Balance in Ethics

Individualism is a philosophy that emphasizes the individual. Collectivism is a philosophy that emphasizes the group. Ethics is the process of analyzing and determining what is the best action to be taken. We know that best actions often focus on the individual and often also include groups. The key is to find the correct balance.

We should stipulate that it is appropriate to begin any ethical analysis with a focus on how the decision will impact the self individual. It is also appropriate that the analysis should not end there, but should continue with consideration of other individuals, groups of individuals, and more.

The first balancing factor becomes how to compare the self individual to a single other individual. The most urgent consideration comes when the survival of the individual is threatened. A direct threat to survival will take priority. When survival is not being directly threatened, we consider how to sustain survival without any imminent threats. And when we are comfortable with our sustaining efforts, we turn to enhancing our survival. This gives us a simple three level progression from SURVIVE to SUSTAIN to ENHANCE. When an action being considered impacts the individual on the level of SURVIVE, that should be given priority over an action that impacts the individual on the level of SUSTAIN. Likewise, SUSTAIN should be prioritized over ENHANCE.

In our balancing act, we should combine the influence any action may have on all three levels, although direct survival threats will usually outweigh other combinations. We also need to consider when survival does not outweigh other factors. We know there are conditions where we would consider sacrificing our own life in order to save others, and there may be conditions where we would consider the ultimate sacrifice in order to SUSTAIN or ENHANCE others.

Once we have worked through how we intend to do this form of weighing the balance between one individual and another, we can turn our attention to the task of finding balances between an individual and a group or two groups.

There is a substantial amount of prediction being done in this process and often using input factors that have some degree of uncertainty. Ultimately, this makes it more like a risk management process, not just cut and dried logic.

SEE ALSO:
Ethics and the Speed of Tech Improvement
Human Potential
Evolving Intelligence is a Knife’s Edge Balance
The Progression of Ethics
A Singularity of Morality
Ethics is the Best Measure of Civilization

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