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Yehuda “YJ” Draiman - Candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles 2017 YJ Draiman is the lead elected official 4th term, for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council – NENC, he is also the liaison between the NENC and LADWP. As an Energy Efficiency Advocate YJ Draiman is known for his advancement in... More
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  • The Ethics Of Governance – YJ Draiman 8 comments
    Dec 24, 2012 9:39 PM

    The Ethics of Governance - YJ Draiman

    When we have a set of principles, of values, which we have been learning for many years, we organize our life following this structure, and then we try to apply that frame of mind to practical situations in our life. But often, we find ourselves in a sort of uncomfortable position because the moment we try to apply our values to this very present practical issue, we feel that the situation is not as clear as we would like, that we can not tell very clearly which is the best possible alternative. Often, it is not a choice between good answers and bad answers, good and evil, but maybe between two good things or two bad things. We would like to be much surer about our decisions.
    When this happens in government, it is even worse because the whole society and beyond is affected by your decision. You are not dealing with your own life. You are dealing with many millions of lives at the same time. Maybe things will never be the same again in the future because of your decision. Hence, ethical decisions in government are; How do you apply your theoretical values to practical decisions where you do not have pure answers and when the whole life of your society or community will be affected?
    I have found a plethora of relevant information on the Web. You have very good practical advice and tips on how to deal with these problems. The first is to get the facts. For example, when you have a headache, probably, the headache is not the problem; the headache is the symptom of the problem. If you hit your head against the wall, that's Scenario A. If you have a hangover, that is Scenario B. If you have a tumor in your brain, that is Scenario C. Therefore, to have a headache is just a symptom of something else. What you need to do if you have the symptom or a group of symptoms is to try to sort them out, to elaborate possible explanations for them-that is how doctors precede. For each possible explanation, you can have an action plan and then you have to implement it. So you go from practical things-the headache-to theoretical things-the possible diagnosis-then to the possible solutions-the prescription-and then back to the practical field-the treatment or the implementation of the cure.
    You have more or less the same system dealing with the problems in government. You need all the facts. The facts can be the symptoms or the problem. You never know which is it at the instant you start analyzing the problem. Thus, you get the facts, and afterwards you try to make some sense of them. You have some theories or hypothesis of what is causing the symptoms. In addition, you try to implement the course of action. Only after you have consulted with your advisers, you want to have as much input as possible.
    You also have to deal with the problem in ethical terms. The ethical approach is the Utilitarian. You have to balance how much good and how much evil you produce with your actions. If the good outweighs the evil, you should do it, as it is a sort of balance. The second is based on the concept of rights. There are some basic human rights that you have to respect. You are not allowed to affect those human rights in order to produce positive affect in your society. The third one is founded; on the concept of justice or fairness. We have at least three different concepts about justice. You can have distributive justice in which you try to distribute all the goods of the society according to the needs of the people. However, you can also have the concept of contribution. In this case, you are not receiving on the base of what you need but on the base of what you are contributing to society. In addition, you have the compensation concept. In this circumstance, you have the right for compensation if you have losses or harm done due to others. The fourth major ethical approach is a foundation on virtues. The question is not what I should do, but what kind of society would I like to have in the future. How are my actions going to contribute to that future? In addition, you have the common good, the concept in which you are doing things that are equally good for everybody in your community.

    YJ Draiman


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  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
    25 Dec 2012, 12:33 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.
    25 Dec 2012, 12:34 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » And what does reward virtue? You think the communist commissar rewards virtue? You think a Hitler rewards virtue? You think, excuse me, if you'll pardon me, American presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout?


    25 Dec 2012, 12:39 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » Criticism of Virtue Ethics:
    Different cultures seem to provide different models of moral virtue, and there may be several, some conflicting, within a given culture. For instance, the ancient Greeks had a place for the virtue of pride (an appropriate sense of one's honor), while medieval Christian monks thought humility more important. The ancient Greeks had a moral ideal of seriousness, which could be expressed in religious, philosophical, or ethical activity, but not so easily in physical production; early modern thinkers, however, recognize a virtue of industriousness, which tend to be expressed in activity related to production, to subduing the physical environment.
    How can we be sure the models proposed are ideal unless we invoke moral rules to evaluate them? Thus, however valuable virtue ethics may be, it seems to need another ethical theory in order to complete it.


    25 Dec 2012, 12:47 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » Virtue ethics is an approach that deemphasizes rules, consequences and particular acts and places the focus on the kind of person who is acting. The issue is not primarily whether an intention is right, though that is important; nor is it primarily whether one is following the correct rule; nor is it primarily whether the consequences of action are good, though these factors are not irrelevant.
    What is primary is whether the person acting is expressing good character (moral virtues) or not.
    A person's character is the totality of his character traits. Our character traits can be good, bad or somewhere in between. They can be admirable or not. The admirable character traits, the marks of perfection in character, are called virtues, their opposites are vices.
    25 Dec 2012, 12:48 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » Ethics and Virtue
    For many of us, the fundamental question of ethics is, "What should I do?" or "How should I act?" Ethics is supposed to provide us with "moral principles" or universal rules that tell us what to do. Many people, for example, read passionate adherents of the moral principle of utilitarianism: "Everyone is obligated to do whatever will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number." Others are just as devoted to the basic principle of Immanuel Kant: "Everyone is obligated to act only in ways that respect the human dignity and moral rights of all persons."
    Moral principles like these focus primarily on people's actions and doings. We "apply" them by asking what these principles require of us in particular circumstances, e.g., when considering whether to lie or to commit suicide. We also apply them when we ask what they require of us as professionals, e.g., lawyers, doctors, or business people, or what they require of our social policies and institutions. In the last decade, dozens of ethics centers and programs devoted to "business ethics", "legal ethics", "medical ethics", and "ethics in public policy" have sprung up. These centers are designed to examine the implications moral principles have for our lives.
    But are moral principles all that ethics consists of? Critics have rightly claimed that this emphasis on moral principles smacks of a thoughtless and slavish worship of rules, as if the moral life was a matter of scrupulously checking our every action against a table of do's and don'ts. Fortunately, this obsession with principles and rules has been recently challenged by several ethicists who argue that the emphasis on principles ignores a fundamental component of ethics--virtue. These ethicists point our that by focusing on what people should do or how people should act, the "moral principles approach" neglects the more important issue--what people should be. In other words, the fundamental question of ethics is not "What should I do?" but "What kind of person should I be?"
    According to "virtue ethics", there are certain ideals, such as excellence or dedication to the common good, toward which we should strive and which allow the full development of our humanity. These ideals are discovered through thoughtful reflection on what we as human beings have the potential to become.
    "Virtues" are attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop this potential. They enable us to pursue the ideals we have adopted. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of virtues.
    How does a person develop virtues? Virtues are developed through learning and through practice. As the ancient philosopher Aristotle suggested, a person can improve his or her character by practicing self-discipline, while a good character can be corrupted by repeated self-indulgence. Just as the ability to run a marathon develops through much training and practice, so too does our capacity to be fair, to be courageous, or to be compassionate.
    Virtues are habits. That is, once they are acquired, they become characteristic of a person. For example, a person who has developed the virtue of generosity is often referred to as a generous person because he or she tends to be generous in all circumstances. Moreover, a person who has developed virtues will be naturally disposed to act in ways that are consistent with moral principles. The virtuous person is the ethical person.
    At the heart of the virtue approach to ethics is the idea of "community". A person's character traits are not developed in isolation, but within and by the communities to which he or she belongs, including family, church, school, and other private and public associations. As people grow and mature, their personalities are deeply affected by the values that their communities prize, by the personality traits that their communities encourage, and by the role models that their communities put forth for imitation through traditional stories, fiction, movies, television, and so on. The virtue approach urges us to pay attention to the contours of our communities and the habits of character they encourage and instill.
    The moral life, then, is not simply a matter of following moral rules and of learning to apply them to specific situations. The moral life is also a matter of trying to determine the kind of people we should be and of attending to the development of character within our communities and ourselves.
    25 Dec 2012, 12:56 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » Making an Ethical Decision


    Recognize an Ethical Issue


    1. Could this decision or situation be damaging
    to someone or to some group? Does this
    decision involve a choice between a good
    and bad alternative, or perhaps between
    two “goods” or between two “bads”?
    2. Is this issue about more than what is legal or
    what is most efficient? If so, how?
    Get the Facts
    3. What are the relevant facts of the case?
    What facts are not known? Can I learn more
    about the situation? Do I know enough to
    make a decision?
    4. What individuals and groups have an
    important stake in the outcome? Are some
    concerns more important? Why?
    5. What are the options for acting? Have all
    the relevant persons and groups been
    consulted? Have I identified creative
    Evaluate Alternative Actions
    6. Evaluate the options by asking the following
    n Which option will produce the most good
    and do the least harm? (The Utilitarian
    n Which option best respects the rights of all
    who have a stake? (The Rights Approach)
    n Which option treats people equally or
    proportionately? (The Justice Approach)
    n Which option best serves the community
    as a whole, not just some members?
    (The Common Good Approach)
    n Which option leads me to act as the sort of
    person I want to be? (The Virtue Approach)
    Make a Decision and Test It
    7. Considering all these approaches, which
    option best addresses the situation?
    8. If I told someone I respect—or told a
    television audience—which option I have
    chosen, what would they say?
    Act and Reflect on the Outcome
    9. How can my decision be implemented
    with the greatest care and attention to the
    concerns of all stakeholders?
    10. How did my decision turn out and what
    have I learned from this specific situation?
    25 Dec 2012, 01:01 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Comments (193) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Virtue Ethics
    There are two basic kinds of ethical judgments. The first have to do with duty and obligation. For example: "Thou shalt not kill, lie, or steal." "You just keep your promises." These judgments often uphold minimal standards of onduct and (partly for that reason) assert or imply a moral ‘ought.’ The second kind of judgment focuses on human excellence and the nature of the good life. These judgments employ as their most general terms "happiness," "excellence," and perhaps "flourishing" (in addition to "the good life"). For example: "Happiness requires activity and not mere passive consumption." "The good life includes pleasure, friendship, intellectual development and physical health." I take these to be the two general types of ethical judgment, and all particular ethical judgments to be examples of these. The main contention of this paper is that we must carefully distinguish these two types of judgments, and not try to understand the one as a special case of the other.
    Ethical theories may be usefully divided into two main types, deontological or eudaimonist, on the basis of whether they take one or the other of these kinds of judgments as primary. (1) In the main, ancient ethical theories were eudaimonist in both form and content (in the kinds of judgments and terms they took as primary, and in the questions they spent the most time investigating). Most modern ethical theories have been deontological, again in both form and content. (2) Aristotle’s central question is: What is the good life for a human being? Kant and Mill’s central question is: What are our duties to our fellow human beings? My second main contention, which I cannot fully argue for here, is that neither type of theory trumps the other, nor should we attempt to subsume both types under some higher ethical synthesis.
    25 Dec 2012, 01:13 AM Reply Like
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