Engineering Character. “The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself ” ZAMM. “A man not at peace with himself will not be at peace with others.” “Assembly of Japanese bicycle takes great peace of mind” ZAMM. “Whatever happened to peace on earth?” Willie Nelson
“The real cycle you’re working on is
a cycle called yourself” ZAMM
“A man not at peace with himself will
not be at peace with others.”
“Assembly of Japanese bicycle takes
great peace of mind” ZAMM
“Whatever happened to peace on
earth?” Willie Nelson
“On doing the right thing”
“Be a role model and expect
“If you tell the truth you will not have to
remember what you said”
“Character is destiny”
“All good teachers of ethics come
to remind more than to instruct”
Ethics and Morality
March 1, 2012
Is the problem us or our institutions?
What kind of person do I want to be?
How do I become that person?
Means no regrets
How do I make sense of my life?
What am I to do with my freedom?
How can I help others?
What to do with your freedom?
Those who need instruction will profit from this
discussion and those who already have this
knowledge will revive the memory of what they
Teach others who may need direction or are
confused about the direction of their life.
A focus on Character
Our character is shown by
1. think about
2. what we say
3. what we do
Character means that at all
times we need to act in
accordance with right reason.
Who or what are you willing to
let control your life?
You can say what you say but
what you are is what you are
Living a moral or ethical life is more than just debating or learning how
to be for or against social and institutional policies.
You are not just a moral spectator trying to sort out what to believe. As
a member of society you are responsible for your human actions.
If you stand for nothing, you
will fall for anything.
But you must consider the importance of your own personal responsibility
and practical decency, your footprint. That is, how we, you, are to behave.
Consider the following examples that highlight how good people went wrong through a failure of personal responsibility: the great, the not so great, people just like you and me:
Toledo Blade, 12/3/09 USA Today, 10/6/09 Toledo Blade, 1/21/10
Toledo Blade, 1/8/10
Mark Sanford is the Republican
governor of South Carolina. On
June 24, 2009, he held a news
conference in which he admitted to
having an extramarital affair with a
woman in Argentina, after being
confronted by a reporter as he got off
a plane from Buenos Aires. He later
disclosed other flirtations.
Toledo Blade, 2/21/10
Wife to be
USA Today, March 11, 2008
Blade, March 11, 2008
Nothing fails like success,
nothing succeeds like failure.
Forgiveness …the Comeback Kid
CNN’s Parker & Spitzer
Blade, Jan 24, 2008
Blade, Jan 14, 2008
Blade, Feb 6, 2008
Trivia: did you know
that JFK, Aldous Huxley,
and C.S. Lewis all died
on Nov 22, 1963?
Blade, Jan 24, 2008
Now Baby formula
We live in the age of Many –ISM’s
-good news is that the -isms help us to understand the nature of truth in our world
We now live in an age of pluralism. People free to believe whatever they want to believe.
This leads to the practice of “situation ethics” or “casuistry”
where each case or situation stands on its own, no connection to past , present, future.
Danger is that there are no universal moral rules, usually the poor, the weak, the old, the vulnerable are the ones that will suffer.
Moral relativism is the idea that what is praiseworthy or contemptible is a
matter of cultural conditioning, i.e. cultural pluralism, a matter of one’s own
opinion, that there is not a standard of goodness or decency, anything goes.
So is there such a thing as an objective truth to guide our moral life?
Relativism – is basically the belief that all truth is relative,
that there is no such thing as an objective truth, that truth
depends on many factors such as history, the situation, the
people, those in power etc.
Leads to the belief that there are no universal moral rules, we can always imagine a situation where it would be ok to lie, to steal, cheat on your spouse, or even to kill. The end justifies the means.
Snowball and Napoleon (2 young pigs)
by their studies had succeeded in reducing
the principles of Animalism to Seven
Commandments, they would form an
unalterable law by which all animals on
Animal Farm must live for ever after. These
Were painted on the wall of the barn for all to
see. The last two were:
6. No animal shall kill any other animal
7. All animals are equal.
However, later, things became corrupted.
“Are the Seven Commandments the same
as they used to be, Benjamin (a donkey)?”
So “he read out to her what was written on
the wall. There was nothing there now except
a Single Commandment. It ran:”
All Animals are equal
but some animals are more
equal than others
Leads to Collectivism
Mustapha Mond, Resident World Controller for
Western Europe, to Bernard and the Savage:
But as I make the laws here, I can also break
them. With impunity… The world’s stable now.
People are happy; they get what they want,
and they never want what they can’t get. They’re
well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not
afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of
passion and old age; they’re plagued with no
mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or
children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re
so conditioned that they practically can’t help
behaving as they ought to behave. And if
anything should go wrong, there’s soma.
Man becomes a tool, to be used and
discarded when no longer useful. Read Animal Farm, BNW, or move to China or North Korea
A Two Flavor World: Objective vs. Subjective Truth
Objective truth is that which
lies outside of ourselves or
our personal beliefs.
Truth is not an attitude and not
how we know, i.e. a process, the
truth is what we know.
Objective does not mean “known
by all” or even “believed by all”,
you don’t get to the truth by simply counting noses. Even if everyone
believes a lie, a lie is still a lie.
Even liars know about objective
truth, since the best way to lie is to
sprinkle in a little bit of objective
Most arguments about ethics or moral issues come down to this question. So what objective means is that it is independent of the knower and not an opinion, “I itch” is a subjective truth, “Huxley wrote BNW” is an objective truth. Objective truth is then “telling it like it is.”
The World of Subjective Truth
Subjectivism – claims that all truth is
subjective, that is it is “in” or dependent on
each person individually (the subject).
Sort of like “what you say may be true for you,
but not for me.” “That the truth is relative,” or
“What right do you have to impose
your beliefs on me. You are judgmental.” What
may be “true for you” may not necessarily be
“true for me.”
Everyone is entitled to their own
opinion, leads to indifference.
The contradiction lies in the subjectivists claim
that truth is absolutely or objectively
subjective! Hence subjectivism
itself cannot be true for a subjectivist.
Ethics classes are more about
moral values (subjective) instead
of moral laws (objective). Laws
Alternative Theories of the Truth
Skepticism – claims that no truth is knowable.
But this is also contradictory for it claims
to know that it is true that no one can know the truth.
It is an objective truth that says there is no
Pragmatism – truth is whatever works, or what you think works, or what works for you.
Pragmatism is a form of subjectivism and relativism.
what is true is not always practical (e.g. a flat tire) and what is practical is not always true (e.g. a “successful” lie), leads to the idea that the end justifies the means.
Empiricism – truth is only what we can experience, for example by experiments.
Some things we sense are not true (i.e. mirages), some things we all know are true are not sensed, i.e.:
Empiricism is simply that
everything we need to know about our world is knowable by our senses as a fact, a form of materialism.
Rationalism – “truth is what can be clearly and distinctly understood by reason” or “what can be proved by reason alone.”
You can’t prove that
truth is only what can be proved.
Some truths are not perfectly clear, some things are a mystery. Why do two people fall in love? Why would you risk your life to save someone?
Emotivism – “truth is what I feel,” sort of like 2 + 2 = 5!!!!
But many feelings
Just because I feel that I did well on an exam does not mean in an objective sense that I did!
Civilization depends on the civilized imposing their standards on the
uncivilized. But who decides who the civilized are? The civilized do, that’s
who. If you cannot accept that then you are against civilization.
Although this may seem hard to accept then consider the fact that science
is what scientists say it is. And who decides who scientists are? The
scientists. Or who defines “biotransport,” me and some others as well. They set
the standards by which persons are recognized as doing properly scientific
work or for that matter bioengineering, as opposed to dilettanism, quackery,
or magic. This is not arrogance, although there can be abuses, but simply
recognizes that there is an objective truth as a result of human minds trying
to make sense of our world within the bounds of a specific field of endeavor.
Those engaged in a profession must develop the standards of the profession
and must judge who are the persons qualified to practice it.
But what about deciding what is bad or good? Is there an objective standard
here as well, an objective truth? What is our responsibility to ourselves
and to others?
But this seems to open the door to a moral relativism or value judgments
which we have seen are subjective and relative. But ask yourself how
relative are our judgments about human goodness and evil or badness?
Consider the following two lists of opposites:
marriagecelibacy or adultery
truthlies and error
Any doubt which of the above is the good and capable of being chosen
for its own sake? No one pursues the RHS as ends in themselves. We
pursue the good since they address the basic needs of human nature
(what we ought to be or ought to do). A society based on the RHS would
be unbearable and likely fail and would not be human in its essence.
So, what is ethics or being ethical?
Ethics – comes from the Gk word ethikos or ethos which is the fundamental
character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that
informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; a body
of moral principles or values; pertaining or dealing with morals or the
principles of morality, that is right and wrong conduct or practice, the
standards of a profession, also making sense of the way we make sense
of our lives. How should I live? What am I to do? , i.e Oughtness
Moral – of or pertaining to, or concerned with right conduct or its principles,
conforming to these principles rather than to just law or custom, that is a
Where does ethics or morality come from? - family, your faith or religion,
your community, your education, your culture, your nationality,
your history, experiences, your nature as a well-adjusted human being
So what we are really talking about in ethics is being moral
and doing the right thing. There is right and wrong.