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Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions?

Explain Justify Ethics Decision Deflation Font

According to Mill, it is not because mens desires are strong that they act badly, but because their conscience is weak. Since the essence of the human conscience is a disinterested sense of duty to others, mixed with strong feelings of sympathy, affection, and desire for esteem, the development of conscience requires attention to developing a sense of sympathy Thus, education is required of the emotions in order to associate pleasure with proper, moral goals. Left unconsidered, feelings and emotions would attach to the prejudices of custom or, as in Mills case, be underdeveloped and, thus, become debilitating.


Mill, Utilitarianism, 18-20. Mill, On Liberty, 76-77.

Contemptible pleasures include both self-destructive pleasures, such as rashness and selfconceit, as well as the anti-social pleasures of cruelty, malice, envy, dissimulation, 12

irascibility, resentment, love of domineering over others, greed, and pride.

According to Ekman and Friesen (1989) these are happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust (the last two of which, however, some researchers consider too simple to be called emotions) (Panksepp 1998) To account for the differences between guilt, embarrassment, and shame, for example, a plausible theory will have to look beyond physiology and common-sense phenomenology. I am using reason to come to a conclusion regarding the title of this essay. Appraisal theories can be described as taking a functional approach to emotion, insofar as appraisals lead to reactions whose function is to deal with specific situation types having some significance for an individual (Scherer 2006). Other theories consider the function of emotions more broadly, and ask, not why we should have particular emotions on specific occasions, but rather why we should have particular emotions at all. This question is often given an evolutionary answer: emotions (or at least many of them) are adaptations whose purpose is to solve basic ecological problems facing organisms (Plutchik 1980; Frank 1988). Darwin (1998[1896]) himself was concerned not so much with the question of how our emotions might have evolved, but rather why they should have the forms of expression that they do. Paul Ekman (1972), inspired by Darwin's approach, takes emotional expressions to be important parts of "affect programs"complex responses found in all human populations, which are controlled by mechanisms operating below the level of consciousness. However, the affect program model leaves out a good deal. In particular, it ignores those emotions which involve higher cognitive processes, such as jealousy, envy, and Schadenfreude. It is these sorts of emotions which many philosophers have made the focus of their own theories of emotion. The research program of evolutionary psychology (Cosmides et al. 2000) goes some way to filling this lacuna, and emphasizes the modularity that is likely to result on the plausible speculation that different social and psychological emotional functions have been shaped relatively independently by natural selection. Emotions have been described as sets of beliefs and desires (Marks 1982), affect-laden judgments (Broad 1971; Lyons 1980), and as complexes of beliefs, desires, and feelings (Oakley 1992).

Cognitivist theories have faced criticism along a number of fronts. Deigh (1994) has objected that the view of emotions as propositional attitudes has the effect of excluding animals and infants lacking language.

Your right is to work only, But never to its fruits; Let not the fruits of action be thy motive, Nor let thy attachment be to inaction. This is to draw attention to the role of emotions as providing the framework for cognitions of the more conventional kind. de Sousa (1987) and Amlie Rorty (1980) propose this sort of account, according to which emotions are not so much perceptions as they are ways of seeingspecies of determinate patterns of salience among objects of attention, lines of inquiry, and inferential strategies. (See also Roberts 1988) Emotions make certain features of situations or arguments more prominent, giving them a weight in our experience that they would have lacked in the absence of emotion. This account does not identify emotions with judgments or desires, but it does explain why cognitivist theorists have been tempted to make this identification. Emotions set the agenda for beliefs and desires: one might say that they ask the questions that judgment answers with beliefs and evaluate the prospects that may or may not arouse desire. Emotions in general should then be viewed as a genus of processes typically involving five different component aspects or components, comprising subjective feeling, cognition, motor expression, action tendencies or desire, and neurological processes. (Scherer 2005).
Implementation Decision Moral Altruism Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions? How do I go about doing justice to the title of this essay? I am using my reason to reach a conclusion regarding the question. Whether reason and emotion are equally necessary or not? This implies that both are necessary but to what extent is the question. Decision implies that an individual faces a set of choices. Morality applies to a set of interacting individuals and objects. It has a predefined agenda of doing or resulting in good or betterment of most if not all the individuals or objects involved. When a set of individuals decide to put their minds together in order to reach a moral decision they are being altruistic.

Altruism is found in other species of animals and is supposed to be genetically determined. An individual is willing to sacrifice itself or its possessions for the good of other members of community. Emotions are not simple entities to be studied in isolation as modes of interaction between two or more individuals. Emotions are generated from deep within an individual at certain moments in relation to certain predefined situations or objects. The reaction involves the complete individual encompassing the psycho-neuro-immuno-endocrine axis finally erupting in his or her immediate environment so as to influence the environment (including the people) in a particular fashion. An analogy can be drawn between laws of thermodynamics and emotion and reason. The law says no useful work can be done without some waste of energy into the environment. Scientist Stanley Miller used his scientific reasoning and brought together all the ingredients which go into the making of building blocks of life i.e. amino acids, however he used a powerful spark(emotional outburst) over a period of one week to bring them together to give the desired result. Living things are always organizing themselves in a better fashion in order to flourish. Moral fabric of the society is also a result of such a process. Emotions are tools of individuals to manipulate each other with the help of reason. Emotions are generated within individuals when some issues remain unresolved within themselves or in their environment. Morality sets the norms for these emotions. On the other hand emotions with the help of reasoning redefine and soften the moral fabric. Quite like the warrior ants and the worker ants. No particular emotion is bad or good in itself. It has to be judged only in relation to the object to which it is related. Bhaagvat-Gita, the Indian book (Celestial Song) is in the form of conversation between Arjun and Sri Krishna, with the armies raring to fight as the back drop. People on both sides are related to Arjun. Arjun undergoes severe emotional crisis. His mind was bombarded with various moral issues at that juncture. Emotions ran high. The so called Voice of Reason was for long time buried nice and properly. But at this juncture when his complete organism (psycho-neuro-immuno-endocrine axis) was under immense pressure then the mind opened up for the instructions of Sri Krishna the Conscience Keeper. He was at that single moment able to realize the pros and cons of the whole issue and resolve his moral crisis and go ahead with what was appropriate for him. It is one thing to attend a seminar and thrash out the moral issues. Participants are supposed to be emotionally controlled. However in real life issues in family and society, individuals are not blessed with sufficient time to devote to reasoning, emotions set the pace and largely reach reasonably appropriate decisions. Apparently emotions are a result of prolonged reasoning about various situations and issues and promote conditions for development of better reasoning capacity in their wake. Emotions may be assessed in terms of their kinds, intensity and whether they are positive or negative in terms of morality. But again this should be done in context of the object. Morality is closely related to religious activity. Over centuries various religious leaders have come and preached their moral codes. Their followers were largely attached to them emotionally. An individuals identification with his or her nation is not by reasoning but emotional. Emotions are the cause of such large scale cohesion. The oft quoted rhetoric of war of civilization is basically a conflict of Moral codes. Reason fails to penetrate the hardened Moral fabric of these civilizations and it is now confined to people who are less effective in socio-political milieu. Emotion is generating forces that will send shock waves to clear up the dirt in the Moral fabric. Cold reasoning as adopted by Natural Scientists is leading to release of such knowledge like Genetic manipulation, Cloning, feticide (abortion), Chromosomal synthesis ( creation of life forms), discovery and use of Nuclear forces, knowledge of chemicals as weapons, eugenics, euthanasia, etc. that will result more importantly in distortion of life forms as against destruction of life forms. Emotions as honed by morality have become all the more important in Moral decisions. Nevertheless power of reason is the only way that can guide us through jungle illuminated by flares of emotions. For long humanity has been led by male dominated society. Reason has played greater role while emotions which are more feminine in quality have been taking a backseat. This doesnt imply that women are to take up masculine role. Instead the feminine mode of decision taking which is predominantly emotional should be promoted vigorously. The World has now seen the result of power of reason over the period of last three to four centuries. The flowers of emotions must blossom now to give it some beauty otherwise we go the Orwellian world way or The Matrix way.

World War I, and II, and development of weapons up to nuclear bombs and their use were a result of cold reason tying down the Morality of nations. Seeds and plants of reason must finally bring forth flowers of emotion so that butterflies and bees of human kind may cross pollinate them to generate more seeds of reason and of course plants of reason and jungles. In the process of writing this essay nowhere could I avoid the tiny emotional episodes on recollection of memories which I analyzed in order to bring some coherence to it. Reason was always happily clothed with emotion. So long as society exists, morality will always be there to give it the necessary coherence. Cold Logic and reason will rapidly shred the fabric of morality. Society will cease to exist. If one delves into the annals of philosophical discourses no philosopher espousing the cause of Rationality was without episodes of emotions when confronted with counter-opinion. To conclude it is quite impossible to project either emotion or reason as being more or less necessary in moral decisions. Both are equally necessary. Shylok in Shakespeares Merchant of Venice could not take his pound of flesh without letting the blood flow. Reason and Emotion are like wise intertwined in the process of decision making. Let no one be given to such falsehood. They both are the warp and weft on the social loom. The quality of the fabric (moral) is determined by the quality of the yarn. Removal or reduction of either doesnt in any way contribute to the improvement of quality of the fabric. It may however reduce or destroy it.