Applied Philosophy and Applied Ethics First
There are artful ways to apply reasons that we have for making conclusions and for coming up with solutions to problems that we confront in life each day. Such solutions require knowledge of ethics or at least ethical habits. Such solutions to problems, whether social or environmental, are unavoidable in life at work, at home and with your own heart wherever you go.
With your own heart. Both your mental and physical health can never be separated from your strength. The entirety of your being is dependent on the strength of a muscle as an organ, your heart. The more beats that a life has, the stronger the heart in respect to strength as stamina. There are stronger beats based on how low the minimum heartrate is as well as how high it can get, and how long it can remain closer to its maximum beat.
Similarly, in moral life, strength is an extremely important dimension, which can be overlooked, especially with communities where the focus on a specific moral value is based on an opposing dimension of moral life, i.e., the approval, the moral praise and the self-praise and self-approval. A doctor, a soldier and an engineer might all receive high praises from many of the people around them for merely doing their jobs. Is this not sometimes dangerous for the society?
The alternative would be the doctor, soldier and engineer receiving strong blame, feelings of guilt and self-blame when they fail to do their jobs ethically. None of us can escape the self-guilt that we have violated our own standards, our own moral demands on ourselves.
We prioritize moral values differently than others do. One man values courage more than another. Another man values cleanliness and purity more than others. It really depends on the “urgent life situation” (Aristotle).
For plans and solutions, especially to social problems, the most practical decisions are the ones in your own moral life. The reasoning that you use to voice your compromised position in life after undergoing injustice, recklessness of another vice that is imposed on you from others, is directly and practically involved in ethics. Ethics teaches you to be the teacher of your own moral life, and it both acquires knowledge and requires it.
There are some people who appear to lack ordinary moral lives. Some are quite obvious to us as the psychopathic but less intelligent ones who are unable to hide what appears as a lacking of moral standards and an absence of their own moral demands on themselves, concerning their own moral values. It seems that they completely lack their own demands on themselves at times or that they have immoral values. We may consider that they often attempt to gain wealth, power, fame or infamy, mercilessly. So, we might consider whether they have developed a set of values, which would replace where their moral values would be.
Replacing moral values, such as justice, courage, generosity and wisdom with greed for wealth, power or fame–would change the mode of operation of the human away from making demands on themselves temporarily to handle the urgent life situations, and turn it into a mode of operation where one works continuously for a value that can never be satisfied and that also takes away from what others can achieve.
Greed for wealth, power or fame materializes in worst case scenario, namely, the villain who has much wealth, much power, much health, much fame and high-level intelligence. Although they are considered to be “good” by people, as in things that you would prefer to possess at least to some degree, they are not morally good. They are useful values for doing other things, but those things can be morally good or not.
The librarian values wisdom oftentimes quite strongly. So, if someone fails to demonstrate wisdom when he or she should, or when the librarian fails to be wise at the proper time, blame is given, self-blame and regret with feelings of guilt. Valuing wisdom strongly means that you strongly feel the guilt when you fail to be wise at the right time. When one holds the value strongly, then one holds that same value lowly with respect to self-praise. One praises oneself very little, if one holds the value strongly, which means the moral demands are based more on preventing failure. You place more moral demands on yourself then to prevent yourself from doing too much or not enough.
The firefighter values courage oftentimes quite strongly. So, if one fails to demonstrate courage during that urgent life situation, or job task, but the firefighter could have been brave and was not brave, then self-blame and strong feelings of guilt are what he undergoes, if he holds the moral value of courage strongly. But again, this means that the height of the moral value of courage, for the firefighter, is low. Low but strong, because the one with the strong moral value of courage does not praise himself highly for being courageous. The brave are much more humble. Brave people do not want the extra fame and are even at least slightly embarrassed by receiving additional attention about doing something courageously. Courageous firefighters are ready to return to fight fires before the praises from others end. However, there is one other way to face thinkers who have entirely different systems of thought about courage. For them, courageous firefighters are highly praised by them for doing something bravely, but they are only blamed very weakly for failing to do something that was brave when the situation arose.
For our urgent life situations, the wise and the learners present reasons to ourselves and to others to help us develop our skills, make decisions and develop psychologically. The reasons ourselves that we give assist us greatly in the process of forming any social group and within the foundation of every society because agreements must be established with reasons, and every social group has agreements or some degree of agreeableness. The most important reasons to give ourselves are the reasons for our own moral values that we each prioritize slightly differently, but especially because they greatly involve our urgent life situations, the happenings where we are tested, and where we then grade ourselves with our own personal standards. Our standards can be quite harsh at times.
Reasons with confirmation from the in-group and other groups assist us in answering the fundamental philosophical and practical questions about what we can know, what we can expect and what we should do in life. We know ourselves as social creatures, expect to be members of social groups and we form agreements as we engage in cooperation, sharing and collaboration, which are crucial for any society.
Agreements must be established with reasonable fairness because, generally speaking, one person is enough to ruin the lives of many others, and every instance of unfairness that is preventable (or reducible to some tolerable extent) is thereby risky.
For all of these reasons, applied ethics is placed as our most important study and gives us the moral foundations for our plans and implementations of moral ways of life for us to use first or foremost as applied philosophy.
Our individual moralities come together in agreements that form expectations for our social groups, each establishing its own morality for their social group. Applied ethics is the aspect of philosophy that increases our knowledge of what is relevant to our lives and the way that our lives should be. What gives us directions to our moral lives is knowledge of the way our lives should be. Also, applied ethics gives us knowledge of what we can do and what we should do, in accordance with our own moral value sets as well as the moral value-set of the our own groups and moral value-sets of others.
Applied philosophy is a set of tendencies for intensively investigating from the direction of any or all disciplines, for example, with their methodologies (e.g., history, psychology, sociology, engineering, environmental science, medicine) in combination with the methods of philosophy. See Brant (2021) for eight methodologies of philosophy and science.
The set of tendencies of applied philosophy include critical thinking and problem-solving skills for enhancing our decision-making. There are types of applied philosophies undergoing studies of their own, such as the philosophy of yoga, and social philosophy can be applied to bring about changes in societies.
Types of Applied Philosophy
The branches of applied philosophy that are relevant for application in life and the sciences include:
(1) applied epistemology, including methodological skepticism (i.e., the systematic use of doubt);
(2) applied logic, including rationality and reasons for questionable conclusions (i.e., with valid and strong arguments);
(3) applied ethics (i.e., including professional ethics, which improves the levels of safety, efficiency and fairness with justice in workplaces), reducing violence, managing conflicts effectively and communicating professionally;
(4) applied aesthetics (i.e., including the presentations of (1), (2) y (3) with the images and words in their effectively beautiful forms), facilitating others’ roles in reading, watching, listening and providing higher quality feedback.
Generally, in the applications of (1), (2), (3) and (4), the characteristics approach the goals of philosophic worldviews, namely:
(A) internal and external consistency;
Any worldview can be objectively judged in respect to the amount of internal and external consistency it has as well as the amount of completeness, parsimony and its practical application to life.
For example, atheism is criticized from the perspectives of theistic worldviews that claim atheism is incomplete since God is lacking from the atheistic worldview. Theism is criticized from the perspectives of atheistic worldviews that argue that God does not exist, and because God is a major part of the theistic worldview, theism is neither concise nor externally consistent with reality from the atheistic worldview.
Such worldviews are brought directly into the scientific communities, such as the medical community, and they play roles in the decisions that people make during their practices. That is, the philosophical worldviews are applied in sciences, and, therefore, deserve further developments in relation to their reconciliations in respect to other worldviews with their oppositions.
One way of reconciling worldviews is systematic philosophy, which compares and contrasts opposing systems of thought and remains or attempts to remain impartial regarding the different systems (Brant, ibid.). However, the dogmatic system of thought is generally a smaller focus than its opposing systems because it is already well-known and implemented often unwittingly in practice.
In life and the sciences, we use methodologies that can be improved. Moreover, we can evaluate the uses of the concepts and the real phenomena involved in the investigations.
Critical evaluation uses a new set of relevant values for the alternative interpretation of the facts of the observations and the analysis of the products and other real phenomena.
Critical evaluation includes logic with the addition of valuable content in contrast with the values of truth and falsehood and indeterminacy. Also, critical evaluation includes the alternative moral values for informing and changing the direction of the investigations. For example, sometimes an alternative set of moral values compromises loyalty for justice, in which case a relationship or more relations can be risked at the expense of informing the larger social group or groups of misconduct.
In the medical sciences and other applied sciences (e.g., engineering, architecture, aviation), the stabilization of expectations of the scientific community is paramount. Applied ethics is an obvious requirement for stabilization. For one reason, applied ethics gives decision-makers forewarning concerning the ethical problems, especially regarding safety, efficiency and fairness at workplaces and for products. Ethics develops the moralities of everyone who invests time and energy into it.
However, people have different sets of moral values. Some people value courage, moderation, justice and wisdom more than others. Others value trust, faith, individualism and personal strength more than others, and there are many other sets of values that differ from these two. Ethics develops our moral value-sets so that the values we prioritize and that have stronger impacts on us, with our self-blame and feelings of guilt, become more profound in the knowledge we gain about ourselves.
Reasons for Valuing Applied Ethics First: Gaining Knowledge of Ethics
Knowledge of applied ethics informs you about the way the world is in relevant ways to your life, and knowledge of applied ethics informs you of the way the world should be, according to your own values.
Knowledge of ethics in its real applications reveals to you what you ought to do and ought not do when making the world a better place that is more consistent with your own set of values and moral demands that you place upon yourself.
Citation: Brant, William A. (2022). “Applied Philosophy and Applied Ethics First.” Ethical Conflict Consulting. August edition.