• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How do we know, if at all, that our behavior is ethical?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How do we know, if at all, that our behavior is ethical? Candidate name: Anders Rasmussen Candidate number: D1099019 Subject: Theory of knowledge Topic number: Four Date: April 6, 2002 Word count: 1430 How do we know, if at all, that our behavior is ethical? As generally known there are great difficulties concerning this question. The problem really lies in defining the term ethics. Once this has been defined (assuming it is possible) answering the question above is rather simple. One only has to ask whether a behavior is in accordance with that definition or not. Hence in this essay I focus on defining ethics, as far as possible. Socrates was the one, who first introduced the concept of ethical philosophy by claiming that his slave boy, whom he had discovered actually was able to think on his own, should since he was human be treated in a humanitarian way. Many philosophers have since the ancient Greek civilization given their subjective views on the question of what ethics is. To get a better grip on this question I think one should first look at the extremes. One philosopher in this category is Nietzsche. He claimed that ethics are laws created by the weak to protect the weak and that these laws are hindering the strong and creative from reaching his/her full potential. This might sound cruel; nevertheless I think he does have a point. ...read more.

Middle

Imagine yourself standing in a street corner; suddenly a terrified person runs by, two seconds later another out of your mind looking man with a knife raised over his head comes and asks you if you saw in which direction the first man went. Should you tell him the truth? If you are a true Christian you should, since lying is wrong according to the Ten Commandments. The utilitarian perspective seems good since happiness will increase. However, wouldn't this ethically otherwise horrible action such as World War 2? It has after all had many positive effects such as the creation of the United Nations i.e. the long tern effect has increased happiness on the earth. A world ruled according to this principle would also mean an end to all individual rights. If killing someone would make people happy then it would be justified to execute that individual. Anders Rasmussen, D1099019 My conclusion so far is that it is wrong to make ethical laws or principals; there will always be situations such as the ones exemplified above where it is not appropriate. I think that ethics is subjective and should remain so, since creating laws will most likely lead to misinterpretations and a more inhuman society. Ethics is after all one of the prime things that makes us human. This though is not to say that we should live in total anarchy, people that obviously do harm to mankind should be punished. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are some problems though about the superego. If our values are inflicted upon us by the culture in which we have grown up (a Christian would probably say that they are given to us from God) and thus differs from one culture to another (we can by looking at the world tell that this is the case!) clashes might occur when different societies meet. Since different subjective meanings about what is right and what is wrong will be shared by one society. It is in such situations, when the intuition fails to settle argument, that we should use our more objective tool... the reasoning. Conclusion: First of all we should not create a strict ethical constitution telling us the exact answer to the question "How do we know if at all that our behavior is ethical?" We should not let the moral philosopher become an engineer. Instead it is the individual that should, in each unique situation, use all available tools and act the way he or she finds most appropriate in the particular situation i.e. "how do we know, if at all, that our behavior is ethical is a question which will have different answer in different situation and we must therefore ask ourselves this question as often as possible. This is not a "perfect" system, and it will always create conflicts among us. Still I think taking away all moral responsibility is to take away what makes us human. Truly believing that you are acting ethically is as ethical one can ever get, as a human being. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Explain the main ethical principle of Christianity.

    Well the example of the man stealing for his family is consistent with situation ethics. He steals, which is wrong, but in that situation, he is doing the most loving thing for his starving family by giving them food. It is the same with the example with Hitler.

  2. Evaluate the claim that conscience is a reliable guide to ethical decision making.

    with a cryptic message, with conscience being the Enigma machine we use to decode it. At the forefront of Aquinas conscience is Reason. Being, like Butler, a natural law theorist, Aquinas saw the role of conscience (reason making right decisions)

  1. Examine the differences in ethical and Christian views concerning homosexuality

    agree with, however, as times change many Catholics are actually considering these alternative interpretations to meet with the ever changing ethical views of society. There were many others to follow Macquarrie and Childress in re-interpreting the Bible and its rules on homosexuality.

  2. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    This argument would be difficult to legislate and perhaps immoral itself as it denies single mothers and homosexuals the right to reproduce. The second requirement, that birth must occur, is intended to strengthen the ties between parents and child. He believes that were the womb to be excluded, cloned children

  1. How can we know, if at all, that our behavior is ethical?

    There are 2 main branches of bioethics, and those are clinical ethics and health care policy. Clinical ethics deals with interaction between the employees in the health care profession, and their patients. Health care policy deals with the general rules and regulations which govern medical practice.

  2. Ethics - Terms to know

    *Utilitarianism (act)--To act in a beneficial way based strictly on the good consequences for the most people; case-by-case analysis of each act. *Utilitarianism (rule)-- To act in a beneficial way (with good consequences for the most people) based on moral rules; categorical imperative?

  1. How can we know, if at all, that our behavior is ethical?

    As a result, laws have been made in order to protect children from being immersed in our labour force. We know through science of the mind and body, that child labour directly effects the psychological development of children. Children are not fully physiologically developed to work as hard nor for as long as grown adults can.

  2. Does the "War on Terror" mean the just war doctrine is dead?

    Just in bello advocates for restrictions on the proper conduct of war, it predominantly focused on who can be attacked, what means can be used to attack them and the proper treatment of prisoners. The United States and NATO forces in their counter terror war has violated every single principle

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work