A Lesson In Morality And Ethics

Today, we’re going to talk about the basic principles of morality and ethics.

In recent times humanity has lost its way. We’ve gone from respecting each others opinions to arguing over everything.

In reality, all points of view are important and should be welcomed, and then questioned. There’s not just one real “truth” out there; there are multiple.

Each person should take the responsibility on themselves to educate themselves. What one should do is listen to multiple points of view and form a conclusion that suits them, but also be ready to change the conclusion when new data is presented. Most importantly, when a data point comes from an authority figure, you must question them too. Ask for sources if able.

With that out of the way, let’s do some thinking:

The Basics

First we need to establish the groundwork before we delve further into the topic.

Here are the key questions:

What is moral?

What is ethical?

Who is responsible?

You can think about these questions deeper yourself, but here’s how I see it:

What is moral? is simply a question about what is good and bad. What is the right thing to do?

What is ethical? is following the rules set by moral arguments. It’s a guiding philosophy, and awareness of the importance of morals.

Who is responsible? is the most important question. At any given time, the person responsible for their actions is the person doing the action. But there are times when the person who is responsible switches from one person to another.

Responsibility of oneself is one of the most important principles. You must have the right to self-governance, at all times. No one has the right to take responsibility away from you without your knowledge, you must allow it to happen while being conscious of what it means.

Nuremberg Code talks about this issue:

The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.”

Of course, Nuremberg Code is an ethics code concerning human experimentation, but its principles apply elsewhere in life as well. That’s where we’re going next.

The Kid And A Rock

It’s warm summer evening. A group of five kids have decided to go swimming at a nearby lake.

They arrive at the scene with their swimming gear, trunks, snorkels and all that.

Two boys from the group suggest that the group do something a bit more exciting and jump into the water from a large rock. Two other boys hesitate, but are soon convinced it is worth trying. The last boy doesn’t like the idea, but joins anyway since others are going.

The group arrives at the rock and climb on top of it. It’s a wonderful view down from the top. There’s also quite the drop down into the lake.

The two boys whose idea it was to go there, start jumping into the lake first. They’ve been there before, so they know what to do. Once they’re done with their first jump, the other two boys give it a try. It goes easy enough.

The last boy didn’t like the idea, and still doesn’t want to do it as he sees others jumping in. He seems afraid of heights, and the long drop down.

It is at this point where the two boys with the idea start calling him out. They say it’s not a big deal. Everyone else is doing it, so why should he not do it? All you have to do is jump.

The other two boys stand by and watch this happen. They don’t agree with trying to force the last boy into jumping, because he really doesn’t seem to want to do it. But they don’t want to be the next target of ridicule, so they say nothing.

The last kid still doesn’t want to do it, but he feels the pressure, and decides to go through with it. He’s never done it before and hasn’t been paying attention where others had been jumping down from. He starts running towards the ledge. His angle isn’t quite right and he jumps off head first. He falls into the water, but is met with resistance. He hits his head on an underwater rock. It cracks open his skull and he becomes paralyzed.

The other boys don’t understand what happened at first, but it won’t be soon when they understand something went horribly wrong. They jump into the water and carry their buddy back to land. They call for help, which arrives on time. The kid is taken into the hospital together with his friends. Before the day ends, the other kids are sent back home as there’s nothing to be done.

Now we get to the question: who is responsible?

If the case took the legal route, the court would more than likely rule this as the boys not being responsible for their actions. They are young and they do not fully understand what they are doing. The court could ask their parents to somehow compensate for what happened, but you ultimately can’t blame the parents for what happened because they weren’t there. And the bullying behaviour of the kids could be a result of poor parenting, but there are no guarantees of this.

So, the boys aren’t legally responsible. Yet, all of the boys know who is morally and ethically responsible. They carry that responsibility on their shoulders for the rest of their lives. And that responsibility is heavy.

This is the reason why discussion about morals and ethics is important. To prevent situations similar to this.

Whatever you do, always keep in mind who is responsible. If possible, do not let anyone take responsibility away from you without your knowledge, and more importantly, do not accept the responsibility of someone else’s actions on your own shoulders for no reason.

Before taking responsibility away from someone, they must be fully informed of what is happening. It has to be their fully informed choice. Understand that it must be so for your own and their protection. Be conscious of your actions.

The burden of responsibility is heavy.

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