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Simone Weil Takes Ethics 101

"Second question: is it ethical for a student to disrupt class discussion with political grandstanding?"

Simone Weil thought that all ethics, and even all religions, ultimately amounted to the same thing once they were properly understood. She pointed out that there were certain similarities between every moral system history. For example, every religious and moral system has always said that if a rich man walks by a poor and starving man, he is obligating to give him money and food. Another interesting one is that every moral system agrees that people in power should be punished for moral digressions more than people without power and responsibility. For example, more or less everyone agrees that a coach should be punished for cheating more than a player, because they have more power and authority, so their cheating is a higher level of corruption.

Weirdly, when we look at actual societies, these universally agreed upon moral rules have never been applied. For example, in every society there have been rich men and staving poor who go unhelped. In every society the rich and powerful get away with crimes far more than the powerless masses. Why the disconnect? It's almost enough to make you think society is not organized around moral principles.

Simone Weil thought that all ethics, and even all religions, ultimately amounted to the same thing once they were properly understood. She pointed out that there were certain similarities between every moral system history. For example, every religious and moral system has always said that if a rich man walks by a poor and starving man, he is obligating to give him money and food. Another interesting one is that every moral system agrees that people in power should be punished for moral digressions more than people without power and responsibility. For example, more or less everyone agrees that a coach should be punished for cheating more than a player, because they have more power and authority, so their cheating is a higher level of corruption.

Weirdly, when we look at actual societies, these universally agreed upon moral rules have never been applied. For example, in every society there have been rich men and staving poor who go unhelped. In every society the rich and powerful get away with crimes far more than the powerless masses. Why the disconnect? It's almost enough to make you think society is not organized around moral principles.

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