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Thread: Man of sciences vs. science of man

  1. #1 Man of sciences vs. science of man 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    Feb 2007
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    Man of sciences vs. science of man

    I have a constantly changing attitude toward morality. My views are changing because I am constantly studying subject matter that is related to the problem of morality. In fact as I study these matters I find that the most important concerns of sapiens is morality based.

    I have a cartoon figure that my son has crated for me that speaks to my general attitude toward morality. The figure has an Arnold-like upper torso set on two spindle weak veracious veined legs. The upper torso is our ‘man of science’ and the lower body represents our ‘science of man’, i.e. morality. We are rapidly running out the clock on human survival unless we quickly develop a moral code that will allow us to live together.

    I suspect that almost all of us would behave uniformly when encountering face-to-face with another person’s misfortune—we would all feel instant sympathy. We are born with ‘sympathetic vibrations’--we often automatically tear-up in all the same situations. However there seems to be two moral concepts that determine many social-political situations.

    “The two main concepts of ethics are those of the right and the good; the concept of a morally worthy person is, I believe, derived from them.” This quote and any others are from “A Theory of Justice” by John Rawls.

    It appears that both philosophy and common sense distinguish between the concepts ‘right’ and ‘good’. The interrelationship of these two concepts in many minds will determine what is considered to be ethical/moral behavior. Most citizens in a just society consider that rights “are taken for granted and the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.” The Constitution of the United States defines the rights of all citizens, which are considered to be sacrosanct (sacred or holy).

    Many consider that the “most rational conception of justice is utilitarian…a society is properly arranged when its institutions maximize the net balance of satisfaction…It is natural to think that rationality is maximizing something and that in morals it must be maximizing the good.”

    Some advocates of utilitarianism believe that rights have a secondary validity from the fact that “under the conditions of civilized society there is a great social utility in following them [rights] for the most part and in permitting violations only under exceptional circumstances.” The good, for society, is the satisfaction of rational desire. The right is that which maximizes the good; some advocates of utilitarianism account for rights as being a socially useful consideration.

    Captain Dave will under no circumstance torture a prisoner. Captain Jim will torture a prisoner when he considers such action will save the lives of his platoon.

    Some utilitarians consider the rights enunciated in the constitution are a useful means to fortify the good. Captain Jim, while recognizing the rights in the Constitution, considers these rights are valid and useful but only because they promote the good. The rights defined in the Constitution can be violated but only in the name of the common good.

    Captain Dave may very well be an advocate of utilitarianism but he considers that right is different in kind from good and right cannot be forfeit to good under any condition.

    Liberals take the stance that to agree on the fact means to agree on the morality of the situation. Any deviation is indefensible and reflects only selfish rationalization. Liberals find it almost impossible to respect the moral position of conservatives and conservatives find it impossible to judge that liberals are the intellectual equals of conservatives.

    The apparent reason for this disjunction is the fact that liberals and conservatives seem to have “their own kind of morality” according to the analysis in ”The Morality of Politics” by W. H. Walsh.

    “What we need to observe is that conservatives and liberals are working within different traditions of morality. The morality of the conservative is closed morality; it is the morality of a particular community. The morality of the liberal is an open morality; it is a morality which has nothing to do with any particular human groups, but applies to all men whatever their local affiliations.”

    I was raised as a Catholic; I was taught by the nuns the Catholic doctrine regarding sin, punishment, and consciousness. Venial sins were like misdemeanors and mortal sins were like felonies. However, this is not a completely accurate analogy because if a person dies with venial sin on the soul s/he would be punished by having to spend time in purgatory before going to heaven but if a person died with mortal sin on the soul s/he went directly to hell for eternity.

    Confession was the standard means for ‘erasing sin from the soul’. A confession was considered to be a ‘good confession’ only if the sinner confessed the sins to a priest and was truly sorry for having committed sin. A very important element of a good confession was an examination of consciousness, which meant the person must become fully conscious of having committed the sin.

    Ignorance of the sin was no excuse just as ignorance of the law is no excuse. Herein lays the rub. Knowledge and consciousness of sin were necessary conditions for the erasure of sin from the soul in confession.


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