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Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Ethic Proportions - Part III

The third and final bit in my (some would say) eccentric ramblings that I
call articles concerning morals and ethics in magic. You should probably
read the first 2 parts before you read this, If you haven't, go do that
now. Again, to review in brief, morals are a sense of what is
"right/just" and what is "wrong/corrupt", while ethics are a code of
standards for behaviour, often centered on one's moral beliefs.

This time we're going to talk primarily about ethics (although as was shown
last article, it's hard to talk about ethics without touching on morals,
and vice versa). Let's lay some moral groundwork for our next couple of
examples... we'll assume that cheating is evil. Nothing else besides that,
just that cheating is evil.

A couple of weeks ago, I was playing against a friend of mine in a sealed
deck tournament. He was keeping track of life totals, and I was slowly
gaining control of the game with a couple of provoke critters. I had only
eaten one hit for 2 early on in the game, so I was in a good position.
Then his Rorix hits the table and smashes me for six. I lay a morphed
skinthinner and say go, eat another 6, and unmorph the skinthinner on my
turn. I go back to pushing my advantage, he slows me down a bit but the
provokers are winning out with the help of a couple spells. Then his Akroma
comes down and smashes me, I look over at his pad and see that i was at 12
and that akroma hit leaves me at 6, so i have one turn to topdeck my
pacifism. I don't and I scoop, which (given the current board state) was
an error, because I could have swung around akroma for the win by provoking
him with my deftblade elite (barely). Yeah, I'm a bad player.

But more importantly for our discussion, did anyone else notice something
wrong with the story? I took one hit for 2, brings me to 18. Then Rorix
surprises me and I go to 12, I lay skinthinner and then go to 6, then kill
Rorix. Then somehow I survive an akroma hit later. This was an error on
both our parts, I shouldn't have even had the opportunity to swing for the
win (even though I didn't notice the opportunity until too late). But what
if I had seen that opportunity?

As a brief aside, it could be said that cheating happened, whether or not
I or Pechon meant it to. Something happened that was against the rules,
and it could have altered the game's outcome. Thus some would say that
something not morally correct happened. Now while I am of the opinion that
it becomes a "tainted" game, not a real game because part of it which
shouldn't be changed, was, I also think that intent plays a large part in
morality. It is wrong to cheat, and the game was misplayed, but since I
had no intent to alter the games outcome, it wasn't cheating in my book.
Also keep in mind that I wasn't the one who was keeping track of life,
(although I'm supposed to), and that my friend was, but he only stood to
lose from mistracking it. Some would say that doesn't matter, that either
one or both of us was "cheating" and thus wrong. Morality is a fickle
thing, but this also goes back to the semantics of cheating (I have some
friends who believe that intent should not ever be a factor, only actions
and consequences).

Back to the matter at hand, what if I had seen that opportunity to kill
him? And more relevant to this article, what if I suddenly realized that I
should already be dead, but that I had the opportunity to win the game? I
know what I do in that situation (I'm a goody-two-shoes, sorry), but put
yourself in that circumstance, and ask yourself those questions. Change
things around. Make it someone you hate that you're playing against. Make
it you who was keeping track of life and them who has the opportunity to
cheat. I think a lot of people put in this situation, whether they would
think it morally wrong to cheat, would actually struggle with their ethics,
their guidelines they set for behaviour.

More interestingly, some people put to these questions, will find their
ethics mutable. They say they will act one way, but when presented with
the situation in real life, they pause and give it thought, rather than
jumping to what they think is the "morally correct" answer. And some
people, will pause, give it thought, and then either break their ethical
code, or alter it (depending on how you/they look at it). Go back to my
first article in this series... some people will say knowingly taking a
life is wrong, but still do it, some will say it's wrong and vow never to
do it, but presented with the right circumstances, will go against that
vow (say their life is threatened, or the life of their children).

Anyways, I again encourage you to evaluate your ethics, actually think
about them. Why do you have certain standards of behaviour for yourself,
and how closely do you honestly think you can follow them? In magic and in
life. Hopefully you can educate and enlighten yourselves, and maybe, just
maybe, there'll be less people cheating once they evaluate why they do what
they do.

If you liked this series of articles, learned from it, or thought it was
sporadic nonsense, let me know.

You can reach Andy at:

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