Ethics and Morals: Two Evil Sisters…

I used the last long weekend – it started with the German Re-Unification Day – for philosophising: along with a not very small group of very young students and experienced entrepreneurs and leaders, I went to the Grashof – a small conference hotel about 25 kilometres west of Fulda. My friend Klaus-Jürgen Grün held a “philosophical colloquium” supported by the “Ethikverband der Deutschen Wirtschaft e. V. (EVW)”.

For me, those three days were extremely important. Let me give you a short account of what I learned.

Morals and Ethics

I understand more and more clearly that morals and ethics are two evil sisters. To be sure, the younger of them, “ethics”, tries to dampen the detrimental effect of her older sister “morals”. Yet far too often, all she does is make matters even worse.
What I am saying is that morals are the cause of much that is evil and the concept of ethics doing better does not work.

Morals and Decisions

Up to now, my view of the world made me see decisions basically as the solution of the conflict between ratio (facts, evaluation, consequence, brain) and intuition (emotions, sensation, gut feeling). During this colloquium, however, I suddenly understood that there is a third – often extremely powerful – factor: morals!

The more I listen as persons find a consensus, the more I discover that the arguments they exchange are of a moral nature, rather than rational (common sense) or intuitive (heuristics). I find this a terrible thing.

Morals and Regularisation

Thirdly, I am now aware of how often we moralize even in simple speeches or when we talk, think and discuss things, and how much we are determined by morals. The systems we live in build massive collective constructs which further influence us morally.

The consequence of unimpeded morals is over-regulation. This is something we secretly demand (in order to have the others at long last do the right things), yet we do not really want it. Such a process will be detrimental for freedom: in the extreme case, we will lose said freedom. That is a scenario I do not like.

I would like to live in freedom in a developed and enlightened society. There is nothing wrong with reasonable rules. More and more often, however, I get the impression that, especially in our hemisphere, this development does no longer take place. What is worse: we are regressing and unnecessarily relinquishing our hard-earned freedom step by step. And this is something that must not happen.

(Translated by EG)

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