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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Ethics Anywhere 
28th-Jan-2005 11:28 am
Inspiration
I think I've had quite enough discussion about ethics for the year.

Frequently, people say, "Let's have a code of ethics."  They then propose something that sounds nice, and whose effects are to legitimize the behavior of the profession at its worst. 

All ethics worth the name are deductions from three axioms:

1. Prudence: on the whole, I ought to promote my own good.
2. Benevolence: on the whole, I ought to regard a larger good for society as of more intrinsic value than a lesser good.
3. Equity: One man's good is of as much intrinsic value as any other man's.

Sigwick showed this in the 1880s.  We haven't even gotten this far yet in society.
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