Saturday, November 5, 2011

Practiced Ethics

            I promised in the last post that I would take up in this one the issue of what a practiced ethics would look like in the real world. However, I think that in framing it that way, I was getting ahead of myself. Because neither I, nor anyone else, is currently in a position to prescribe ethical behavior to anyone else, at least not in some kind of codified, absolute form. And I'm not sure anyone ever will be.

            But what some people are ready to do is to start having a genuine conversation about it. But if this conversation is to be had, we have to acknowledge that some people are better equipped to contribute to the conversation than others. In any other field of human inquiry and understanding, this would not even need be said. If, for instance, my hometown were to notice that the expansion bridge that connects it to its southern neighbor was in danger of collapsing, there would be little question as to whom to consult for advice regarding its repair; architects, materials and structural engineers, construction firms, etc. If a barista at a local coffee shop, or a stylist at a salon started insisting that their opinion regarding the bridge's repair was just a valuable as the structural engineer's, they would most likely be ignored, or committed. 

            So why is it, then, that in the most important questions of our lives as social creatures, the questions of how we should treat one another, we fail to see that some people have better answers than others?

             I could go on at length about this, but I would simply be reiterating an argument that Sam Harris made much more poignantly at TED. So I've embedded that video here, and it is really well worth your time to watch it in its entirety. It might be the best 20 minutes you spend this year.

            I just watched this for the third time, thinking that there were some points he makes that I wanted to elaborate on. But I don't think that's necessary. I think he takes care of himself.

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