conduct that regards the good of others as the end of moral action. The term (French altruisme, derived from Latin alter, “other”) was coined in the 19th century by Auguste Comte, the founder of Positivism, and adopted generally as a convenient antithesis to egoism. As a theory of conduct, its adequacy depends on an interpretation of “the good.” If the term is taken to mean pleasure and the absence of pain, most altruists have agreed that a moral agent has an obligation to further the pleasures and alleviate the pains of other people. The same argument holds if happiness is taken as the end of life. But critics have asked, if no one has a moral obligation to procure his own happiness, why should anyone else have an obligation to procure happiness for him? Other conflicts have arisen between immediate pain and long-range good, especially when the good envisioned by the doer does not coincide with the vision of the beneficiary.

Some British Utilitarians, such as Herbert Spencer and Leslie Stephen, attacked the distinction between self and others that is basic to both altruism and egoism. Such Utilitarians viewed the end of moral activity as the welfare of society, the social organism.»

— The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Altruism." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 2-4-2009)


«Casuistry, in ethics, a case-based method of reasoning. It is particularly employed in field-specific branches of professional ethics such as business ethics and bioethics. Casuistry typically uses general principles in reasoning analogically from clear-cut cases, called paradigms, to vexing cases. Similar cases are treated similarly. In this way, casuistry resembles legal reasoning. Casuistry may also use authoritative writings relevant to a particular case.
Casuistry departs from ethical approaches that work deductively from rules thought to have clear applications in all circumstances. Casuistry takes rules into account but begins with the moral and practical features of each case.

Casuistry also departs from approaches to ethics that rely solely on good character or virtuous motives. Instead, casuistry demands deliberation about how to put good character and virtuous motives into practice.

Some authors classify casuistry as a subset of applied ethics, or practical ethics. That is the branch of ethics that is concerned with the application of moral norms to practical problems. Others restrict the term applied ethics to deductive reasoning from principles to cases. Accordingly, those authors view casuistry as an alternative to applied ethics.

Like casuistry, “situationism” or “situation ethics” focuses on cases. Unlike casuistry, however, situationism uses no paradigm cases and views principles as, at most, guidelines. Situationism also departs from casuistry by viewing circumstances as unique and isolated rather than as continuous with broader moral experience.»

— David P Schmidt. "Casuistry." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 9-15-2014)

Legal ethics:

«Legal ethics, principles of conduct that members of the legal profession are expected to observe in their practice. They are an outgrowth of the development of the legal profession itself.
Although economic globalization has contributed in important ways to the worldwide growth of the legal profession, it has also created the potential for conflict between different ethical traditions. In Europe, for example, standards of confidentiality for in-house counsel differ from those observed by independent attorneys, a fact that has created difficulties for some U.S.-trained lawyers working for European firms. In China the rapidly increasing market for legal services has attracted legal professionals from democratic countries, which generally do not share the Chinese conception of an attorney’s public obligations. It is likely that these kinds of challenges will be intensified by the continuing liberalization of the international legal market and by the development of technologies that enable lawyers to give advice from their offices to clients in distant and very different jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the legal professions of most countries have so far failed to develop rules to address ethical issues arising from globalization. One exception is the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, which has taken steps toward a common set of principles for legal professionals in the member states of the European Union.»

— Mary Ann Glendon. "Legal ethics." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 9-6-2011)

Ethical relativism:

«Ethical relativism, the doctrine that there are no absolute truths in ethics and that what is morally right or wrong varies from person to person or from society to society.
Beginning in the 1960s and ’70s, ethical relativism was associated with postmodernism, a complex philosophical movement that questioned the idea of objectivity in many areas, including ethics. Many postmodernists regarded the very idea of objectivity as a dubious invention of the modern—i.e., post-Enlightenment—era. From the time of the Enlightenment, most philosophers and scientists believed that there is an objective, universal, and unchanging truth about everything—including science, ethics, religion, and politics—and that human reason is powerful enough to discover this truth. The eventual result of rational inquiry, therefore, was to be one science, one ethics, one religion, and one politics that would be valid for all people in all eras. According to postmodernism, however, the Enlightenment-inspired idea of objective truth, which has influenced the thinking of virtually all modern scientists and philosophers, is an illusion that has now collapsed.

This development, they contend, is due largely to the work of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) and his followers. Nietzsche rejected the naive faith that human beliefs simply mirror reality. Instead, each of our beliefs is grounded in a “perspective” that is neither correct nor incorrect. In ethics, accordingly, there are no moral facts but only moral interpretations of phenomena, which give rise to different existing moral codes. We may try to understand these moralities by investigating their histories and the psychology of the people who embrace them, but there is no question of proving one or another of them to be “true.” Nietzsche argues, for example, that those who accept the Judeo-Christian ethical system, which he calls a “slave morality,” suffer from weak and fearful personalities. A different and stronger sort of person, he says, would reject this ethic and create his own values.

Postmodernists believe that Western society has passed beyond the modern intellectual era and is now in a postmodern period characterized partly by the realization that human life and thought is a mosaic comprising many perspectives. “Truths,” including the truths of science as well as ethics, should be recognized as beliefs associated with particular traditions that serve particular purposes in particular times and places. The desire for absolutes is seen as a misguided quest for the impossible.
Criticisms of ethical relativism

Ethical relativism, then, is a radical doctrine that is contrary to what many thoughtful people commonly assume. As such, it should not be confused with the uncontroversial thought that what is right depends on the circumstances. Everyone, absolutists and relativists alike, agrees that circumstances make a difference. Whether it is morally permissible to enter a house, for example, depends on whether one is the owner, a guest, or a burglar. Nor is ethical relativism merely the idea that different people have different beliefs about ethics, which again no one would deny. It is, rather, a theory about the status of moral beliefs, according to which none of them is objectively true. A consequence of the theory is that there is no way to justify any moral principle as valid for all people and all societies.

Critics have lodged a number of complaints against this doctrine. They point out that if ethical relativism is correct, it would mean that even the most outrageous practices, such as slavery and the physical abuse of women, are “right” if they are countenanced by the standards of the relevant society. Relativism therefore deprives us of any means of raising moral objections against horrendous social customs, provided that those customs are approved by the codes of the societies in which they exist.

[Notice above the appeal to consequences, and the dogmatic proposition "the most outrageous practices", "horrendous social customs"]

But should we not be tolerant of other cultures? Critics reply that it depends on what sort of social differences are at issue. Tolerance may seem like a good policy where benign differences between cultures are concerned, but it does not seem so when, for example, a society engages in officially approved genocide, even within its own borders. And in any case, the critics say, it is a mistake to think that relativism implies that we should be tolerant, because tolerance is simply another value about which people or societies may disagree. Only an absolutist could say that tolerance is objectively good.

Moreover, the critics continue, we sometimes want to criticize our own society’s values, and ethical relativism deprives us of the means of doing that as well. If ethical relativism is correct, we could not make sense of reforming or improving our own society’s morals, for there would be no standard against which our society’s existing practices could be judged deficient. Abandoning slavery, for example, would not be moral progress; it would only be replacing one set of standards with another.

[Notice above the straw man argument and a further dogmatic proposition "moral progress"]

Critics also point out that disagreement about ethics does not mean that there can be no objective truth. After all, people disagree even about scientific matters. Some people believe that disease is caused by evil spirits, while others believe it is caused by microbes, but we do not on that account conclude that disease has no “real” cause. The same might be true of ethics—disagreement might only mean that some people are more enlightened than others.

But there is actually far less disagreement than the relativists imply. Anthropologists have observed that, while there is some variation from culture to culture, there are also some values that all societies have in common. Some values are, in fact, necessary for society to exist. Without rules requiring truthfulness, for example, there could be no communication, and without rules against murder and assault, people could not live together. These are, not surprisingly, among the values that anthropologists find wherever they look. Such disagreements as do exist take place against a background of agreement on these large matters.»

[On the other hand, abortion and infanticide are or have traditionally been common practice in most cultures. Apparently, rules against such practices have not been "necessary for society to exist." Either way, the above argument is again trying to derive "ought" from "is":–ought_problem (1 min) (at 9:40)]

— James Rachels. "Ethical relativism." Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Last updated: 2-4-2009)

Further reading:

[p. x] «Ethical relativism — the idea that morality is not absolute but relative to individuals, communities, or societies — has been a common view of morality for thousands of years. Some people are attracted to relativism because it seems to reflect their value of tolerance for other people's beliefs or cultural traditions. Others, it must be admitted, simply resign themselves to it, either because they believe that moral dilemmas are inherently mysterious or because they wish to save themselves the trouble of thinking through difficult cases. Whatever the reasons for its popular appeal, relativism has been a legitimate and powerful theoretical perspective within ethical philosophy since ancient times.

[pp. x-xi] Ethics is the philosophical study of morality. It is importantly distinct from moral psychology, which is the empirical study of the ways in which people actually think about morality and what causes them to think as they do. Ethics, in contrast, is concerned with the content, or substance, of morality. It is typically divided into three fields: normative ethics, which formulates general standards for deciding what is right or wrong and good or bad; applied ethics, which (as the name implies) applies such standards to real-life moral problems, such as the one involving babies born with Down syndrome; and methaethics (sometimes called theoretical ethics), which addresses questions about the nature of moral concepts and moral judgements — for example, are moral judgements absolute or relative?
[p. xii] In the field of methaethics, the Greeks were the first to articulate and explore ethical relativism. The theory was defended in the 5th century UVX by the Sophists, a group of scholars who travelled throughout the Greek world teaching mainly forensics, or the art of logical argument, for money. Protagoras (c. 485—c. 410 UVX), for example, held that what is just in one community may be unjust in another, there being no way to decide which community is correct, and Thrasymachus (flourished late 5th century UVX), famously argued that justice s whatever is in the interest of the stronger. Thrasymachus's view is in fact perennial. It has happened in various guises in the work of several modern and contemporary philosophers, including Niccolò Machiavelli (1469—1527), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844—1900), and the 20th-century postmodernists (discussed further in the text below).

[pp. xii-xiii] It is in the field of methaethics that the Greek patrimony in Western ethics is most evident. Greek ethics was concerned with three metaethical questions: (1) "Is morality objective or subjective, absolute or relative?" (2) "How is moral knowledge possible?" (3) "Why should I (or any other person) be moral?" The latter question is also expressed as "Is it in one's self-interest to be moral?" and "Is it rational to be moral?" These obviously related questions have been at the heart of methaethical theorizing ever since.
[p. xiii] The possibility of moral knowledge (as well as every other kind) was questioned by Pyrrhon of Elis (360—272 UVX). According to the school established by his followers, Academic Skepticism, there are equally good reasons for affirming and denying any positive assertion, including moral ones. Although some Skeptics held that, because true knowledge is impossible, one must resign oneself to living in accord with "appearances" and local custom, they did not thereby endorse ethical relativism. After all, the claim that morality is relative is itself a positive assertion, which therefore cannot be known if the assumptions of Skepticism are correct.

[pp. xiii-xiv] Although medieval philosophers were not much concerned with skeptical problems, those who lived during the Renaissance and early modern periods (approximately the 16th and 17th centuries) were positively obsessed by them. The rediscovery of much ancient Greek literature and philosophy by Italian humanists starting on the 12th century brought with it a keen appreciation of ancient Skepticism, including as it pertained to ethics. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, a group of English philosophers known as the Cambridge Platonists developed the theory that moral truths are known through which mathematical truths are known (a view briefly revived in the 20th century). British philosophers of the 18th century tool an empiricist tack by positing a special "moral sense," based on natural feelings such as benevolence, that is pleased by what is morally right and offended by what is morally wrong. Moral sense theory also suggested a solution to the problem of why one should be moral, assuming that it is in one's self-interest to behave in ways that please one's own moral sense.

Political philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes (1588—1679) and John Locke (1632—1704) had earlier proposed that moral behaviour is one's self-interest because morality consists of a "social contract" in which each member of society agrees to surrender some measure of his right to pursue his self-interest in return for a similar concession from everyone else. In other words, morality is a system of reciprocal obligations born of the necessity to preserve peace and order. Social-contract theory was relatively neglected during the 19th century but was subsequently revived, becoming a major theme in methaethics starting in the second half of the 20th century.

[pp. xiv-xv] All three of these guiding methaethical questions — regarding objectivity, knowledge, and self-interest — were addressed in the ethical philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724—1804), who is perhaps the most important moral philosopher after Aristotle. In normative ethics Kant was also the leading expositor of deontology, or rule-based ethics, the main historical rival of consequentialism. According to Kant, right actions are those that one can consistently will to become universal law (i.e., a law that is followed by everyone). A law is willed "consistently" if, in willing it, one does not contradict or undermine the object o one's will. Thus it is wrong to make false promises because the universal practice of making false promises would destroy the institution of promise making, thereby ensuring that one's own false promises would not succeed. For Kant, moral laws are objective in the sense that they are valid for all rational beings, and they are knowable because it is immediately evident whether the standard of universalizability applies. It is less clear how moral laws are consistent with the agent's self-interest, but one possibility is that by willing what is universalizable, one wills on the basis of reason alone (rather than on the basis of desire), and it is only when one wills on the basis of reason alone that one is truly free. Kant's ethical philosophy was influential in the early and later parts f the 19th century, and it has been a major current in normative ethics and methaethics since the mid-20th century.

These methaethical questions continued to guide much ethical theorizing in the 20th century. They became the topic of much discussion even outside philosophy with the advent in the 1970s of postmodernism, and approach to literature and philosophy that challenged allegedly outmoded aspirations, inherited form the Enlightenment, regarding the discovery of truth, the understanding of history, and the possibility of human moral and material progress. Although the most extreme assertions of postmodernism are no longer taken seriously, its basic stance of relativism and skepticism remains important in continental European philosophy and in some Anglo-American philosophical schools, notably feminism.

[p. xv] Starting in the 1960s and '70s, ethical philosophy in the English-speaking world began to pay much more attention to real-life moral problems, including medical dilemmas as well as issues related to war and peace, the environment, and the treatment of animals. Applied ethics is now by far the most popular and practically influential field of philosophy.

Morality is certainly a pervasive aspect of human life. Human beings constantly perceive and assess the world, each other, and themselves in moral terms. Indeed, people usually regard their moral values as an important part of their identity.»

— Brian Duignan (editor). "The History of Western Ethics." The Britannica Guide to Ethics; Britannica Educational Publishing & Rosen Education Service (2011)

• Bernard Gert. "The Definition of Morality." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (April 17, 2002; last revised: February 8, 2016)

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