In a world with such a vast amount of people there exists virtually every different belief, thought, and ideology. This means that for every argument and every disagreement that there exist two sides of relative equal strength. It is through these disagreements that arguments are formed. Arguments are the building blocks in which philosophers use to analyze situations and determine theories of life. For the purpose of this paper I will try and argue my personal beliefs on a specific argument. This argument is presented in a form of a question and upon examination of the contents of this question. Several different and unique questions arise. In order to support my theory as to the answer to this question I will attempt to answer the three subquestions which deal less with the content of the question itself and more with the reaction to reading the question. Also key to the support of my theory is the concept of existentialism. I will go into the foundations of this ethical theory throughout the remainder of this paper.
Subquestion one, "E --> C", simple asks whether it is true or false that if you have an ethical theory then does it have to be consistent.
Subquestion two, "(?) --> H", poses the idea of what makes up the essence of being a human being.
Subquestion three, "E --> (H --> M)", asks whether it is true or false that it is ethical to assume that humans should be given moral priority over animals.
I order to support my interpretation and answer the topic question. I will try to explain my personal ethical theory. We were given several different theories in which to emulate or pick pieces of in order to define such words which have different meanings to different people. For such vague words such as right and wrong, the contexts in which they are presented are vital pieces in order to define them. It is my belief and a necessary requirement of this paper to somehow define these two words. It is obvious that these two words must be opposites of each other. Therefore, the understanding of one will easily lead to the understanding of its opposite. However, the words themselves will never be anything more than five letters grouped together. This is because your ethical theory and someone else's ethical theory could possible conflict causing for a discrepancy in the definitions of these words.
Therefore, throughout this paper I will try not to use such vague words such as right or wrong. Most of the Philosophers and ethical theories presented in Sober held that the highest ethical good is the same for everyone. Kierkegaard who was the first writer to call himself existential reacted against this tradition by insisting that the highest good for the individual is to find his or her own unique vocation. I agreed with many of the different ideas of the ethical theories but I was not able to overlook the ever present idea of God. Personally I am an antireligious person who feels strongly that religion in general is filled with corruption and too often leads to a misguided life. It is my belief that Blind faith is the CHILD of ignorance. It was therefor impossible for me to look at any of the theories which involved the mentioning of God. However, I did find many interesting ideas encompassed in the theory of atheistic existentialism. Existentialism is the popular name of a philosophical attitude primarily associated with the 20th-century thinker Jean Paul Sarte, but with a history that goes back to the 19th-century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.
All existentialists have tried to stress the importance of passionate individual action in deciding question of both morality and truth (Warnock). They have insisted, accordingly, that personal experience and acting on one's own convictions are essential in arriving at the truth. Thus, the understanding of a situation by someone involved in that situation is superior to that of a detached, objective observer.
This emphasis in the perspective of the individual agent has also made existentialists suspicious of systematic reasoning (Warnock). Perhaps the most prominent concept in existentialism is that of choice. Humanity's primary distinction, in the view of most existentialists, is the freedom to choose. Existentialists have held that human beings do not have a fixed nature or essence as other animals and plants do. Each human being makes choices that create his or her own nature. Choice is therefore central to human existence and it is inescapable. Even the refusal to choose is a choice. Freedom of choice entails commitment and responsibility. Because individuals are free to choose their path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads.
For the basic theory in which I have adapted mainly from existentialism, there lie six unique themes which define it. First, there is the basic existentialist standpoint. The existence proceeds essence has primacy over essence. Man is a conscious subject, rather than a thing to be predicted or manipulated. He exists as a conscious being, and not in accordance with any definition, essence, generalization or system. Existentialism says I am nothing else but my own conscious existence.
A second existentialist theme is that of anxiety or the sense of anguish, a generalized uneasiness, a gear or dread which is not directed to any specific object. It is the claim that anguishes streams of thought in Judaism and Christianity which see human existence as fallen and human life as lived in suffering and sin, guild and anxiety. This dark and forbidding picture of human life leads existentialists to reject ideas such as happiness, enlightenment optimism, a sense of well-being, since these can only reflect a superficial understanding of life or a naive and foolish way of denying the despairing, tragic aspect of human existence.
A third existentialist theme is that of absurdity. Granted, says the existentialist, I am my own existence, but this existence is absurd. Each of us is simply here, thrown into this time and place - but why now? Why here? For no reason, without necessary connection, only continentally and so my life is an absurd contingent fact. This idea of absurdity was prevalent in the works of Pascal, who is a French mathematician and philosopher who we covered in class.
"When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, and the little space I full, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of space of which I am ignorant and which knows me not, I am frightened and am astonished at being here rather than there, why now rather than then."
This I feel shows some of the feelings and ideas of an early forerunner of existentialism. The fourth theme which pervades existentialism is that of nothingness or the void. The main idea of this theme is that, if as an existentialist and that if no essence defines me, that I should reject all of the philosophies, sciences, political theories, and religions which fail to reflect my existence as a conscious being. And should they attempt to impose a specific essentials structure upon me and my world and then there is nothing that structures my world. Along with this idea is that I am my own existence, but my existence is nothingness.
Related to the theme of nothingness is the existentialist theme of death. I am filled with anxiety at times when I permit myself to be aware of this. At those moments, says Martin Heidegger, the most influential of the German existentialist philosophers, the whole of my being seems to drift away into nothing. The unaware person tries to live as if death is not actual. He tries to escape its reality. But Heidegger says that my death is my most authentic, significant moment, my personal potentiality which I alone must suffer. And if I take death into my life, acknowledge it and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself.
Alienation or estrangement is the sixth theme which characterizes existentialism. Alienation is a theme which Hegel opened up for the modern world on many levels and in many subtle forms. There are many different forms of alienation dealing with those who feel alienated by society, by their true consciousness of their freedom and human institutions. This final theme is extremely complicated and did not seem as relevant as the others for the purpose of writing this paper.
All of these themes make up the backbone of my ethical theory but I feel that it is necessary to share more personal and detailed ideas behind my theory. Besides the total non-belief in God I feel strongly that humans are superior in every way to other living things. This however does not give us the divine right to do exactly as we wish. It does however give us the option to choose as a society to do that which is deemed acceptable. An example of this is that there are laws which forbid the killing of certain animals. These laws are not a result of the animals revolting against humans and demanding that they will no longer be killed. They are the result of other humans who have decided for many different reasons that this is for the betterment of mankind.
It is necessary for humans to enforce polices which protect animals in order to maintain some sense of stability. I feel that humans have a moral contract with themselves and nature to preserve what nature has given us. What I mean by this is that unlike humans most other animals must kill as a means of survival. At this point in time it is only necessary to kill certain animals as a form of food source and for other luxury items. There have been times when it was necessary for humans to kill an animal for food. I wonder if a person who did not eat meat would starve to death if the only thing to eat was meat. And as long as we do not over kill a certain species then they will continue to reproduce and the food chain will continue to work. Being descendants of other living things, humans must insure that nature is let to work on its own, continuing to do what it has done for many years.
In response to Subquestion one, I do not feel that it is possible to remain consistent in any ethical theory in which you live by. This is mainly because every ethical theory that I now of is entirely too focused and usually not completely relevant to every circumstance. The more broad your definition or theory is then the closer you come to the only one that will always work. The less you say what you can and can’t do, the closer you come to saying nothing. Once you have generalized your theory so much that you eliminated everything then you are stuck with.
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