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Rational creatures

I am of the firm belief that it is not for nothing that human beings are called rational creatures. In ways more than one, I think that the capacity to use the faculty of reason fundamentally sets human beings apart from other creatures on this planet. For unlike animals or plants, human persons are gifted with the innate capacity to engage in critical thinking and self-reflection, as well as to exercise prudence in the manner they judge and act upon situations or things.

I believe it is on account of human reason that human actions must be put into a finer scrutiny when being evaluated or judged. Since we do things for a reason or two, it simply follows that the way we ought to choose or act upon something must correspond to certain reasonability on our part. Thus, any science that studies the morality of human actions must be based on the fundamental premise that human persons possess a kind of reason to guide their actions. Without it, I doubt if any moral sciences can ever be tenable.

But what I would like to pursue in this paper is to present my personal understanding of ethics as practical science that takes into careful account the morality of human actions from the perspective of human freedom judged within the context of standards of morality provided by human reason. Human Freedom Judged in the Context of Reasonability I must admit that one of the chief difficulties that I have encountered in my attempt to come up with an ethical value system lies in finding the most universally acceptable moral science.

To be sure, there are a host of belief systems or moral theories that that have sought to shed light into the ethical nature of human actions. In many ways, I find them insightful, if not oftentimes illustrative. But these belief systems or theories are too often conflicting as well. Someone who comes from the Christian tradition for instance would be wholly against the practice of abortion. But someone who comes from a more academic or liberally leaning ideology would have ethical theories on their own to support such move.

This observation – one among the many I have encountered thus far – makes me therefore wonder if it is possible to create an ethical system which is so fundamental, it can help evaluate human actions primarily based not on conflicting belief systems or ideologies but on the basis of basic reasonability. In view of this, I wish to propose to come up with an ethical system that puts higher premium than most on the importance of affirming the human freedom within the larger context of moral standards, based not on divisive belief systems but on a unifying recognition that ‘the good’ must be pursued at all times.

First, there is a need to establish human freedom here as a way to start with a tenable ethical theory. I find this very important, if not wholly necessary. I believe that there cannot be any moral science at all if we cannot establish the fact that human actions stem from the use of human freedom. Campbell contends – and correctly I suppose – that moral decisions are arrived at because it stems from a “creative activity in which…nothing determines the act save the agent’s doing of it” (cited in Waller, 2008, p. 210). Deliberate actions are what create the proper forum for morality to be investigated.

For instance, we do not hold someone responsible for the actions one commits if he or she is not able to respectably understands the nature of his or her decision in the very first place. As indeed, persons who are mentally incapacitated are not asked to handle situations that need reasonable discretion and latitude in judgment. We only apply morality to pertain to persons who can exercise both a deliberate judgment over what is right over what is wrong and a conscious decision over a particular choice in the process.

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