An Evolutionary Ethical Theory of Social Risks and Opportunities

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An Evolutionary Ethical Theory of Social Risks and Opportunities ABSTRACT: Social standards guide us in what to do and what to refrain from doing. But can social — moral or legal — standards be trusted? This paper presents an evolutionary ethical theory that generates trustworthy ethical norms. Each norm is assigned a demonstrable risk, called an ethical risk, that depends on both human behavior and danger to the survival of society. The assigned risk is minimal if and only if everybody obeys the norm. The higher the risk assigned to a norm, the higher the norm’s rank (an empirical quantity depending on the evolutionary status of society). An ordered finite set of ethical risks and ethical norms allows the settlement of ethical problems arising in society. Subsets of existing moral and legal standards all over the world are compatible with norms being elements of these ordered finite sets of ethical norms. Like all standards, ethical norms are often violated. A single violated norm suffices to activate correlations between risks, resulting in an ethical conflict. The more often a high-ranking norm is violated, the poorer the society in question. Ethical conflicts can be resolved by responsible persons or groups advancing higher-ranking norms involved in optimization at the expense of lower-ranking norms. Examples are given to support the theory. "Moral predigen ist leicht, Moral begründen schwer" (Arthur Schopenhauer) I. The Primacy of an Empirical Ethic of Risks In the West, ever fewer people respect moral standards because the influence of religion is decreasing rapidly. In addition philosophical ethics, "inventing right and wrong" [Mackie], is unable to contribute essentially to the trustability of moral norms,... ... middle of paper ... ...men, Saetze; Stuttgart 1980 Patzig, G.: Ethik ohne Metaphysik; Goettingen 1983 Platon: Saemtliche Werke, Band I; Heidelberg 1982 Popper, K.: Die offene Gesellschaft und ihre Feinde; Tuebingen 1992 Rawls, J.: Eine Theorie der Gerechtigkeit; Frankfurt 1979 Rawls, J.: Die Idee des politischen Liberalismus, Frankfurt 1992 Schmidt, H.: Zeit von den Pflichten zu sprechen, S. 17, Die Zeit Nr. 41, 1997 Schrader, W.H.: Norm II, Ethik; J. Ritter, K. Gruender (Hg.): Historisches Woerterbuch der Philosophie, Band 6, S. 910; Basel 1984 Sueddeutsche Zeitung Nr. 43 vom 22. Februar 1994 Vorlaender, K.: Immanuel Kant—Der Mann und das Werk; S. 170; Hamburg 1992 Weber, M.: Politik als Beruf; M. Weber, Gesammelte Politische Schriften, J. Winkelmann (Hg.); Tuebingen 1971 Wickert, U.: Der Ehrliche ist der Dumme—Über den Verlust der Werte; Muenchen 1996

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