Morality and Ethics

In common usage, morality is tied up with our concepts of good and evil, or right and wrong. As we have discovered above, these are problematical standards. However, the impulse to permanence in the conception of their proponents indicates that moral principles should be abiding, rather than situational.

Ethics is concerned more narrowly with outcomes. Ethical systems focus on sustaining social processes. In effect, they serve to transfer power from individual members to the community as an entity. Aristocracy and oligarchy have certain advantages in this regard, but also illustrate the tendency for conservation to become an end in itself, rather than a means to accomplish a greater purpose. Ideally, every member should benefit in times of significant crisis when the power stored by the community is released to his or her aid.

Ethics are amoral. They can be constructive or destructive. A destructive ethic creates the impression of power, but ultimately undermines the social consensus. A constructive ethic builds consensus, but then makes it harder for the society to adapt. Obviously, there is a balance between the two. We must dismantle dysfunctional processes, and create new and more effective alternatives.

What principle can we use to help us balance this dynamic? Society is composed of individuals, all engaged in the pursuit of power, some through force, others through love. I have argued that any relationship of force is conditional and unstable. Relationships of love are consensual, and deepen to stability as they create success for the participants. Relationships of force also undermine the creative synergies between the participants, while relationships of love create a context of trust that maximizes those synergies.

Given this dynamic, it would appear that we should, as a society, focus energy on the development of ethical systems that facilitate loving relationships. This leads to a definition: Morality is found in any ethical system that expands the domain in which love is expressed. Given our definition of love, we can conclude that morality is found in social processes that facilitate and democratize the flow of power.