Friday, 2 March 2012

The Dangers Of Inconsistency

It's interesting to consider whether a code of ethics really needs to be consistent.  On the one hand, we intuitively accept a certain amount of inconsistency in how we think we ought to act: sayings like "do what you can" partially demonstrate this, for instance.  On the other hand, I'd argue that many past atrocities - slavery, wars, and so on - were committed from fundamentally incoherent ethical positions.  Anarchists generally claim that mainstream liberalism and conservatism are inconsistent within themselves, and therefore dangerous.  Should we make ethical consistency a high priority when we think about what we ought to do, even at the cost of what we feel is right?  If so, it's going to be hard to reconcile, say, caring about animal welfare with eating meat, or holding strong anarchist positions with calling the police.

I think it's worth doing, even if the task is hard or thankless.  In examining the consistency of our intuitions, we'll necessarily clarify why we believe what we believe - and find effective ways to convince others.

No comments:

Post a Comment