“Each man for himself in that desert of egoism which is called life.”
Adherence to a basic moral code that protects basic values, keeps society to a level where there are at least some goals and ideals to achieve. In a world where are not present these values and rules against innocents, rape, theft, personal security, and dependable expectations would be hard to achieve. It is important to adhere to a minimal morality, as society would break down without, however, too much focusing on we would minimize these achievements. A person who puts self-interest above morality is called an egoist, and that happens for someone’s benefit in career, school, or various events from life.
People are always egoistic, at least deep down, such as our behavior is always oriented towards what we consider to be our greatest benefit. These arguments are contradicted by Baier that supports that “Even if it were shown that we often act for the sake of our own interest, this is not enough to prove that psychological egoism is true. According to this theory, we must show that people always act to promote their own interests”. However, there are situations when people’s own interest is in contradiction with others and what they consider to be good can be destructive and harmful. For example, a doctor that looks only after his own interest to graduate the school and then to have a job in a hospital, if he were not moral and achieved his grades based on his own knowledge, he would be harmful to others and people will suffer because of his incompetence.
If workers are unable to stand up for the good of others, either legally or by self-imposed moral restriction, they can support their own good and therefore be the most effective way of encouraging the benefit of others. “Clearly, this is a fallacy, for the interests of different individuals or classes may, and under certain conditions (of which the scarcity of necessities is the most obvious), do conflict. Then the interest of one is the detriment of the other”. This might happen usually in larger factories when people ask for their own rights but applying as a universal law for all the employees, might be at a disadvantage for others, and have a different impact.
When something does not appear to be in our best interests at first glance, we must explain our actions by demonstrating that they are. “Ethical egoism is incompatible with ethical conflict-regulation.” In other words, a moral good should not have to explain and the used justifications for the actions and behaviors. It would not leave any type of interpretations and excuses. For example, when someone is caught stealing from someone’s house, the excuses that he needs to feed his family, or he is doing this because he is poor, are not justifications for his actions. Whatever we are doing should be consciously done, and all the consequences are well known by everyone, eliminating this type of situation.
“Instead of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, one should demand, more modestly, the least amount of avoidable suffering for all; and further, that unavoidable suffering—such as hunger in times of an unavoidable shortage of food—should be distributed as equally as possible.”
― Karl R. Popper
In a position where a choice is to be made, there are two types of morality: deontological and teleological. This decision might be made based on consciousness; however, some people might feel comfortable killing and sacrifice, and others cannot harm a fly. In either one, a decision needs to be made, and according to the utilitarianism theory, the choice that would bring a better outcome would be the winner. “For example, a teleologist would judge whether lying was morally right or wrong by the consequences it produced, but a deontologist would see something intrinsically wrong in the very act of lying”. In other words, if a lie brings more good, it is acceptable to do it, also if the consequences are not bringing harm for the majority of people, even an act that brings pleasure, or amelioration of the suffering is considered good for utilitarianism.
For feelings and emotions, it is hard to measure the amount produced. As is stated as problems for this theory “Not everyone will be able to measure their happiness.” In other words, only the person having that experience would be able to appreciate how happy it is, but a sense of comparation is impossible to have. Therefore, the amount of joy for all people is something irrelevant, and it should not use as a criterion for measuring someone’s well-being.
Our preferences are based on experiences and beliefs, and most of the time these are less fortunate but not achieving a level of wrongness without replacement, as we can change some of the habits and future actions. However, due to some health problems, trauma, or brain tumors, people can act chaotic, and their preferences can be harmful to others, but for them a pleasure. “The theory can support doing horrible, heinous acts, as long as they produce the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people. There is no act that is wrong in and of itself! Murder, lies, rape, child molestation, whatever can be the GOOD thing to do!”. In other words, people would find pleasure in molesting children or enjoying sexual play roles as dominator where the others partner it is denigrated and used in acts that are painful and immoral, but they would enjoy it.
We are different and between friends and family are some moral rules that are in the culture and tradition for many generations. However, “The theory treats all people as being equal. It does not take into consideration special relationships that exist between people, for example, the relationships of family members.”. Considering the genetics and the studies made for children made between closely related members of families, even though it might bring happiness to create a family and have children, these cases can lead to severe deficiencies and health problems.
“Inexperienced in the course of world affairs and incapable of being prepared for all the chances that happen in it, I ask myself only ‘Can you also will that your maxim should become a universal law?’ Where you cannot it is to be rejected…”
― Immanuel Kant
Based on the categorical imperative, the outcomes wanted must come from the best behavior we can achieve, for example for good grades are necessary hard work, or for a better life it is necessary and equilibrated life without addictions and bad behavior. The moral duties must be done exclusively for its own good and this theory supports that if we want to achieve good, we must give the same in return. However, what some people consider of being good for them, might not be related to ethical principles and the actions must conform to a universal law.
Our health might be affected by external factors to the point that our life depends on artificial machines. In these cases, an ill person should not be considered able to close deals or to sign papers that might not be in his favor. “The theory applies only to rational agents. It would not apply to non-humans or to humans who are not rational, e.g., humans with brain malfunctioning, illness, or persistent vegetative coma. “. It should not take advantage of people in a state that their abilities and consciousness are subjective and are not able to behave like a healthy person.
We can only compare things that are from the same species, and to compare apples with pears, it is not relative. “The theory cannot resolve conflicts between duties: between two perfect duties and between a perfect duty and an imperfect duty. “. In this case, to be able to compare something it is necessary to belong to the same category, as it would create an imbalance and would bring disadvantages to the weaker.
Sometimes in life, we meet different types of people that try to sell us something, and even their intentions might be good, trying to use their skills in a clever way to close the deal would not be considered moral. “A clever person could phrase the maxim to be universalized in such a manner as to permit almost anything. By placing qualifiers on the maxim or peculiar definitions on terms a clever actor could satisfy the categorical imperative and yet be acting in a manner otherwise not consistent with it.”. Therefore, finding ways around and acting in a clever way is still not considered morally good. For example, if a teenager is grounded and is not allowed to get out of his room to meet his friends, but he is sneaking out through the window without his parents to hear him and come back before anyone would notice, for him, it might look like he did a clever thing, but this is not moral.
“Mad Human Disease is the very natural consequence of constantly ignoring and disobeying any of the many of Nature’s Laws.”
― Mango Wodzak
Natural laws govern human behavior, and because natural impulses and instincts resemble animals, they are suitable for food, drink, sleep, reproduction, and survival. Theists think that moral virtue follows the natural rules created by the creator, whereas atheists believe that people have reasoning and natural laws are evident. In this perspective, it is important to identify what the legislation is and how it applies to people. Ethical theories refer to or depend on the presence of a deity, and with this view, acts are moral rights to comply and support natural laws. Human beings are therefore morally required to apply their thinking to understand the rules and to behave in accordance with them.
Based on our differences and ways of experiencing life in various environments and following multiple cultures and traditions, therefore our interpretation regarding natural laws is different. “Natural law theory is that people have interpreted nature differently” It is impossible in a world with multiple realities and beliefs to exist a singular interpretation of nature, and this creates confusion and differences.
Humans are following their beliefs, and in some cases, the way we are conducting life might be in contrast with the natural law. For example, it is a good thing to have children, but for those women that decided to be only the carriers of a child, the morally good is interpreted subjectively. Also, “some philosophers, such as Hobbes, have found human beings to be essentially selfish. It is questionable that behavior in accordance with human nature is morally right and behavior not in accord with human nature is morally wrong.” However, for instance, war and fights are not morally good, as innocent people are dying and are killed and children are left without a father, hence men are following the principles that must protect the country and fight against enemies.
The existence of God, it is debated since the times of the greatest philosophers, and doubts regarding this aspect were always confused people, if he or not created this world? “Two philosophers (Aquinas and Aristotle) integral to the theory have different views about god’s role in nature, which confuses the issue, especially when trying to decipher if the theory relies on the existence of God.”. Because these aspects are still puzzling a decisive argument cannot exist and are only speculations regarding these characteristics.
“Many of our most serious conflicts are conflicts within ourselves. Those who suppose their judgments are always consistent are unreflective or dogmatic.”
— John Rawls
The theory of Rawls focuses on the good through logic, but he hoped to avoid in his notion the disadvantages offered by utilitarian’s which would justify moral behavior. Everybody has the right to the largest system of equal basic freedoms, which can be achieved by everyone with the same system of freedom. Social and economic inequalities must be organized for the benefit of the least developed, in line with the idea of just saving and linked equally to all institutions and positions. Its main objective is to go forward in little stages that logical people may accept as fairness from equality to justice. This may be the greatest logical explanation for justice that does not rely on emotion, education, self-serving preference, class awareness, or other variables. However, even while the choice of rational beings has been ideal, this notion does not seem to apply to everyone as an option as possible in situations in which not all the people involved are equal under physical, social, or economic factors.
The differences between individuals can be on a smaller or larger scale, but as long there is a difference, it does not matter how much someone has, if there is on the lowest level, there is still an imbalance. “Power differentials resulting from unequal income are not permitted if they violate the first principle of equal liberty, even if they increase the material position of the least advantaged group.” In other words, even increasing some percentages of the income for individuals, if there are still differences that situation cannot be equal.
Even there is a lower level for inequalities, as long there is one it means the unfairness still exists even if produces less suffering. “Some criticize it for being like Utilitarianism in as much as these two principles could permit or demand inequalities and suffering to benefit the least well off. “ For example, if someone has two children and gives them two cars, same model but different years, even though are still the same brand, the inequalities exist, and the feelings of inferiority may be present.
In real life these differences are hard to apply as someone cannot position themselves on a certain level. “There is also the difficulty in applying the theory to practice. It is difficult if not impossible for people to place themselves under the Veil of Ignorance in the Original Position to formulate what conduct would be required of them by the MAXI MIN Principle.” However, these differences are not beneficial for individuals as can lead to disputes, low self-esteem, and imbalance at a psychological level.
“They fear their higher self because when it speaks, it speaks demandingly.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
This idea separates people into higher and lower classes and distinguishes masters from slaves. The failings in this theory strengthen the argument of Nietzsche that the power desire drives people to be indifferent and ruthless, without respect for humanity. Theists argue that power is given by God rather than by people because those who obey his law would receive a reward rather than a battle of power. Moreover, theists argue that they desire power and that Nietzsche wants to regulate a life that ultimately is up to God, as just a response to powerlessness.
Usually, people that use power to benefit from something, are heartless and looking only for the benefits and not for the human side. “Some people feel that the will to power advocated by Nietzsche encourages people to be callous and cruel, ignoring humanity for the sake of gaining power.”Hence, powerful people were the head of a state and without their ability of control and determination would not be able to win wars and recover land for their countries.
Theists supported the idea that only God is the most powerful among all, and whoever is doing otherwise is not considered moral. “Theists argue that it is not the individual who obtains power according to them; power is something dished out by God. It is not up to man as to whether he will be powerful. Additionally, God gives rewards for following His ways, not because of a power struggle.” In other words, only behavior that follows God and does not try to overcome the creator would be rewarded.
Sometimes expressing the power over the weaker might be a sign of weakness, and those who want to excerpt supremacy are in fact puny. “Theists can also argue that the will to power can be seen as merely a response to helplessness, as Nietzsche’s method for wishing to attain control of a life that is really left up to God.” Therefore, in the theist opinion, God is the only one who can control and everyone else is just trying to cover their vulnerability and fragility.
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”
― Jane Austen
Care ethics is a subset of feminist care ethics. The basis for ethics, like feminist ethics, rejects the concept of abstract principles. More precisely, it is a collection of ideas about how values should be reflected in people’s personalities and actions.
Based on the historical behavior and the role of women in society, there were always considered inferior to men. “Gender-free morality may be impossible, according to Nel Noddings. Traditional philosophers believed that women were inferior to men and female goddesses were involved in silence, obedience, and service.” In other words, because of these aspects, someone inferior is not considered a leader, because the status might place it in a lower state than deserved.
Like other theories that cannot be applied for everyone, the same way this theory cannot be universally applied. “Calls for behavior that is tailored to each individual situation. If this is the case, then there is no true theory of ethical behavior because you are changing your view of what is acceptable and what is not to suit your needs at the time.” Hence, everyone would have different needs in a certain period, and those might be different based on location, society, or environment.
Women are considered sensitive, and less powerful, usually driven by emotions and feelings. “Cared-based approach clouds the basic moral code. Emotions and feelings make it easy to break moral codes” In other words, someone that can be easily impressed by emotions and feelings, and a just and correct decision cannot apply.
“If anyone, no matter who were given the opportunity of choosing from amongst all the nations in the world the set of beliefs which he thought best, he would inevitably—after careful considerations of their relative merits—choose that of his own country. Everyone without exception believes his own native customs, and the religion he was brought up in, to be the best.”
An individual might act in a certain way based on his environment and the place and society he belongs to. Ethical relativism is a doctrine where moral actions depend on each society an individual fits and there no absolute values applied to everyone. For example, if a country it is accepted public nakedness, in other places these actions can be condemned and sanctioned. These traditions are criticized, and cultural beliefs and values are reevaluated as people become aware of these practices: leaving the elderly to die by starvation at Eskimos, stealing practiced by Spartans in ancient Greece, polygamy for Muslims, homosexual behavior.
Tolerance is mostly accepted by people that share the same values, however, not everyone has the same beliefs and expectations. “the supporters of this theory cannot promote the theory with the claim that its acceptance will support tolerance for peoples of other cultures because tolerance is not necessarily a good thing. It is only a good thing in those cultures where it is promoted. It cannot be promoted for all peoples.” In other words, what is possible for a community would not apply to another one, and the rules of one cannot be imposed on the other one. For example, in a family, the rules they follow to live their lives cannot be imposed on the neighbors, as they follow different ones and would probably feel offended for interfering in their lives. They would tolerate a mistake, but not for the long term, and on a larger scale, people can get in conflict and results in arguments and fights.
For the majority whatever it is proposed and agreed it follows their moral good. However, the minorities, play an important role in a community as well, because men cannot be equal with women, and children of various ages have different needs. However, “In each culture, the predominant view is correct because it is the predominant view. There are no principles that could override or take precedence over the predominant view. Thus, there can be no criticism of the moral views held by most people in a given society by any minority.” In other words, the predominant view in that culture is the only one accepted, and the other ones need to accept against their will and adapt to conditions that are not favorable for their social status, gender, age, or other factors.
We are growing up in a community and we share common values, but not everyone decides to remain in their environment the whole life. Due to social conditions or looking for a better life, often people emigrate to different countries, sometimes far away from their homes. “If the theory applies to peoples of different cultures because they are raised in different social environments then it applies as well to any peoples raised apart from other peoples. So, it would apply within a culture and within a society wherever there are isolated groups.” However, for people that leave their countries and start a new life on a different continent, it is possible that their beliefs from home do not apply in the new place, therefore can even be in conflict. The traditions and culture are not wasted, however, people need to adapt to new conditions, and some of these might not be followed. For example, someone that used to go to a catholic church every weekend, moving to a Muslim country might not even have the possibility to continue his tradition and would have to adapt.