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Ethics and morality


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Very brief overview:

When many people see the word "morality," their first thought often relates to sexual activity of some type. Many individuals and groups, like us, use much broader definitions.

Morality can be defined as a system of criteria that determine whether a specific act under defined conditions is right (moral), wrong (immoral), or neutral (no moral implications).

There are many sources of ethics and morality in use:

  • Moral codes are often derived by theologians who interpret holy books, like the Jewish Torah, Christian Bible and Islamic Qur'an. Their conclusions are often accepted as absolute truth by believers. Unfortunately, each of these books contain apparent contradictions and ambiguities that must be harmonized. Since a person's interpretation of a holy book is heavily influenced by the interpreter's culture, theologians within a given religion -- and theologians among different religions -- often produce very different moral codes and theological beliefs. This places the validity of sets of moral codes derived from the Bible and similar texts, in serious doubt.

  • Evolutionary sociobiologists view many human behaviors and elements of morality as having originated in primate societies among chimpanzees, bonobos, and early humans. They believe that moral codes evolved and adapted as human groups advanced from small hunter-gathering bands about 100,000 years ago, to tribes, to chiefdoms, and finally to nations circa 2000 BCE. 1

  • A current and very active debate involves the "science of morality" -- the concept that superior and objective systems of morality and ethics can be derived by studying human cultures and by then applying the scientific method in order to maximize people's well being. A leading proponent of this concept is Sam Harris who advocates in his book "The Moral Landscape" "... a conversation about how moral truth can be understood in the context of science." 2

Needless to say, with such different sources from which moral systems can be derived, we can expect to be deluged for the foreseeable future with conflicting sets of moral codes concerning:

There are an enormous number of topics that we hope to be covered eventually in this section. We have just begun to scratch the surface.

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General introduction to ethics and morality:

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Specific topics covered:

bullet Bible:
bullet Bible passages that are immoral by today's religious & secular standards
bullet The status of women in the Bible and early Christianity
bullet God's genocides
bullet Changing holy books in order to modify beliefs and alter behaviors
 
bullet Business ethics:
bullet Salaries paid to religious leaders of para-church groups in the U.S.
bullet Future Shop.ca in Canada
bullet Hoover in Canada
bullet People with disabilities, by the Canadian banking system
 
bullet Children:
bullet Preventable child deaths from unclean water and lack of sanitation
bullet Hitting children as a form of discipline
bullet Children being used as soldiers
bullet Shootings in public schools
bullet Safe haven laws for abandoned newborns
bullet Satanic Ritual Abuse
 
bullet Cloning:
bullet Ethical aspects of cloning
bullet Therapeutic cloning (creation of artificial organs)
 
bullet Denial of human rights of:
bullet People living in dictatorships
bullet Gays and lesbians seeking marriage
bullet Gays, Atheists, Agnostics and others in the Boy Scouts

bullet Employment discrimination against:
bullet Women seeking ordination
bullet Gays and lesbians
bullet People with disabilities, by the Canadian banking system

bullet Environment:
bullet Global warming and other environmental concerns

bullet Global ethic: Rules of behavor for all of humanity:
bullet Excerpts from "The Principles of a Global Ethic"
bullet The Declaraton of a Global Ethic

bullet Government:
bullet Moral and religious aspects of the 2004 presidential election
bullet Moral aspects of the 2006 budget and state of the nation speech
bullet A personal story about undocumented migrants: An essay by Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
bullet

Moral aspects of the 2011 federal budget: An essay by Jim Wallis of Sojourers

bullet What is the Circle of Protection? The moral aspects of reducing the budget on the backs of the poor
bullet The moral aspects of killing Osama Bin Laden: Part 1  Part 2

bullet Human sexuality
bullet Asexuality
bullet Homosexuality and bisexuality
bullet Transgender persons and transsexuals
bullet The HPV vaccine and cervical cancer
bullet Christian attitudes on sex and gender (Masturbation, homosexuality, abortion, ordination of women, status of women)
bullet Youth sexuality: sex-education, access to condoms, & pre-marital sex
bullet Rape in wartime
 
bullet Justice:
bullet "Pardon and forgiveness: the highest forms of justice" by Susan Humphreys

bullet Medical and mental health topics:
bullet Abortion -- religious and ethical aspects
bullet Ending discrimination in hospital visitation
bullet Emergency contraception
bullet Will Catholic hospitals make EC available to rape victims?
bullet Ethical aspects of human organ harvesting and transplanting
bullet Health care for all
bullet Human embryo & stem cell research
bullet Marijuana availability
bullet Medical treatment of pain: who gets it and who doesn't
bullet Physician assisted suicide
bullet Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT)
bullet Roman Catholic instructions in bioethics, 2008 "Dignitas Personae"
bullet Treatment of burns with fetal skin tissue

bullet Native peoples:
bullet The extermination of Canada's Innu people
bullet Suicide among Canada's Native people
 
bullet Polls:
bullet Activities that Canadians feel are immoral
 
bullet Racism:
bullet Racism surfacing in 2009-SEP, directed against President Obama
 
bullet Slavery:
bullet Past, recent & current slavery in Nazi Germany, Japan, Sudan, U.S., etc
bullet Financial compensation for Nazi slave laborers
bullet Japanese sex slaves
 
bullet War and terrorism:
bullet Land mines
bullet Financial compensation for Nazi slave laborers
bullet Governments' complicity in the Nazi holocaust
bullet Rape in wartime
bullet Japanese sex slaves
bullet

When is killing a human permitted in Islam? The principle of tattarrus.

bullet

The moral aspects of killing Osama Bin Laden: Part 1  Part 2

bullet

Muslim statements against terrorism


bullet Other material:
bullet Capital punishment; the death penalty
bullet Hate crime legislation
bullet Religious urban legends - contemporary beliefs that are hoaxes
bullet

An essay donated by Dave Wilson: Values and importance: the place of relativity

bullet Do convicts have a right to access samples for DNA testing?

Reference used:

  1. "Evolution of morality," Wikipedia, as at 2010-SEP-04, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. Sam Harris, "The Moral Landscape," Page 2, Free Press, 2010-OCT. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Available in Kindle format.

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See our "Hot" religious topics menu for additional essays with a moral component.

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