The Tough Questions: Good and Evil

The subject of good and evil is one that pervades many religious, philosophical, and even lawful discussions around the globe. The study of ethics must be an endeavor from the normal, everyday citizen to the highest leader because whether we like it or not, ethics is something that must be considered in our day and age.

The questions are nearly boundless. Are good and evil concepts that exist objectively beyond humans or are they things that are dictated by the individual or society? Can we use reason to come to the ethical truth, or must it be handed down from a supernatural being?

The first thing to remember about ethics is that it studies two main things; namely what "is," and what "ought" to be. This is important to remember because if something "is" it doesn't neccesarily follow that it "ought" to be that way.

Also, there are usually three big schools of thought when it comes to ethics. Moral Relativism dictates that there are concepts of good and evil, but they are relative to the society or culture. It is important to note that Moral Relativism is independent from the observation of Cultural Relativism. Moral Subjectivism states that morals are decided upon by the individual. And lastly, Moral Objectivism is the idea that there is at least something that is objectively considered good or bad.

Each one of these schools of thought have arguments both for and against. All three produce possible answers and all three produce specific problems.

In the case of Moral Relativism; if ethics is dependent upon the society what about social reformers? Reformers would always be considered evil in the sense that they are going against what the society believes to be good or evil. Also, differing societies would be unable to have an ethical opinion upon another. Lastly, it is usually understood that society is "going somewhere." Under the idea of Moral Relativism however, this cannot be the case. "Going somewhere" implies there is somewhere to be going and this would imply an objective truth.

Moral subjectivism seems to imply that the world is meant to be anarchy. If everyone were following there own rules, governmental laws would be unneeded, and nobody would follow them anyway. This would also stem a rebirth of everyone for themselves, only the strong survive.

Moral Objectivism offers problems of it's own. First, who dictates and enforces these rules? Is an objective ethical system simple enough to be applicable in our daily lives? Can these rules be guided by reason?

Of course, these things I've offered here do not even touch the possible topics related to ethics and are merely introductions to the truly deep discussions. Ethics has been touched upon by nearly every person that has lived. Nobody can seem to agree what to believe ethically but it seems that ethics itself is something that is believed to be a real issue. This is why the discussion is so important. We must apply at least something at some point, lest we wander without any true direction and our actions are extremely inconsistent.

1 Response to "The Tough Questions: Good and Evil"

pianomanda Says :
November 8, 2007 at 4:44 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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