You are on page 1of 2

Andrew Marks 4-16-2014 Philosophy

Final exam essay


The ancient Greek Philosopher Epictetus said, dont explain your philosophy, embody it; there are many contemporary moral issues in our world dividing its people in many different ways. However what many people dont seem to understand is there is always more than one side to each issue. Dichotomy, or division, plays into our personal moral beliefs and occurs when people are split on an issue because of moral values. The simplest reason for this is that no two people are exactly alike. Some people may have different morals and ways of thinking based on religion, how they were raised, or even where they are from. These issues are often heavily debated by government officials and average citizens who wish to make their opinions heard. To present an argument about such an issue whether it is to a room full of senators, or a spirited debate among friends, the key to a compelling and plausible argument is facts and logically sound reasoning to back up your argument. None of the issues we have covered in class have an easy fix because they are complex issues. Many of these issues can affect the world globally or locally, whether it is fracking for natural gas in our own backyards, or drone warfare used to wipe out a hostile force. Two such ethical systems that have people divided are Deontology, and utilitarianism. Immanuel Kants theory of deontological ethics can be compared to moral absolutism theorizing that all acts are either absolutely right or wrong. Whereas utilitarianism is more about doing the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. Both ethical systems have their moral strengths and weaknesses. I believe utilitarianism has the best strengths because issues should be solved to benefit the greater good and if an action was helpful to the greater good it could be deemed morally right. With some moral issues and dilemmas such as drone warfare a utilitarian may believe it is the right course of action to prevent the loss of future lives, by eliminating a threat by drone warfare. Other issues such as Fracking may be harder to rationalize for a utilitarian; because although the natural gas provides power to thousands of people, the hazardous chemicals and environmental impact also physically harm people living close to the fracking sites and causes harm the earth its self. All ethical systems have a common weakness which is a question. Where do you draw the line? Just as we discussed in class with the bomber and his children scenario. There could be a moral dilemma that would mean making a choice between helping a majority and potentially harming the minority. This weakness is not as significant as the main weakness of deontology, which is that deontology offers no chance for a grey area and there seems to be no situational leniency. For example Kant's view doesn't allow the consequences of an action to have any moral impact on the decision to act in a certain way. Imagine a scenario when a murderer comes to your door and he asks if your sister is home. According to Kant, since you are morally obligated not to lie; you cannot lie to the murderer and tell him that she is not home. It doesn't matter if bad consequences will happens if you tell the truth because of the moral obligation of the truth.

Some other criticisms of utilitarianism are that it can be impersonal buy reducing morality into simple mathematics and numbers. I disagree, I see utilitarianism as a way to balance a populations differing interests equally and make a decision based on the greater good. I view this way of thinking as the strongest because it counts every individual equally and does not factor things like social or economic status. Utilitarianism is the true philosophy of all men are created equally. Some of the lesser weaknesses of utilitarianism that I can live with are that it is immeasurable (you cannot measure happiness) and subjectivity (everyone has their own definition of happiness). Utilitarianism is not perfect, nothing in this world is. When making important decisions forming your own ethical beliefs on contemporary moral issues personal responsibility comes into play at some point. To quote Antonio Caso: The most perfect form of individuality is the animal organism. Man is an animal organism, the most perfected of all organisms. However, his obvious superiority does not stem from his biological nature, but from his intellectual and moral superiority. Man is a microcosm; in him individuality surpasses physical nature, but an additional nature is also present that cannot be reduced to pure individuality. Man is individual, an admirable biological individual, but he is more than that, he is a person.. This reasoning is relevant because it says man is more than a thing, or an individual because man has the higher intellectual properties. Humanitys intellectual superiority stems morality and grows into our beliefs about right versus wrong. As a society responsibility means being involved with and fixing important matters and being educated as a whole to further advance humanity. Unfortunately we as a society seem to be involved more with mass media and monetary gains, and we are neglecting our very own well-being by destroying the earth, like parasites we are taking as much as we can with no regard for letting our resources replenish. On a smaller scale as an individual responsibility means much more. Individual responsibility means using that superior intellect and solving problems not only in your own life but as a member of society contributing to the solution. Gandhi once said You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.. Much like the famous philosopher John Locke, I believe humans, although we all my have different morals and beliefs, are smart and generally good hearted. I cant really look down on humanity as a whole with its flaws and short comings based on some of the choices made in the past. I myself am a flawed human being.