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Old 11-17-2012, 16:32   #2
Syclone538
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Basically, I'm concerned about the moral breakdown of the US. Historically, the US had some really strong ethical fiber,
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I'm not sure I agree with this.

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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
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which was key to the growth of its prosperity,
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If I did agree that these U.S. were historically moral, which I'm unsure on, I would disagree with this anyway.

Capitalism was the key to growth and prosperity.

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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
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and I *think* it was largely reinforced amongst the masses by its particular brand of religion (feel free to challenge this assumption if it's not justified).
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I think moral religious people are moral despite their religion, not because of it.

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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
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Basically, the majority of Americans have tended to reject the idea of using state coercion for personal gain. Of course there were always a few who had no problem with state coercion, but the vast majority had a strong desire to behave ethically.
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I could be wrong, but I'm thinking the minimal government that we are supposed to have, and did have in the past, didn't give many people the option of using state force against others. I don't think it's because they didn't want to.

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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
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This is no longer the case, and the US is now in a terribly vulnerable economic situation -- completely, utterly incapable of dealing with the long-term cost of the vote-buying schemes that now enjoy massive support from the people, effectively selling every newborn child into $200k of debt in the process.
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Well we no longer have capitalism, we have crony capitalism, and that's what happens.

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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
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We're now at a phase where people are increasingly coming to terms with the fact that "compliance with an iron-age holy book" is in fact a terribly weak basis for morality, and "believe it or burn forever" is a really terribly weak supporting argument. However, there is a basic problem -- it is far easier to spot weaknesses in an ethical theory than it is to construct a solid one. Thus, although I think there are some good (far, far better, anyway) basis for ethics out there, it is very, very far from common knowledge.

What results is an ethical vacuum. Although religious ethics is weak from the point of view of first principles, the final ethical guidelines can actually be good ones -- and I think this was historically the case in the US.

So the question that has been bothering me lately is this: Is it possible for a society to transition out of arbitrary-but-excellent ethics (religious guidelines) into a reason-based ethics without first going through a nasty ethical vacuum?
I think so, because I think that even religious people have reason based ethics, and that's why they ignore the worst parts of their chosen holy book.

And I strongly disagree with "but-excellent ethics (religious guidelines)".
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The constitution is not, nor was it meant to be absolutely literal.
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