Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happiness as Ethics

The problem with making happiness the goal in life.
The most glaring example of this unsound ethical thinking is the pervasive belief in moral relativism, the idea that each person ought to act in keeping with his own moral code, that what is right for one person isn't necessarily right for another person, and that each person has a moral obligation to be tolerant and not pass judgment on alternative moral viewpoints. This is probably very familiar to you as I describe it because it is the most commonly expressed position in the market place today. The view is expressed in more popular terms as, "You have your moral truth; I have mine;" or "Don't push your morality on me;" or the even more vacuous, "You can't legislate morality." The biblical description of this type of ethic is described in the book of Judges where "every man did what was right in his own eyes." That's the depth of most people's ethical beliefs nowadays, at least that's what they hold.

This, by the way, is why much of the discussion of ethical issues in the market place today centers on the concept of rights. Have you noticed that? When we talk about ethical issues in the news, the discussion is not about morality, it's about rights. "I have a right to choose; I have a right to experience my sexuality in any way I desire; I have a right to amass as much wealth as I can; I have a right to get a divorce if I choose."

Choose is little bit of a confusing statement, if I can give you an aside here. Choose is a relational term, it needs something else to relate to it. There is no such thing, technically, as a right to choose. It's like saying something is to the left of. Well something can only be to the left of something that you identify. Being to the left of doesn't just hang out in space there by itself. In the same way, choice doesn't just hang out there in space by itself. We don't have right to choose...anything. We only have a right to choose particular things. So the discussion about choice has always got to be about that thing that choice is in relationship to. Do I have a right to blow up a building if I don't like their prices. Of course not. Do I have a right to choose a pen rather than a pencil? Yes I do. So the right to choose is not autonomous, it's not an absolute right. It always depends on the object that's in question. (Read entire post.)

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