Discuss how using different methods of justification enables one to reach conclusions in ethics that can be supported just the same as those conclusions provided in mathematics By: Mariam Jamjoom Ms. Mahalia The two Areas of Knowledge (AOK) discussed here are Mathematics and Ethics where reaching conclusions and justification are the linking issues. Defining the key terms is an essential part in order to fully understand the question.

According to Oxford Dictionary Ethics is “a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct” and Mathematics is “the abstract science of number, quantity, and space either as abstract concepts (pure mathematics), or as applied to other disciplines such as physics and engineering (applied mathematics)”. Methods of justification also need to be defined to be able to link conclusions found in ethics and mathematics to one another.

The four different Ways of Knowing (WOK) which are emotion, reason, sense perception and language can help us understand conclusions made in ethics and mathematics. However, in order to be able to justify those conclusions we need different types of justification methods in order to do so. The four methods of justification, identified by Michael Woolman, are justifying through logic, justifying using empiricism, justifying using memory and justifying with a reference of authority. In a vaguer sense the types of justification are basically either logical, physical or emotional justification.

These methods of justification are all interrelated yet different according to the specific situation you are dealing with. Something that I found very interesting is that I consider both mathematics and ethics justified by the same method which is logic. When I thought of it in a deeper sense and tried to define logic when it comes to both subjects I did not get the same definition. To me logic in mathematics means that because there is a “logical proof” that derived that theory or mathematical formula hence that formula was justified using logic.

However, when it comes to ethics even though they differ from one person to the other and from one group to another, whenever an ethical claim is made I justify it using a different kind of logic than the one I use in maths, here I look if this ethical claim has a logical justification and if it is parallel with my own religion and what I have been raised to believe, only then can I claim that this ethical example is a logical one when it comes to my opinion.

I noticed that when I defined logic when it come sot both subjects I used deductive reasoning because I looked at the theory first then confirmed it after I observed it and looked back at the proof I then confirmed or justified it. The difference I am trying to explain is that even though we need substantially more evidence to justify a “right” mathematical formula after that justification is found it will be accepted by all or at least a large group of people.

This differs when it comes to an ethical claim because both little or numerous justification will never lead to everyone accepting that ethical claim to be right or wrong. I do understand that when it comes to ethics there is more than one major division. Ethic absolutism and relativism are two of the major divisions that have been recognised globally and that are contradicting. Ethic absolutism implies that there is a right or wrong applicable universally while Ethic relativism implies that such a thing as right or wrong does not exist outside of the values of particular individuals or groups.

Although I believe in relativism that does not mean that I do understand that absolutism can exist and is a valid argument. When it comes to ethics people are bias and intolerant because emotional justification will play a major role. Religion, culture, experiences and individual opinion play a large role when it comes to ethics more so than mathematics or any other subject for that matter. Furthermore, ethics are “contextual” where maths is the exact opposite.

In mathematics there are a set of rules that are always followed and even the exceptions of that rule are known globally and accepted after substancial evidence has been made to prove that in this application these values do not work or are not accepted. Further elaborating on how evidence or proofs are made in maths can be using the axioms that are very clearly stated in any pure mathematics or applied mathematics book where they allow anyone who understands them to reach the same conclusion or final answer if they are given the same mathematical problem.

This is not found in ethics because although we know the effect of correctly applying a mathematical formula will always get you the right answer, there is always uncertainty when it comes to applying “right” or “correct” ethics. We can never know for sure what the effect of an ethical decision will be. The reason behind that is because we we do not have sufficiently well-defined ethical axioms as we do in mathematics.

To conclude, I understand that the question I was given was not a “yes or no question” rather it was a question where I have to outline and discuss the ways in which ethics can be justified as it is justified in mathematics. I can not reach such a confusion or fully elaborate all the deep meanings of justification when it comes to both these subjects. But what I can do is tell you is that the factors that must be assessed when it comes to ethics and the criteria used to assess them are much more problematic and complicated than the ones in mathematics. Basically, ethics are rational, but can never be as concrete as the answers to math.