When do lies benefit society?

Science ethics

How exact can the sciences of society be?

Norms of action as rules of the game in society
- A research program -

Lecture for the University of the Federal Armed Forces, Neubiberg 06/13/1997

"The backwardness of the moral sciences can only be remedied by applying to them the appropriately expanded and generalized methods of natural science."

John Stuart Mill

1. Preferences and social cohesion
In economics it is common to speak of the preferences of the "players" in an economy. These preferences reflect the subjective economic interests of the actors and are ranked.

We now ask whether there are also, specifically for each society, analogous to this and far more generally objective social - not just economic - preferences with their own ranking that serve the interests of precisely this society as a whole, but at the same time are in the well-understood interests of the individual citizen .

If preferences are to objectively benefit both the individual citizen and society as a whole, they can only be linear, i.e. whether two or millions of couples interact with one another is irrelevant with regard to the preferences and their ranking.

Finding preferences that are in the interests of society as a whole is much easier than finding preferences that suit individual couples.

No society can stick together if it does not survive. From this basic postulate, which is sufficiently supported by our practical life experience, objective preferences - initially without ranking - can be derived, which at the same time benefit every individual person and every social group within this society.

If all possible couples kill, wound, take away objects or lie to one another, a society cannot survive on the basis of practical experience alone.

To be free from the risk of manslaughter, wounding, kidnapping and lying is necessary for both the cohesion of society and the existence of the individual.

All of the aforementioned risks disappear when all possible couples refrain from killing, wounding, taking away, or lying. To be free from the risk of manslaughter, wounding, being taken away or lying are examples of objective preferences of the first kind.

There are further objective preferences, preferences of the second kind. If in a society no partner helps another where the latter is less efficient than himself, this society cannot stick together either. Even the individual people have no chances in life, because even the newborn does not receive any help according to the requirements.

Preferences of the first kind are assigned to prohibitions, mere omissions, preferences of the second kind, on the other hand, belong to commandments, actions or activities. Prohibitions as omissions always lead to the goal if all these commandments are obeyed; Commandments or actions may under certain circumstances fail to achieve their goal.

We summarize. Preferences of the first kind benefit society as well as every citizen equally and certainly if everyone obeys the prohibitions belonging to the preferences, i.e. refrains from the corresponding acts. Society and individuals alike enjoy preferences of the second kind, but only with a - more or less high - probability if everyone observes the associated commandments, i.e. carries out the corresponding deeds.

Since in reality in every society, past and present, the mentioned prohibitions such as and commandments are only fulfilled with probability, the associated preferences are also only fulfilled with probability for society and the citizens concerned.

2. Morals, Law and Ethics
States prohibit anything that seems to undermine internal or social peace. State regulations, the violation of which is punished, are called legal norms.

Rules of action that are followed voluntarily because they have already become flesh and blood in young people due to traditional upbringing, are the moral norms mentioned. Aristotle, who founded ethics as a theory of morality, believed that only Greeks could be educated spiritually and morally. Non-Greeks, "barbarians" - he advised Alexander - should therefore be treated like "domestic animals or useful plants" [Marc Aurel, p. IX]. Alexander ignored the advice of his teacher: he created a world empire in which Greeks and non-Greeks had equal rights. "Hellenes" were now those who understood Greek, participated in the Greek spirit and in Greek morality. In contrast to Aristotle, the Greek educated Roman emperor Marc Aurel advocates a uniform morality for everyone: "... everything that is beneficial for any person is also beneficial for others to be understood in a more general sense by the 'middle' things "[Marc Aurel, p. 80].

The basic ethical principle of Christianity also applies to everyone: "Love your neighbor as yourself!" Even after 2000 years, Christian morality is extremely topical, as the recently published book "For a future in solidarity and justice" [Engelhardt] by the two major German churches shows again.

The basic idea of ​​a justification of a common morality for all, independent of religious convictions and mere emotions, can already be found in Plato [Plato p. 48]: What is forbidden if everyone does it, the downfall not only of one's own but of every country risked.

In the following, risks that depend on human behavior and at the same time threaten the survival of every country as "ethical risks" are at the center.

Every ethical risk has an ethical rule, which if everyone obeys it, minimizes it.

Aristotle sees ethics as part of political science [Aristotle, p. 56]. The ethical set of rules - as will be shown below - is the basis of all sciences in society and of historical science, it is the methodological basis for the design of every low-risk social practice.

Since there are correlations between ethical risks, social conflicts (Section 7) can arise if ethical rules are violated or in shortage situations.

The "case of Socrates" [Plato p. 5, p. 37] already shows such a conflict: after a judgment that initially disregarded generally accepted norms, can the city-state of Athens expect Socrates to comply with all moral or legal norms afterwards?

In "Risk Society - On the Way to Another Modern Age", Ulrich Beck discusses additional ethical risks and conflicts that have come into the world through science and technology: "In advanced modernity, the social production of wealth systematically goes hand in hand with the social production of Risks. Correspondingly, the distribution plans and conflicts of the shortage society are superimposed by the problems and conflicts that arise from the production, definition and distribution of scientific and technical risks "[Beck, p. 25].

Technical opportunities are often offset by considerable ethical risks that have to be weighed up against each other. The philosophy is at a loss when it comes to these risks.

Hans Georg Gadamer, the nestor of German philosophy, says: "We have a three hundred year debt to settle. For three centuries we have achieved a fantastic development of our knowledge and ability to rule over the forces of nature. We have nothing even remotely comparable in the education of man for the correct application of this new power. That is why we experience today that we live in a world in which infinitely destructive means of power have come into man's hands. Nobody knows how to save humanity from self-destruction. Here we have one infinite shortcoming "[ZEITPunkte, p. 20].

3. Ethics as a game of survival

As early as the 19th century, John Stuart Mill declared: "The backwardness of the moral sciences can only be remedied by applying to them the appropriately expanded methods of natural science" [Mill 68, p. IX]. Moral sciences are now referred to as social sciences.

The broad applicability of the exact natural sciences rests on three pillars: causality, experience and mathematics. The broad applicability of ethics is also based on three pillars: risk minimization, experience and mathematics.

First of all, a politically sovereign society organizing itself for the purpose of limiting ethical risks in space and time by means of a set of rules is a country. Ethics is then an empirically substantial statistical theory in which ethical risks can be minimized by following fixed ethical rules.

Ethical risks that have arisen as a result of technical applications - such as the ozone hole or environmental pollution - often extend spatially and temporally today to such an extent that countries that have grown over time can no longer limit them alone; this indicates the need for world government.

We now define: the better a country limits ethical risks over time, the greater its common sense. The common sense of a country is a dynamic factor.

The crucial domestic political task of every country is to reconcile individual risk limitation with collective risk; only then will experience have shown that many citizens will contribute to raising the common sense of their country on their own initiative.

Countries like technical constructions are the work of man. In order to achieve the purpose, ethical rules must be in the first case, and fixed and binding construction rules in the second natural law. Ethics has the same task for society as physics has for technology.

Aircraft as deterministic systems only fly, for example, if the laws of nature serve as mandatory construction regulations. States, as statistical systems, serve the purpose of effectively limiting ethical risks, the better the more often their citizens follow ethically established rules of the game.

If technology is used, individual cases in coexistence can sometimes elude statistical description: If only one person is able to use a suitable technology - such as poison in the central water supply - they can depopulate regions.

4. Ethical risks and rules, values

4.1 Ethical Risks The exact definition and measurement of ethical risks stand or fall the objectivity of fixed ethical rules.

Risks are explained and measurable as products of risk factors and the associated probabilities of occurrence. Ethical risk factors such as the associated probabilities of occurrence, as statistical measures, form the empirical basis of all ethical theories introduced here; they are at the same time part of these theories themselves and are only defined by them.

4.2 Basic ethical risks
Basic ethical risks are defined as interactions between couples of people. Interactions in pairs can be material - such as wounds, removal, destruction or handover of objects - or immaterial - such as insufficient sincerity in language behavior (lies). There are exactly two disjoint classes of basic ethical risks: the first contains omissions, the second acts.

If an interaction - practiced by all possible couples in a country - leads with certainty to its downfall, then it describes a basic ethical risk of the first class precisely when - omitted by all - it certainly keeps the country free from the risk in question.

For example, if all possible couples in a country kill each other, it is sure to go under. If, on the other hand, all possible couples refrain from killing, it is the one free from any act of killing by humans.

If a paired interaction - not practiced by all couples in a country - certainly leads to its downfall, then it describes a basic ethical risk of the second class.

If no mother helps her baby, every country will perish; but even if every mother supports her child to the best of her knowledge, this help - for example due to clumsiness or ignorance of baby food - can fail.

Basic ethical risks threaten every country - whether people recognize this or not - regardless of its social structure, the size of its population, the extent of its territory or the state of its technology.

4.3 Strong ethical principles
A "strong basic ethical rule" is assigned to every basic risk that disappears through neglect. If everyone follows this strong basic rule as a fixed rule, the assigned class of basic risk is empty. We say: The strong basic ethical rule is "preserved".

The maintenance of a strong basic ethical rule is a necessary and at the same time sufficient condition for avoiding the associated basic ethical risk.

Examples: If nobody wounds their neighbor, the risk of being wounded by people in the country concerned disappears. If no mother has an abortion - or has an abortion - the risk of abortion disappears.

4.4 Weak ethical principles
If a basic ethical risk is statistically significantly reduced by a paired interaction carried out by all, then a "weak basic ethical rule" belongs to this basic risk. If all follow this weak basic rule, then the associated ethical risk is limited statistically significantly.

Maintaining the weak basic rule of paired help significantly reduces the risk of any country going under, but it is not necessarily enough for the country to survive.

4.5 Weak ethical rules
We define: A rule which, when followed universally, limits an associated ethical risk only statistically significantly, is called a weak ethical rule.

All weak basic ethical rules and all ethical rules that reliably determine how to deal with animate and inanimate nature as well as with technology belong to the weak ethical rules.

Weak ethical rules that are not basic rules are evolutionary. The associated ethical risks must be regularly re-determined through research.

If no one smokes, the risk of dying from lung cancer in a country is statistically significantly reduced, but it does not go away, as other noxae can lead to lung cancer.

4.6 Ethical rules as fixed rules
The breaking of a single ethical rule is enough to cause a local disturbance of the social order where someone breaks this rule of the game. For example, anyone who threatens a person with death provokes counter-reactions on the part of the victim or those around him, which in turn result in injury or death, both of which are irregularities.

Ethical rules must therefore be firm rules for society so that it can successfully limit ethical risks. This explains the moral appeal of every norm to be followed unconditionally. As with a parlor game, ethical rules are often broken if there are great individual advantages and you can expect not to be caught.

Technical systems are trustworthy, because nature and technology always adhere to their rules, the laws of nature, the less so the more often - because of individual advantages - ethical rules are violated.

4.7 Ethics and Extended Ethics
We define: All countries of a given scientific-technical level, for which the same ethical rules can be derived as fixed rules of action, together form a culture.

A set of basic ethical rules then forms a "representation of the ethics" of a country or a culture if it follows from the preservation of the basic rules of this set that the set of all other basic rules of this ethic is also preserved.

If the ethics of a country are preserved, then the basic ethical rules protect everyone there - regardless of nationality, social status, age, state of health, gender, religion, skin color or whatever other distinguishing features can be found. This allows the following interpretation: Human dignity is preserved in this country.

Ethics never deals with individuals, but always with systems of fixed rules of action and their respective areas of application.

Those who always comply with ethical rules - sometimes to their personal disadvantage - limit ethical risks better than someone who is only forced to comply with ethical rules through social sanctions.

This fact can be used to explain autonomy: A person is autonomous if he always follows ethical rules as long as there is no conflict of norms.

An ethics enriched by further weak rules, the knowledge of which presupposes a corresponding scientific-technical state, is called an extended ethics. A class of strong and weak rules then forms a representation of the expanded ethics if it follows from the preservation of the rules of the class that all other ethical rules of the extended ethics are also preserved.

4.8 Valence, harm and orderly ethics
The greater a risk factor, the greater the value of the associated ethical rule. Risk factors measure the economic effort involved in repairing the damage caused by the occurrence of the ethical risk.

An example: The risk factor of a GAU is very high, because the biggest accident to be assumed at a nuclear power plant, if it occurs, can make an entire region or an entire country uninhabitable, not to mention the people who were immediately killed.

5. Peaceful, just and reasonable countries

5.1 Orderly presentations of ethics
If one arranges the representation of an ethic or an extended ethic according to the size of the values ​​of its rules, one obtains an ordered representation of an ethic or an extended ethic of a country.

5.2 Peaceful countries and strong rules
A country and its ethics are given. The lower the value of the last strong rule in this ethic, which is still significantly followed in the country, the more "peaceful" it is.

In the fiction of a "peaceful country" in which not a single strong rule is disregarded, there is not even the smallest act of violence, not a single abortion, no suppression of freedom of expression, no sexism or racism, no religious intolerance or no single theft. In the - fictitious - peaceful country, all strong ethical rules are preserved.

The maintenance of the strong rule "nonviolence" implies that neither state and society exercise any violence against citizens, nor do citizens exercise any violence against one another or against the state or society.

Already full prisons in a country refute the presumption that it is a peaceful country.

The peacefulness of a country can be described by a vector g, whereby the social risk factors are arranged in decreasing size:
G = {g (1), ..., g (i), ... g (m)}. g (1) is the largest avoidable risk factor, each g (i) indicates an avoidable risk factor. The more precisely a country or one of its social subsystems is to be described by avoidable risk factors, the more components g (i, t) the state vector has.

In general, because of the actual relationships between different basic risks, a vector of minimal dimensions appropriately selected - on the basis of empirical statistical research - will suffice for a country to be described at a given time, which are assigned to these basic risks. Each additional dimension would only insignificantly refine the description. Every avoidable risk factor that belongs to such a state vector of minimal dimension, a "set of risk factors", is assigned a "strong basic ethical norm" of appropriate value.

p [t, g (1)] e.g. let the - generally time-dependent - "occupation probability" of the partial state be "free from homicide". The fictional "peaceful country" is in the "basic state"; it has - in linear approximation - the form p (t) = p [g (1, t] xp [g (2, t] x ... xp [g (m, t], all p ) [t, g (i)] = 1.

5.3 The just land
If everyone in a country adheres to all strong and weak ethical rules that are assigned to basic risks, the - fictional - country is called fair. We also say: In a just country, all strong and weak ethical rules are preserved, which are assigned to avoidable or unavoidable basic ethical risks.

In the orderly ethics of a country we are looking for the two strong and weak ethical rules with the lowest values ​​of their class, which are still significantly preserved. The smaller the larger of the two values, the fairer the country.

If one considers that there are generally correlations between avoidable and unavoidable social risk factors, in practice it should be sufficient to maintain all the strong basic rules for describing a just country. Because if a country were unjust, after all life experience, marginalized groups would try to use violence, lies or theft to get what the state and society as a whole withhold from them; this should lead in particular to more violence between citizens and at the same time to more violence between marginalized groups and the state.

Mathematically, a just country can be determined by an ordered vector s = {G; describe g '(1), g' (2), ..., g '(i'), ..., g '(m')}; g '(1) describes the greatest unavoidable risk factor. The just country is always peaceable, and the peaceable country is very likely to be just; the g (i) are assigned to avoidable, the g '(i') to unavoidable basic risks. Vectors of minimal dimensions, the components of which are unavoidable basic risks, are again called sets of risk factors; We refer to the ethical rule of the appropriate value assigned to each risk factor of such sentences as a "weak basic ethical norm".

The size of risk factors or values ​​can only be determined empirically. For each country there are specific ordered sets of risk factors that are associated with baseline risks. The dimension of the sentences, the sizes of the factors and the values ​​of the basic norms depend on the scientific-technical level as well as the socio-economic structure of the respective country. The basic ethical norms assigned to the risk factors of a sentence form a representation of the orderly normative ethics of a particular country.

The occupation probability of the basic state of a just country is equal to one, more precisely p (t) = p [t, g (1)] xp [t, g (2)] x ... xp [t, g (m )] xp [t, g '(1)] x ... xp [t, g' (m ')], where all p [t, g (i)] = 1 and p [t, g '(g' (i)] = 1.

As long as no suitable research programs to determine the sets of risk factors for peaceful or just countries have been identified, one can help oneself by looking at crime statistics, in which basic legal norms are replaced, the occupancy figures of prisons or compliance oriented towards human rights.

In the first half of this century, anyone could have clearly recognized the lack of peacefulness or justice of the Hitler and Stalin regimes in the violence against their own citizens, especially in the violence against Jews, devout Christians and staunch democrats.

5.4 The solidary country
If all recognized strong and weak ethical rules are preserved without exception, we speak of a "solidary" or a "socially just" country. This avoids - within the framework of its scientific and technical status - through the nature of its self-organization, which is characterized solely by its set of rules, through its ethics, most effectively completely or at least statistically limits social risks. It grants all people on its territory the best possible life chances at the appropriate time.

The social justice of a country is determined by a state vector v[g, g ', s], where G and G' coincide with the above sizes, and the vector s = [s (1), ..., s (j), ..., s (n)] describes the set of those unavoidable and time-dependent social risk factors, which are not assigned to paired interactions and generally only with Help from the relevant specialist sciences can be obtained. For the occupation probabilities of the basic state of the socially just country, the same applies as above in a linear approximation.

For the unavoidable risk factors that are not assigned to any basic risk, specific minimum "rates" must be determined for each country. We assign a "weak ethical norm" as a weak rule of appropriate value to each risk factor that belongs to such a sentence.

Every socially just country is by definition just and peaceful. Peaceful or just countries are very likely to be socially just as well.

All basic norms and weak norms together form a representation of the extended normative ethics of the country concerned. The more compatible the set of moral norms in the country, that is, its "morality", with an orderly normative representation of its ethics or extended ethics, the better the compliance with all moral norms limits all social risks in the country in question.

If one selects the strong basic norm, weak basic norm and weak norm of the lowest valuation in the extended and ordered normative ethics of a country, which are each just significantly preserved, then the highest of these three values ​​describes the degree of social justice of the corresponding country.

The definition of ethical norms proposed here as fixed rules of the game for minimizing ethical risks is at least not found in the philosophical literature [Gethmann, Hoerster, Kambartel, Schrader].

Just as there are no peaceful or just countries, there are also no socially just ones; ethical rules, especially strong and weak ethical norms, are never strictly maintained; only the frequency of violations differs in the individual countries.

5.6 The reasonable or reformable country
If the risk balance or the social justice of a country improves objectively over time, then according to the definition introduced above, it is also sensible or capable of reform. This means that the qualitative definition of a society's ability to reform [Bentele] can also be described quantitatively.

To demonstrate the degree of reason or the ability to reform, the frequencies with which predetermined strong and weak ethical norms of certain values ​​are violated in the state and society must be measured over time; if they decline, is the country sensible or capable of reform, if they stagnate or rise, this is not the case.

6. Ethics as a research program for social physics

6.1 Ethics and scientific progress
The evolution of technical practice forms an analogue for the evolution of social practice.

While physics is a causal empirical science in mathematical language, ethics is a final, normative empirical science in mathematical language. Ethics has a different methodological structure than physics.

Around 1600 Francis Bacon described the "Basic Law of Technology": "Scientia et potentia humana in idem coincidunt, quia ignoratio causae destituit effectum" [Bacon 1620].

Research programs in physics as the basis of the natural and technical sciences are constituted by the - a priori - causal principle. Physics can be used comprehensively and reliably in technical practice if the causal principle can be formulated with mathematical precision.

The physical research program consists of a chronological sequence of empirically substantial theories in mathematical language. The more recent - e.g. quantum mechanics - reproduced with its more precise mathematical formulation of the causal principle and its measurable quantities all natural laws of its predecessor - e.g. Newtonian mechanics - in their respective application limits; at the same time it creates additional laws of nature. Physical knowledge grows cumulatively and thereby gives technology increasing power.

Laws of nature are considered to be well-founded, "true", objective or reliable when they are firstly confirmed by observations as in the application of technical practice, and secondly when they can be derived from a physical theory that has not yet been verified.

In the research program of ethics as a normative theory of societies organizing themselves in space and time as a country, the causal principle is replaced by the - a priori - final principle of minimizing ethical risks. Norms as fixed social rules of the game take the place of the laws of nature.

Aristotle already states the lack of precision in ethical arguments, but considers them to be inevitable [Aristotle 67, pp. 56, 57]. He recognized that there are situations in ethics in which at best one can choose "the least of the evil" [Aristotle, p. 97]. 2000 years later, Kant found that in every science "basically everything depends on the calculus" [Vorländer, p. 170]. His guess is confirmed brilliantly today.

Bentham proposes a "Calcul" to justify morality and law: the maximization of utility - including happiness - for as many people as possible, with utility as a statistical measure [Bentham, pp. 56-57, pp. 79-82]. Mill has - astonishingly modern - extended the principle to all life [Mill, p. 21]. Bentham and Mill see both sides of the same coin in maximizing benefits or minimizing harm. Popper corrects the utilitarians: He considers minimizing the damage people suffer from to be far more important than increasing happiness for those who are already happy [Popper, pp. 289-290, 362].

Long before Popper, Marc Aurel recognized the fundamental ethical meaning of damage and defined damage at the same time: "What does not harm the state does not harm the citizens either .... But if the state is damaged, one does not have to be angry with him State damages, but one has to show it where its fault lies. " [Marc Aurel, p. 60].

Ethics thus consists of a temporal sequence of empirically substantial statistical and at the same time - due to the constitutional principle of risk minimization - final normative theories. With its more precise statistical formulation of the principle of minimizing ethical risks and the more comprehensive explanation, measurement or calculation of ethical risks, the younger reproduces the ethical rules of the game and thus the ethical norms of the older - here the utilitarian - theory (more precisely: the rule utilitarian theory). It allows new representations of expanded, ordered normative ethics as well as solutions for the effective containment of normative conflicts to be derived. Ethical knowledge grows cumulatively and provides social practice with ethical norms as rules of the game for reliably limiting ethical risks.

Ethical norms are considered to be justified, correct, objective or reliable if, firstly, they prove themselves in the entire social practice in limiting ethical risks - according to observation - and secondly as linear minimization conditions of ethical risks within the scope of a non-falsified, empirically substantive ethical one Theory can be derived.

The designation of ethics as "social physics" [J.S. Mill] makes sense because ethics is the foundation of all sciences in society, just as physics is the foundation of natural and engineering sciences.

6.2 Ethics and responsibility
Those who always obey moral norms, even if they do not have to reckon with social control, are considered decent, "virtuous" or "good" in their culture and enjoy the unlimited trust of those around them.

Even good people can get into "normative dilemmas". Conflicts of norms play a similar role in ethics as antinomies do in logistics.

Because of normative dilemmas in politics, M. Weber already tried to replace the "ethics of conviction" with an "ethics of responsibility" [Weber 71], which includes the evaluation of possible political consequences.

Responsibility [Lenk, p. 61] is borne by people or groups who have room to maneuver for ethical risks

  • to which humans or other living beings are subject
  • before an instance, for example affected people or courts
  • for the moral or legal assessment of their behavior.

We have known since Mill that at least moral responsibility includes all the ethical risks on which "peace with nature" [Meyer-Abich] depends.

In the "Principle of Responsibility", H. Jonas proposes a comprehensive "Ethics for Technological Civilization" [Jonas 79]. Its numerous qualitative examples are unable to replace a practical, uniform, operationalizable theory of morality or politics. Only empirically substantial calculations can - according to all our experience - justify the correctness and applicability of ethical norms for social practice as reliably as the correctness and applicability of physical laws for technical ones.

Without ethical norms that are objectively applicable throughout social practice, there can be no reliable assessment of social responsibility. br>
Conversely, the only way to prove the autonomy of individuals empirically and statistically significant is that they have always acted responsibly so far.

This statistical evidence naturally fails in individual cases. This means that it is impossible - moral or criminal - to assess guilt in individual cases. Only an assignment of responsibility that is the cause of risks is possible (Section 8).

A "subjective or skeptical ethics" [Mackie, p. 14] or a "discourse ethics" [Vossenkuhl] is as pointless as a correspondingly "reasoned" physics.

The act as well as the consequences must be assessed equally; Impact assessments alone are not sufficient [Nida-Rümelin 95].

Without the existence of ethical norms or physical laws, there would be no trustworthy social or technical practice.

6.3 Statistical microethics
Ethics as an empirically substantive theory of the risk-limiting self-organization of societies in space and time has two components: the prescriptive statistical microethics and the descriptive statistical macroethics. Statistical microethics determines orderly normative representations of ethics and extended ethics.

There could be parallels between microethics and microeconomics [Leininger]: microethics prescribe normative behavior that is necessary to minimize ethical risks in all communities and thus for a rational optimization of the most general collective interests. Microeconomics describes the decision-making behavior of producers and consumers, which serves the rational optimization of individual interests. Presumably, similar mathematical procedures can be used in both cases.

Representations of ethics can be coarsened or - depending on the specific question - sorted by taking values ​​into account and also refined; coarser representations include fewer, refined more ethical norms.

Families of related, assessed ethical norms can be assigned to "moral values", e.g. truthfulness ("know what you are saying!"), Social justice ("help the weaker!") Or peacefulness ("avoid violence!") That people strive for. In this way a "hierarchy of moral values" can be found with the corresponding norms; the hierarchy depends on the scientific and technical level of a community. Values ​​usually function as individual or collective outcomes.

All norms obey a specific logic, the "deontic logic" [Wright 94].

Examples of weak basic norms:
not to get divorced, not to be "single", not to live in consciously childless and not in homosexual partnerships.

Examples of weak norms:
First, when citizens use CFC-free sprays, the risk of the ozone hole is reduced, but not completely eliminated.

Second: The more frequently transport processes are "dematerialized" - for example through the use of IT systems - the greater the contribution to avoiding the greenhouse effect.

Thirdly: natural scientists, doctors or engineers must use all their energy to adapt their "know-how" to scientific and technical developments; only in this way can they optimize their individual contribution to the stabilization of their country.

The "Süddeutsche Zeitung" ascribed the character of a "world power" [SZ 94] to the work "A Theory of Justice" by John Rawls [Rawls 79]. Rawls' theory has certain similarities with the outlined ethics research program, which could be called "A Theory of Life Chances": To live without any risk caused by humans would mean having relatively optimal life chances [Dahrendorf 79]. Rawls lets mature citizens evaluate norms through a rational discourse under the "veil of uncertainty". The overriding principle of the evaluation process is "justice as fairness": Exactly those norms apply that are accepted as fair in the discourse. The principle of fairness does not allow for a metric interpretation, with Rawls norms are determined through - idealized - discourses, but not through assignment to precisely determinable risks. Rawls does not explicitly address conflicts of norms.

6.4 Statistical Macroethics
Statistical macroethics, like macroeconomics [Homburg], is a descriptive, not a prescriptive theory. It describes by - generally relatively few - conditions, occupation and transition probabilities, in particular the peacefulness, justice and the reason or ability of countries to reform.

In no country are norms strictly maintained, but significantly often in some of its subsystems, so-called "trustworthy entities".

We generally describe the macroethical state of a country by means of a vector, an ordered minimal set of strong and weak risk factors, each beginning with the largest risk factors. We refer to this vector of minimum dimension as a set of state parameters. For reasons that will be understood below, we refer to state parameters whose associated ethical norms are strictly maintained in the country itself - or its subsystems - as "free state parameters", and all others as "" bound state parameters ".

An arbitrary state z has the form z = [z (s), z '(s')], where s varies over all "strong" and s' over all "weak" free and bound state parameters.

The occupation probability of a "risk state" different from the ground state, l different from zero, has the form: p (l, t) = p [l, t, z (1)] xp [l, t, z (2)] x. ..xp [l, t, z '(n')]. The occupation probabilities of the individual states p [l, t, z (i)] and p [l, t, z '(i')] are generally between zero and one.

In statistical terminology, every country is more socially just, the more free state parameters there are - counting begins with the parameters of the highest value.

One can describe the degree of social justice, the justice or the peacefulness of a country or one of its social subsystems macroethically by a single measured variable, the value of the corresponding smallest still free state parameter.

The degree of social justice in two countries A and B of the same scientific and technical standard can be compared differently: When norms of the same value in several refinements in comparable social groups that are not high performers - for example children, young people, the sick, the unemployed, pensioners, asylum seekers - are preserved in A more often over time than in B, A is fairer than B; In A then human dignity is better preserved than in B.

Civil societies [Dahrendorf 92] or liberal societies [Rawls 92] only belong to the more socially just if violence among citizens as well as between citizens and the state - in countries of comparable scientific-technical level - occurs statistically significantly seldom even with refined representations of strong norms . Death sentences, life sentences, or overcrowded prisons indicate poor social justice.

If all strong and weak ethical norms are preserved, then the country is in its basic state p [0, t]; all z (i) and z '(i') are without exception free state parameters and all p [0, t, z (i)] and all p (0, t, z '(i')] equal one.

If, for example, theft occurs as the only disturbance of the social order, then the occupation probability of the overall state is described in a linear approximation by a product of individual probabilities in which only the occupation probability of the individual state described by the bound state parameter "theft" lies between zero and one, all others Occupation probabilities are each assigned to the basic state and are one (strong state parameter) or in an environment of the value one (weak state parameter).

The socially just basic state of any country is as difficult to achieve as absolute zero temperature. In it all transition probabilities vanish from the basic state into all avoidable risk states, in the unavoidable states they are only slightly greater than zero. In the just basic state, almost all transition probabilities disappear from the basic state to every state that is assigned to a state parameter that belongs to the family of basic norms.

Strictly speaking, even in a socially just country, even if all known ethical norms are maintained, not all transition probabilities into risk states disappear, because not all possible ethical risk factors can be significantly limited by ignorance or lack of resources.

The maintenance of a strong ethical norm can also be expressed by the fact that the transition probability from the basic to an assigned risk state disappears, the maintenance of a weak ethical norm by the fact that the transition probability from the basic to an assigned risk state is only slightly above zero; this applies in a linear approximation.

If one determines the transition probabilities today and measures them again in three years, then a country is sensible or capable of reform if in three years more transition probabilities from the basic state to risk states with bound high and highest state parameters are below a given small limit close to zero than today.

The relationships outlined here can be described using game theory models or computer models if evaluated standards or associated state parameters as well as occupation and transition probabilities are known on the basis of suitable statistical surveys.

In contrast to previously known computer models, the states of existing countries and their social subsystems are arbitrarily defined within the framework of the empirical research program proposed here. This is because either risk factors that are described by paired interactions that are the same in all countries, or those that are reliably supported by scientific research results.

7. Nonlinear Ethics: Conflicts of Norms

7.1 Free and bound risk parameters
Conflicts of norms arise where even a single strong ethical norm is not or cannot be adhered to.

Conflicts of norms force reactions on those directly involved and on the social environment in which not all norms involved can be followed at the same time.

Once a norm conflict has arisen, there are two classes of risk parameters: free and bound. Standards that are assigned to bound parameters can no longer be followed by those intervening in order to minimize risks.

Only in the basic state are all risk parameters free. It characterizes the - fictitious - relatively socially just country, whose citizens obey all ethically founded rules of the game even without social control.
In risk states, bound risk parameters replace free ones: the more bound risk parameters in a country or one of its subsystems, the more likely chaotic degeneracies such as economic, social or ecological crises, civil wars or wars are.

7.2 To resolve conflicts of standards
Every conflict of norms activates links between ethical risks. The degree of equity in the social environment of the disorder must be taken into account in order to limit the risk.

In the totalitarian state, honesty towards the police usually stands in the way of effective risk limitation.

Because of the feedback between risks and between the disorder and its social environment, any solution theory for conflicting norms is necessarily "non-linear".

As mentioned briefly above, conflicts of norms also arise from a lack of resources, such as hunger, poverty, illness, a lack of education, a lack of energy, a lack of innovation or a lack of jobs.
A current example of a shortage situation is offered by modern transplant medicine: There are more recipients than donors of organs. Such conflicts can also be resolved if the values ​​of the weak norms involved are known.

The universal principle of "tolerance and interference" always hides the right actions from the class of all possible:

Minimize the value of the largest still bound risk parameter in all your areas of responsibility!

The greater the values ​​of standards that individuals or groups decide to adhere to, the greater their responsibility. The greater the responsibility, the greater the number and severity of the normative conflicts that they have to resolve through appropriate interference.

Interferences have to be imagined as "surgical interventions": In order to save the life of a patient (highest norm), healthy, but not vital tissue (lower norms) has to be sacrificed.

In the case of interactions between systems A and B, in which B first acts contrary to norms, limiting ethical risks requires lowering the values ​​of comparable standards that protect B compared to the values ​​of corresponding standards that protect A.

With the help of this condition, even normative dilemmas can be solved in which life stands against life, i.e. ethical norms of infinite value are at stake.

In the case of two civil war parties, the one who first violated ethical norms of the highest value must be put in their place by "interference" from outside; thus it can be clearly decided when interventions - as in the former Yugoslavia - can be justified.

The situation is different again when, as a result of an emergency, life stands against life, for example that of a mother against that of her unborn child. Here, the value of the norms that protect the unborn child cannot automatically be reduced to the value of the norms that are supposed to protect the mother from harm. Rather, all the norms involved must be determined for both and then assessed individually. The case is similar with two transplant patients, only one of whom can be saved and whose two lives initially have the same right to life.

The "categorical imperative": "Act only according to the maxim by which you can also want it to become a general law" [Kant, p. 140] can only effectively limit ethical risks in the absence of conflicting norms. Kant's ethics fail all the more the deeper conflicts of norms divide a country.

8. Outlook: autonomy and criminal law

The new ethics can only be applied in law, politics, economics or technology if, for each culture or country, continuously structured representations of expanded ethics and the values ​​of the norms involved in conflicting norms are determined by means of suitable research programs.

The main application of the new ethics concerns criminal law. No dead person comes to life if the manslaughter is imprisoned for life. If, on the other hand, the perpetrator makes an appropriate contribution in his professional work to supporting a fund to care for the relatives of those who were violently killed, the surviving victims of the crimes get more from it than from any prison sentence: the best possible reparation replaces punishment.

Those who are unable to make amends lose their civil rights. If necessary, he will be held in safe custody.

Evidence of individual guilt cannot be provided with the necessary certainty. Legal responsibility in the sense of causation, on the other hand, can also be empirically proven retrospectively. To base a court judgment on guilt is inadmissible: the "criminal law" must be rewritten.

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