A matter of principle

If this edition seems unusually high in moral fibre, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Blame Bob Geldof, blame Al Gore, but ethics are no longer the preserve of German philosophers and smoke-damaged beatniks. Nowhere is this more true than on campus, where students are increasingly looking for a worthier outlet for energy once expended on the older, nobler pastimes, like casual sex, and binge drinking.

An argument often made is that once moral standards are hoisted by the masses they lose all their meaning and become empty slogans. It’s no coincidence that those found towing this line tend either to be the previous sole occupiers of the high-ground, reluctant to share their patch, or else the philandering, city-driving, watt-guzzling objects of ethical scrutiny.

Nonetheless, more ethics don’t necessarily mean sound ethics. John Stuart Mill sagely advised that unargued opinions breed tired dogmas. Tedious as his own tortuously argued opinions often were, it’s still something worth remembering as the cake flies past your head. All the same, the more people are talking about the right thing to do, the better the chances that one fine day we might do it.

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