Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Do you lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings? Do you tell your significant other that you are really breaking up with them because you can't stand how they snort when they laugh? How do you feel about defense lawyers trying to cut repeat sex offenders a deal?
Ethics or morals can be tough to deal with. There are many grey areas in life, and there are many situations that have no right or wrong solutions. There are pros and cons to everything, and while we try to pit them against each other to try to figure out the "right" thing to do, there is no real formula. Telling a friend that they really do need to lose weight might help them become healthier and more attractive, but the emotional toll they will suffer may hurt them more than a few extra pounds. In the case of the sex offender, he may have changed his ways and be genuinely sorry for his crimes, but the lawyer trying to arrange a deal doesn't know and doesn't care. Lawyers try to get guilty people acquited all the time, even knowing their client is guilty. How moral is that? Sure, everyone is entitled to a fair trial...but we all know that there are those cases when a lawyer knows for sure that his client deserves to be punished but still does his best to defend him. Along those lines, how moral is the death penalty?
Unfortunately, these questions can't be answered. Philosophers have tried for ages to define what is good and what is bad, but it's impossible. Wait a second, you are thinking, murder is bad, rape is bad. Why are these things bad? What does "bad" mean? Hurtful, wicked, wrong? What do these things mean? Sure, you can look in the dictionary and find the definitions, but those definitions are just what society has labeled these things. Why is grass green? Because someone once said it was green and not blue, and people adopted that idea. I started out talking about ethics, and while it may seem that I have veered from that path, I haven't. The point I am trying to make is that ethics are impossible to define because nothing is absolute. Ethics can only be had by people who agree to have the same values, values that are defined by their idea of what "is." I'm going to end with a cliche..but it's relevent. The only things in life that are certain are death and taxes.


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