Scientific Method Applied to Ethics

When it comes to ethics there is a perception that no scientific yardstick exists from which to judge ethical decisions.  The whole premise of this blog is that ethics are knowable and verifiable. As an individual you can bring basic ethical questions to any ethical dilemma.  You can ask as many questions as needed – based on your own understanding of harm/care and fairness/reciprocity to help you derive a correct ethical conclusion.  Once you have derived the right ethical conclusion you could test your conclusion by reviewing your questions and answers with others.  If you are correct, your conclusions should match those of others when they review the same set of data you have.*  Note:   This assumes the others have a sufficient EQ & IQ and their personal frame is not considerably warped by some cultural meme that may warp their understanding of core ethical matters.

As noted prior, a knowledge of feeling both sensory and emotional, and the ability to know another’s pain (empathy) are required to be able to derive ethical truth.  If you could program a computer to understand feeling as well as concepts of fairness/reciprocity and harm/care, input all the relevant information regarding an ethical dilemma, it may be possible in theory for it to derive the correct ethical answer.

Science fiction aside, the scientific method requires a hypothesis along with testable premises, which can be verified by others.  Ethics can and should be held to these same standards.  The only difficult part with regards to ethics is that the testing is done internally through introspection, not externally using matter.  Our internal results can be externally tested through the use of others, who can follow our internal analysis by following our list of internal questions; adding and modifying the list as necessary to bring agreement to an ethical matters resolution.

The accuracy of your Ethical analysis will increase the more others outside of your culture agree with your analysis; diverse agreement provides stronger foundations.  While large groups of people in a monolithic culture can agree and be wrong, it is harder for large diverse cultural groups to agree and be wrong.



4 thoughts on Scientific Method Applied to Ethics

  1. In science all scientific method can conclude ABSOLUTES when the universal constant principle is applied to empirical evidence. The “Law of non-contradiction” is the founding principles when discovering a scientific moral law.

    I now present to you the universal constant moral scientific law that equally applies to men and women on planet earth. This law is universal which means all governments of the world should up-hold to ensure all men and women are protected on planet earth. This universal constant moral scientific law is founded in the principles of the law of non-contradiction.

    The founding fathers of the United States of America saw and explained this self-evident truth backed with empirical evidence when it comes to creating a law that governed human behavior on a universal level. I now verify the statement with modification. “All men and women are created equal” which originated as “All men are created equal”!

    This is a self- evident truth verified with empirical evidence that is not made up by man but discovered by man.
    The universal scientific moral law that should govern both man and woman equally by all governments in the world is the innate quality found in the laws of nature called “The ability to choose” without coercive or physical force by no other man, woman or world government. I hold this scientific moral law to be self-evident (un-deniable) because every man and woman on planet earth is born innately with this natural quality governed by the laws of nature. No civil law should conflict with this natural law that governs all if such a civil law exists it is deemed as corrupted.

    • Curtis,

      You use many loaded words in your comments that are loosely defined at best. I would encourage you to define what you mean. Your comments are so opaque, it’s hard to make heads or tales of it.

      Science in general does not deal in absolutes, quite the opposite. In science you can prove that something is not the case using empirical evidence, but proving it is the case with certainty, while practically approachable, is theoretically impossible. For instance, knowing the properties of a glass, I can say with certainty that it will not turn into a bird. Knowledge of something less defined, say the structure of atoms or the causes of gravity can only be defined in a lesser extent. The theoretical arguments against certainty are simply that; we know many things for certain for all practical purposes, as the glass/bird example illustrates quite well.

      The phrase “universal constant principle” sounds highly redundant. Something that is universal is also constant and/or a principle or law of nature; so all three words strung together sounds like non-sense. You use this phrase as a type of definition for something but you don’t provide any attributes for it; so the term is ambiguous to the point of being meaningless.

      What is the “Law of non-contradiction”… please define. What do you mean when you say “scientific moral law”? Please define what all three terms mean to you or what these three words placed in this phrase mean to you. What does the phrase, “universal constant moral scientific law” mean?

      It is not enough to state that there is empirical evidence to support an argument, you have to demonstrate it. Darwin wrote a 700-page book, the Origin of Species to provide enough overwhelming empirical evidence to support his idea on the mechanism driving evolution to make questioning his ideas difficult to refute. He did not simply say, the empirical evidence shows that the survival of the fittest is the most likely driving force of evolution… he documented the evidence he had for the argument; thus demonstrating its validity; at the very least demonstrating it was a theory worthy of future exploration. And like all good scientific hypothesis, it could be tested and has been verified by future knowledge of fossils (verifying changes over centuries), current knowledge in biology, genetics, etc.. If you have empirical evidence to support your views, reference it; don’t simply waive a magic wand and claim evidence when none is offered.

      The founding fathers were not a monolith, they were deeply divided men with many varying interest and widely conflicting views. Thomas Jefferson, the man who penned most of the more inspired phrases, such as “We the people…” and “All men are created equal”, was a slave owner; so clearly there existed a large dichotomy of thought in just this one individual’s mind with regards to the ethical treatment of “men” which was based on the color of their skin and class; and further sex as females were excluded in the statement; and from participating in politics for over a century. Referring to the founding fathers as a monolith of thought and with devine inspiration is factually inaccurate and illustrates only mythical knowledge of history, not a factually accurate one. If you read the Declaration of Independence, as you should… it’s rather short, what you will find is that outside of some flowery language in the beginning, the bulk of the document is a list of grievances towards the crown, many of which seem quite mild in todays world of high taxes, police oversight, zoning laws, traffic rules, etc..

      While most people acknowledge the law should treat all persons equally, to say all people are created equal is inaccurate and dishonest. In the book, “Respect, In a world of Inequality” Richard Sennett does a good job is illustrating this point. To pretend everyone is equal is dishonest and caused more harm than good. It is better to acknowledge our differences and to value others for their unique perspectives than to pretend there are no differences. We can all learn something from someone else because of the fact that we are different, not all equal.

      As noted in this blog, one of the few universal truths that are scientifically verifiable and testable with regards to ethics is: “I feel; therefore I have knowledge of ethics.” Testing for physical pain is easy to do, testing for emotion pain is becoming easier with brain imagining, etc.. At a very minimum, being able to feel, i.e. having a physical and/or emotion response to stimuli is a basic metric required for ethical knowledge. Inanimate objects are not bound by ethics because they do not pass this test. It is a simple and testable metric for knowledge; can you feel? No magic there, just the facts.

      • I disagree with you when you say we humans both man and women are not created equal and I see dis-honesty and lack of integrity when you say other-wise if you still hold this opinion after you read the evidence I present you in this response. Using a scientific method with a non-flawed logical concept that I replaced with the logical flaw found in the current scientific method allows me to use the newly modified scientific method and apply it to ethics. I will go in depth later because this is a different topic then me proving that all men/women on planet earth is created equally and it is this equality I speak of that all government and civil laws of the world should up-hold as a scientific moral law.

        Now addressing the issue that man/woman is created equal, is we all men and women have an innate quality or biological mechanism within us called “the ability to choose”! To say all men/women of the world not having this innate quality which prove we are all equal is dis-honesty. When I say we are all created equal this is an absolute truth. Denying this absolute truth is illogical thinking. Once again, we humans both men and women on planet earth is created equally because we have the ability to choose. I await your response in honesty to this un-deniable truth I present to you.

        • Curtis,

          You may have misunderstood my statement which is party my fault as I was a little vague in defining a rather subtle point. Also, I’m assuming you likely did not read this entire blog; both are understandable.

          To clarify, I think we agree on the point that humans are born with the innate abilities to feel pain (physical and emotional) and with “free will” or “the ability to choose” to use your words. There seems to be no debate there. In that sense, and in the sense the law should treat us all equally, I think we can agree.

          I, unlike you apparently, do not like dealing in absolutes. Saying all men and women are created equal is accurate in the general sense, but not acknowledging some inherent differences when dealing with ethics or issues of the law can create more harm than good. For instance, if you are born with a brain disorder or contract one later in life that hinders your cognitive abilities, say your ability to have normal empathetic responses, then you would not be equal in capacity as an able minded person. There are genetic or physical traumas on that can alter the idea of equality or free will, both in thought and action.

          Even without the extremes, in a very mundane sense – individuals’ capacity to think differently or act differently from how they were raised varies significantly. The ability to liberate your mind from what you know, to unlearn bad memes and discover new ways of thinking is very difficult for most. So the memes you adopt from external sources can affect how you internalize the external world.

          In addition, there is a large bell curve of IQ and EQ; both of which are required for proper ethical analysis. That is both genetic and environmental; and it is reality. That said, most people have sufficient levels of both IQ and EQ to grasp and effectively deal with most ethical situations. Too much IQ and rational thought with too little EQ and empathy can actually lead to very unethical thinking… so I don’t weigh ethical superiority the most educated or the people with the highest IQ; without sufficient EQ, your ethical analysis will always be off. You have to be able to see the harm and fairness that others are experiencing

          Environmental factors and circumstances will affect the options available to people; also limiting their free will and causing them to act in ways they may not is other circumstances. For all of these reason, we are not all equal, all of the time. The book, “Respect, in a world of inequality” does a better job making this point than I am; although it focuses more on sociology than ethics.

          In the general sense, I would agree that we are all created equal; we all have an innate knowledge of ethics because we can feel and we have the ability to choose how we act.

          Hopefully that clarifies my point. Now I am curious to hear you clarify your larger points.

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