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(I started this thread because this one was getting a bit sidetracked. I didn't intend to start a discussion on ethics and morality in general terms on the other thread; I posted very specific questions. So if you'd like to discuss ethics and morality in broader terms, feel free to post here.)
Jonathan Townsend
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I go with the ancient Greek (ethos) and Roman (morals) definitons. all the coins I've dropped here
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From the

<ethics (used with a sing. verb) The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.
ethics (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics>

<morals: Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary>

It is fair to say that ethics (the codes we live by) are derived from moral values of a society. Most societies have ethical codes similar to the 10 Commandments or the Code of Hammurabi if you prefer. Although, some very small groups of people have one set of standards for themselves and see the rest of the population as fair game--if you take my meaning.

Much of one's way of looking at morals and ethics depends on your view of how the physical world originated. If someone believes that the world came into being by chance, there can be no true moral or ethical standard. If one holds to the concept of an Intelligent Designer a case could be made for an absolute moral value. Of course if you believe in a personal God, absolute truth, morals, and ethics flow from the "creator". If I understand Pantheism, morals are left up to the individuals as all creation is "god".

Of course most people don't make such definite distinctions. It is a good exercise to examine your view of how the world came into being and take logical steps to see where and how this view affect morals.

For example: If materialism (we came about by chance) is true, then morals, ethics, love, good, bad, evil and truth cannot be precisely defined. We just exist and evolution determines our fate, not what we believe or feel. Life has no ultimate purpose either. If you take materialism to its conclusions, you can make a case that no one is truly accountable for their actions. They are just following their evolutionary impulses.

If one holds a monotheistic view, then life has a purpose and you are guided by a supreme being. From this the previous terms can be defined. That doesn't mean they are always followed, but accountability for actions is clearly defined.
Lefty (aka) Sterling Dare
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Jonathan Townsend
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Not so sure materialism implies a lack of purpose. One is free to give oneself any purpose one chooses. It's easy to get trapped by questions of external validation. Likewise monotheism brings with it the questions of motivation for the one god, and polytheism brings with it basic questions about how to find balance given possible conflicts between the many gods. The romans (morals) took an interesting approach and deified their emperors and relegated their inherited Greek Greek gods to lesser or secondary status in everyday affairs. your city may have its temple to Minerva or Althea, but you still serve the emperor and Rome and ... all the coins I've dropped here
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