Rather than beat around a tired academic bush in getting to a simple point, I'll state the fundamental question and give a simple answer. If this makes no immediate sense, visiting some other site is probably indicated.
What is the central issue of ethics? Basically, it is nothing more than "good" behavior, not only defining it but living it. Living it is your problem; getting down to an acceptable objective definition is the the problem that I've chosen to discuss here.
The problem with that intuitive idea of ethics stated above is the word "good" which I quoted with different significance before. Good, as decided by whom? Good for whom or for what, or for what purpose? A different way to put these questions is, what is the benefit of a good action and who is the beneficiary. To make me or you feel good is irrelevent.
The thesis, as an answer to these questions, that I put forth is excruciatingly simple:
"Thou Shalt not Steal"That's it, and there is nothing more. Anthing else is a confusing smoke screen, 19th Century Sick Germanic Child Rearing, physchological abuse, Meaningless Hocus Pocus or repetitious nonsense.
Hammurabi had around 1000 dicta in his civil codes, most of which were rules or advise in financial transactions (He was getting warm.); Moses brought to us 10 (Warmer yet, but still not reduced to essentials); and now on to the distillation of one simple precept, which admittedly requires the application of thought and intelligence to be useful, as does any other pice of of knowledge or wisdom. Life is not axiomatic, nor a mathematical or physical equation.
One of the problems with the older codes is they got enmeshed with "feelings about goodness" without distinguishing a logic and reason of goodness that presents itself quite easily when the intrusive feelings arising from inculcated shame, guilt and unworthiness have been separated out from the essential arena of ethics. Ethics should have nothing whatsoever to do with what one feels. Either an action in context is objectively ethical or it is not. This can be judged by objective standards. Law, as an implementation of ethics has objective standards, yet law often does not provide much less insure justice; the reason is simple: laws have not been enacted wisely, nor with proper ethics, and therfore fail to mirror proper ethics.
Note that I speak of action and not of thought, as in the nineth and tenth commandments of Judeochristian tradition. There is no such thing as an "unethical thought" or an "illegal thought" - yet; I take that as axiomatic, since to assume otherwise immediately makes the subject of ethics a matter of feelings which it is not. Either ethics is objective or it is a mess of simpering feeling unworthy of any philopsophical consideration. This perverse kind of ethics that involves thought is, however, worthy only in the most evil of fascist States. A proper "Law" should based on solid considerations of an objective ethics not on a maze of contradictory feelings. This, alone, is justification for the practical consideration of ethics in objective terms.
A major lacuna that appears in most ethical theories is that they wind up being restricted to the actions of people individually, when for logical consistancy they should apply just as well to any aggregate of people. For a supposedly ethical individual to hide behind the unethical actions of an aggregate is a cheat. Only in the Nueremberg trials was such a principle, for emotionally based expediency, brought forth as a legal principle. Otherwise, this principle is mostly ignored in the Romanesque law of the United States. Since ethical is ethical objectively, the principle applies to the actions of organizations, corporations, governments or any aggregate of people, as well as to the actions people. So, when I say an individual, I mean it to subsume any person or aggregate.
I will continue with an exposition of how the objective necessary and sufficient conditions of an objective ethics are met by the one ethical law stated above.
Notion of possession.
The Ten Commandments 1 by 1
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