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

Are Reason and Emotion Equally Necessary in Justifying Moral Decisions?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Are Reason and Emotion Equally Necessary in Justifying Moral Decisions? As human beings, we possess a conscience that distinguishes us from all other animal species. It is because of this conscience that humans are able to make 'moral decisions'. How do we know right from wrong? And, equipped with this knowledge, how do we justify the moral decisions we make? The ethical principles that we carry allow us to make the distinction and justify our moral decisions. Many such sets of principles have been developed by philosophers and theologians over time. There are four major theories of conduct: religious, self-interest, universal-law, and utilitarian.1 This paper will analyze the roles that reason and emotion play in justifying moral decisions in the context of each of the aforementioned ethical theories in an attempt to respond to the prescribed title. The question, of course, is whether emotion and reason are equally necessary. The focus of this essay will be on whether reason or emotion is sufficient unto itself or mutually dependent on each other when justifying moral decisions. Justification in this case involves providing explanations or proof for why a decision is ethically right. This wording suggests that reason is an essential part of the process as reason determines how we apply moral principles to the justification process by providing a rationale. ...read more.

Middle

Nevertheless, both reason and emotion are necessary to justify moral decisions in this case. Thirdly, the self-interest theory claims that the ethical goal of each individual is to promote personal interests and achieve maximum contentment. Aristotle believed that conscience is inherent in human rationality; what is considered to be ethically right is striving to further one's own interests and success in a virtuous manner. However, the self-interest theory is only plausible when assuming that everyone is capable of preserving their self-interests and that all people strive for common fulfillment.7 It claims that one can only value others if one values oneself. Justification, in this case, is based on self-interest as directed by conscience. Humans may have an intrinsic rationality; but their desires to seek fulfillment depends on the way they value, or feel about, themselves. Additionally, due to the limits of language as a social construct, what is interpreted as "virtuous" will differ among individuals. The varying perspectives ultimately depend on personal conscience, as based on emotionally-tied values. Any attempt to justify a moral decision using reason will be based on emotional feelings related to the personal desire for happiness and fulfillment, and on a personal (contextualized) understanding of virtue. ...read more.

Conclusion

Perhaps I view myself as a moral being and it was in my self-interest to seek a feeling of contentment in my morality - a satisfaction of having done something 'right' - and an appearance of being responsible. In this case, my decision cannot only be justified by an intrinsic rationality but also my pride. Finally, my decision may be utilitarian in the sense that not only did I gain peace of mind but I was looking out for my brother's health and well-being while also raising my parents' awareness. We justify moral decisions with both reason and emotion. Emotion is integral to our beliefs because our beliefs are learned, internalized and reinforced with emotionally-charged memories. Our capability to reason allows us to deduce from our emotion-based values or beliefs, as well as to induce from our emotion-coded memories in order to justify something as right or wrong. Thus, a clearly delineated line, which is to say a meaningful distinction between the two ways of knowing, is impossible to achieve. Perhaps the fact that our values are very much contextualized makes emotion the weaker component in the justification process. Nevertheless, emotion remains very much present as it provides the foundation of our values which determine the way we rationalize and justify our moral decisions. Although everyone has and uses reason and emotion to different degrees, it seems that they are both necessary in justifying moral decisions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge 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 International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. Free essay

    Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions?

    A person must have knowledge in order to make a decision. Our knowledge derives principally from our senses, though some things are assumed. When making moral decisions, we use our knowledge and understanding to come to a conclusion. However, our knowledge may be wrong, which affects our decision making.

  2. work based project

    She would try to touch him, kiss him and would say she loves him. John would also routinely try and grope female nursing staff and is only allocated to male staff at the moment.

  1. Justification, what distinguishes a good justification from a bad one?

    but still there is a possibility that the person who I saw is Ahmed?s twin brother. One way to justify your knowledge claims is through language.

  2. To what extent is language necessary for thought?

    However, not only words and labels themselves have an influence on our minds but the way they are said can have an influence of how we identify people. Once one learns language, it is difficult to think complex or abstract thoughts without somehow relating to language.

  1. Discuss the view that we cannot justify absolutist moral rules in a multi cultural ...

    Deontologists would not accept it because they have the absolute rule that killing is wrong. But in this case the patient has chosen to die because he does not want to live with the pain anymore. But the intention of the doctor and the relatives is to release him from pain.

  2. Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions?

    Amongst my most recent exploits was selecting the cricket team for our upcoming match and as captain it is my responsibility to see to it that everyone gets a chance in the squad. I eventually found my self torn between having to choose my friends (most of whom weren?t particularly impressive players)

  1. Can Emotion be rational?

    The Stoics wanted a world void of emotions or with apathy, which literary means ?without passion?. The Stoics thought that if they could ban emotions out of their lives, then things would be much clearer and more logical for everyone.

  2. Discuss the roles of language and reason in history

    Imagine that I failed an exam and I blamed it on the teacher for teaching the wrong thing to me, causing me to answer the questions wrongly and this happens to be true. However, the teacher would definitely not admit his fault and claim that the reason why I failed

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