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HGTC Ethnic Studies Approach to Ethics Societal Must Haves Questions

HGTC Ethnic Studies Approach to Ethics Societal Must Haves Questions


As discussed in Our Approach to Ethics (SE), inquiries (regardless of type) always involve an amount of ignorance and questions.  Ethical/moral inquires often involve questions that refer to, assume, imply, etc., one or more ethical/moral values or principles.  In this week’s discussion we consider a scenario designed to prompt us to think and reason about certain “fundamental” ethical/moral values or principles.  One might think of these as the moral “must-haves”/”can’t-stands” for most any sort of society to exist, flourish, etc.


Suppose that you (as well as everyone else in this class) have the opportunity to choose two moral/ethical values or principles that will be used to guide and govern a new society.  Which two values/principles would you choose?  Before answering this question, there’s a limitation that must be considered.  Namely, everyone entering this scenario has –zero– knowledge of where he/she will end up in society after his/her chosen values/principles are applied.  You don’t know what your age, gender, race, ethnicity, talents, job, nor physical/health/financial, etc., abilities or limitations will be.  You also don’t know what your religious, moral, political, etc., beliefs/commitments will be.  Any factor/characteristic that might give you (or anyone else) some insight into your (or his/her) future “lot” in this new social life is completely unknown.  Upon entering this scenario everyone is located within a situation of –equally perfect ignorance– in regards to precisely where he/she will end up within this new society after the chosen values/principles are applied.  Anyone might end up as a 50 year old Asian Catholic woman that happens to be a billionaire with a completely devoted family that most everyone in society respects and loves.  Or, one might end up as an impoverished 20 year old mixed race Buddhist homosexual male that’s been sentenced to 40 years in prison for a crime that he did commit.  Or, you might end up as a disabled 5 year old living with a single mom that works a minimum wage job while pursuing a degree in nursing.  Etc.  Simply, upon entering this scenario none of us have a clue about what our social standing, age, beliefs, familial conditions, etc., will be once our chosen values/principles are applied.    

Given the above scenario, this week’s questions are:

1) Societal Must-Haves: Which two moral values/principles seem crucially important for this new society to be guided and governed by?  Alternatively put, which two moral values/principles –must– be promoted and protected by this new society?  Your reasons?

2) Societal Can’t-Stands: Which two dis-values, beliefs, behaviors, things, etc., –must– this new society do it’s best to censor, discourage, eradicate, etc.? Your reasons?

3) Finally, would you choose a different set of societal must-haves or can’t-stands if a further limit was added?  Namely, suppose that you had to offer two moral values/principles that everyone in this class would likely agree with.  Would you choose something different than defended in (1) & (2)?  Your reasons? 

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