Introduction [Page viii] Communication ethics faces a monumental challenge at present. It has to respond to both the rapid globalization of communications and the reassertion of local sociocultural identities.
A Universal Moral Code? When we look around, we everywhere find bitter and seemingly interminable moral disagreements about abortion, or euthanasia, or animal rights, or social justice, and many other issues, not to mention the vast gulfs that separate the moral outlooks of different cultures.
The idea that there is a universal moral code can thus sound farfetched. Yet the Harvard psychologists Marc Hauser, and several other scientists, have recently claimed that, contrary to appearances, there really is a universal moral code, and that this scientific discovery should change the way we think about ethics see hereand here for a longer piece by John Mikhail.
Is this really so? Let me just very quickly review the evidence for this claim. It is basically that when people fill out an internet questionnaire about a range of moral dilemmas about killing others, their patterns of response are very similar, regardless of nationality, religion, age or gender.
Moreover, people are often not aware of the principles that guide their responses to these dilemmas, suggesting that these are not principles they have explicitly learned. This interesting finding has been claimed to show that there is an innate, universal moral code that is shared by all humans.
But let us assume that Hauser is right about this. Perhaps all it tells us is that if we encountered aliens who do not share this innate human structure, we would really have a hard time agreeing with them on any moral question.
If we could only overcome these pernicious influences, we would be well on the way to having a universal moral code in the literal sense—a set of moral norms and values we all share.
This is an odd idea. Of course if we were all designed by a wise and benevolent deity, then it would make sense to find out what moral code is inscribed in our brains, and to then follow it. But we are products of blind natural selection. Why on earth should we think that the moral code that was selected by evolution is in any valid?
See this paper of mine for more on evolution and morality. A universal moral code might be a set of underlying dispositions we are all born with.
Or it might be a set of explicit norms and values humans might one day universally accept. Of course that is a very controversial idea.
If there is such a universal moral code, then we have an imperative to try to discover it, and to make it universally accepted to make it a moral code in the descriptive sense. But this requires thinking hard about ethics, not looking for some code that might or might not be written into our brains.
Peter Wicks June 24, at 8: My starting point is that the project of finding a set of moral values that is universally valid, in the sense of being based on pure logic, is futile. My basic reason for this is that logical systems proceed from premises to conclusions.
Without premise, there can be no conclusion. By contrast, if it could be demonstrated that by whatever fluke of evolution people do actually share certain dispositions to react to moral situations in certain ways, then this could provide the input required to construct a complete, or at least almost complete, and logically consistent system of ethics.
This could be tremendously useful as a tool to help build consensus on ethical issues. Indeed, this is more or less what ethical and indeed legal systems try to do: We would still need to decide whether or not to commit to such a system see my previous comments on morality as choicebut this seems to me to be a far more meaningful philosophical project than searching for the holy grail of universal and irrefutable morals.
Dennis Tuchler June 24, at More likely than not, you can find broad ideas about what counts as justified killing or taking of property, what counts as property, etc. It is not hard to expect some sort of social advantage in having such broad ideas wired-in and thus a reason to expect that the ones with it survived more than the ones without.
A working moral code or ethics is the product of evolution — of social systems. If you look at ethics as a way of determining right conduct in all social situations, then it seems there should be more than one possible acceptable ethics or moral code.
The one that is in effect is probably a result of the climate, population size, economy, information flows, etc. Peter Wicks June 27, at Which is why I think, unlike Guy, that studies such as the one referred to in this post are immensely important. Guy Kahane June 27, at I anticipated that the idea of universally valid norms would generate some scepticism, but I could not say more about it in what is already a long post.
Peter Wicks suggests we forget about 3and focus on 1on getting all or even most people to agree on basic moral questions.-"Different cultures have different moral codes"-There is no independent standard for judging right and wrong; every standard is culture-bound-"There is no such thing as universal truth in ethics; there are only the various cultural codes, and nothing more.
universal values - peace, freedom, social progress, equal rights, human dignity – acutely needed, secretary-general says at tǕbingen university, germany. Culture And Business Ethics. Although many ethical principles are universal, some are culturally bound.
When this is the case, international businesses may be confronted with difficult ethical dilemmas. Idea that there are (or ought to be) universal norms that unite people across the globe. Aspires for a single moral community of humanity not bound by national, cultural, or, . Cultural Relativism tells us that there is no such thing as universal truth in ethics, and what does exist is the customs of different societies.
Furthermore, we cannot judge a custom of another society or our own as right or wrong. Cultural diversity and globalization bring about a tension between universal ethics and local values and norms.
Simultaneously, the current globalization and the existence of an increasingly interconnected world seem to require a common ground to promote dialog, peace, and a more humane world.