This article examines both the pitfalls of the "post modernist" viewpoint, whose blind avocation of religious and cultural relativism has allowed the tribalization of American society, and political "leadership", which survives on such division. It advocates the utilization of ethical rules of conduct and discourse derived through reason, sans religion or culture, and prescribes the leadership qualities essential for its inculcation. This article was originally presented at the Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics XVIII, Washington, D.C. (January 25-26, 1996). The views presented herein are entirely those of the author, and do not represent the official position of the United States Army Combined Arms Support Command, the United States Army, or the Department of Defense.
To the student of philosophy, the terms "ethics" and "morality" are used, with few exceptions, synonymously. "Popular" usage, it appears, makes a distinction. Time and time again, students insist "ethics" is merely the philosophy of right and wrong. "Morality", however, is determined by religion. A significant minority believes "morality" is strictly "Christian". The holders of this view are generally referred to as "fundamentalist" and have definite responses regarding the judgment of moral beliefs and actions. Why argue? Why not state, for educational purposes, the definitional history of the Greek (Aristotelian) usage of ethikos and Cicero's concept of moralis, and say, "but let's look at it your way"? "What is the significance of your definitional dichotomy?" And, of course, for this paper, what is the significance for defining the requirements of effective leadership?
Visions of Faith
If morality is determined by religion, then to Christians, are Muslims immoral? What about a Baptist's "moral view" of Catholicism, or a Seventh Day Adventist's moral judgment of Presbyterianism? If you are Jewish, what is your moral view of Muslims, and if you are Muslim, let's examine the immorality of Hinduism. Now, of course, if you are Hindu, just what do those Buddhist's think they are doing?
The tying of "morality" to a religious belief or faith has dangerous connotations, particularly in a secular, open society. Could a devout member of "religion A" be subordinate to a believer of "religion X" if a tenet of "A" is that followers of "X" are, at their core, immoral? Edmund L. Pincoffs asserts morality should not "lean too heavily" on religious belief:
Religious belief is, in an open society, a society that encourages critical reflection, a notoriously fragile structure. Many reflective persons come to disavow it. But such persons are better off if their realizations that they no longer are believers is not the occasion of a moral crisis--a crisis that arises only if their motivation to be moral arises solely from religious sources (Pincoffs, 1986: p. 163).
The linking of morality to religious beliefs creates, by definition, not only moral relativism, but quickly degenerates any discussion into "religious relativism". While comparative religion is an interesting topic in its own right, it generally becomes divisive. While a high percentage of Americans respond they have "religious faith", the underlying basis of what they believe, much less why, is at best tenuous, and hardly establishes a common ground for constructive inquiry and discussion (The Economist, 8 July 1995: pp.19-21). It also follows, of course, if morality is an extension of religious belief, it cannot be taught in public schools.
No less worse is basing ethics or morality on one's culture. "Cultural relativism" can be just as divisive as religion. "I can do "X, Y, or Z" because my "culture" says I can", appears to be becoming the "in" excuse these days for all types of antisocial behavior: e.g. gang culture or drug culture. This pretext of absolution has even caught the attention of Judith Martin, a.k.a. "Miss Manners" (Martin, 1995: p. G-11). Everything is culture: city culture; small town culture; country culture; African-American culture, Irish-American culture, AsianAmerican culture; Native-American culture. Everybody these days has their own culture.
One of the most fundamental variables defining a "culture" is its language. Common communication is essential for a culture. Studies have consistently shown the United States is one of, if not the most, monolingual of developed nations. The majority of people claiming membership to the "cultures" cited above fail to qualify. They speak "American English". They may have a dialect, but they share only one single language. They were born in this country, educated in American schools, learned U.S. history, and have probably never visited the prefix origin of their "______-American culture". Legitimate arguments may be raised, in some instances, for a sub-culture, but a unique, identifiable, segregative culture imbuing the self-proclaimed member with unique moral rights?--NO. If morality is so transitory and relative, then the term "multicultural society" is an oxymoron.
Syndicated columnist George Will, in his May 1994 commencement address to the College of William and Mary asked, "Why should honor and respect accrue to accidents of birth? Honor should flow to individuals because of their attainments of intellectual and moral excellence--not merely because of any membership in any group." He attacked what he called the "post-modern" idea that facts do not exist apart from the biases and traits of the people who hold them and that no idea or other "cultural product" is more legitimate than any other. He warned that the "virtues of reason and persuasion" are being replaced by politics of "a peculiar and unwholesome kind: identity politics--that people are shaped by their race, ethnicity, sex or class and not by convictions arrived at through reason" (emphasis mine) (Petkofsky, 1994: p. B6).
Emile Durkheim viewed a "society" as a "conscience collective". That is to say its members all share a system of beliefs and sentiments which define how their mutual relations ought to be. This conscience collective is internalized by the society's members through values and norms to such an extent that they constitute a "moral authority." Such authority, through "guilt arousal", conforms the behavior of individuals to those values and norms. Now, while Durkheim believed society (strongly influenced by religion) was the "source and end of morality", he did recognize a problem with this. Pressures within a complex society may lead to a sense of alienation or anomic uncertainty arising from conflicting expectations. Talcott Parsons focused Durkheim's view on what he calls "institutionalized individualism": that a person or persons perceive pressure to be independent, to be greater than the pressure to conform, that they reject normative values essential to a stable society (Durkheim, 1974).
Put another way, it is erroneous to assume the acceptance of the concept of the United States being the "Great Melting Pot", creating a stronger whole from the diversity of its members. Not only is it no longer true, but the very opposite seems to be actively occurring: Differences between our citizens, be they real, pseudo-cultural, substantial or insignificant are being used as catalysts to stratify the melting pot. Commonalties of our society are being ignored in favor of differences. Accentuation of diversity over, and at the cost of, commonality is dangerous and destructive to a society, not constructive. George Will concluded his commencement address by warning this very situation could lead to a tribal society where differences become more important than common ideas:
A post-modernist community cannot long remain a community. It will lose the self-confidence necessary for the transmission of things--ideas and values--held in common (Petkofsky, 1994: p. B6).
Eastern Europe, East Africa, West Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia: all are contemporary examples of this point. Why is this stratification occurring in the United States?
There's this continuing tribalization of American Society. We're not citizens in the sense of sharing broad ideals and values...It's going to get nastier because the stakes are higher (Frolik, 1995: p .9).
American Culture War
In an interview discussing his new book, Before the Shooting Begins: Searching for Democracy in America's Culture War, sociologist James D. Hunter sees an America increasingly diverse and divided: unable to agree on central definitions of life, family and freedom. Fragmentation is increasing and conflict breeds conflict:
What's at stake are the most basic issues that have to do with life, liberty, and who's part of the community and who isn't (Intress, 1994: p. B4).
Hunter's research, conducted through interviews and analysis of national surveys, found people rooted in their beliefs (e.g., abortion), but unable to explain the reasoning behind them:
The most striking thing about those conversations is that while people feel very strongly, they don't think very deeply...with the result...people are arguing with phantoms, not over the facts of the legal dispute. So instead of having serious debates, the groups systematically distort each other's messages through inflammatory statements and emotional displays... (Intress, 1994: p. B4).
The media fan the flames: the greater the fractious protest, the more coverage it gets, albeit superficial sound bites. The public shares the fault by failure to demand substantive discussion, especially from its elected leaders. So abundant is sound bite commentary and "infotainment", the author sees the public overwhelmed and increasingly apathetic:
...our ideals become a shallow democracy, a veneer for power politics. What made the democratic experiment work was a historically contingent set of agreements on the nature of public and private life. But those agreements are falling apart (Intress, 1994: p. B4).
Democracy: The Worst Form of Government
Until you look at all the others--is a familiar quip to students of political science. Given this quip, perhaps our form of representative democracy is really the "worst". Lincoln is credited with stating:
You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
To "Lincoln's Law", I propose two corollaries:
1. The minimum qualification for elected office is to fool one more than half the voters on election day (or less if there are three or more candidates); and 2. Democracy is the only form of government where the people get the government they deserve.
Divide and Conquer
Seeking and holding an elected office is an expensive proposition. The complexities of modern issues do not lend themselves to today's "sound bite" expediency of campaigning. Remember our first corollary : A politician doesn't require the support of "The People"; merely one more vote than his rivals on election day is sufficient. Isolate the historical voter, grab for the emotive issues (regardless of substance), take the moral high ground, cast your opponent as immoral, make as few commitments as possible (at least regarding anything you could possibly be held accountable for), raise as much money as possible--and just maybe you'll get elected. Actually, following "election reform", pandering for money and voter support is far easier thanks to political action committees (PACs). Pick the PACs with the money and the votes, follow the above rules and you're off to becoming a politician. To hold office, remember who and what you represent--at least as long as your money and ability to generate votes vis-a-vis others holds out.
Politics is an ice jam of accusation and obstruction, the hardest vulgarians honored for their cynicism, its good men fleeing to tend private gardens... In the freest country on the planet, democratic political campaigns are a ghastly joke. The ideal candidate is a cipher, devoid of personal history. The handlers write the scripts, build the drama, concoct the spin, and get famous themselves (Hamil, 1995: p. 23).
A cynical view of political life? Just remember the level of esteem politicians hold within the general public as measured by opinion poll after opinion poll. America's political cartoonists consistently reflect the same cynicism. So why does it continue? Perhaps, because the majority of Americans do not vote. Remember our second corollary.
Parties of God
So, who does vote? Does the discipline and commitment to attend church on Sunday (not to mention give monetary contributions) correlate to the discipline and commitment required to vote and financially support political "causes"? Apparently career politicians think so. The religious right is on a roll and many a politician are "reinventing" themselves to court their favor. At least half of the previously cited Economist article is dedicated to the increasing political influence of religion in America. Particular attention is given to the religious right and their "moral" agenda. The Christian Coalition
...boasts 1.6M members and a dominant voice among Republicans in perhaps 18 states. It has money, grassroots lobby power and, whatever its real ability to sway voters, a lot of influence over Republican politics (The Economist, 8 July 1995: p. 21).
The Christian Coalition aided the defeat of President Clinton's health care reforms, the Republican victories in November 1994, and spent more than $1M to support Speaker Gingrich's "Contract with America". The bill is now being called due. The Coalition has its own "Contract with the American Family" and has, at least, the support of the new, sixty-member Congressional Family Caucus, created to "restore the traditional values of family and faith". Coalition is not, however, synonymous with consensus:
Some 80 representatives of a broad spectrum of religious groups responded to the Christian Coalition's "contract" by signing and delivering to Congress a "Cry for Renewal", which affirmed the desirability of injecting moral direction into the political process but deplored the Coalition's means. "The almost total identification of the Religious Right with the new Republican majority in Washington is a dangerous liaison of religion with political power," they said. "We testify that there are other visions of faith and politics in the land" (The Economist, 8 July 1995: p. 21).
The article concludes by noting this is not the first time "religious leaders have ventured controversially into the political breach", but what is unique is "this time religious values themselves are at the heart of the argument," and it threatens to be "extremely divisive":
The people who worry aloud about the country's shortage of moral values are part of the process that will probably ensure that the culture ["religiosity"] continues to thrive. Unless, that is, they go too far and attempt to impose rules based on a certain set of beliefs on everyone. Then the culture of belief clashes with another culture that runs even deeper in America: the culture of freedom. (The Economist, 1995: p. 21).
It would indeed appear that the establishment of "a morality", both within, and for, a diverse society, based on either religious belief or a culture (especially when the term is misused--note its application in the previously cited paragraph alone) is inadvisable. Remember, according to Durkheim, "morality" is a fundamental part of the conscience collective required to have a society. "Morality" today, in our multicultural society, would appear to be a "conscience divisive". Utilizing both Durkeim's and Parson's terminology, the question becomes: How can a conscience collective regarding normative values essential for a stable society be formulated?
Ethics vs. Morality
The construction of ethical rules, codes or principles generated through the power of reason, vice religious instruction, divine revelation, or cultural heritage, is, of course, nothing new. A similar dichotomy, ethics based upon reason and morality founded in a blend of culture and religion, was espoused by George Santayana. (See Life of Reason). However, the ability to do so in a universal manner continues to be debated. Whether one is a proponent of ethical reductionism or prefers a nonreductive, virtue approach to ethics, the singular problem of gaining public acceptance still remains. To be effective, an ethical system must be a universally understood and adopted public system (within a given society), with primacy over the "moral" systems generated by the "cultures" and religions which make up that society. The terminology constructed thus far in this discussion reduces the justification of ethical primacy over morality to the classic conflict of Reason vs. Faith.
Reason vs. Faith
The arguments of reason vs. faith or philosophy vs. religion have provided a rich history of contemplative discussion. In the Christian tradition, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) wrote to explain the compatibility of philosophy and religion: in their appropriate relationship, Man begins with an exercise of reason. Furthermore, Man's relationship to Man is governed by Jus Natural (Natural Law--implanted by the Creator) which is discernible to Man by reason. Ethics is derived by Man's practical reason. This Natural Law Ethic is both universal and general. When it is particularized for different situations, it is Jus Civile. In the Jewish tradition, Maimonides (1135-1204), in his Guide to the Perplexed, wrote similarly that philosophy, properly understood, left room for religion. Ethics requires action in universal terms and reasoning leads to the universal. Imagination, however, is required to relate the universal to the particular. Leaders of the community, therefore, require the ability to combine reasoning with imagination.
Their arguments are similar. They both were heavily influenced by the works of Aristotle, knowledge of which they did not receive directly from his writing. Both their knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy and the very arguments they make came from the translations and interpretations of the great Islamic philosophers AlFarabi (?-950) and Avicenna (980-1037). Three major religions, at odds through the centuries, all espouse the importance of Man's reasoning ability, and how it is compatible with religion.
All are in agreement that through the power of reason, man is able to discern some type of natural law ethic. (To be precise, Maimonides would object to the usage of the term "law". For him, a reference to "noble, generally accepted opinions to regulate human action" vice "law" would be more in keeping with his terminology). Later philosophers, Thomas Hobbes being one of the most notable, believed that reason provided the only means by which natural law could be derived. Why then does the primacy of an ethics of reason over religious tenets become important? Probably because these religions have been at odds over the centuries, not to mention factions within each persecuting and killing each other with equal merry abandon. The history of such fanatical factionalism lead to the doctrine of Erastianism (Thomas Erastus), which held that the state should be supreme in both religious and civil matters. Again, Hobbes, in Leviathan, evokes this doctrine. Contemporarily speaking, lacking the Leviathan of Communism, the Balkans' ignominiously ignited in a fervor of "faithful" fanaticism.
The juxtaposition of two literal raison detres of the United States, clearly shows both what our founders wanted and did not want in a government. The Declaration of Independence evokes the "Laws of Nature and Nature's God", and self-evident truths relative to the equality of men and "certain unalienable Rights". The Constitution, on the other hand, expressly states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Our country clearly did not seek to establish a "conscience collective" based in religion, but instead, sought the "laws of nature". Pantaetius (180-110 B.C.) saw the development of reason within man an implication of a universal humanism. Can this universal humanism be the foundation of the universal terms of required actions constituting ethics as discussed by Maimonides, the basis of Aquinian natural law, as well as the practical science/philosophy of ethics of Al-Farabi and Avicenna? Can reason alone establish a conscience collective sufficiently universal enough to override cultural and religious bias?
Man has been contemplating the nature and application of Ethics for centuries. Approaches vary from discussions of the theoretical nature of good and evil (meta-ethics) to the establishment of systems to aid in making decisions regarding good and evil (normative ethics). An intellectually persuasive normative system is, of course, difficult to construct unless you have grounded it in some type of metaethical framework. Therefore many ethical approaches are blends of each. As noted previously, there are many diverse approaches to ethics. Whether one is a proponent of ethical reductionism or prefers a nonreductive, virtue approach to ethics, the singular problem of gaining public acceptance still remains. After all, since "ethics" has been separated from "morality" due to our dichotomy (i.e. it is no longer the "Will of God", or the "Way of Our People") a normative system must be justified.
Edmund L. Pincoffs is an advocate of non-reductionism in ethics. He states:
Ethical theories are commonly supposed to have justificatory powers, to provide alternative ways of showing what is right or wrong, good or bad. If someone has doubts about what to do or approve, theory is ideally not merely helpful but also authoritative. It can guide us firmly to the right answer, and we can rely on its verdict, barring factual uncertainties and mistakes of logic, because it starts from principles that we may accept as unshakable. They are, we may say, truisms: to deny them would be in some way absurd or even impossible. What this usually amounts to is that no one who wishes to deny them can at the same time be "rational" (Pincoffs, 1986: p. 53).
While Pincoffs does not question the existence of "moral truisms", he does question their justificatory usage in advancing ethical theory. If something is a truism, then by definition it requires no justification.
Where is the justification to end but in truisms? But then, how are we to understand the relationship between justificatory ethical theories and these truisms? Do the theories claim to justify the truisms? But how can a truism be justified? Are the truisms from which the theoretical justifications start in some way more fundamental than these truisms? How can that be? (Pincoffs, 1986: p. 54).
Pincoffs also objects to the "prima facia duties" approach of W. D. Ross: Ross supplies no order, rank, or even end to his list; just how many duties are there?
What is wanted is a common characteristic of morally acceptable actions, policies, and so forth. What we are given is a set of characteristics, with no table of instructions indicating how they are to be related to one another. It is not terribly helpful, it may be felt, to be told that for an action, and, so on, to be morally acceptable it must be just or kind--whatever. Finally, what we want of a theory is that it gives us a formula for determining what to do. (Pincoffs, 1986: pp. 54-55).
Because of such shortcomings, Pincoffs proceeds to advance a system of virtue-based ethics concentrating on qualities of character. In so doing, however, he seems to sidestep many of the criticisms he levels at other approaches. While many of his criticisms have validity against the authors he cites, it does not mean a reductionist approach to establish a "bedrock" (his term) foundation of ethics is flawed. Bernard Gert, in perhaps the paradigm of reductionism, develops both an ethical theory and an ethical system. [NOTE: Gert uses the term "moral" as opposed to "ethics." In keeping with the dichotomy of this paper, I (except for direct quotes) will use "ethics" since his system is based on reason, not religion and/or culture]. Gert also addresses and incorporates the concepts of virtues and character addressed by Pincoffs.
Gert's system is well thought out and meticulously developed. He first accomplishes an analysis of ethics, rationality, good and evil, ethical rules and ideals, and impartiality as well as demonstrates how these concepts interrelate. Gert then constructs and justifies a system which consists of ethical rules and ideals with a process for determining when it is ethically acceptable to violate an ethical rule as well as explain why people may disagree on ethical judgments.
Morality is a public system that applies to all rational persons insofar as their behavior affects others, its goal is the minimization of evil suffered, and the moral rules form a central part of it. A justified moral system is one that all impartial rational persons, using only those beliefs that are shared by all rational persons, would advocate adopting as a public system that applies to all rational persons...as a guide to their conduct and as a basis for making judgments on the conduct of others (Gert: pp. 282-283).
Attachment #1 is a partial excerpt of Gert's own summary of his ethical system. What I find interesting is the high degree of commonality between Gert's Moral Rules and the ten "Core Ethical Principles" utilized by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (Attachment #2) and the near identical "Primary Ethical Values" (Attachment #3) found in Chapter 12, Section 5 of Department of Defense Regulation 5500.7-R (The Joint Ethics Regulation). The Core Ethical Principles were not generated through rigorous ratiocination, as were Gert's "Moral Rules", but were instead, generated via consensus by thousands of people through surveys and discussions. I have personally instructed well over a thousand students using a similar methodology with results, which also consistently "validate" the acceptance of these core ethical principles.
The breadth and scope of the "Moral Rules" are often narrower than the Core Ethical Principles (Caring/Compassion; Respect for Others and particularly Pursuit of Excellence could be interpreted as "Ideals" within Gert's system). However, I believe the "Moral Rules" succeed in forming Pincoffs' elusive "bedrock" upon which the Core Ethical Principles can be firmly constructed. Attachment #4 illustrates my correlations. Only the Pursuit of Excellence principle lacks a clear correlation. Given the apparent "face validity" (acceptance through consensus by samples of the general public) combined with their firm grounding (9 of 10) in an ethics based in reason as opposed to culture or religion, I suggest that the nine Core Ethical Principles which correlate to Gert's Moral Rules can be used to establish a conscience collective upon which normative values essential for a stable society can be created.
Unity, Commonality, and Limited Tolerance
To create a universal ethic, "the great need is consensus, not acrimony" (Snell, 1988: p. 238). As stated, these ethical principles have already demonstrated an acceptability consensus. As principles, they offer little a rational citizen could object to: they violate no religious or cultural tenet of which I am aware. In fact, as principles, they are espoused by the major religions I have, albeit by no means exhaustively, studied. Now, these religions, particularly their fundamental sects, may choose to add to the list, but this would defeat the purpose. As principles, they establish a general baseline of agreement from which the ethical propriety of actions, conduct, policy, programs, plans, etc., can be intelligently/rationally discussed. As principles, they succeed in obtaining universal "buy-in" from the general public.
Tolerance of diverse views under this ethical system is not, however, universal or unlimited. Actions, which are not in accordance, i.e. violate any principle of this system or its guide of implementation, cannot be tolerated. It is the conscience of the collective society, which will ultimately decide the acceptability of violations done by the individual. The individual, in accordance with the principle of Accountability, must publicly allow his decision/action to be so judged and willingly accept the consequences. Exceptions based upon a religious or cultural practice or belief may not be a justified excuse.
Saint Aquinas wrote that reason can take some men further than others. What one man can reason, others will have to take on faith. The Core Ethical Principles are an example of this statement. Some people can derive and/or understand their derivation by reasoning--others cannot, or couldn't care less. For them, their acceptance, through consensus, of the principles is sufficient. But, in moving from general acceptance to particular application, imagination is required. Remembering Maimonides, leaders require the ability to combine reasoning with imagination.
Leaders, simply put, are people who lead, not divide. Today, we have public figures/officials occupying positions of leadership who are dividers, not leaders. Face it, it is easier to divide and conquer: to pit group against group for personal power and aggrandizement. Far more difficult is the path which seeks to unite the diverse into a common whole: e pluribus unum, from the many, one. Yet, this is the way of true leadership.
True leaders require the imaginative reasoning skills to use the ethical principles as both a tempering agent and catalyst: a tempering agent which melds and forges constructive differences into an alloy far stronger than any single element and as a catalyst to remove divisive impurities of self-interest, sectarianism, bigotry and hatred which weaken the common bonds of community.
There is nothing special to leadership--essentially it is a matter of controlling the evils of biased information and autocracy. Do not just go by whatever is said to you first--then the obsequities of petty people seeking favor will not be able to confuse you. After all, the feelings of a group of people are not one, and objective reason is hard to see. You should investigate something to see its benefit or harm, examine whether it is appropriate and suitable or not; then after that you may carry it out. Zen Master Caotang Song Dynasty (Cleary, 1993:p. 159)
True leaders require the personal integrity, the courage of their conviction in the rightness of the ethical principles, to publicly use them in constructive discussion and in turn be publicly judged by them. True leadership is accomplished by example, not by exception. A true leader is both a teacher and an exemplar of his convictions. The teaching role of leadership in our society appears to have been forgotten. It must be resurrected.
If the leader honors virtue, the students will value reverence and respect. If the leader acts properly, the students will be ashamed to be greedy and competitive. If the leader is lax and thereby loses face, then the students will become scornful and rowdy, an impediment...If the leader gets into a dispute and loses composure, then the students will be quarrelsome, a calamity...leaders cause people who behold them to be transformed without even being instructed. Zen Master Goan Song Dynasty (Cleary, 1993: p. 129)
A Prescription for Universal Leadership
Wisdom, benevolence and courage: these are the three universal virtues. Confucius (Crawford, 1988: p.12)
A true leader requires:
--to have reasoned recognition of the transcendent nature of the core ethical principles to all other personally held beliefs regarding human interaction;
--to have the imagination required to fairly and consistently apply the core ethical principles to all aspects of human interaction;
--to act as a "public prism", refracting decisions, policies, programs, etc. into the spectrum of the core ethical principles for all to see and rationally discuss;
--to teach and instill in their diverse followers, appreciation of the importance of the core ethical principles and how to use them.
When followers ...finally think this through and put it into practice, they will develop great capacity and emanate a fine reputation. This is the way that has not changed, now or ever. Zen Master Lingyuan Song Dynasty (Cleary, 1993: p. 76)
--to publicly commit to the transcendent nature of the core ethical principles to all other personally held beliefs regarding human interaction;
--to lead, act, judge and willingly be publicly judged in accordance with the principles.
The man of courage pursues his objectives fearlessly. The man of courage is never afraid. Faced with what is right and to have it undone, indicates a lack of courage. Confucius (Crawford, 1988: p.12)
--to appreciate the importance and diversity of personally held beliefs and respect the rights of people to have them--as long as their actions do not impinge unwillingly on the core ethical principles regarding their interaction with others.
...What can be said but not practiced is better not said. What can be practiced but not spoken of is better not done. When you utter words, you should always consider their end. When you establish a practice, you must always consider what it covers... Zen Master Baiyun Song Dynasty (Cleary, 1993: p. 38)
Benevolent wisdom will facilitate the address of points on issues of legitimate difference and allow compromise within the framework of the ethical principles. Courageous wisdom is required to prevent compromise from becoming appeasement: the subordination of the ethical principles to other beliefs or interests for political expediency.
It is essential to leadership that one should take the far-reaching and the great, and leave off the shortsighted and the petty...So it is said, "Planning is with the many, decision is done alone." By planning with the group, one can examine the ultimate effect or harm; by deciding oneself, one can determine right and wrong for the community. Zen Master Haitang Song Dynasty (Cleary, 1993: pp. 44-45)
Reason can create the foundation of unifying principles. Reason can discern the unifying principles existent in religions, cultures, and philosophies as diverse as ancient Greek, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Confucianism, and Zen Buddhism. Reason can lay the foundation for principles of unity required to diminish the irrationality of sectarianism, bigotry and hatred, which weaken the common bonds of community. Adherence to this prescription may create a unifying leader, capable of promoting a reasoned conscience collective required for a single society which is multicultural: e pluribus unum.
Wisdom, Benevolence and Courage:
...when all three of these are present, the community thrives. When one is lacking, the community deteriorates. When two are lacking the community is in peril, and when there is not one of the three, the way of leadership is in ruins. Zen Master Fushan Yuan Song Dynasty (Cleary, 1993: pp. 15-16)
Bernard Gert's Moral System
From MORALITY: A New Justification of the Moral Rules
THE MORAL RULES
1. Don't kill.
2. Don't cause pain.
3. Don't disable.
4. Don't deprive of freedom.
5. Don't deprive of pleasure.
6. Don't deceive.
7. Keep your promise
8. Don't cheat.
9. Obey the law.
10. Do your duty.
The first rule prohibits causing permanent loss of consciousness, whether or not the organism dies; the second rule prohibits causing mental suffering as well as physical pain; the third rule also prohibits causing the loss of ability; the fourth rule prohibits causing the loss of opportunity, or any interference with the exercise of one's abilities; and the fifth rule prohibits causing loss of future as well as present pleasure.
The Moral Attitude
The moral attitude, which in the moral theory is used to determine what rules are justified moral rules, in the moral system is the procedure used to determine what counts as a justifiable violation of a moral rule. It goes as follows: "Everyone is always to obey the rule except when an impartial rational person can advocate that violating it be publicly allowed. Anyone who violates the rule when an impartial rational person could not advocate that such a violation be publicly allowed may be punished."
The "except" clause of the moral attitude does not mean that all impartial rational persons agree that one is not to obey the rule when an impartial rational person can advocate publicly allowing such a violation, only that they need not agree that one should obey the rule in this situation.
The moral ideals, such as "Help the needy," "Relieve pain," etc. must be distinguished from the moral rules. The rules can be obeyed impartially with regard to all rational persons all of the time, twentyfour hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. The ideals cannot be obeyed in this way. It is impossible to follow them impartially with regard to all rational persons all of the time. This point should become clear to the persons now reading this book when they realize that at this moment they are not violating any of the moral rules, but they are also not following any moral ideals, though perhaps they are preparing themselves to do so. The distinction between the moral rules and the moral ideals is important, not because there is, or should be, a stronger internal motivation to obey the rules than to follow the ideals, nor because in any conflict between the rules and the ideals the rules should prevail over the ideals, but because it is not morally acceptable to use force to get people to follow the ideals. Punishment is morally acceptable only for some violations of the moral rules, it is never morally acceptable for simply failing to follow a moral ideal.
Morally Relevant Features
When considering a violation of a moral rule only the answers to the following questions provide morally relevant features for determining the kind of violation. If all the answers to all of these questions are the same with regard to two distinct acts, then these two acts are the same kind of violation.
1. What moral rules are being violated?
2. What evils are being (a) avoided? (b) prevented? (c) caused?
3. What are the relevant desires of the people affected by the violation?
4. By what are the relevant rational beliefs of the people affected? the violation?
5. Does one have a duty to violate moral rules with regard to the person, and is one in a unique position in this regard?
6. What goods are being promoted?
7. Is an unjustified or weakly justified violation of a moral rule? being prevented?
8. Is an unjustified or weakly justified violation of a moral rule? being punished?
The Josephson Institute of Ethics
CORE ETHICAL PRINCIPLES
1. HONESTY - - truthful, straight-forward, sincere, candid; doesn't mislead or deceive
2. INTEGRITY/PRINCIPLED -- courage of convictions; stands up for beliefs; puts principle over expediency
3. PROMISE-KEEPING -- always strives to keep commitments; reliable, dependable
4. FIDELITY-LOYALTY -- doesn't talk behind your back; faithful to friends, employer, country, and duties
5. FAIRNESS -- strives to be equitable, open, just; not prejudiced; doesn't discriminate on improper basis
6. CARING/COMPASSION -- considerate, kind sharing, charitable, unselfish
7. RESPECT FOR OTHERS -- respects freedoms, dignity and rights of others
8. CIVIC DUTY -- abides by laws and rule; participates, does his/her share
9. PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE --does best; pride in work; responsible to those who depend on him/her
10. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY/ACCOUNTABILITY -- considers consequences and accepts responsibility for actions and inaction's; doesn't shift blame or make excuses
-Any decision, which can or does affect people, has an ethical dimension.
-Actually or potentially effected people (stakeholders) have a "moral claim" on the decision maker to protect their interests and well being.
-A decision maker cannot cause unintended harm to innocent stakeholders.
-An unethical decision is never acceptable; Goals are subordinate to Core Ethical Principles: All decisions must advance Core Ethical Principles.
I. All decisions must take into account and reflect a concern for the interests and well being of all stakeholders.
II. Core Ethical principles always take precedence over nonethical ones.
III. It is ethically proper to violate a Core Ethical Principle only when it is clearly necessary to advance another Core Ethical Principle which, according to the decision maker's conscience, will produce the greatest balance of good in the long run.
Joint Ethics Regulation (JER)
Chapter 12. ETHICAL CONDUCT
SECTION 5. ETHICAL VALUES
12-500. General. Ethics are standards by which one should act based on values. Values are core beliefs such as duty, honor, and integrity that motivate attitudes and actions. Not all values are ethical values (integrity is; happiness is not). Ethical values relate to what is right and wrong and thus take precedence over non-ethical values when making ethical decisions. DoD employees should carefully consider ethical values when making decisions as part of official duties.
12-501 Primary Ethical Values
a) Honesty. Being truthful, straightforward and candid are aspects of honesty.
b) Integrity. Being faithful to one's convictions is part of integrity.
c) Loyalty. There are many synonyms for loyalty: fidelity, faithfulness, allegiance, devotion and fealty.
d) Accountability. DoD employees are required to accept responsibility for their decisions and the resulting consequences.
e) Fairness. Open-mindedness and impartiality are important aspects of fairness.
f) Caring. Compassion is an essential element of good government.
g) Respect. Treat people with dignity, honor privacy, and allow self-determination.
h) Promise Keeping. No government can function for long if its commitments are not kept.
i) Responsible Citizenship. Respect the will of the people in
j) accordance with democratic principles.
k) Pursuit of Excellence. Set an example of superior diligence and commitment.
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Gordon L. Campbell is the Principal Deputy to the Commanding General for Acquisition at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command, Fort Lee VA. Mr. Campbell has been an avid participant and contributor to the Department of Defense's annual Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics since 1991. He is a 1979 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Augustana College, Rock Island IL and holds an M.P.A. from Texas A & M University (1980) as well as a Master's in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (1998).…