Did Ed Snowden do the right thing?

Daniel C. dcrookston at gmail.com
Mon Jun 10 13:35:13 MDT 2013


On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 3:21 PM, Nathan England <nathan at nmecs.com> wrote:
> I keep seeing this statement come up. So it begs the question, where do our morals
> come from?

It doesn't actually beg the question.  Begging the question is when
you create a question with an answer already in mind.  It does raise
the question, though.  The bottom line is that nobody actually knows -
but it's pretty trivial to demonstrate that ethics do not come from
gods or from laws.

> I completely agree that laws cannot dictate morals. I firmly believe that we should in
> no way *ever* legislate morality.

Those are two different things, and I disagree with the second thing
you said.  Laws should be codified morals - that is, they should be an
explicit list of things which people are or are not allowed to do, and
we should be getting this code from some ethical source.  Otherwise,
what authority would the law have?

> God said thou shalt not kill.

God has (supposedly) said a lot of things that are distinctly immoral.
 He has condoned human sacrifice, slavery, and a handful of other
things that are wrong.  Deities are not adequate sources of ethics,
because no matter what their prophets claim the deities say, we still
have to choose whether to accept the commandment as authoritative.  We
are still making an ethical judgment regarding commandments which are
supposedly of divine origin.

> Where do morals come from if not from a basic foundation in the sanctity of life and a
> creator/giver of life? Science certainly does not teach that!

I agree.  Science is descriptive - it tells us what is or what can be.
 Ethics are prescriptive - they tell us what we should do.

- Dan


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