Ethical Introspection requires that you be able to imagine your world without your–world-view. I think John Lennon’s song Imagine does a spectacular job getting to the root of the problem.
The fist line of the song, “Imagine there’s no heaven” is a major Taboo; one punishable by death according to the bible. The first commandment of God as written down by Moses was, “I am the LORD your God… You shall have no other gods before Me…” In other words, the number one sin is to deny God; and through affiliation – any article of written faith. So imagining there is no heaven is earth shattering for a Christian, Jew, or Muslim. Note, there is nothing unethical about imagining no heaven. Imagining no heaven causes no harm and there is no condition of fairness where individual thoughts are concerned.
The second line, “It’s easy if you try” is true, especially for skeptical or imaginative minds. That said, I have found most religious people quite literally cannot imagine no heaven, because that implicitly means imagining no God, and to even think that thought is the number one sin in their faith; so they self-sensor their thoughts. That is the power of religion! If you cannot liberate your mind enough to question your dogma’s then you cannot fully understand ethics. Religious or cultural dogmas represent a large barrier to ethical understanding.
The second verse starts off with, “Imaging there’s no countries”. No “In-Group/Loyalties”; no US vs. THEM. This would represent a post nationalist society. Our natural tendency to form into groups and then battle things out has proven useful in the past but it represents a larger barrier moving forward. It is almost impossible to imagine this mindset going away so group affiliations will likely always exist, but it is not impossible to imagine greater unity as we have been marching towards this throughout history.
The third verse starts with, “You may say I’m a dreamer” – If you allow your brain to be liberated from its cultural chains, and you bring your inherent ethical knowledge to bare on core moral questions, you can derive the proper ethical ideals which to navigate the gray world around you. Dreamer’s are people who can see the ideals and seek to approximate them with a mindset founded on these core principles. It should be noted that an ideal or principle is not something you can achieve per se, rather a goal that you would like to approximate.
The forth line starts with, “Imagine no possessions” – This is a totally different economic paradigm. The best portray of such a system I have come across is represented in Star Trek – The Next Generation series. In this series, a few key technologies render want of material things and greed/desire for others’ possessions pointless. The Replicator is capable of creating any material object, including food on demand. The Holo-deck is a place that you can act out and live any fantasy you have. With personal need and want met, people who choose to live in the real world are just left with personal improvement, advancement of communal needs, and a desire for further knowledge as their driving motives.
A person with the level of self-actualization described in the song “Imagine” could best be described as Etho-Liberal. Ethically minded, liberal thinker. John Lennon definitely qualifies as an Etho-Liberal.
There is a good ethical argument to be made for liberal thought. Liberal thought is what allows us to imagine things being different than what they currently are. It allows us to challenge authority; thus gives us the capability to judge the validity of authority. Conservative thought is mainly our default position, a natural resistance to change. Our conservative nature may possibly limit introspection. Our ability for self-deception is well documented in scientific literature; and this would indicate that our abilities for introspection are also lacking. Liberation from our conservative nature is why almost every human advancement has occurred through liberal initiatives, progressive thought, radicals (like our founding fathers, the Wright Brothers, etc).
“Imagine” by John Lennon, angered a lot of conservatives and caused great inner fear when it was released and I am sure it still does today. Lennon was considered a radical by many US and British conservatives. To liberals, the song was and remains a beautiful piece of poetry.