Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nature of Bias II

There is a distinction between morality and ethics. And that distinction is not quite dictionary simplistic.

We find that the Latin word mōrālis relates to individual manners. Moral virtue is a middle way between two vices, the one of excess, the other of deficiency. Moral is the middle way. Moral is a personal value system; our decision mechanism regarding personal actions.

Ethics or Latin ethicus is of character, culture, and custom. These are the cultural and collective principles which govern right and wrong within a tribe, village, city, state, &c. Ethics are a social value system; the decision mechanism of the governing regarding actions that effect the governed.

It seems what you do which benefits self is moral and what we do collectively that benefits others is ethical. What you do individually that benefits others is called charity.

Now, back to the case presented yesterday.

What if the cheater had converted - no to being a born-againer - to a branch of Islam that requires him to pay half of the difference to the wronged individual? A bit of quick math would show the difference as $135K -$70K = $65K. Half of that is $32.5K so the wronged individual would now have an income of $102.5K and the cheater $102.5K. Does this make everything right? (the answer was often presented as "no.")

But clearly, both received equal compensation. In a biased point of view, the tort is not the issue; the religion is the issue. Do you see how bias plays a part?

It seems that, in the absence of born-again conversion, the cheater must be punished. In the presence of born-again status, all is forgiven forthwith. This is classical dualism.

But did the cheater benefit himself and therefore commit a moral act? Some republicans would say: "All is fair in love, war, and business."

Buddhism advocates the abandonment of dualism. The cheater is neither wrong nor right. He is just a cheater and he will pay the price in his own karma with which we need not be overly concerned. The wronged is worthy of compassion but not necessarily compensation. Life is suffering. He who was wronged is actually fortunate - for he has the opportunity to show compassion toward the cheater. The cheater carries the burden of his agency and will be reborn into this place of shadow and light (Buddhist concept of hell) to again suffer. In turning the wheel of dharma there is no end - until the realization that desire alone turns the wheel. And, an amplification of desire called greed keeps the wheel of dharma lubricated.

But for karma to work and the wheel of dharma to turn, a transmigration across the death barrier is necessary? Can such transmigrations exist? You decide. To me, the question is irrelivant.

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