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At its root, ethics is about how an individual’s behavior affects others. If you were the only person on the planet, ethics would not be an area of knowledge. But the reality is that there are 7.4 billion people in the world. All of these societies, cultures, and individuals have their own moral code. In order to solve the problems of how an individual’s actions can have a ripple effect on society, ethical knowledge is produced. It is derived from two ways of knowing: emotion and reason. As humans,we have a strong sense of ethical egotism that seeks outcomes which will benefit us personally. However, we are still social-creatures who hold empathy for others and will therefore consider utilitarian outcomes for those around us as well. Due to the situational subjectivity that comes with emotions, we also use reasoning when making objective decisions about morality. The argument has been made that shared knowledge in ethics is observed when maxims become categorical. They are so fundamental to an operational society that they are self-evident.
The maxims I know to be right or wrong include:
- Humans are meant to be empathetic. In my personal life, community is just as valuable as solitude. Compassion and empathy are necessary emotions to effectively see beyond personal concerns. The gratitude and humbleness an individual encounters is what keeps them moving as productive members of society and completes the human experience.
- Human worth and the quality of life cannot be quantified. There is always an emotional counterpart in that plays a role in ethics, and for me, that is strong. The intensity of emotion cannot be quantified. Human worth itself is comprised of many components, one of which being emotional intelligence. Because this cannot be quantified, neither can human worth or the quality of a human life.
- Respect the decisions made by others when concerning their own lives. How an individual chooses to derive meaning in their own mind or explore different ways of knowing in different areas of knowing is personal knowledge. Therefore, one cannot objectify their decisions and must respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own pursuit of knowledge.
- Be honest with yourself and others. Honesty, especially with oneself, is not always seen as a universal principle. To most people, honesty is a foundation in their personal integrity and is self-evident in proving itself in my moral code.
- Always exhibiting nonmaleficence in behavior. We have an obligation to minimize the harm we do. No one should initially base their actions to a complete degree based on how much it harms others. The utilitarian foundation of this idea is to maximize the ratio of pleasure to pain for as many people as possible.
So, dear reader, I ask you: What are 5 maxims that you know to be right or wrong?