Bioethics Discussion Blog: More on Truisms in Ethics

REMINDER: I AM POSTING A NEW TOPIC ABOUT ONCE A WEEK OR PERHAPS TWICE A WEEK. HOWEVER, IF YOU DON'T FIND A NEW TOPIC POSTED, THERE ARE AS OF MARCH 2013 OVER 900 TOPIC THREADS TO WHICH YOU CAN READ AND WRITE COMMENTS. I WILL BE AWARE OF EACH COMMENTARY AND MAY COME BACK WITH A REPLY.

TO FIND A TOPIC OF INTEREST TO YOU ON THIS BLOG, SIMPLY TYPE IN THE NAME OR WORDS RELATED TO THE TOPIC IN THE FIELD IN THE LEFT HAND SIDE AT TOP OF THE PAGE AND THEN CLICK ON “SEARCH BLOG”. WITH WELL OVER 900 TOPICS, MOST ABOUT GENERAL OR SPECIFIC ETHICAL ISSUES BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO ANY SPECIFIC DATE OR EVENT, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIND WHAT YOU WANT. IF YOU DON’T PLEASE WRITE TO ME ON THE FEEDBACK THREAD OR BY E-MAIL DoktorMo@aol.com

IMPORTANT REQUEST TO ALL WHO COMMENT ON THIS BLOG: ALL COMMENTERS WHO WISH TO SIGN ON AS ANONYMOUS NEVERTHELESS PLEASE SIGN OFF AT THE END OF YOUR COMMENTS WITH A CONSISTENT PSEUDONYM NAME OR SOME INITIALS TO HELP MAINTAIN CONTINUITY AND NOT REQUIRE RESPONDERS TO LOOK UP THE DATE AND TIME OF THE POSTING TO DEFINE WHICH ANONYMOUS SAID WHAT. Thanks. ..Maurice

FEEDBACK,FEEDBACK,FEEDBACK! WRITE YOUR FEEDBACK ABOUT THIS BLOG, WHAT IS GOOD, POOR AND CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT TO THIS FEEDBACK THREAD

Friday, April 14, 2006

More on Truisms in Ethics

Continuing with the topic of truisms in ethics, I would like to discuss a couple truisms, which have come to my mind and which the public may be unknowingly assuming are true but like with all truisms, there is another angle when the all facts are presented.

All ethicists are ethical - All ethicists are human and they have all the failings other humans bear. They may have the capacity to analyze ethical issues as a mathematician can solve an equation but when an ethical issue faces them personally, considerations such as self-interest may play a role in their decisions. If bioethics is a professional discipline, it is interesting to note that there is no written code of ethics for this discipline. There has been discussion and concern in the literature about the personal ethics of those ethicists who are employed to provide organizational ethics for various companies including research companies. For example, one issue is whether their employment can effect their decisions.

In ethics, right always trumps wrong, good always trumps bad - But that isn’t always true. First of all, what is right or wrong and what is good or bad can sometimes be only in the eye of the beholder. Ethical decision making isn’t always black and white and often the best solution to an ethical dilemma is perhaps surprisingly..a compromise.

If any ethicists are visiting my blog, perhaps they can also comment on this subject and provide some other examples. ..Maurice.

2 Comments:

At Monday, April 17, 2006 9:01:00 AM, Blogger Kevin T. Keith said...

When I was an undergraduate, it was a commonplace that the ethicists were the least ethical faculty in the philosophy department (apparently because they could too-easily rationalize questionable courses of action).

As for right and wrong, I disagree. Moral right does always trump moral wrong - that's central to the meaning of those terms. The same is true for "good" and "bad". And ethics is the search for, or promotion of, the right.

There is a famous disjunction in ethics between moral theories that define the "good" in terms of the "right", and those that define the "right" in terms of the "good" - but no seriously-taken theory holds that either is arbitrary. "Goods" may be defined by personal preferences, and hence subjective, but even then they are not arbitrary. (I.e., it is really true that Engelbert Humperdinck's singing is a "good" to you - you benefit from hearing it - even if no one else agrees.) And the moral right is never subjective (unless you are a true ethical relativist, which nobody actually is).

You are right that it is not always the most moral solution to do the action one thinks is optimal. (For instance, in law we opt for procedural justice rather than seeking perfect justice, for reasons of consistency and because it may be more likely to reproduce actual justice on average than the alternative.) But this simply means that there are other factors to be taken into account, which, considered together, make the "compromise" solution better than the seemingly-optimal one. Thus, we do always seek the best solution under the practical circumstances at hand, given that those circumstances sometimes dictate that an ideologically "pure" solution is not actually best. But, one hopes, we would never knowingly evaluate two alternative actions, determine that one was actually better than the other all things considered, and then choose the other one.

Saying we "compromise" is not to say that right is not always better than wrong - it is merely to say that, sometimes, the compromise position is the right one.

 
At Saturday, May 13, 2006 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Kevin, you write "But, one hopes, we would never knowingly evaluate two alternative actions, determine that one was actually better than the other all things considered, and then choose the other one." But isn't that often the approach of the politician who very often looks at possible decisions from a self-interest political gain point of view and the better action for the public benefit is not the one the politician picks? ..Maurice.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home