Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ethical Climates and Religion

One growing area of study in experimental ethics is the effect of what are often called climates.

It started with noticing that beggars outside of a bakery are more likely to receive charity than those near a sewer. But it has expanded into realizing that many cultures have an ethical environment.

To read scripture, moralizing and philosophy it helps to appreciate that there are huge differences in different times and places as to what is important ethically and what is not.

Those differences can often be observed as a spectrum of competing virtues. It also helps to look at yourself.

 What is more important to you?

 Rights .......... Social Good?

Which personal state of justice or harmony do you feel is core to spirituality?

Self Knowledge

How important is duty? Is it essential or meaningless?

How significant are private vices? Total or none whatsoever?

 Is a person always the same person or is transformation a real force (e.g. is the model of Nephi or Mormon more significant to you than the model of Alma and Alma the Younger)?

 Often conflicts between groups in the Church consist of vast differences in what we consider important. Does the first and greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God mean that you should obey God? Does it mean that you should "do your duty."

 Or is it a means to self knowledge and enlightenment?

Is obedience to every jot and tittle of the law more important than charity? Or should we encompass both?

What do you think? How does your answer to these questions affect how you interact at Church?

I got to thinking about this again when someone said it was nonsense that anyone would think God valued loyalty.  "The first and great commandment is to Love God with all your heart, mind, and might" did not mean that one was loyal to God, they saw absolutely no connection between loving God with everything and being loyal.

Nor did they see obedience as having anything to do with what Christ said was the greatest commandment.

It struck me, suddenly, that the person talking did not value loyalty or obedience at all.

Then I had another conversation where the other person saw loyalty to leaders as paramount, but felt leaders owed no loyalty whatsoever to the οἱ πολλοί, hoi polloi.   That struck me.  To him, loyalty was a one way street.

Made me think that other people's experiences with the climates and environments, and the values behind them, might be interesting (not to mention, different historical eras often have a set of values that are accepted by the majority in that era and that set a framework for writing, reason and thought).

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