Does Ethics have something to say about automatic responses

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Does Ethics have something to say about automatic responses

Post Number:#1  Postby Jan Pahl » September 7th, 2017, 11:53 am

I really don´t have any problem with Ethics and the genetic, epigenetic, physiological, neuro-plasticity (for example learning), cognitive and cultural issues. Like Konrad Lorenz (one of the fathers of ethology) once said (not verbatim), If we assume that besides our will we also have to understand other concurrent or concomitants influences that make us behave, think and have motivations, emotions and tropisms, them accepting our biological status has human beings with a phylogenetic and ontogenetic history, we can accepting it, sublime our own psyche, in other words the study of Ethics is possible and even very much desirable for our culture specially if the product of ethic systems don´t deny our biological concomitants.


The real problem with ethics not arise with our will being shaped also by things different of pure reasoning and things that had to be leaned like aristotelian Habitus, cognitive vaccines of Stoicism, learned homeostasis of the hedonic in Epicureanism, the “homunculus” of Nietzsche ubermensch, Marxist “new man” or rawls empathy homunculus thought experiment and a large Etc. If the later examples have “problems”, they are problems of feasibility. Them the real problem arise not with feasibility since feasibility problems can be solved (at least theoretically) with a re examination of the ethical system, what keeps problematic is the issue of automatic responses not even possible to by shaped by practice or habitus.


How ethics can apply (if can) to real life common situations like reacting in a car to an unexpected person crossing the street, the quick “fitting-froze-escaping” of an unexpected fist ready to hit to the face or a important job decision that have to be maid immediately with few if any data, time or lapse for reasoning but only a cuasi automatic emotional response?. Obviously examples can be customize sæcula sæculorum, them the issue at hand it´s for me a real problem inside ethics


Can ethics deal of have something to say to that large set of every day situations, many of them of real importance?

Thanks a lot
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Re: Does Ethics have something to say about automatic respon

Post Number:#2  Postby Atreyu » September 11th, 2017, 11:34 pm

No. Ethics will in no way explain our instinctive functions, nor can it help us to overcome them.

That lies in the realm of psychology (science), not ethics (moral philosophy).
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Re: Does Ethics have something to say about automatic respon

Post Number:#3  Postby Burning ghost » September 12th, 2017, 12:46 am

In the sense of instilling moral responsibility, it has a function. I would steer away from the idea of "ethics" in the sense of "social law" though and remain very much in the individualist approach.

By this I mean think about given situations and moral dilemmas where you struggle to find a "right" choice. Then from there once a real life situation comes along you'll be, at least in some small way, more inclined to act as you'd like to act rather than react in ways you'd regret. This is, I hope, quite obviously an ongoing process in which we're continually balancing between feeling of guilt, responsibility, will, and hopelessness.

I have been talking about this on the thread Reason and Morality. I guess you've seen that?
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Re: Does Ethics have something to say about automatic respon

Post Number:#4  Postby Spectrum » September 12th, 2017, 1:01 am

The Framework and System of Morality and Ethics in perspective is as follows;

    1. Absolute Moral Laws (non-theistic)
    -Moral Gap
    2. Ethical Maxims - Applied ethics
    -Ethical Gaps
    3. Actual actions
    4. Instincts

Instincts e.g. related to hunger will drive a person to actual actions.
These actions will be compared to existing ethical maxims and the deviation is the ethical gaps.
For example a person may steal a loaf of bread due to hunger.
The ethical maxim is Thou Shalt NOT Steal.
In this case it is ethically wrong to steal a loaf of bread and the thief may come up with all sorts of excuses to justify his/actions. There must be strategies for the thief to take correction actions to ensure s/he complied with the ethical Law on theft in future.

Note the legislature and judiciary will play a role on the issue of theft [related to instincts of otherwise] with reference to law and penalties. Philosophically the judiciary is not directly morality and ethics but rather belongs to politics.

In addition to the ethical gap, there is the Moral Gap.
The Moral Gap measures the deviation from the actual act, the ethical maxim and the absolute moral standard.
This Moral Gap must be continually revised and improved so that the ethical maxims can be improved towards the absolute moral law [ideal].

The above model linking Morality [Pure] to Ethics [Applied] then to Actions and Instincts is applicable to all instincts and their consequential actions.
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Re: Does Ethics have something to say about automatic respon

Post Number:#5  Postby Jan Pahl » September 12th, 2017, 11:57 am

Atreyu wrote:No. Ethics will in no way explain our instinctive functions, nor can it help us to overcome them.

That lies in the realm of psychology (science), not ethics (moral philosophy).


But had to exist ethical valuations, the scope and limits of ethics is also a valid epistemological problem for ethics, not only for science.

Science can´t do ethics even if they can give a lot of data that can be used by philosophers, but scientific methods don´t deal with ethics even if the people behind science take ethics very seriously
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Re: Does Ethics have something to say about automatic respon

Post Number:#6  Postby Burning ghost » September 13th, 2017, 2:21 am

I think it is reasonably well accepted that if someone is "out of there mind" they are not responsible for their actions. The question then becomes are they "out of their minds" due to lack of responsibility or through choice. If they chose to take that road they must be held responsible for their actions to at least some extent.

This is essentially a question of "willful" control rather than bad habits right? The law struggles with this kind of thing with pleas of insanity and such. Damage to the brain may make someone aggressive and murderous, in these situations once the person has recovered then we can hardly blame them for what happened. If they are born in such a way (meaning congenitally aggressive/murderous) and have always been so, then the blame is with the person. We can hardly start blaming X or Y gene for the crime above the person themselves, yet we can blame a condition/injury that has come into effect on the persons "normal" state.

What Spectrum was talking about elsewhere, which is a very interesting topic humanity will have to face, is what happens when we can see that certain brains are congenitally "murderous"/"aggressive"? We already know that certain genes that are present in all psychopaths are also present in non-psychopaths. Here we see that nurture, certain environment triggers, most likely play a big part. The most congenitally passive human baby could no doubt be conditioned toward violence and murder, it is simply that they'd resist that path more than others of differing genetic disposition.
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