Monday, July 19, 2010

Morality, Very Disturbing...

Understanding morality might be one of the most difficult things I had to encounter. There are many different problems related to morality. I am mainly concerned with the problem of the moral standard. What is the standard which guides our thinking into taking a particular action as good and another as bad? I have this tendency to adopt utilitarianism. Utilitarianism argues that maximization of utility is the end of all human actions and therefore it is the principle which lies in the basis of what distinguishes a good action from a bad one.

I would like to interpret utilitarianism in the following terms; it is wrong to perform an action which interferes with someone else’s pursuit of a good life. On the other hand, it is good to facilitate other people’s pursuit of a good life. This interpretation is totally different from the classical form of utilitarianism. However, I interpreted it in such a way to provide some limitations on the classical form to avoid lots of the objections which were raised against it. However, this might seem as a good interpretation initially, but with further investigation, it becomes apparent that this principle is so raw when it comes to practical applications.

What about situations at which you are put into a difficult choice between two actions which both would violate other people’s pursuit of a good life, but to different degrees? I can use the commonly used example by philosophers here. If you passed by a village governed by a tyrant. This tyrant decided to punish the inhabitants of the village, for their last attempt to revolute against him, by killing 20 ones of them selected randomly. This tyrant however, decided to give you a privilege as a guest. If you choose so, you might kill only one of those poor guys and in such a case the tyrant would let go of the others. However, if you decided not to kill any one, the tyrant would go on with his plan of killing them all. What would you do in such a case?

Clearly, no one with a normal moral sense would commit the crime of killing an innocent person even for the sake of saving the lives of 19 other innocent guys. However, such a moral choice can’t be based on the utilitarian principal alone. It must be depending upon other principles. But what are those principles which together with the utilitarian principle might constitute our moral standard. We might think of some principles such as justice, integrity, or freedom. A problem however still exists. We can think of many different occasions at which those principles might contradict each other. What should we do in such cases? In such cases the question would remain; what is the moral standard which we can make an appeal to in such cases of contradiction?

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