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Ethics

The Ethics of Revolution

 In stating the case for Socialism the modern revolutionist proceeds from the material ground work upon which Society rests, to trace the manner in which present day capitalist society came into being, to show the forces at work within that society, and to explain how the foundation is being prepared for a social revolution. In showing how men's actions are mainly determined by their material interests, and how the economic factor is the chief determinant of material conditions, the Socialist takes little notice of the individual as such, but deals almost solely with the classes winch are in existence owing to economic necessity. It is generally admitted that environment is a principal factor in the creation of character; so that the strength of the Socialists’ claim as to the importance of the economic factor is at once apparent.

Book Reviews: 'Secularisation and Moral Change', & 'A Short History of Ethics'

What's right and wrong

'Secularisation and Moral Change', by Alasdair MacIntyre, Oxford University Press, 12s.6d.

'A Short History of Ethics', by Alasdair MacIntyre, Routledge Paperback, 15s.

What's right? What's wrong? At some periods in history these questions called forth firm, confident, even unanimous replies. Today there is a lot of uncertainty about even the most basic moral ideas. These two concise and useful books help us to understand why.

Book Reviews: 'Where Do My Values Come From?', 'A Guide to Marx's Capital', & 'No Local'

Values

Where Do My Values Come From? - And How To Attain Social Sustainability. By Thomas M.V. Hallatt & Dale M.R. Hallatt. Kindle eBook.

Instead of chasing the chimerical 'values' that may lurk inside the heads of private individuals, the focus of this book is human behaviour as it is shaped by and shapes the cultural referents that make up a 'value system'. The authors undertake their investigation using an interdisciplinary approach with case studies to illustrate their argument. The focus is on four fields from the human sciences: genetics, neuroscience, physiology and environmental psychology.

Pathfinders: Caring and Sharing

You have a pie, and you have to share part of it with someone else. The question is, how much should you offer? Logically, not much, and logically, the recipient should be happy to accept any amount, no matter how small, since it’s better than nothing. But here’s the rub. If that someone thinks you’re being stingy they might refuse your offer, in which case neither of you gets anything.

In the human version of this ‘ultimatum game’, where the pie is replaced with money, the players tend  to make roughly equal or ‘fair’ offers, showing that human concepts of fairness can override the logic of economics. Exactly why this happens is uncertain. It may be that the donor is motivated by some internalised moral framework, or it may be that the donor feels nothing of the sort but is simply responding to the fear that the recipient is fundamentally irrational and will ruin everything by throwing their proverbial toys out of the pram in response to a perceived injustice.

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