Quote Originally Posted by Mane View Post
i think i may have found a possible reason for that: recently i noticed that people will make their insecurities into a moral stance as a way to condemn those that hurt them.
my conclusion: we use ethics as a psychological defense mechanism to dehumanize people who do things that make us feel bad, and thus our insecurities and areas in which we are easily brought to feel bad about become prime candidates.

this can explain a lot about why people take certain political views so personal: being insecure about one's sexuality and taking a stance against an alternative sexuality, being insecure or guilty about one's socio-economic position and taking a stance against economical unfairness, being insecure about one's faith and taking a stance against other faiths... etc'.
Yeah, I think that this is one of the biggest barriers to a true understanding of ethics. It's just so very elegant (and self-serving) for us to believe that our worldview is shared by a higher power, that the things that are offensive to us are objectively bad and that the things that we cherish are objectively good. And we tend to love things that solidify and agree with our worldview. I believe that if there's an absolute morality out there (which can be a useful assumption), it's a hell of a lot more general than the principles that we tend to regard as absolute; that most of our morality is simply a matter of drawing meaningful lines in the sand.

Unfortunately, separating out our biases from the objective reality is excruciatingly difficult. This is why I prize, at least, personal congruency through development of character and a true desire to remove bias, which I believe leads to right action and thought.

Regarding this article: The word "evil" is like a "catch-all" bucket. Some regard it as an untouchable absolute. Some suppose that it ought to be an untouchable absolute and that evils cannot be compared. This comes with the side effect that "evil" is parasitic--if something is in any way related to an "evil," it becomes contaminated.

Quote Originally Posted by dala View Post
I really think that's what they were trying to do. It's funny; in a way, its is quite sophisticated, with skilled use of euphemism and seemingly genuine earnestness, but they shoot themselves in the foot with weaselly and incomplete logic. There is no hope of reasoned debate in the context of this paper.

There's always the possibility that the journal editors took one look at this, saw it as an opportunity to push their own agenda, and ran with it, but I suspect that someone just turned their bullshit meter off the second they saw the potential hits to their very narrow site.
I'm not quite sure myself; I wouldn't be surprised if it weren't serious, but then I also wouldn't be surprised if it were serious.

I know that when I make contentious claims in ethics, I try to start from assumptions or goals that many of us can agree upon if at all possible--or, at least, I give some thought to the broader context. That way, at the very least, we all know that we're working toward similar goals, and the ideas themselves have less of a chance of being seen as viscerally "wrong" or threatening. Sometimes, I start with very general things, such as "we want negative ethical consequences to be reduced." Then, if others see something that is wrong with a methodology that I propose, perhaps they will see that it just needs a slight tweaking rather than that it's starting from "evil" assumptions.

I believe that, since these authors haven't started with what exactly they are trying to accomplish, their motivations are doubted, and their entire work winds up being cast aside--no matter how logically sound it is.

It's just how we work; especially on ethical issues, we'll wonder whether or not there's an agenda.