More reflections on values Recent blog posts

More reflections on values

Let us dig some more on this question of values

Every act we do is value-laden and a value-laden choice and difficult and intense moral dilemmas:


- Do I buy a cheaper piece of clothing and risk encouraging exploitation of face-less unknown workers, working twelve to eighteen hours in appalling conditions, without any benefits and welfare, and being paid very meager salaries,  in the other side of world, in a place we do not anything about.  And save the money I would have spent on a more expensive piece of clothing, made by workers whose dignity and humanity are preserved, being paid decent wages and working eight hours, with breaks and benefits, towards my family's holiday and a new car?


Is making money and rewarding shareholders more important than providing decent working conditions to my fellow human beings and risking standing up against the board of directors and shareholders and losing my jobs and the bonuses and benefits that allow me to send my children to the best schools and universities in the world?


Is my responsibility towards my employees in the risky and unpleasant jobs (mining, construction, factories, cleaning, security), for whom every penny counts, or towards my shareholders and boards of directors?


Do I buy cheaper goods or more expensive ethical goods, made in dignifying conditions and wages that allow wellbeing, and good future and hope for the lowest pay employees?  Or do I stop buying anything that is not essential for my survival, and stop heeding to consumer pressure to buy more and more and more?


Do I eat meat? Do I become vegan? Do I only eat things that cost and cause the minimal misery? Even if it costs more?  How much more?   


Is hiring a more costly worker from our community, ethnicity, country and thereby providing him or her with employment and wellbeing better than hiring a cheaper illegal immigrant, or a cheaper foreign migrant worker, and thereby allowing the me to save money for my own wellbeing and future and the two us to financially benefit?  When is it exploitation? When is it giving an opportunity to a person who would otherwise risk, steal or prostitute himself or herself? Who decides? According to what criteria?


Do I not kill, steal, sleep with married women (adultery) because the scriptures and God tell me so or because of my own moral code of what is right and wrong?  What happens if my priest/rabbi tells me that it is OK to kill, or steal from certain people, and that it is my duty as a Christian or Jew to do so? 



Is protecting the lives of my country men and women giving me the right to hurt the lives of people in another country with which I have a conflict?  Do I support the bombardment of the other country if it can save my loved ones from a possible attack? Do I protest against this attack in times of conflict?  Do I support my country, community, ethnicity unconditionally at times of conflicts?


Do we support people who supported us unconditionally just because they supported us during our times in need?


How far do I go with my values and ethics? How much do I fight and resist?  What do  I fight for? And what I not fight for and save my energies for a cause more valuable to me? When do I rest and just bite my lips very hard?


Ignoring these issues is a value-laden act and choice in its own right.   Making the choices of when to fight, and when to just bite the lips is another value-laden act and choice.


We cannot detach ourselves from reflecting and engaging with these value-laden questions as will cease to be humans and become machines.  But then we are not machines. 


We are humans.  Part of being human is making these decisions, and facing these dilemmas and constantly revisiting and formulating our values, value-laden decisions and choices. This involves making sense of them, reflecting, dialoguing, reading different perspectives, keeping informed on different matters, listening to and engaging attentively and with an open mind, to different narratives and positions, understanding the world (the history, psychology., anthropology, psychology, sociology, science, philosophy)  in which we live, and taking risks.  It involves constant evaluation, questioning, dialoguing, and listening and making minds.  And being authentic.


Some people will agree with us vehemently as they share our values and are passionate about and are committed to our values.  Some people will agree up to an extent with some of the things we say. Other people will be able to understand our position and values.  Other values will disagree.  Other people will disagree fervently and violently as our values completely contradict and clash with their values.  I disagree intensely with the racist ideology and the claim that some people are superior to other people and some people are inferior.  This directly clashes with my liberal values of dignity, humanity and equality for and of all. I become sickened to the core of my being when such supremacy values and views are expressed.


Some people are indoctrinated by their community to take and adopt values and views and are raised accordingly.  They do not take the opportunity to scrutinize test and evaluate both the values they share with their community and the contradictory values for this considered to be a betrayal of the community, family, country and ethnic identity.




How do we study this empirically? Which empirical methods? How do we avoid colonising and imposing our values? Which values are superior? Which values are inferior? Who says? Based on what? When? Where?






Is the possible destruction of the environment and the future wellbeing, even if just aesthetic, of the people living in or visiting this environment worth amassing revenues that can build schools, hospitals and infrastructures to the people, through taxation or even nationalization?  How much destruction? What type of destruction? How long will the benefits

  last for?

Posted by Alon Serper on 16 July 2014 09:09:05

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