This is a work I did to sum up very succinctly some important points regarding ethics and ethical/moral reasoning. The title, “Ethics = empathy x respect squared” is not meant to be a genuine formula it is merely a play on Einstein’s formula for energy, E=mc squared It expresses the idea that two very key elements to an ethical character are a) that a person is capable of empathy for others, and b) that they are prepared acknowledge the right of others to be treated with respect. At the top the illustration of the brain in sagital section, is arbitrarily delineated into four sectors. Each of these represent four qualities that I’ve held for a long time to be essential to being a good human being, virtue (ie engaging in prosocial behaviour and thought while refraining from antisocial behaviour and thought), compassion (which could be said to be another term for empathy), understanding (ie making the effort to use reasoning and evidence in making ethical decisions while refraining from ignorant thought processes such as stereotyping, bigotry etc), and finally tranquility (if a person has a calm mind then they are more able to reason clearly, perceive evidence, and less likely to react in emotive and antisocial ways).
In the lower right area of the work is listed what developmental psychologists recognise as the universal and sequential levels of cognitive development in the human species. You will note that I have labelled the first three levels as being religious levels (with the label placed over the basal ganglia to represent that these are very basal modes of ethical reasoning). If you examine the moral instruction given by major religions you will realise that the forms of reasoning they use fit into these basal categories. Studies have indicated, at least to my mind, that religion in fact retards the development of ethical cognition, with followers often not rising above the sterotypical level. This is defined as representing a 7 to 12 year old level of reasoning.
Finally, in the lower left area I have simply listed the three major principles of ethical reasoning used in ethical philosophy and applied ethics. Individuals who reach the sixth level of moral reasoning often discover these themselves. It is my contention that the aim of each individual and the aim of education should be to raise everyone’s consciousness to the highest level of moral reasoning that they are capable of.