Tok Essay - Ethics and Math

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10. 'Through different methods of justification, we can reach conclusions in ethics that are as well-supported as those provided in mathematics.' To what extent would you agree? One could argue that mathematics and ethics are the underlying essentials above which our society has based itself. Scores of cities have built their infrastructures using measurements and methods founded in mathematics. Our inherent ethical natures have catalyzed the great minds from ancient civilizations to create democracies, and have enabled our generations to uphold these same moral principles. While both these studies are so readily used today, when comparing them it is essential in understanding at the same time the disparity between the two subjects. The principles of mathematics are built from a mélange of axioms, theorems and conjectures, where there is always a systematic method of arriving at any answer. Ethical problems are subject more to the individualistic way in which one proceeds to analyze the problem. In both however, there is the underlying similarity of how conclusions are arrived at, where in mathematics the logical postulations that we use to prove conclusions are really themselves yet unproven, and in ethics there are a wide spectrum of analyses that could be applied to one issue alone. Objectively, my understanding is that as a society we can reach conclusions in ethics that are as well-supported in mathematics to a certain magnitude, after which the ambiguity of each concept takes over any other rational conclusions. In essence, we reach these conclusions through what proofs we use in ethical analyses, the proofs we have found in the field of mathematics and the degree of complexity of both subjects. With the intention of analyzing the knowledge issues that pertain to this question more effectively, we can separate it into sections, address different areas singularly and then ultimately combine what we discover into one final "conclusion". Foremost, it is essential to define and understand the concept of justification. To justify a claim is to provide some sort of a rationale behind your choice. A person can provide virtually any explanation to support their claims; their reasoning has endless bounds – what the matter ultimately boils down to be is whether or not the explanations they offer are accepted by another. Now, in formulating a comparison between ethics and mathematics, it is perhaps best to compare both ideas side by side. As I briefly alluded to previously, there are a few striking similarities between ethics and mathematics. They both are an entirely arbitrary system of rules that are in some cases imposed onto a society. Every person, regardless of age or race, is required to learn to some extent the basic fundamental studies of mathematics, and as part of a well-rounded education people are taught about ethics and value systems, whether this is taught by society at large, at home, or through example. A second commonality of the two is reflected in the role that reason and logic perform when conclusions are formed in either subject. With respect to both ethics and mathematics equally, it requires some degree of reasoning and logic to occur in one's thought processes for him/her to be able to form a conclusion about something, regardless of whether that decision is ethical or math-based. The next step forward from here would be to build a "working definition" of ethics. Ethics is derived from the Greek word 'ethos', meaning the “science of morals”. Intuitively, all individuals have a sense of moral behavior, and the concept of ethics encompasses a set of regulations that we (as such individuals) create and strive to abide by. The study of ethics is multi-faceted and complexly intertwined with our conscious and subconscious mind. It embodies the rules of conduct recognized with respect to particular actions. In probing for ethical justifications, there are a multitude of views that can be taken — one could...
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