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Ethics

Not Quite The Last Word

The essential question is, are they disadvantaged? Are they oppressed, are they in some way less able to participate in the culture that defines? What is ethical? What is right? What is good?

It’s not quite the last word in my Ethics, Analytics and the Duty of Care course, but it’s the beginning of what the last word will probably look like.

I mean, it, it’s not even whether they are a majority or a minority. I think, you know, the essential question is, are they disadvantaged? Are they oppressed, are they in some way less able to participate in the culture that defines? What is ethical? What is right? What is good?

And maybe that’s the hopeful note that we can end on. You know. Ethics is something that by its nature belongs to all of us. There’s no subgroup, majority or minority, that has a privileged position over it.

And we recognize that when we ask those who have the least opportunity to make their views known, when we ask them first, what they would perceive as ethical understanding. That somebody who lives in a shack in Malawi with an annual income of $42 has as much a stake in the discussion of ethics as you or I or anyone on the planet and therefore needs to be involved in the decision of what counts as ethical and what doesn’t.

It’s not a John Rawls social contract kind of thing, because that inherently does favor the already wealthy, because, you know, it’s all about negotiations and legalisms and things like that. It’s a much more messy thing. You know, this 60,000 parameters thing.

But we don’t get to that point unless we make sure that this person in the shack in Malawi is the first person we ask. And I think if I had to summarize my ethical position, it would be something like that. And that very much reflects the influence of the duty of care philosophy. But it also reflects, perhaps, the aspirations of the other ethical theories to maybe raise us up to be something more than what the evidence on the ground says we actually are.

See the whole discussion here: https://ethics.mooc.ca/presentation/68

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