Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with moral principles, values, and judgments about what is right and wrong, good and bad, and how individuals and societies ought to behave. It examines questions of moral responsibility, character, and the justification for ethical beliefs and actions. Ethics seeks to provide frameworks for evaluating and guiding human conduct, addressing issues such as fairness, justice, honesty, integrity, and the welfare of individuals and communities. It involves critical reasoning, analysis, and reflection to explore ethical dilemmas and make informed decisions in various areas of life, including personal relationships, professional settings, and societal issues. Ethics also encompasses different ethical theories, such as consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, which offer distinct perspectives on how to determine ethical behaviour and moral values.

“Each man for himself in that desert of egoism which is called life.”
― Stendhal

EGOISM 

Adherence to a basic moral code that protects basic values, keeps society at 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 the 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 in life.   

People are always egoistic, at least deep down, such as our behaviour 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 it 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 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 use justifications for actions and behaviours. 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.   

“The utilitarian behaves sensibly in all that is required for preservation but never takes account of the fact that he must die…His whole life is absorbed in avoiding death, which is inevitable, and therefore he might be thought to be the most irrational of men, if rationality has anything to do with understanding ends or comprehending the human situation as such. He gives way without reserve to his most powerful passion and the wishes it engenders.”
― Allan Bloom

UTILITARIANISM 

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 sacrificing, and others cannot harm a fly.  In either one, a decision needs to be made, and according to 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 to the majority of people, even an act that brings pleasure, or amelioration of the suffering are 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 comparison 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 tumours, 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 dominators where the other partner 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.  

“I should never act in such a way that I could not also will that my maxim should be a universal law.”
― Immanuel Kant

CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE 

Based on the categorical imperative, the outcomes wanted must come from the best behaviour 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 behaviour. 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 sign papers that might not be in his favour. “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 though 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.    

“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

NATURAL LAW 

Natural laws govern human behaviour, 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. From 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 with 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 of 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 moral 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 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 judgements are always consistent are unreflective or dogmatic.”
― John Rawls  

THEORY OF JUSTICE AS FAIRNESS-MAXI MIN 

The theory of Rawls focuses on the good through logic, but he hoped to avoid in his notion the disadvantages offered by utilitarian which would justify moral behaviour. 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 if 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, the same model but different years, even though are still the same brand, inequalities exist, and 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.  

 “Beauty is for the artist something outside all orders of rank, because in beauty opposites are tamed; the highest sign of power, namely power over opposites; moreover, without tension: – that violence is no longer needed: that everything follows, obeys, so easily and so pleasantly – that is what delights the artist’s WILL TO POWER.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

WILL TO POWER – Existentialist Theory of 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 look 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 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 behaviour that follows God and does not try to overcome the creator would be rewarded.   

Sometimes expressing 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.    

“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”
― Naomi Wolf

CARING- One of several Feminist Theories of Ethics 

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 history of behaviour 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 it is not considered a leader, because the status might place it in a lower state than deserved.  

Like other theories that cannot be applied to 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.”
― Herodotus


NORMATIVE ETHICAL RELATIVISM  

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 are no absolute values applied to everyone. For example, if a country 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 practised by Spartans in ancient Greece, polygamy for Muslims, and homosexual behaviour.   

Tolerance is mostly accepted from 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 neighbours, 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 into a conflict which 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 their 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.   

“So far as ethics is concerned, my thesis that there are no objective values is specifically the denial that any such categorically imperative element is objectively valid.”
― John Leslie Mackie

CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE THEORY

According to Kant’s categorical imperative theory, the correctness or unfairness of actions are determined by whether they meet our responsibility. The fundamental obligations that all people must follow include never killing, stealing, lying, and so on, but the imperfect duties rely on acts that can be done willingly but rarely, and include a feeling of compassion, loving, and caring. It is our essential responsibility in such a way that in similar scenarios we want everyone else to do so for all others. This idea would work if what was right was absolute, and everyone followed it, but some people can be misled by what is morally acceptable and do wrong instead, also how our desire to be treated may change from person to person.  

Kant principles were following the formula of Natural law as follows: “Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature.”. The action might not be possible to apply to a larger scale, because everyone is conducted by his set of beliefs, but if everyone would do his part, then a majority that does good, can become stronger and powerful driven by success. For example, a single ant or a bee cannot achieve a lot, but teamwork with the other individuals from their species, doing what is good for their nest, would create a bigger and stronger foundation and, in this way, can achieve better things. The same principle can be applied to people, that can follow what is good for society and all going in the same direction, following the moral good. Based on the formula of the end itself he supported the idea that “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.” Treating people with respect without denigrating them is an important aspect because in life we never know how high or low we can get to. Treating poorly the homeless and disrespecting him because his social status is lower than someone else should not be a criterion of comparison. Respect is essential for the elderly, for parents and in society, not for creating layers of power, but for the human aspects and the values we carry with our traditions and culture. Following the formula of autonomy, he states that “So act that your will can regard itself at the same time as making universal law through its maxims.” Our actions should be always in conformity with the principles, and what makes a universal law should apply to an individual as well. We should never consider a person to be a goal and never use or exploit someone for any reason since people are always interested in themselves. Moreover, based on the formula of kingdom of ends he affirmed that “So act as if you were through your maxims a law-making member of a kingdom of ends.” Such as the position of the King who rules a nation and takes into consideration the maximum laws making and the judgment necessary for a peaceful and prosperous community, in the same way, we should act and be aware of all the possibilities. Judging in advance and considering the options with a clear mind and correctitude would make us as well moral people.  

“For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”
― George Orwell

People are always egoistic, at least deep down, in the sense that our conduct is always oriented toward what we believe to be our greatest benefit. However, there are times when people’s own interests conflict with those of others, and what they believe is good can be destructive and harmful. A moral good should not have to be explained, and justifications for actions and behaviors should not be used. It would not allow for any interpretations or justifications.  This decision may be taken based on awareness; nevertheless, some individuals may feel fine killing and sacrificing, while others cannot hurt a fly. In either case, a decision must be taken, and according to utilitarianism theory, the choice that results in a better end win. In other words, if a falsehood does better than damage, it is okay to tell it; similarly, if the repercussions do not hurt most people, it is acceptable to do it; and even acts that offer joy or alleviate suffering are deemed beneficial for utilitarianism.  

Natural laws regulate human behavior, and because natural impulses and instincts are like those of animals, they are appropriate for food, drink, sleep, reproduction, and survival. Humans follow their beliefs, and in certain circumstances, the way we live our lives may conflict with natural law. Because these qualities are still a mystery, a conclusive argument cannot exist, and these traits are simply hypotheses for the existence of God.  

Everyone has the right to the most extensive system of equal basic freedoms, which may be attained by everyone using the same liberty system according to the theory of justice and fairness. Inequalities in social and economic development must be structured for the advantage of the least developed, in accordance with the concept of just saving, and connected similarly to all institutions and positions. Its major goal is to progress from equality to justice in little steps that reasonable people can accept as fair. Even if the decision of rational beings has been ideal, this notion does not appear to apply to everyone to an option as practicable in situations where not all the individuals involved are equal due to physical, social, or economic factors.  

This concept of willpower divides individuals into upper and lower classes and distinguishes rulers and subjects. The flaws in this idea support Nietzsche’s claim that power thirst causes individuals to be uncaring and cruel, with no regard for humanity. As a result, strong people became the leader of a state, and without their capacity to govern and determine, they could not win wars or reclaim land for their country.  

Care ethics states that someone who is easily influenced by emotions and feelings, and to whom a reasonable and proper choice cannot be applied; as a result, women are considered sensitive and less strong, and are typically led by fears and anxieties.  

According to the categorical imperative, the desired results must come from the best conduct we can achieve. Moral responsibilities must be performed only for the benefit of the individual, and this idea holds that if we wish to attain good, we must offer the same in return. However, what some individuals believe to be beneficial for them may not be in accordance with ethical standards, and acts must conform to the moral rules. External influences may have an impact on an individual’s health to the point where human lives are dependent on artificial machines. In certain situations, a sick individual should not be deemed capable of taking decisions that may not be in his best interests. It should not take advantage of persons who are in a situation where their abilities and consciousness are subjective, and they are unable to behave normally. We can only compare individuals of the same species. In this scenario, to compare anything, it must be in the same category, as this would create an imbalance and disfavor the weaker. A skilled individual might frame the maxim in such a way that it could be universalized to allow nearly anything. A smart actor might meet the categorical imperative while operating in a manner that is otherwise inconsistent with it by adding qualifiers to the maxim or using unusual definitions of words.  

This theory even though has criticism, it still brings important values and gives a sense of optimism and hope that people would realize that the change is in their hands and doing good others would follow their example. It is true that some people might suffer from mental illnesses and are in the impossibility to be treated like the rest of the world, but that would not stop us to see them as individuals and treat them accordingly and give them a chance whenever is possible. An invalid person might not be able to run a marathon, but be useful in other places, and giving him a sense of responsibility would increase morality and reduce hate. Also, people from different social categories might not be as wise as the ones with higher education, however, life teaches us the most important lessons and the advice from an elder that lived his life in a village can have an impact on people from a city. Respect should always be considered in any circumstances and a witty and sneaky person would have to be educated and that only their own benefit would not be sufficient, in a world where moral good should be world pleaded.   

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