[This series is part of Section Four, Ethics and the Third Person. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/sword-to-the-heart-ethics-and-the-third-person/1335/1]here.]
[This series constitutes Chapter 34, “Ethics And Discovered Rational Behavior”.]
In my previous chapter, I explained why my argument has now led me to consider questions of interpersonal relationships; what we call ‘ethics’. Generally speaking, there are three branches of explanation for ‘what happens’ when we behave ‘ethically’. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive–I myself think all three branches put together account for my own ‘ethical’ behaviors.
But the first two branches are necessarily exclusive of the third branch in this fashion: they essentially deny that truly ethical behavior is taking place. In other words, what those two general theories claim, is that what looks like ‘ethical behavior’ to us is not actually ‘ethical’ behavior.
In the first theory, we humans invent qualities in order to justify the actions of the individual. (The actions may be taken to satisfy instinctive wantings, of course.) These invention-behaviors are actively rational (not reactively instinctive); but the coloring of ‘ethics’ is merely a useful mask worn, or a game played, by the participants: because otherwise there would in fact be no effective justification for the individual to claim rights over the group.
In the second theory, the behaviors are merely the automatic reactions we humans, as humans, have to our environment, whether macroscale (the social level) or microscale (the genetic level). Like the first theory, a sort of mask is placed over the ‘real’ source of the impulses so that the individual has some power of justification within the social group.