Talk:Moral purchasing

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ethics vs. morality

There are some problems with this idea of moral purchasing, or moral anything. A place to start the study of morality versus ethics might be in attitudes toward chemical dependency, which is what most consumerism is about - addiction to metals, hydrocarbons, and other artifacts configured of chemicals intended to affect humans usually through hedonic upregulation.

In treatment of alcohol, addiction (euphemistically called alcoholism to identify the victim as the cause, rather than those who profit from supplying the addictive substance), trends in the past couple of decades have moved from a moral model and a disease model. The disease model moves closer to one that can be articulated in scientific terms, though it most often assumes the disease to be an individual problem rather than a socio-psychological problem. Still, diseases are described as diseases against ethical assumptions that prefer life and quality of life. Medicine and law in early 21st Century Western societies are flawed by a conundrum that treats illegal addictions as moral problems and lawful addictions as medical problems requiring the response of ethical communities and ethical behavior by the afflicted individual. To summarize my concern, I believe this site, regardless the attention to morality, is advancing a preferrence for individual ethical choice and attempts to provide information to support ethical behavior according to a predominant human preference for sustenance of life.

Morality tends to be based on assumptions about universal constants. Morality systems rest on a belief in right or wrong. The concepts lack any semantic foundation, so they most often trace their roots to cosmic assumptions. Though atheists might at times claim moral purpose, most often right is what God, Allah or whatever other god of the day demands, and wrong is whatever is contrary to "God's will". The term then devolves into popular assumptions about morality that might not immediately attach to a god concept, but such devolution seldom can trace its origins to an organized semantic argument. Often, morality is employed as a term because it has emotional appeal. When appealing to a God-fearing people not to deploy nuclear weapons, a moral argument can be affective simply because it appeals to an irrational but deeply held belief in the audience. And often those advancing such arguments hold their own cosmic belief systems that provide some direct or indirect semantical basis for moral assumptions.

Ethics, however, relate behavior to goals. Humans reach agreement about preferences and compile ethical systems intended to guide behavior toward the preferred model. Ethics are contextual. Ethics reflect a scientific approach to human behavior - one that can establish reasonably reliable and coherent semantic descriptions for its assumptions. An ethical system might embrace genetic diversity at first because the beauty of a diverse ecosystem offers an emotional appeal, but the emotional reaction can find roots in reliable scientific analysis that says diverse systems are more durable and offer more choice when dealing with adverse circumstances. A diverse system offers more opportunity to survive cataclysms or sustained threatening pressures from myriad, unpredictable sources. But an ethical preference for survival of life-systems on earth isn't assumed best because it is morally right - it is not ethical because it is what God wants, it is ethical because it is what we want from our point of view. Ethical semantics do not get lost in unreliable assumptions that claim subjective viewers can hold a neutral point of view.

Ethical systems tend to prefer maintenance of life because it is what we want. We don't really know if survival of our kind is God's will or not, even if we did have some accurate way of knowing there is some god that conforms to our views of what might be a god. This assumed God that some say made us might as well decide to destroy us - we certainly suffered a major thinning some 70,000 years ago, when human genetics were pruned to a mere 10,000 or so samples worldwide. Moralists tend to say making large-scale decisions about the future of life is "playing God" and hence immoral, but they tend to base their statements on divine provenence - God told them it is "playing God", so a person could as well conclude a god provenencially told them it is their duty to destroy life. The ethicist, however, if the ethic calls for reliable, accurate, cogent semantics, must conclude that there is no ethical way to say with certainty, based on tangible evidence, that there is a God persona and that we know what this god wants, for ourselves much less for others. Judge not that ye be not judged, his purported spokesperson is said to have instructed.

The ethicist takes semantic responsibility for the source of preferences, citing the sourcse as human self-determination. An ethicist might acknowledge that other willful or momentous forces are at play in the universe, and concede a preference that accepts without changing whatever the universe tosses our way, or the ethicist might conclude natural selection is a more reliable way of maintaining a diverse ecosystem. But an ethicist cannot conclude it is wrong to engineer and release new species into that system - it is only possible to say it is wrong in that it does not best serve a group of ethicists' purpose. Ethical persuasion rests on an ability to relate the integrity of an ethic.

So I am suggesting ethical purchasing offers a stronger semantic basis for advancing our preference for continued life, and our high regard for the vast majority of life that exists beyond the scope of any one living being. Moral systems invite concentration of moral authority. Moral systems are affective systems for group control, but they might not be the best system for developing a world of self-directing humans who widely respect the momentum of life outside their own species.

Besides these arguments, moral systems are prohibited even by the semantic documents moralists cite as their authority. The torah says humanity was told not to eat from the tree by means of which it shall be known whether man chooses good or evil. It didn't say there was no god or that god had no system of good or evil - it implied Gd had a system of right and wrong but that we are not to bother ourselves exploring it. We have the whole world at our disposal, and an ability to devour or nurture anything in that world, according to instincts that tell us we live and learn to live, but that we die and life goes on. The story goes that we were allowed absolute dominion in the world we have access to, we were just not supposed to cheat by looking in the teachers edition to find the right answers. So the torah and the bible, which are the basis for most moral systems, start by telling readers they are not supposed to be meddling in right and wrong - aka morality, but it also imparts vast latitude, and implies responsibility to adopt ethical systems that coordinate our preferences with what was going on when we got here.