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Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions?

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Introduction

Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions? Decisions have always been tough issues to tackle. Deciding what one wants to order from a menu, what kind of candy to choose, whose heart to break and whether or not war is wrong are all complex decisions in their own right. However, this essay focuses upon the latter decisions - moral decisions. How does one know whether reason or emotion is the compass from which to follow to make the right decisions? To examine this, an analysis of the role of reason and emotion is necessary. However, the issue often arises as to what, even with reason and emotion, is a right decision composed of. Kant and Hume have independent views on the role of emotion and reason in making moral decisions and their opinions can, and are, extrapolated into science, politics and eventually into our own human perceptions. Instead of intertwining the two, the study of ethics has isolated reason from emotion which is ironic as both are necessary in making a solid moral decision. Reason has typically been interchangeable with logic in moral decisions. ...read more.

Middle

Meaning that regardless of western ideals of pure logic, emotion is necessary and unavoidable in dealing with human situations such as moral decisions.oweverH What constitutes a moral decision itself is ambiguous, let alone the role of anything in making them. Moral decisions themselves seem synonymous with conflicts of ethics. In ethics of science moral dilemmas arise when discussing psychological research and testing involving human beings. The main issues arise as to what is "right" and what is "wrong" for the person being tested. When I conducted a mini-experiment to test factors affecting human's fear of the dark I ran into issues such as this. Being able to scare my subjects without subjecting them to intense emotional discomfort is a fine line to trod upon. It seemed wrong to conduct an experiment which would significantly hinder my subjects, however this experiment seemed "right" for the acquisition of knowledge and getting a good grade in psychology. Many of the greatest psychological experiments such as Zimbardo's and Milgram's, would be shot down immediately by the ethics counsel. However, these experiments themselves have significantly changed and improved the field of sociology and psychology. ...read more.

Conclusion

This unyielding conclusion thus makes "Thou shalt not kill" a self-evident truth- an axiom of logic and reasoning. Human perception of the effects of death and our own fear of death make for a strong emotional response to death. To come to either conclusion (killing is right vs. killing is wrong in war) requires vast amounts of emotional responses and reasoning. Both are necessary to come to the "right" conclusion for oneself. Reason and emotion are both equally important in making moral decisions. The determination of what is "right" and what is "wrong", though ever-changing, are a result of a complex and sophisticated balance of logic and innate reactions. Although the nature of the decision itself is vague and ambiguous , reason and emotion provide the basis of the argument as to the decision itself and its effects. The balance between both is what makes humans - human. Every individual carries their own personal baggage into their decision making process but ultimately it is reason and emotion which link us all together in the decision making process. Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions? Ania Gaboune 000953 023 May 2008 Word Count: 1,466 1 Kant, Immanuel "Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals" 1785 2 Hume, David "A Treatise of Human Nature" (1739-1740) ...read more.

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