Tuesday, February 20

Ethical disagreements

Currently, I am taking an Ethics class, something you would already know if you have been keeping up with this blog. Or keep in touch with me on regular basis. Or take the class with me. I guess it's also possible that you would know this if you had seen the class list at some point, but now I'm really digressing. So far our professor has attempted to convince us that an objective moral system does exist as our first few weeks have been spent reading about and disputing subjectivism (belief that morality depends upon the individual and their experiences), relativism (belief that morality is dependent upon culture and only discussed in that context) and egoism (belief that a moral action must spring from genuine altruism, where there is no reward, to be truly moral). Now we are getting into actual ethical theories, our next reading is on natural law.

Still, I have a metaethical concern that I'll probably ask my professor about tomorrow. How do we deal with those who act, as we perceive it, evilly? Ethics are a big deal. They're not some aesthetic judgment. I can't or, at least, shouldn't accept your endorsement of eugenics in the same way that I am willing to accept that you don't like Fight Club and may even think it's the most over-hyped movie ever. To take a concrete example, I fundamentally disagree with the death penalty and killing in general, but we'll need to focus upon capital punishment for this example. How can I still regard myself as a good person if I do not do all that is in my power to stop anymore people from being put to death for their crimes? How can I live in good conscience if I am not making every effort to stop the needle from being put into their arm?

I discussed this with a friend not so long ago. His suggestion is that my awareness of the situation is very likely limited in comparison to those who made the decision, and should I have their knowledge, I may agreement with what they did. In many particular ethical conflicts, I can agree with that, but I understand state-sponsored executions as an absolute evil. The situation will never justify it.

What then? I guess I can retreat to some form of "you have to pick your battles." My time and energy are finite. I am not enough to change the world to conform to all of my beliefs and ideas, and it would hardly be appropriate for me to do so were I given the opportunity since I have so little knowledge of some topics. I have to pick what I feel are the issues and situations that most need my participation and live with my choice.

1 comment:

fishrus said...

Some wisdom you have already heard but sums up your last paragraph:

"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
Blessed Mother Theresa