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13,586 Posts
Disregarding your definitions of "ethics" and "morality," in order to establish whether or not Person A is acting in a way consistent with their ethics (or, in an ethical way, by their definition), then you have to ask if Person A would like the same thing done to them if they were in the position of Person B.

That is because ethics must be able to be applied universally--if it "should" happen to person B then it should also happen to person A and to anyone else etc.

Otherwise it is just what's good for Person A, and that is not ethics--that is egoism.

So if Person A can honestly (and I question someone's ability to be honest with themselves if they believe so strongly in dishonesty as an ethical principle) say that they would prefer to be lied to by their partner about whether their partner really loved them, then I suppose you could say Person A is acting in accord with their own ethical beliefs, in that way.

However, if Person B would not consent to such treatment, Person A needs to ask themselves what benefit it is to Person B, and whether or not doing something non-consensual to another person because Person A believes it's ethical, is again something that Person A would want done to them.

Imo, if so, Person A's ethics sound incredibly poor and I would not want to be around someone with such a bizarre ethical system that believes in lying and non-consensual relationships like that. I am glad most people don't have such a disturbing ethical system.

If Person A discovers that no, they would not want to be treated in such a way if they were in Person B's situation, then they are not making an ethical choice--so they are not being ethical. They are just being egoist and doing whatever benefits them.

It's been a long time since College Ethics class and I'm not a philosopher, but that is my impression.

Ultimately, if both are acting ethically, it comes down to values and whether they both value honesty, love, etc. the same. If neither of them values honesty or love then it's possible it could be a consensual relationship, but it sounds like a horrible one to me and probably to most people who value both love and honesty.

As for the title--I guess if I read it like "is it better to be a person with a terrible set of ethical beliefs that makes their behavior 'bad' or is it better to be a person with an inconsistent set of ethical beliefs that ends up resulting in them being 'good,'" I guess it depends on that person's impact on the world--if they are 'bad' they will likely have a bad impact on the world unless we're in some situation where they only make one choice in their whole lives that makes a big impact or something. Idk--I can see why lilysocks said it's a situation of 'do the ends justify the means' now. I think often times people who act 'bad' or like egoists tend to do a lot of damage in the world, so it's really just in fantasy that their behavior somehow weighs out to a greater impact on the world--a good impact. idk At the same time I also think it's quite normal for people who don't have well-articulated or formulaic ethical beliefs to act 'good' (but not because of egoism). And there are certainly times in history where people were following their ethical beliefs (like that what God orders is always ethical), who did bad things, and the people who were inconsistent in those terrible prescribed ethical beliefs (though again--not for egoism but more so out of consideration for others) acted in a 'good' way (not burning witches, killing people different from them etc.)

50 Posts
You need both.

"Good" is important but, being feeling- based and personal, isn't always reliable. Sometimes, though, it's necessary to call out evil, even if it follows the rules.

"Ethical" works well despite emotional distortions, but ethics can exist within an evil system. Ethics may not challenge that system at all.

E.g., in a system that allows slavery, there might be ethics about treatment of slaves. So maybe it would be unethical to administer more than 6 lashes to a slave who had spilled your morning coffee.

However, what is really needed is someone with a moral compass, stating, "Slavery is WRONG!"

OTOH say a suspected serial killer is arrested, but he seems like a nice person and he supports two children with his pay.

The moral impulse might be to let him go.

Ethically, though, you want a system Due Process that should protect the innocent, but convict the guilty based on evidence, not emotion or even "morals" as such.

Yeah I'm an interloper ISTP. :)

13,586 Posts
An Ethical person is a good person because of moral obligation and societal pressures.
Ethics exists in the scientific community as a list of rules which must be followed to ensure
the well being of subjects, and some experiments for this reason are considered unethical.

A Moral person is a good person because either they care or they believe what they are doing
is for a good cause. Now as they say "The Road to hell is paved by good intentions" but the point
is these were good people trying to do good things out of kindness or being good hearted. Even if
they were misguided.

Now in society if someone does something that is both unethical and bad we are going to be angry.
However if someone is being a bad person but also being ethical a lot of times people are not going
to question this behavior at all.

As example of doing bad things but being Ethical

You shot and killed someone kidnapping a child
You killed a serial killer
You shot someone who was breaking into someones yard

Now you can argue they did a bad thing but Ethically you did a bad thing to a person who was being both
bad and unethical. There is a show called Death-note where "Kira" is ridding the streets of criminals. Now
clearly this person is a psychopath and not the best person but they are also only hurting bad people so they
are arguably "Ethical" and so the behavior is overall forgivable to a lot of person.

A lot of times good people will argue for the rights of bad people because they themselves are "GOOD PEOPLE"
They believe in being kind to all and respect all life because that is the "Good Thing" to do. By a moral standard.

Realistically though these people are both bad people and completely unethical and so it makes more sense to get ride of them.
However "Eye for an Eye" ideal might be considered "Wrong" by the morally righteous. However those who are both LOGICAL
and those who are on the other end ETHICAL these people need to be removed for the safety of the collective group.

My mother often hated me as a child because I did the right thing for the fact I felt I was morally obligated to. My mother and often friends
would assume "You do this because you care about us" but that was never a true statement. So realistically I can not be classed as a
"Good Person". There is two stand points a person argues from, and its emotions or Ethics. We can have the MOM of a notorious psychopath
who committed arson, killed, kidnapped, drugs, and robbed a couple of banks. The Mom is going to say "No its my baby". Of course that is her kid
but ethically this person is still a bad person. All the Victims are going to attest to these crimes.

So what is better?

Is it better to be an ethical person or to be a Good Person?
Regarding the rest of this--someone who kills a serial killer isn't necessarily being "unethical."

They can look at the value of one life compared to the value of the many lives of the killer's victims, and they can believe, ethically, that the value of the killers victims and future victims outweighs the value of the killer's life and happiness (I actually think most people would believe this).

You can also put yourself into the position of the killer or the victims to see if your "rule" is universifiable.

If you were a serial killer would you want to be stopped before you kill some innocent person again, even if it meant someone killing you? Then your belief that the serial killer should be killed is likely consistent with your ethical beliefs--it is ethical.

It sounds like you have issues with your relationship with your mom though--so I would work on those before trying to translate her behavior into "ethics" or whatever. The things parents teach us, and they may try to teach us to follow them as well, are not always right. It's worth examining your own ethical beliefs and also talking to a counselor or therapist if you have had a rough childhood or have a difficult relationship with your parents, or suffered any abuse from them. You don't want to perpetuate the same mistreatment.
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