GEOG 030 - Module 3 - Ethics Views

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Module 3 - Learning Activity: Your Ethics Views

                 Mike Morin

          Penn State, World Campus

         GEOG 030, Spring Semester

             Professor Seth Baum

               January 23, 2011
                                                                                      Ethics Views 2


Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action

ethics)?


       A person can only be good as their actions, and because of this it is imperative for a

person to do actions that are of a wholesome nature. The relationship between a person’s actions

and their respective character is very intimate. A person can be good but of what purpose is a

“good” person if they simply exist and do not act according to their personality? I believe the

difference in my perspective from others may be I think in terms of social benefits rather than

individualism. I do think people can be inherently good and simply live out their lives; however

I think it is more important for a person to do good things rather than do nothing.




Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?


       It is not only as ambiguous as people’s personal perspectives, but this question is also

highly situational. I cannot say that all instances, upon completion, are justified given the means.

If a situation entails a minimal loss with a maximum gain, then yes certainly the end would

justify the processes. However, if a situation arises where the “means” has questionable social

/economic costs and the outcome would produce little benefit, then obviously this supports the

doctrine that not all ends justify the means. I feel that most blanket statements such as this one

are purely individually based and can never be verified or made into truth.




Does the process by which decisions are made matter more than the outcomes of these

decisions (procedural justice vs. distributive justice)?
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       Critical thinking is arguably one of the most import activities a person can practice.

Desired outcomes are near impossible to predict, this is due in part of the fact humans are

imperfect but also that nature has unseen and incalculable variables. Critical thinking, the

process, allows individuals to limit the amount of variables and increase the chance of a desired

outcome. Understanding this principle show us why the process of decision making is far more

important than that of the actual outcome. Humans can always affect the quality of decision;

nonetheless the actual outcome of process is under very little control.




Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they

impact humans (ecocentric ethics vs. anthropocentric ethics)?


       This question is not about moral obligations as much as it is about simple logic. Humans

are just as isolated on this planet as any other creature. With this is mind, any damage to the

global ecosystem can determine the livelihood of our species. Destroying ecosystems for

temporary benefit solves a small static problem but it inevitably leads to terrible repercussions.

The Earth survives and continues to remain alive by utilizing a complex series of interconnecting

ecosystems. These ecosystems all provide support for their respective neighboring ecosystems.

With continual destruction of local ecosystems our species can destroy the complex balance that

keeps the Earth sustainable and subsequently keeps us alive.




Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain

of humans (speciesism)?
                                                                                       Ethics Views 4


       Yes I do believe animals deserve to share some of the innate moral rights that our species

lives by. However, it is important to be realistic. Humans must eat to survive and given this

natural law, it is understandable that humans fulfill their position in the food chain and consume

meat when needed and when in abundance. Animals that are harvested for food should be

treated well, not only to maximize the health of the final product but fundamentally because we

can. The purposeful torture of any creature highlights possible sociopathic tendencies in humans.

On a separate note, I do feel that on this planet there are certainly different levels of

consciousness within the animal kingdom and subsequently I think it is a natural crime to kill

animals of relative consciousness like Apes and Cetacea.




Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs.

altruism)?


       First we must determine what is meant by the “worth” of an individual. In this example I

will use the term “worth” to represent the current and potential benefit of an individual - in

regards to the whole of society. Using such a definition I would have to say that my life is

equally worth the same, less, and potentially more depending on the individual being compared

to. For example my life may be considered worth less than a person who has had a tremendously

positive impact on society (think Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Theresa to name a

few). My life is most likely worth the same as most people who are inherently kind and help

whenever. However, I do consider my life to be worth more than people who cyclically engage

in criminal and antisocial behavior. These types of people care very little for the rest of the

world and live for the sole purpose of individual benefit.

				
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