Aug. 2nd, 2015

sesquipedality: (Queen of Swords)
http://nypost.com/2015/08/01/orthodox-jewish-tenants-sue-building-over-electronic-key-fobs/

This strikes me as an interesting ethical dilemma. Presumably it is only a small subset of Judaism that regards activating a motion activated light switch or electronic lock to be a violation of the Sabbath laws, but it does render it very difficult for them to deal with some aspects of the modern world. The interesting question is how much the modern world should have to accommodate that. The easy response is to say "they don't have to live in that block of flats", but bear in mind these measures weren't in place when they moved there. Someone actively (albeit unintentionally) rendered their own home massively inconvenient for them. I regard these restrictions as absurd, but isn't the point of tolerance that if you only tolerate things that you agree with, then it's not really all that tolerant?
sesquipedality: (Queen of Swords)
Another thought on ethical stances and judgment. In order to not be singling out the Jews, let's pick another example. Some evangelical Christians believe that it is wrong to marry someone who is not themselves a Christian. ("Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14) Ignore for a moment the tone of that verse, which I don't think is terribly helpful, or much embraced by those who follow the modern version of that belief. Now a Christian can say that it is not a value judgement, and that it is about removing obstacles to their own personal practice of righteousness. They are not making a moral judgment about others, merely about what is best for them. The problem with this stance comes in the fact that underneath that reasoning, it has to be accepted that the reason unbelievers are problematic within the internal logic is that they are doing something wrong.

The point I'm getting at is that we might wish to be morally permissive, to say that our ethics are personal and we respect the views of others, but at the bottom of that, we do believe we are right about our ethical stances (perhaps with some degree of doubt, but it would be a very odd or unusual person who embraced an ethical framework they regarded as on balance incorrect).

The problem is that by making a choice, a person is essentially saying the other choices are less good/more wrong. It's intellectually honest to admit that they might be mistaken and respect the choices of others. I'm not sure it's as intellectually honest to say that their choice does not criticise others, because an ethical stance is a value judgment. While it's important to respect the ethical stances of others, I'm not sure we can go as far as to say we don't regard them as acting sub-optimally from an ethical standpoint.

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