Bioethics Discussion Blog: One Man’s Art is Another Man’s Graffiti: What is Ethical vs What is Immoral?

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

One Man’s Art is Another Man’s Graffiti: What is Ethical vs What is Immoral?


Unfortunately, what is deemed ethical or not ethical is something like what is considered art or simply graffiti. It all depends. It all depends from which perspective you are looking at the issue. It all depends on how you define or characterize the elements of art or the ethical issue that you are considering. It all depends on the nuances that can be introduced into the decision and which may be important in the final decision. It all depends on whether you are looking at the paint through the eyes of an art aficionado or looking at the ethical question through the eyes of a religious follower. Graffiti can be defended as “street art” and what appears as immoral or unethical can be defended as “controversially ethical”.

For those of us who would like to obtain a simple answer to what is art or what is ethical, well.. we can’t. Since, in the final analysis.. “it all depends…”

Or.. are there some of my visitors who find my conclusion an unnecessary misrepresentation and find that both art and ethics have clear guidelines with regard to establishing their presence and worth? If so, tell me about your ideas. ..Maurice.

Graphic: Recent photographs, I took, of a sequence of paintings on a local flood control channel wall, 2011.

3 Comments:

At Thursday, May 05, 2011 9:17:00 AM, Blogger Dmitri Pisartchik said...

If nothing else, intent should be among the consideration in both art and ethics, as a necessary condition. If you spray paint on a wall without intending to produce art, whatever comes out is not art. How this intention is to be conceptualized is a difficult question, but I think there is some such necessary condition in judging art. The most obvious supporting example is explicit vandalism, where the person has the intention not to create or to express but to damage and defile. Clearly, it seems to me, even if such an act of vandalism resulted in something as art-worthy as the Mona Lisa (by whatever series of unlikely coincidences), we would not be inclined to call it art.

To me, ethics seems similar in that there is some necessary condition of intention. Ethical conduct requires ethical intentions, it cannot be accidental or unintended. To go to the extreme once again, if Able shoots Cane in the head with the intention of doing him harm, but (by some freak coincidence) happens to instead destroy a malignant brain tumor and save Cane from death instead, even some consequentialists would (I know I am) hesitate to call Able's actions ethical. True enough, the consequences are good (as is the Mona Lisa above) but that does not seems enough.

Things are, admittedly, much more difficult when there is just a lack of good intentions as opposed to a presence of immoral/evil intentions.

 
At Tuesday, May 10, 2011 8:00:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Incidentally, according to yesterday's GamePro website "The US federal government's National Endowment for the Arts program has declared video games a valid form of art, and eligible for funding."
This shows an example of what to some might be a conflict itself between what is art and what is ethical. The ethical point being, to some, whether Federal taxpayer money be made available to video game designers in these days of attempting to balance the Federal budget and other needs for the funds are present. Again, "one man's art is another man's graffiti". ..Maurice.

 
At Thursday, May 19, 2011 5:24:00 AM, Blogger alian said...

graffiti

Graffiti has become so commonplace that we seldom pay any attention to it anymore. On occasion it can give rise to some great humor.

 

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