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AstroChuck's avatar

Why do people disagree so much on ethics?

Asked by AstroChuck (37428points) September 14th, 2008 from iPhone

Kevbo’s post got me to thinking. Why are we so far apart on some of what we think is moral? Don’t know if this question really has a definite answer.

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14 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

I guess this answer is something of a cop-out, but the best I can come up with is: an interaction of genes and environment.

gailcalled's avatar

Read about the extraordinaryMilgram Experiments


The Milgram experiment was a seminal series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963….
The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised the experiments to answer this question: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?”

poofandmook's avatar

I have to believe that it’s something that makes the brain function differently as Kevbo’s article pointed out. If I don’t, then my brain might explode from trying to comprehend how some people can think certain things are perfectly fine when I and many others find the same things detestable and ignorant.

critter1982's avatar

Ethics and morality can typically be used interchangeably. The reason we as a society disagree on ethical and moral issues so much is because everybody’s BASELINE starts somewhere different. That’s to say that Christians base their morality on the New Testament, Catholics on the Old Testament, Muslims on the Karaan, and atheists will typically base their morality on how they were raised in their homes or with the people they hang out with. Everybody looks different, thinks different, and acts differently. Thank GOD or whoever you believe in we are all different!!

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

Because if we didn’t have anything to argue about, life would get boring real quick.

augustlan's avatar

What is more interesting to me is how can we be so similar when it comes to most moral/ethical situations (the biggies – murder, stealing, etc) and still allow the very few areas we disagree on to drive such wedges between us.

AstroChuck's avatar

@criter- I think of ethics as a sense of what’s right with or without being dictated by religious dogma. I equate morals with religion exclusively.

Harp's avatar

At the root of every ethical system is a vision of what a perfect society would look like. Ethical conduct then is conduct that is in harmony with that vision, and unethical conduct is actions that are disruptive of that vision.

The variations in how we evaluate morality come from the fact that we have different ideas about what an ideal society would be like. For some, it’s as simple as saying that it’s a society that obeys all of God’s commandments; that will lead to a very specific ethical code. For others, it will be a society in which each person has the freedom to do whatever he wants as long as he doesn’t harm others in the process; that will generate its own, less specific, ethical code. For someone else, a perfect society is one in which the individual’s interests are completely subordinate to those of the collective; here too, a different code will result.

Any variations on the ideal will modify the ethics associated with it. If you start from the utopian ideal of the cohesive national unit, for instance, then specify that only the “Arian” people should hold power, you get the skewed ethical system of Nazi Germany.

There will be a certain amount of overlap in most visions of how society should work, so most ethical systems will abhor certain core “wrongs”, like random killing.

critter1982's avatar

@astro: My definition of both would be anything related to principles of right and wrong in behavior. The actual definition of ethic in Websters dictionary is, “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. It shows moral as a synonym to ethic.

I’m not saying your wrong as religious teachings typically will use the word morality rather than ethical at least in my experience but the actual definitions don’t really differ. They probably do tend to differ though where they are used.

AstroChuck's avatar

@ critter- I think you misunderstood. I wasn’t correcting you on the definitions of morals and ethics. I was just explaining the way I interpret them myself.

critter1982's avatar

@astro: No I understood and actually agreed with you in the fact that typically religious dogma will use the word morality, but just wanted to note that definitively they are the same.

CMaz's avatar

Because ethics is a state of perception. Ethical for one might not be for another.

mehmetaydin3's avatar

Because dumb people don’t understand smart people.

CMaz's avatar

The trick is figuring out who is dumb, and who is smart.

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