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Meta-Ethics

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

An ethic is a rule to follow which tells you what is right and wrong. In the theory of neurological intelligence there are two different ethical systems which arise. The first system emerges from the idea that morals only exist in the context of relationships. The second system emerges from the idea that morals come from your identity. Each has 6 different ethical rules to follow. I will start with the relationship ethics.


SOCIAL CONTRACTS

The first relationship ethic states that morals come from social contracts. This is called contractarianism; a theory developed developed by Hobbes, Locke, Kant, and Rousseau in the 17th and 18th centuries. This ethic assumes that all people are naturally self interested, and that people will create binding social agreements in order to avoid being taken advantage of by others. The last five of the ten commandments are examples of social contracts that were made into laws. Thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet.


One problem is when social contracts are made only to ensure that people do not take advantage of each other, then there is no need for anyone to contribute to society.


COMMON GOOD

The second ethic, the common good ethic, states that we have a role to play in society, therefore we must make sacrifices in order to play that role properly. By doing so we can reap the rewards of group cooperation. When we all play our part, society can function properly and life will be better for everyone. “Some things that nurture a healthy, functioning community are: stable family life; good schools; affordable nourishment and health care; effective public safety; a just legal system; fair trade and commerce; a safe, well-managed ecosystem; an accessible technological environment; a well-maintained infrastructure; and a peaceful society.” (Five Ways To Shape Ethical Decisions: Common Good Approach - Capsim)


The biggest problem with these first two ethics is that without a way to change the social contracts that are in place they can actually leave a society in a state that enforces harmful social arrangements. There needs to be some way of changing social constructs so that they will not perpetuate harm.


NEGOTIATION

The third ethic, the negotiation ethic, states that because our relationships are personal we may change, create, or destroy social contracts through negotiation. The modified contracts must be agreed upon by the people involved and be to the benefit of all parties.


Although the relationship ethics now have the ability to benefit most people, there is still a large group of people that are left out. These are those people that are powerless to negotiate, such as children, and the disabled. In order for them to be treated properly by society someone must look out for them.


RESPONCIBILITY

The fourth ethic, the responsibility ethic, states that we are required as a leader to adjust the social contracts that we have in order to best help the people the people that rely on us.


Now that all people could technically be treated morally by society there is yet another issue. If social contracts are being made for other people, then there must be some way of staying accountable for the social contracts that you make. If not you could inadvertently (or purposely) harm someone that relies on you, and there would be no way to know this was happening, let alone fix it.


ACCOUNTABILITY

The fifth ethic states that as ministers we look out for each other's well being and we must hold each other accountable for our actions. This should ensure that we are always doing the right thing.


The final challenge that arises is that this only has power to illuminate the behavior of individuals, it does nothing to help those who have been wronged.


MERCY

The sixth ethic is the mercy ethic. The sixth ethic states that for those people who are wronged by the social contracts that have been made by society it is necessary to show them mercy, and remove the burden of those contracts from them.


This can come in the form of forgiving the people that have wronged you after they have changed their behavior, showing love to those who are feeling down, redeeming the oppressed, and so much more.


With the final ethic of mercy the relationship ethics are finally ethical in nature. Now we will look at their opposites. The relationship ethics are formed under the assumption that everyone is already self interested, but how and why do people become self interested? These are questions that are answered by the identity ethics.




VALUES

The first identity ethic is that morals arise from your values, and are used to promote your identity. The values that you have are the guide for your moral actions.


However, you do not exist in a vacuum, and your values are influenced by others.


VIRTUE SIGNALING

The second identity ethic is the virtue signaling ethic. It states that in order to properly use or defend your collective identity you must signal to others in your group that you are doing what is right. This is called virtue signaling.


This ethic is shown numerous times as hypocrisy throughout the Bible. The Pharisees are called hypocrites on several occasions by the Savior. They would say loud prayers so that others would notice how righteous they were, and they boasted about their excessive obedience to the law.


The downfall to this ethic is that it does not show a way to bolster your identity outside of a group context. There is nothing that you can do to make yourself stand out.


AUTONOMY

The third identity ethic states that as an individual you should be able to change your priorities and values in order to promote yourself better.


The downfall of the autonomy ethic is that there are people you cannot influence directly, and your shortsighted individual autonomy cannot improve your image on the people you don't directly interact with.


BRANDING

The fourth identity ethic states that because you represent something you should change your values to uphold that ideal. By representing something you can extend your influence to people that you don't immediately interact with.


Now that you can influence others you need to understand which of the things you do are the most valuable. That way you can ensure that you are making the best impression.


SELF ASSESSMENT

The fifth anti-ethic states that you are a moral person, so you need to assess your impact on others to make sure that you are the best person you can be.


Now that you understand the influence that you have had on people you might find that you have not always been doing your best. What are you supposed to do when you feel guilty?


REPENTANCE:

The last anti-ethic addresses what to do if you find you have done something wrong. If ethics are completely identity driven then you could make yourself into an immoral character, and there must be some way to save yourself from this fate. This ethic states that you must correct your behavior, do what you can to undo the injustices you have committed, and forgive yourself for doing what is wrong.




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