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The Philosophy and Ethics of Life

The issue looks into a particular situation wherein an individual becomes attached to a world or a life that he wants for himself. However, it is most unfortunate that an individual’s concept of an ideal life will come to him in the form of a dream or a thought inside one’s brain through a machine attached to it through electrodes. The machine facilitates the stimulation of the brain to think and feel whatever it is that one wants for his life; living this kind of life means living a life inside the mind while at the same time physically enclosed in a tank.

In retrospect, a life that is hooked up to a machine that is able to conjure whatever it is that one wants inside the mind is a good life, as it is supported by the Theory of Self-Interest in Philosophy and Ethics. The Theory of Self-Interest is one of the foundations of the Value Theory in Ethics. According to the Value Theory in Ethics, self-interest is a precursor to a good sense of right and wrong or sound morality.

In relation to the Theory of Self-Interest, the Value Theory in Ethics suggests that the ability of an individual to obtain a good sense of right and from stems from the kind of life that he leads according to his self-interests. In simpler terms, if an individual is satisfied with his life and wellbeing as they fulfill his self-interest, he is expected to display good moral judgment by being able to know the difference between right and wrong and be able to apply the principle in his way of life. (Holtug, 2006)

In order to understand the Theory of Self-Interest, one should analyze the conflicting nature between the concept of death or danger and the self-interest of man. If one looks at death or danger under the perspective of morality or the goodness or badness of it, one will say that death and danger is bad, just like beating up or killing a person is bad. The rationality of this moral judgment stems from the Theory of Self-Interest which seemingly suggests that the will of man, as his self-interest, is to live and survive.

Holtug (2006) also supports this argument by stating one of the claims of Parfit, a proponent of the Theory of Self-Interest – that is, the definitive self-interest of individuals is one that touches logic and rationality. For Parfit, the desire of man to live a life that one thinks to be the best situation for him constitutes his self-interest, which consequently influences his ability to make moral judgments according to rational and principled values of determining right from wrong.

(Holtug, 2006) From the perspectives presented by Holtug and Parfit, we come to understand why the primary situation aforementioned constitutes the standards or characteristics of a good life that is prudent and principled – that is the individual is able to live a life that meets his self-interest. An individual under such circumstances is able to think and feel what life he wants for himself to live.

(Aldred, 1997) However, although the goodness of such situation may be justified by the Theory of Self-Interest, there are other concepts of theories that might object to arguments presented to rationalize the situation as meeting the standards of moral goodness. One objection would be the morality there is in placing one’s wants or self-interests first despite the situation or backdrop that an individual is in. One may not find anything moral, ethical, or good in an inactive life that is bounded by an individual’s want to experience a life that is based on his self-interests.

(Driver, 2007) Morality or the concept of goodness when applied to life is seen by other people to be something that is meaningful and significant not only for oneself but for other people as well. Some other theories such as Contractarianism and Utilitarianism are opposed to morality and goodness being set under the context of egoism that is an individual’s wants to fulfill his self-interest. Contractarianism and Utilitarianism focus on the relations of one’s decisions and judgments according to its influence not only to oneself but also to society and the environment (Driver, 2007).

Contractarianism suggests that individuals cannot possibly be able to live a morally good life just by simply following their self-interests. (Driver, 2007) Take for instance, the issue of drug use. If the self-interest of an individuals has something to do with using drugs which is not only harmful to his health but also destructive to society, then one cannot say that he is living a morally good life because he pursues his self-interest. Contractarianism presents the need for individuals to understand their roles and responsibilities as human beings not only to themselves, but to society.

For instance, there are laws, rules, and policies that one needs to follow as a means of becoming aware of edicts that are set under the context of ethics and morality. The concept of Utilitarianism also opposes the moral goodness in living an inactive life through a machine because it only supports reasons and ends that sticks to one’s self-interests but not for the good of the greater part of the population. The Theory of Utilitarianism sees the morality of an act depending on how it affects other people and the environment.

Being confined inside a tank does not make one actively involved in leading a meaningful life that is contributive and productive to oneself and society. Both the Theory of Contractarianism and Utilitarianism as presented by Driver (2007) have solidified the objection against the Theory of Self-Interest which was used to justify the aforementioned situation. In response to the objection that disclaims the morality of the particular situation in question, wanting to live a life that is based on self-interest does not violate any law, rule, or policy since it is a decision that people can make in their lives.

If there are no laws, rules, or policies prohibiting the act, most especially since it is supported by science, then it does not violate or object to the Theory of Contractarianism. Another objection was the situations violation of Utilitarianism which looks into the morality of an act according to its influences or effects. The response to this objection is the assertion of the Theory of Self-Interest which discusses how the inability of one to achieve his self-interests will not be able to lead him to determine morality or the goodness or badness of an act.

This goes to show that one will not be able to determine what is morally good or bad for society and the environment, and identify actions or behaviors that might come out from his being contributive or productive id he does not experience goodness in being self-fulfilled. References Aldred, J. (1997). Valuing Nature? : Ethics, Economics and the Environment by John Michael Foster. Oxford, UK: Routledge. Driver, J. (2007). Ethics: The Fundamentals. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing. Holtug, N. (2006). Philosophy and Ethics: New Research by Laura V. Siegel. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Publishers.

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