I do not believe that after this TOK lesson on Ethics, I would be doing things differently, or let the things we have discussed affect my decisions.
In my opinion, the discussion did not have an answer – much like most topics we’ve covered in TOK, but is open to discussion. Like science, we deduct and try to falsify theories, hence why we had discussed Kant and Bentham.
I believe that the society, the environment in which one grows up in, helps form one’s morals. For example, I grew up with my mother telling me not to lie, thus, I find it morally incorrect for me to lie. However, as per the example Mr.Saha was talking about in class – if a murderer were to ask of the location of someone I know – then I would lie, as another moral principle overlaps the other. I would lie because I value the life of others more so than my morals of not lying. I find it wrong to kill another person, and by telling the murderer the location of the person they want to kill, is indirectly my responsibility, and because I find the act of killing more ethically incorrect than lying, I would lie.
In class, I was thinking more about animals. Why is it that humans have the consciousness, the feeling, of doing something wrong? Why is it that we perceive things such as cannibalism as incorrect when animals thought to be man’s great ancestor or cousin – the apes – don’t? (I have found that there are indeed several documentations of cannibalism within apes)
The difference between humans and animals are our societies and laws. Our way of thinking, our conscience is based off of what society has told us is right or wrong. In an animals perspective, an example would be pets, like dogs. We tell them where to do their business, what to eat and that biting others is bad, and if they disobey, then there will be punishments. By doing so, the dog knows what’s right and what’s wrong. This can also be seen in human society. The government sets laws and punishments are set if the law is broken, hence the society now has a sense of what’s right or wrong. Rewards are given to people who have done good, hence the society strives to do the things that are labelled as good.
That would be, my more cynical thoughts on ethics.
On the other hand, I also believe that, when weighing on one’s decisions, the people involved in the situation must also be considered. One should not do something that would cost other people, even if it’s for your own happiness. There must be an alternate way, even though it may seem naive and optimistic. For example, if I were to have a million dollars right in front of me, but at the cost of many lives, then I would not take it because it is morally incorrect. Hence, I would still be able to achieve a million dollars if I were to work hard for it.
What frustrated me most with the test Mr. Saha gave us for prep, were the questions like; If you had to sacrifice your child for the lives of 10 other children, would you?
I was frustrated because even though my morals say that I should save the 10 children because the situation involves the happiness of others, the loss of your own child, or any child, for the life of 10 others, does not sit well with me.
I feel that, after our TOK lesson on ethics, I have a more detailed perspective on what ethics is and how ethics may effect the way our society progresses.