The Ethical Hiearchy III

Recall, from last time, this illustration of the Ethics Hierarchy overlaying capability sets in the space of all transitive actions:

gold versus silver 1

I should simplify terminology. The set labeled “Things I want” are “my desires”, “things Jesus wants me to do” is the Jesus way, “Things Confucius wants me to do” the Confucian way, “Things I can do” are “my strengths” and “Things can be done to me” are “my weaknesses”.


I should also like to begin referring to what I have been calling the Ethics Hierarchy as the Moral Hierarchy. My own postings exhibit cultural bias. I include more from eastern culture than western culture. Some comments I have received indicate that there are others out there who have looked at culture/art/literature comparisons with the opposite bias. The fact of matter is, this Moral Hierarchy itself does not imply absolute superiority of any kind. Relatively speaking, one is larger, contains more transitive actions, than the other, but bigger is not necessarily better. In fact, it is one of my hopes to understand how they are different. Reasonably speaking, I should not expect to find that one is superior to the other–quite the opposite, I feel that exhaustive investigation of this subject will reveal to us more about the way the world, humans, and our society are than about the rights and wrongs within their contexts. Because morals have cultural biases and ethics is the philosophical study of morals, I may switch back to Ethics Hierarchy when I wish to emphasize that I am trying to be objective.


Therefore, to continue, let us be fair, what is drawn are idealized sets and intersections. The Jesus way is actually one of many allowed sets of actions that has an inner-bound restriction of being bigger than the my desires. Under this prescription alone, one can do everything in the universe and still not violate the Golden rule. The Confucius set, similarly is one of many possible sets fully contained in my wants set. The Silver rule has a maximum outer bound, one can only do things within my wants. Under silver rule, one cannot do everything in the world.


Some extreme examples might be, for instance, a person that goes around slaughtering each person with a knife is allowed under one interpretation of the Jesus way, as long as he also does everything that he wants for that person. This can be quite arbitrary, say, the perpetrator wants to be fed carrot cake, then he feed everyone carrot cake and then knifes them. What’s worse is if the person is masochist, then he is forced to act as sadomasochist. If he wants to be fed carrot cake and knifed, then Jesus way requires that he _must_ both feed everyone carrot cake and knife them.


On the other extreme, suppose one tries to follow Taoist suggestion to do nothing, it easily fall within Confucian way without regard to the size of my desires. While the only way for a person to do only nothing under the Jesus way is for him to want nothing. This is impossible because follower of the ways of Jesus at least want to enter heaven, so trivially Jesus way is never empty and prevents follower from doing nothing.


It’s interesting to think of the possibilities. Let’s look at just the Confucian way. Set D is outside of my strengths, and it is outside of my weaknesses, however, because I desire it, it is within the Confucian way. Set A are things I desire, within my strength to do and outside of my weakness to receive. These are the things that I can only give and will never receive in kind. On the opposite end, set C are within my desires and weaknesses but not within my strengths. O is the set of my opportunities–these are the things I want but am not yet capable of receiving. Set B is a sweet spot. Here, not only are we within the ways of both Confucius and Jesus, we also desire to do so. This is a region to maximize, if we had the choice to do so.


gold versus silver 3


It should be pointed out that zone B contains only actions that we can reciprocate when receiving and receive reciprocation when giving–in kind–in other words, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth zone.


Zone U in this graph points out an area of the an-eye-for-an-eye-a-tooth-for-a-tooth zone that is outside of my own desire and therefore not recommended by either Confucius, but is allowable by the Jesus way.


Let’s backtrack and admire the an-eye-for-an-eye-a-tooth-for-a-tooth zone T in its full glory


gold versus silver 2


Wow! It does exists!

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