Ethical dilemma

What is ethical and what is not has always been a debatable issue. Some say ethics comes from religion, while others say what is ethical can be derived from laws. Some people believe reason is what ethics is derived from. The dilemma continues.

In a general sense, ethics answers questions like “how should we live?”, “what should I do?”, “how should I act?”. So, ethics is the study of right and wrong and of the majority of choices individuals make.

There is always a basis on which individuals rely to make their respective choices. It may be for the greater good for majority of people or it may be because the laws say so. Or it may even be because it is reasonable to act in a certain way. Whatever the basis, an individual’s perception, his/ her level of knowledge and understanding and most importantly, context is what matters.

Let us have a look at this situation. There is a thief who steals from rich people, who are exploiting poor people, and secretly distributes the stolen amount to the poor.

Stealing by law is unethical. But some may say the act of stealing “is for a greater cause”. Nonetheless, I don’t mean to condone stealing; I am trying to give a context, or circumstance, if you would like to call it, plays a very significant role in determining what is ethical.

There are portions where even the law fails to answer questions relating to ethics.

The problem with law is that it is objective and the problem with utilitarianism is that it’s too general. So, it boils down to this fundamental question, what should ethics be based on?

For me, ethics should be based on reason — a reason that is universally agreed upon relating to why doing something is right and why doing something is wrong.

I think choice should be made in such a way that it affects you and only you and not the others surrounding.

What I mean is, when you make a choice or perform a certain action, the negative impacts should not be spread out to others who are likely to be affected by it. If it is a positive effect, it works for the best but if it is not, it is not ethical of you to make a decision concerning others.

Ethics is subjective which is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness too. The definition of ethics differs from person to person aided by context and perception.

Simultaneously, there is one another factor that plays an important role.

There could be some actions which may not be wrong legally but socially. Some of activities that we may have been practising for years may not be illegal in the eyes of law but by social norms.