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Questions about Ethics

Argomento: Filosofia

di Franca Colozzo
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Pubblicato il 11/02/2024 00:57:43

QUESTIONS ABOUT ETHICS 

 

 

1)   What is Ethics?

 

I often ask myself what Ethics (in Greek, ἦϑος) in this world invaded by ever more advanced technology. In the language of philosophy and of the social sciences, we mean by Ethics the custom, the norm of life, the conviction and the practical behavior of man and of human societies, and the institutions with which they manifest themselves historically.

I am reminded of my high school studies in philosophy, particularly on the great German philosopher Kant who argued that: “Ethics is not exactly the doctrine that teaches us how to be happy, but the doctrine that teaches us how we can make ourselves worthy of happiness.”

 

2)   What is the difference between Ethics and Morality?

Ethics and morality are often used synonymously. In truth, it would be appropriate to make a clear distinction between the two categories. Morality corresponds to the set of values of an individual, of a group; while ethics, in addition to sharing this whole, also contains the speculative reflection of norms and values. Practically Morality is a subset of Ethics, if we want to give a clear example, extrapolating it from Set theory.

The term moral derives from the Latin "Mos" (customs), and indicates the description of customs, behaviors, thoughts and lifestyles. Morality is not unique and immutable for all humanity, but changes from population to population and changes over the years even within the same civilization.

 

3)   What is the relationship between Literature and Ethics?

 

  There is a lot of confusion in this area. Ethics and literature are often separated or the educational approach is criticized as a result of the society in which we live. According to the Italian Benedetto Croce, for example, it is unthinkable that a literary text is ethical. Because ethics does not always have a confirmation over time and changes values and meanings over the ages. Literature judged to be good does not always imply ethical purposes. In fact, ethics corresponds to the society in which we deal with problems that change over time. An ethics of the 19th century cannot be the ethics of the beginning of the third Millennium. In my opinion, literature should be exempt from ethical judgment as it cuts across the various eras and ethical conceptions of every society. For historical-cultural reasons, for example, European culture is imbued with the philosophy of the great Greek thinkers, Plato and Aristotle, until the 19th century, a time in which an opposite and typically modern conception began to assert itself, that of the autonomy of literature .

 

4) What are the four ethical principles?

The four fundamental principles: the principles of autonomy (self-determination); charitable (the patient's greatest good); of non-maleficence (not inflicting harm); of justice (the fair distribution of benefits and obligations in society, social justice). These four principles are listed by James F. Childress in his work “Principles of Biomedical Ethics" (1979).

It is no coincidence that among the most cited principles within company codes of ethics are equality, fairness, confidentiality, protection of the person and the environment, honesty, impartiality and transparency.

Today we also talk about Privacy as an ethical boundary between oneself and others in order to safeguard one's personal sphere without interference and controls from others.

 

 

5) The evolution of ethics over time following the teaching of the great Greek philosophers from Socrates to Plato and Aristotle up to Kantian ethics.

 

The history of ethics coincides with the evolutionary stages of the man living in the society of his time. The conflict between two lines of thought, however, remains immutable: one is that which seeks these principles in an external and superior source, the other is that which instead believes that they are born on earth. Already starting from the Greek philosophers and a posteriori, this clash represented the cornerstone of all reasoning on the ethical rules to be dictated: transcendent source (the gods, religion, Socrates' universal or the Kantian absolute imperative, for example). The other who instead searches on earth for the foundations on which to build, ever since the Sophists demonstrated that the Truth is an illusion. If, however, ethics is posed by man, man can also change it. It is the man who makes the law and therefore adapts it to the transformations of society.

The entire history of philosophy moves between these two always conflicting currents, with mutual contamination of great importance. Socrates, for example, pragmatic and earthly while admitting a transcendental ethic, states that he who knows the good does it; those who behave differently do not do so because they are "bad" or because they choose another path, often out of ignorance of what true good is. Plato's Idea is instead - and must be - completely separated from the world, the realm of fallacy, and perfection consists in the contemplation of Ideas.

Kant, in some way, refers to Socrates. Nature-society or the relationship of ethics with history? He thus marks a turning point that practically marks the beginning of modern reflection. For the great German philosopher, the moral act comes "before" history and cannot be conditioned by it. This “a priori” appears once again to be an act of faith.

 

 

6) Are good and evil ethical categories present in nature or only perceived by man?

 

Good and evil are concepts that have undergone changes over time and between various cultures and civilizations, if only we think of the spread of anthropophagy among some populations in the past. There has been an evolution from the philosophical way of thinking of the great Greek philosophers to the Christian-Jewish ethics.

Good and evil are central concepts in philosophical discussion, the meaning of which is not univocally fixed. Christianity, for example, has taken up the Platonic idea: the foundation of all good is identified with God.

For Aristotle, good represents the ultimate goal to which human action must aim. But, in his political vision, this good is identifiable with the actions of free men in the polis (the Greek city-state), but also in the implementation of a life dedicated to knowledge, a source of happiness.

For Kant, however, good is identified with respect for the moral law, in short with respect for others, which can be summarized in the evangelical maxim: "Do not do to others what you would not want done to you".

 

 

7) How has ethics influenced the Peace process in the world?

 

While in religious language the meaning of the term "peace" is positive (think of the biblical shalom as a state of integrity and well-being that involves the whole man and the entire human community), in political language the prevailing meaning is a negative sign, such as the absence of war.

The ancient Romans used to say: “Si vis pacem, para bellum” (“If you want peace, prepare for war”), a Latin phrase of an unknown author, but very widespread among the proponents of peace.

Over the centuries, the ethics of peace has moved in a more human than divine direction due to great political and religious changes, so much so that the teaching of Christ has gradually lost consistency even with St. Augustine, Father of the Church and bishop of Hippo (4th-5th century AD), that ideal tension of early Christianity, considering the peace embodied by Jesus a utopia. This led to becoming accustomed to the idea that the only possible peace was negative peace, achieved through diplomatic balances and negotiations, often legitimizing the use of weapons and war.

https://www.academia.edu/43657623/WHAT_IS_PEACE

 

 

 

 8) How did the industrial revolution affect work ethics?

 

The industrial ethic that took its first steps in England with factories and industrial settlements, satellite cities that were close to the industries, giving rise to a concept of industrial urban planning at the service of production, has undergone a continuous transformation.

From the intensive exploitation of children in the first factories founded in London we have gradually moved on to a form of work ethic which, however, is not yet completely clear and in force. Just think of how many deaths occur every year in the world due to the exploitation of workers and how man is still considered a slave to be exploited in many underdeveloped areas of the world.

It is in fact difficult to deny that late-modern societies are dominated by what Heidegger calls calculating thought or Jürgen Habermas (1929) instrumental rationality (from that relationship with the world that Schiller, at the end of the 18th century, already denounced as "tabular ratiocination"): in a word, from the growing application of economic rationality to all aspects of existence.

 

 

9) For what purposes have various religions used ethics? Has there really been the promotion of man as an individual with intelligence superior to other living beings on planet Earth?

 

All religions have an ethical foundation with their idea of transcendence and undisputed faith in creation by a God, but they have also subjected man to a sort of dependence on the divine, often emphasizing fears of the afterlife. This has not always represented a means to ward off evil, it has often led to religious wars as history teaches us. Often also to terrorist phenomena in the name of abstract statements based on bad interpretation of sacred texts. The deceptive use of religions nullifies the ethical message to be transmitted to humanity.

Religion has often used God as a bogeyman, deeming man incapable of dominating his animalistic instincts. At times, the abuse of power by priests has represented a dominant position of strength, which contravenes the ethical rules of a secular society.

A separate discussion should be opened regarding secularism and religion.

https://www.academia.edu/49254728/SECULARISM_AND_RELIGION

 

 

 

10) How the concept of Ethics has changed in the face of the catastrophic two Great World Wars and the fear of a threatened and still embryonic nuclear war?

 

After the two Great World Wars, can one still speak in the manner of Michael Walzer, author of "Just and Unjust Wars" (1977) who set out to restore theoretical dignity to the doctrine of bellum justum?  Is there such a thing as a just war? Certainly in light of the very recent events in Ukraine and the Middle East, not to mention other hotbeds of war, it seems that the lessons imparted to us by recent History with the Nazi death camps and the up of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, has not yet been learned. Historical memory is short and humanity inevitably relapses into the same mistakes. the veritable "revival," of the paradigm of the 'just' war, today constitutes one of the decisive junctures for the theory of international relations.

Post-Cold War ethics seems to be suffering, propelled even by the most important thinkers in the philosophical-political debate, such as Norberto Bobbio, Jürgen Habermas to John Rawls who have grappled with this topic. Walzer in "Arguing About War" has again returned to this theme in light of the war cases that, since the end of the Cold War, have again 'overheated' different parts of the planet, often acquiring global dimensions capable of triggering a Third World War. For my part, there is no such thing as a just War and diplomacy should always be resorted to before triggering a process with often unpredictable consequences.

Is there an 'ethical war', 'humanitarian', 'in defense of human rights', 'preventive', 'against terrorism', 'for democracy', 'global'? Western democracy should make its voice heard as it is the consequence of several substantial revolutions (French, Russian, American, industrial) that have really transformed the world from the late 1700s to the present day. Yet the West, too, has its skeletons in the closet: colonialism and the enslavement of black Africans, racism and imperialist-style belligerence to export elsewhere.

 

11) Globalization and Ethics: comparison between past and present. Why was literature unable to contribute to the development of human personality by defeating the forces of evil and promoting good?

The concept of ethics has undergone profound metamorphoses over time, just think of how it was transformed following the Greek thought of the great philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. A distinction must be made between ethics relating to Greco-Roman thought, often centered on values of heroism or utilitarianism (as with the sophists) and modern ethics. The same Christian conscience, where the ultimate goal seems to prevail over earthly life, has transformed ethical thought with repercussions also on the literary level. In particular, this is evident for Italian culture (Dolce Stil Novo, Humanism and Renaissance) exported throughout Europe, especially starting from the 15th century. The recent advent of globalization has literally revolutionized not only human life, but also the way of making literature. The appearance of greater freedom and well-being, apparently transversal to citizens all over the world, constitutes a danger because it favors a sort of consumerist standardization with the flattening of cultural peculiarities. Obviously, literature reflects the existential anguish of man who questions the positive and negative aspects of it. Apparently, an opportunity for greater freedom also in the literary field through exchanges of poems and writings, it sometimes constitutes a danger because it favors cultural flattening, consumerist homologation, canceling the identity aspects of peoples with their local traditions.

A literature that teaches is today more than ever contrasted with a popular literature that often uses evil to amaze and impress the reader for strictly economic and utilitarian purposes. It is true that ethics have changed over time and the great literary critic Benedetto Croce was against the aim of a moralizing literature, aimed at teaching in order to strive for good.

 

12) How social media have undermined the very concept of Ethics

Teaching literature is today more than ever contrasted with popular literature that often uses evil to amaze and impress the reader for strictly economic and utilitarian purposes. It is true that ethics have changed over time and the great literary critic Benedetto Croce was against the aim of moralizing literature, aimed at teaching in order to strive for good.

Social media, in order to amaze, amaze, and influence opportunistic and advertising choices, are often devastating because they have replaced the impact of the image with the reading of a text. The disposable nature of social media implies ease of approach by masses of ignorant people who previously did not dare to speak and today feel the right to express themselves cheaply as in a tavern. Therefore, We need to get out of the social media 🌗 shell and enter the true shell of everyday reality. We need to take the field, each with our own strengths and potentialities, as readers and researchers, intellectuals and users.

We should, first of all, do an act of humility and learn before speaking. Perhaps this important passage is missing which Socrates' aphorism clearly highlighted: SCIO ME NESCIRE".

Today everyone feels more important than Socrates who in his humility said he knew he didn't know, and they endorse Einstein's aphorism which said that two things are infinite: the universe and the stupidity of men.

 

13) Technological evolution and Artificial Intelligence are putting into crisis the very concept of Ethics consolidated over time. What measures to adopt in view of an increasingly intense confrontation with AI? Will there still be an ethical form in the use of AI in literature?

 

But what is Artificial Intelligence? For Stuart J. Russel and Peter Norvig, Artificial Intelligence is "the study and design of intelligent systems, whereby intelligent system we mean a system that perceives the environment and acts to maximize its chances of success" of intent and missions. (Russel; Norvig, 2009)

This AI, Machine Learning applied to the learning systems of autonomous machines and robots, however, can be potentially very dangerous, especially with regard to the new generations who are so dependent on mobile phones that they no longer apply themselves seriously to study. We are thus drastically faced with ethical, legal, social, and privacy problems.

Since the learning of machines is faster than that of the average man, especially if he is completely devoid of technological knowledge, questions arise about our freedom of action even in the literary field.

It is well known that literary experiments even in the poetic field have given surprising results, to say the least. In short, a poem can be written by AI by giving a simple input, a word, or a sentence and the machine processes the composition in a matter of seconds.

I believe that the number of artificially constructed books translated into various languages will also increase, as will articles from which it is not clear whether a piece of news is true or false. Just as many jobs will end up disappearing.

 

 

14) What evolution of ethics about AI can you see in the near future?  

I see an ethical future of AI that is not easily accessible to the majority of humans, many of whom will lose control of their privacy and the reliability of news. A future world in which the prevailing hedonism will also manage human profiles, images, videos and everything will seem artfully constructed by robots with humanoid features.

Even hiring a worker, evaluating his skills, determining his reliability, will be decisions increasingly linked to machines and mathematical models, as already happens in social media. restrictions and evaluations linked to machines that do not have human empathy nor the mental elasticity to bypass problems in search of acceptable solutions, will trigger a mechanism of prejudices, fears, existential anguish as if the current ones were not enough. Algorithms, even if pre-programmed by humans, could still become discriminatory with advantages for some at the expense of other ethnic groups.

 

 

15) In view of the abnormal growth of the world population, especially in Asia, and the ongoing climate changes, what tools do you plan to avoid the extinction of the human race and to encourage ethical behavior for sustainable development.

 

In 1950, the world's population was 2.5 billion people. By the year 2050, it is expected to have grown to between nine and ten billion people. This raises urgent ethical questions about how to intervene in population growth as the systems are interconnected. Exaggerated growth in a country like the United States with uncontrolled consumption will lead to starving other countries. The earth system is interconnected and many do not understand the importance of controlling consumer waste.

The ethical problem will arise for food, which will become increasingly scarce, for water, and for increasing desertification, so all these increasing problems will lead to further wars. Peace can only be built in a world of sharing and global understanding, where man is not the enemy of his fellow man.

I don't want to deal at length here with a topic that has been extensively covered by www.academia.edu and www.lte.economy.it given my two or more years spent studying during the pandemic e.Learning courses instead of feeling sorry for myself.

The ethical aspects of environmental problems must be paramount and appear fair to all countries in the world. The ethical or fair way of dealing with such pressing problems must be the basis of COP meetings otherwise no practical solution will be reached.

We cannot allow the human race, in the face of unthinkable developments in technology, to come to an unclean end and disappear due to the greed of a few active world leaders, greedy for power and lucrative profits.

The ethics of good must prevail over evil and this is certainly the priority objective that the Academy of Ethics, founded by Dr. Jernail S Aanand, is trying to carry forward for the good of humanity.

 

https://www.amacad.org/publication/ethical-dimensions-global-environmental-issues

 

https://www.academia.edu/44494666/WHAT_MEASURES_TO_ADOPT_FOR_THE_ENVIRONMENT

 

 

 

 Potrebbe essere un contenuto grafico raffigurante poster, rivista e il seguente testo "INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF ETHICS AHandbook of 0022 EDITOR DR MOLLY JOSEPH CHIEF EDITOR DR JERNAIL S ANAND"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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