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14 July 2012 @ 07:24 pm
A proposal for a paired set of definitions  
Well, not definitions, precisely, but how does this sound to you?

Ethics: Doing this right keeps you from fucking up someone's life.
Etiquette: Doing this right keeps you from fucking up someone's day.
 
 
 
A Wandering Hobbitredbird on July 14th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
I think it's drawing too much of a scale distinction. Ethics: if someone steals $5 from me, it might mess up my day, especially if that was my lunch money, but it's not going to mess up my life. (I know there are people for whom $5 is a larger issue.) That doesn't mean the appropriate response to a pickpocket is "How rude!" rather than "Stop, thief!"
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on July 15th, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
Good point, thanks. I'll see if I can work that into my model.
amaebi: Black foxamaebi on July 14th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
I'm a cautious bloke, so I'd say, "may keep you from...."
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on July 15th, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
An excellent point; sometimes you can do everything right and still have the situation go pear-shaped.
Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat: defaultpernishus on July 14th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
A lovely formulation -- accepting amaebi's 'maybe' amendment...
Fat Fred the Otter and Skippy: iotterfatfred on July 15th, 2012 12:13 am (UTC)

I see a Venn diagram. On can overlap the other by quite a bit.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on July 15th, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
Hm. Yeah, I can see that.
Johnjohnpalmer on July 15th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC)
I think it's a wonderful. I mean, it's a model - no model captures everything, and no model is perfect. But it does capture an essence of the ideas in a nice, concise way.

(I'm being a bit contrary to some of the comments already posted - but they're right too, in a model-y sort of way, just as I'm certainly no more than right in a model-y sort of way.)
Stephen Harris: Straight Jacketsweh on July 15th, 2012 01:18 am (UTC)
Etiquette is merely following a set of defined conventions; whether those actions fuck up someone or not isn't relevant.
Gnome: Playinggnomentum on July 15th, 2012 12:08 pm (UTC)
This. It's poor etiquette to put one's elbows on the dinner table or to TYPE ALL IN CAPS, but I'm not going to fuck up anyone's day by doing them.

Personally, I'd say that discarding ethics may fuck up someone's day / life / whatever whereas discarding etiquette only makes you look like a bit of a prick.

Then again, I live in the UK and nuances may be different here...
Adrian Turtleadrian_turtle on July 15th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
I believe it to be fundamentally wrong. Some lucky people recover quickly from bullying, or sexual assault, or the theft of small sums of money. I can't accept the idea that it is "ethical, just impolite" to steal from a rich person, or to rape a person who happens to be very emotionally resilient. Doing more damage to the victim can make an unethical action MORE unethical, but it doesn't define the action as unethical in the first place.
Lionesselisem on July 15th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
Are you working backward from the amount of harm caused and using that to determine whether something was ethics or etiquette?
Adrian Turtleadrian_turtle on July 15th, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
Elise:
Are you working backward from the amount of harm caused and using that to determine whether something was ethics or etiquette?

I tried that briefly, and ran into obvious moral contradictions. I thought Janet was trying to frame the distinction in order to determine whether something was ethics or etiquette. (The question can be before or after the action.) People are upset about something a guy did--did the guy do something unethical, or was it an etiquette violation? It's a worthwhile question. I don't think the answer aligns with how much harm was done, so I find it misleading to define the terms as the original post does.
The Renaissance Man: Baconunixronin on July 15th, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
I'd say, "Ethics helps keep you from intentionally fucking up someone's life or day. Etiquette helps keep them from thinking you're an asshat anyway."

Edited at 2012-07-15 07:46 pm (UTC)
zem: mattresshitchhiker on July 16th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
i think the difference is a lot more qualitative than that. ethics is about right and wrong; etiquette is an attempt to reduce social friction by assuring that common human interactions don't have to be negotiated from scratch every time.