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

― Stendhal

Adherence to a basic moral code protected basic values and maintained society at a level where there were at least some goals and ideals to strive for. In a world where these values and rules against harming the innocent, committing rape, theft, and compromising personal security and dependable expectations were absent, achieving a stable society would be challenging. It was crucial to uphold a minimum level of morality, as society would crumble without it. However, focusing too much on self-interest would undermine these achievements. An individual who prioritized self-interest over morality was referred to as an egoist, whether it was for personal gain in their career, education, or various life events.

Deep down, people were always driven by egoism, as their behaviour was oriented towards what they perceived as their greatest benefit. Baier contradicted these arguments and supported that even if it was demonstrated that we often acted in our self-interest, this alone did not prove that psychological egoism was true. According to this theory, it was necessary to demonstrate that people always acted to promote their own interests. However, there were situations where an individual’s self-interest conflicted with what others considered to be good, leading to destructive and harmful outcomes. For example, a doctor who only pursued their own interests to graduate from medical school and secure a job in a hospital, without moral considerations or achieving their grades based on their own knowledge, would be detrimental to others, causing suffering due to their incompetence.

If individuals were unable to prioritize the well-being of others, either through legal means or self-imposed moral restrictions, they would focus on their own benefit, which could be the most effective way of promoting the benefit of others. It was evident that the argument was flawed, as the interests of diverse individuals or groups came into conflict, particularly in situations involving limited essential resources. In such cases, one person’s interest may negatively impact another’s well-being. This often occurred in larger factories, where individuals advocated for their own rights, but implementing a universal law for all employees might disadvantage others and have varying impacts.

When something initially did not appear to be in our best interest, we needed to explain our actions by demonstrating that they were. Ethical conflict regulation couldn’t coexist with ethical egoism. In other words, a morally good action should not require explanation or justification. It should not allow for interpretations or excuses. For example, when someone is caught stealing from another person’s house, excuses such as needing to feed their family or being in a state of poverty do not justify their actions. Whatever actions we engage in should be consciously chosen, with full awareness of the consequences, thereby eliminating such situations.

“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 was to be made, there were two types of morality: deontological and teleological. This decision could be made based on consciousness; however, some people might have felt comfortable killing and sacrificing, while others could not harm a fly. In either case, a decision needed to be made, and according to utilitarianism theory, the choice that would have brought a better outcome would have been the winner. For example, a teleologist judged whether lying was morally right or wrong by the consequences it produced, but a deontologist saw something intrinsically wrong in the very act of lying. In other words, if a lie brought more good, it was acceptable to do it, and even an act that brought pleasure or amelioration of suffering was considered good for utilitarianism.

When it came to feelings and emotions, it was hard to measure the amount produced. It was stated as a problem for this theory that not everyone was able to measure their happiness. In other words, only the person having that experience would have been able to appreciate how happy it was, but a sense of comparison would have been impossible to have. Therefore, the amount of joy for all people would have been something irrelevant, and it should not have been used as a criterion for measuring someone’s well-being.

Our preferences were based on experiences and beliefs, and most of the time, these were less fortunate but not reaching a level of wrongness without replacement, as we could change some of the habits and future actions. However, due to some health problems, trauma, or brain tumours, people could have acted chaotically, and their preferences could have been harmful to others but pleasurable for them. The theory could have supported doing horrible, heinous acts, as long as they produced the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people. There was no act that was wrong in and of itself! Murder, lies, rape, child molestation, or any act could have been considered the GOOD thing to do!

In other words, people would have found pleasure in molesting children or enjoying sexual role play as dominators while denigrating and inflicting pain on the other partner, but they would have enjoyed it.

We were different, and between friends and family, there were some moral rules that were embedded in the culture and tradition for many generations. However, the theory treated all people as being equal. It did not take into consideration the special relationships that existed between people, such as the relationships of family members. Considering the genetics and the studies conducted on children born from closely related members of families, even though it might have brought happiness to create a family and have children, such cases could have led 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 desired outcomes had to come from the best behaviour we could achieve. For example, good grades required hard work, and a better life necessitated a balanced and addiction-free lifestyle. Moral duties had to be performed solely for their own good, and this theory supported the idea that to achieve good, we must reciprocate the same. However, what some people considered good for themselves might not align with ethical principles, and actions had to conform to a universal law.

Instances where our health was affected by external factors to the extent that our lives depended on artificial machines raised concerns. In such cases, an ill person should not be regarded as capable of making deals or signing papers that might not be in their favour. The theory only applied to rational agents and did not encompass non-humans or humans who lacked rationality due to factors like brain malfunction, illness, or being in a persistent vegetative coma. It should not exploit individuals in a state where their abilities and consciousness were subjective, preventing them from behaving like a healthy person.

Comparisons could only be made between entities of the same category, and comparing apples with pears was irrelevant. The theory could not resolve conflicts between duties, whether between two perfect duties or between a perfect duty and an imperfect duty. Such comparisons would create imbalances and disadvantage the weaker party.

Encounters with individuals attempting to sell us something occurred in life, and even if their intentions were good, using clever tactics to close a deal would not be considered morally acceptable. A clever person could have formulated the maxim in a way that almost anything could be permitted when universalized. By adding qualifiers or peculiar definitions to terms, a clever actor could satisfy the categorical imperative while acting in a manner inconsistent with it. Therefore, finding loopholes and acting cleverly did not align with moral goodness. For instance, if a teenager was grounded and not allowed to leave their room to meet friends, but they sneaked out through the window without their parents noticing and returned before anyone realized, it might seem like a clever act to them, but it was not morally right.

“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 governed human behaviour, and because natural impulses and instincts resembled those of animals, they were suitable for activities such as eating, drinking, sleeping, reproducing, and survival. Theists believed that moral virtue followed the natural rules established by the creator, while atheists believed that human reasoning and observable natural laws were sufficient. From this standpoint, it was important to determine what these laws were and how they applied to humans. Ethical theories either made reference to or depended on the presence of a deity, and under this perspective, moral acts were seen as obligations to conform to and support natural laws. Therefore, humans were morally obligated to employ their faculties of reasoning to comprehend these laws and act accordingly.

Given our diverse backgrounds, environments, cultures, and traditions, it was natural for different interpretations of natural laws to emerge within the natural law theory. In a world with multiple realities and beliefs, a singular interpretation of nature became impossible, leading to confusion and differences in understanding.

As humans followed their own beliefs and experiences, there were instances where their way of life seemed to deviate from what might be considered in line with natural law. For example, while having children might be seen as a positive thing, women who chose to solely serve as carriers of a child presented a subjective interpretation of moral good. Furthermore, philosophers like Hobbes previously characterized human beings as inherently selfish, casting doubt on the moral rightness of behaviour aligned with human nature, while actions not in accordance with human nature were deemed morally wrong. However, in cases such as war and conflict, the morality of such actions was complex, as innocent lives were lost and children were left fatherless, yet men followed principles intended to protect their country and fight against enemies.

The existence of God has been a topic of debate since the time of great philosophers, and doubts surrounding this aspect have always perplexed people in terms of whether or not a higher being created the world. Aquinas and Aristotle, two influential philosophers in the theory, held differing views on the role of God in nature, further contributing to the confusion when it came to determining the theory’s reliance on God’s existence. Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding these matters, definitive arguments are lacking, and speculations persist regarding these aspects.

“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 focused on the good through logic, aiming to avoid the disadvantages offered by utilitarianism, which would justify moral behaviour. Everyone had the right to the largest system of equal basic freedoms, achievable by all with the same system of freedom. Social and economic inequalities had to be arranged for the benefit of the least developed, in line with the idea of just savings and equally linked to all institutions and positions. The main objective was to progress in small stages that rational individuals could accept as fairness, moving from equality to justice. This could be seen as the most logical explanation for justice that did not rely on emotion, education, self-serving preference, class awareness, or other variables. However, even if the choice of rational beings was ideal, this notion did not seem applicable to everyone as an option, especially in situations where not all the people involved were equal under physical, social, or economic factors.

The differences between individuals could vary in scale, but as long as there was a difference, it did not matter how small it was. If there was any inequality at the lowest level, an imbalance persisted. Power differentials resulting from unequal income were not permitted if they violated the first principle of equal liberty, even if they increased the material position of the least advantaged group. In other words, even if there were some percentage increases in income for individuals, as long as differences persisted, the situation could not be considered equal.

Even at lower levels of inequality, as long as any inequality existed, unfairness persisted, even if it caused less suffering. Some critics argued that Rawls’ theory resembled utilitarianism in that these two principles could have allowed or demanded inequalities and suffering in order to benefit the least well-off. For example, if someone had two children and gave them two cars of the same brand but different model years, even though they were still the same brand, inequalities would exist, potentially leading to feelings of inferiority. In real life, these differences were difficult to apply because individuals could not easily position themselves at a certain level. Moreover, there were challenges in applying the theory to practice, particularly in attempting to place oneself under the Veil of Ignorance in the Original Position to determine the conduct required by the MAXI MIN Principle. However, these differences were not beneficial for individuals as they could lead to conflicts, low self-esteem, and psychological imbalance.

“They fear their higher self because when it speaks, it speaks demandingly.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

This idea divided people into higher and lower classes, creating a distinction between masters and slaves. The shortcomings of this theory reinforced Nietzsche’s argument that the desire for power drives individuals to be indifferent and ruthless, disregarding the value of humanity. Theists argued that power was granted by God rather than obtained by individuals, as those who obeyed God’s laws would receive rewards instead of engaging in power struggles. Additionally, theists contended that the desire for power, as depicted by Nietzsche, was an attempt to exert control over a life that ultimately belonged to God, serving as a response to feelings of powerlessness.

In many cases, individuals who use power for personal gain exhibit a lack of compassion and prioritize their own interests over the well-being of others. Some people criticized Nietzsche’s advocacy of the will to power, believing that it encouraged callousness and cruelty, disregarding the importance of humanity. However, it should be noted that powerful individuals, such as heads of state, played significant roles in leading nations, winning wars, and reclaiming territories for their countries.

Theists emphasized that God was the epitome of power, and anyone seeking power outside the realm of God’s authority was considered morally wrong. According to theistic beliefs, the acquisition of power was not within the control of individuals; it was a divine bestowal. They maintained that humans did not have the authority to determine their own power status. Instead, they argued that God rewarded those who followed His teachings, emphasizing that power struggles were not the means to attain rewards. In essence, theists believed that adherence to God’s principles and refraining from challenging the authority of the Creator would lead to divine rewards.

At times, the display of power over the weaker may be an indication of one’s own weakness, and those who sought to exert dominance were, in fact, lacking in strength. Theists could also argue that Nietzsche’s concept of the will to power could be seen as a response to feelings of helplessness, as individuals sought control over a life that ultimately rested in God’s hands. Thus, from the theistic perspective, God alone possesses true control, while everyone else is merely attempting to mask their own 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 was a subset of feminist care ethics. The basis for ethics, like feminist ethics, rejected the concept of abstract principles. More precisely, it was a collection of ideas about how values were reflected in people’s personalities and actions.

Historically, women were considered inferior to men, and their role in society reflected this belief. Nel Noddings argued that achieving gender-free morality might have been impossible. Traditional philosophers held the belief that women were inferior to men, and female deities were associated with qualities such as silence, obedience, and service. This view implied that those considered inferior could not be leaders due to their lower status.

The theory called for behaviour that was tailored to each individual situation. If this were the case, it was suggested that there would be no definitive theory of ethical behaviour because individuals would constantly change their perspective on what is acceptable and what is not to meet their immediate needs. Different needs could arise based on location, society, or environment.

Women were often characterized as sensitive and less powerful, driven by emotions and feelings. The care-based approach faced criticism for clouding the basic moral code, as emotions and feelings were seen as factors that made it easier to disregard or violate moral codes.

Individuals’ actions were influenced by their environment and the society they belonged to. Ethical relativism, a doctrine that moral actions depend on each society an individual is a part of, implied that there were no absolute values applicable to everyone. As people became aware of practices such as leaving the elderly to die by starvation in Eskimo cultures, stealing practised by Spartans in ancient Greece, polygamy in Muslim societies, or homosexual behaviour, cultural beliefs and values were reevaluated and criticized.

Tolerance was mostly accepted by people who shared the same values, but not everyone held the same beliefs and expectations. Supporters of the theory were unable to promote it with the claim that its acceptance would support tolerance for people of other cultures, as tolerance was not universally considered a good thing. Tolerance was seen as a good thing only in cultures where it was actively promoted, and it could not be universally advocated for all people. Each community had its own rules and what was possible and accepted in one community might not apply to another.

In each culture, the predominant view was considered correct simply because it was the predominant view. There were no principles that could have overridden or taken precedence over the predominant view. Therefore, any criticism of the moral views held by the majority of people in a given society by any minority was not possible.

People may leave their original communities and migrate to different countries for various reasons. If the theory applied to people of different cultures because they were raised in different social environments, it also applied to people who were raised apart from others within a culture or society. It would have applied wherever isolated groups existed. However, when people immigrated to different countries, their beliefs and traditions might not be applicable or might conflict with the new cultural context. Adaptation to new conditions becomes necessary, and certain traditions may not be followed.

“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

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