I’ve long since found myself hedging towards a virtue driven code of ethics. It’s something far from a modern day view as we’ve developed over the years into a society of rules and laws. I’ve written another piece on Conviction. I will not go back into that detail but just to say that it was my first identified virtue and I stand by it as a necessary virtue.
Justice will be my focus. I believe Justice to be a primary virtue of any and all sensible belief systems. Justice as I believe it to be is the idea of ’cause and effect’ in the ethical world. It’s the idea that good deeds should be rewarding while evil deeds should leave one lacking. I’m not going to propose that the natural world exists this way. I don’t believe in karma or any supernatural force that maintains this balance. Nature and reality are indifferent to the ethical world. That is the very thing that makes Justice primary. Without it we are animals, we are nature, we are in the constant state of conflict for survival. Without Justice there is no sense of ethics at all. Justice can be obtained via rules or virtue. It’s not exclusive to a virtue driven code of ethics. However, I believe it is a necessary to be Just if we are to remain virtuous. It doesn’t sound as fancy as I originally hoped… I’ll probably have to invent some philosophical jargon to make the concept stick.
Justice allows us to frame the world ethically. Without it we can’t create opposing sides. Some may take offense to this concept and preach tolerance and understanding. This is a circular argument. If you believe tolerance is a virtue you inherently have to accept that intolerance is a vice. You have to accept that we should be tolerant of others views because it will create a better world and that intolerance would create a lesser world. Ultimately when someone says we should be ‘tolerant’ it simply means they’ve watered down or shifted their world view enough that it doesn’t conflict with any other world view to the point where it would require boundaries. For example it’s easy enough to be tolerant of others views when discussing favorite colors of flowers. One person can think red makes a nice flower, another can think blue, another green, they’re all nice flowers. However, for most people tolerance goes right out the window when someone decides they want to kill your red flower. You will take a stand to protect it and you will acknowledge it’s importance over the importance of the opposing sides views. Now I’m not saying EVERYONE will take this stand. There are plenty of sideliners and non-participants that lack Conviction that will simply ‘tolerate’ and let the flower die. To those I would contend they never really thought the red flower was that nice to being with. Maybe they were just jumping on the band wagon for other reasons or maybe they don’t have much Conviction one way or the other on the importance of red flowers. My point here is that this mode of thought is dangerous and impractical. Taken to it’s furthest extent it’s downright self destructive. Tolerant or not we must all accept that we have to identify good and bad via Justice.
Consider the value of Justice even in just a very pragmatic sense. If a concept of Justice wasn’t valuable why would so many belief systems and governments adhere to it? Through history we have had legal systems of crime and punishment, religion systems of Heaven and Hell, karma, even Lady Justice herself. Without cause and effect our ethical existence would be as chaotic as a world without cause and effect. There would be no Order. No way to take reasonable action. All actions would be indifferent to the world and have no meaning because there would be no right action and no wrong action. Just a random string of events occurring. I’m not saying there’s evidence to prove there’s more to the world than a random string of events, I’m simply saying that if we hold any values at all they will benefit and flourish in a world of Order and Justice more so than a random string of events.
Justice and Conviction are the primary virtues to any ethical system. They create the definition that is necessary for us to frame the world ethically. From this point we must try and deduce what comes next.