Thread: Nature of art
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Old Jan 7th 2014, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: Nature of art

Originally Posted by Michael View Post
I'd disagree with that one. I'd like to see Non Sequitur's take on it.

Without a doubt. Which is why a switch of terms to "morality" would be appropriate since that's where this is going.
I guess I was originally taught that ethics was "moral philosophy"

This isn't a completely well thought out proposal, but as I was musing on the difference between ethics and morality I came up with two things

1) Morality usually implies a much stronger appeal to authority and/or sense of obligation. Frequently this appeal to authority is religious so it takes the form of "X thing is wrong because the Divine (whatever that is) says so." For example, the argument over abortion usually goes "Abortion is wrong because all life is sacred to God." Without the appeal to God's authority, that argument doesn't make sense. Now, while morality is frequently religious in character, I think there a lot of examples of this kind of dogmatic appeal to authority in the secular realm as well. Specifically, it is often argued that loyality to the state is a kind of obligation that a citizen has. Frequently this argument is made based on the appeals to the authority of the state or patriotism.

Ethics, however, seems to me to based more on discovering right and wrong via some kind of philosophical inquiry. Ethics may start from a point of well established authority (for example Biblical ethics starts with the Bible), but it quickly goes beyond the immediate realm of that authority using some kind inquiry. Often this inquiry is rational inquiry found in the philophical method. So we have a proliferation of "ethics" based on philosophical debate. However, I think this inquiry is not limited to rational inquiry. For example, when the Lutheran pastor, Deitriech Bonhoeffer, was struggling with what do about Hitler during WWII he engaged in a rather extensive process of spiritual inquiry in order to try and figure out what was God's will. Simply quoting the 10 commandments was not enough for Bonhoeffer.

2) Simply put, morality seems to usually take the form of the negative. The 10 commandments are a good example: they all begin with "you shall not." Ethics seems to usually be concerned with positive along with the negative. Therefore, when Luther gives his explanation of the 10 commandments he not only explains what shouldn't be done, but also what should be done.

So conclusion: there can be secular ethics, religious ethics, religious morality, and secular morality. However, morality usually takes a more religious character because it is easier to make the appeal to authority in a religious system.
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