I live in a culture where abortion is not only a hot topic for politicians, but everyone seems to have an opinion about what it right and wrong when it comes to abortion. The church has different views regarding abortion as some people support it while others are strongly against abortion. Earlier this semester we were asked, "is Ethical relativism correct?" I had to answer no, but who has the power to fix it? If everyone in a culture conforms to one's own cultural belief of right and wrong, then who can challenge or oppose the majority to make a change? Ethical relativism holds that ethics are determined by one's traditions. An action is judged right or wrong by the ethical standards set by a given society. There are no universal sets of ethical standards and thus people should not judge others because people hold different ethics and thus have different opinions.
The Metaethical theory
The Metaethical theory that I relate to most closely would be Aristotle's approach to ethics known as virtue ethics. Aristotle argued that there is a reason for everything that exists. The word ‘reason’ signifies not a cause but is also true for actions: every action aims at some end, some goal or purpose.
If we think about this for a minute, I think most would agree that when making a decision about what consequences your actions or words may have on another person or the world around you, one could stop and think what is the “reason” for my action? Most people would say that their intention or goal would be happiness for themselves or those around them and to live a fulfilling life. According to Aristotle the idea of purposefulness is to be satisfied as a result of fulfilling the reason for which your existence. Aristotle’s theory states that humans have the unique ability to wrestle with moral dilemmas, ethical choices and to have a virtuous character. This moral aspect of being is an indicator of our purpose: we are here to become and to be righteous people. Through cultivating our inner virtue, we become what we are meant to be, and through this, we find fulfillment in life and the resulting in happiness.
According to Aristotle’s the essence of virtues to become good. Virtues should be practiced and just not known to the people. In making any decision, people should be guided by the particulars of the situation. The laws and values practiced in a given society should not be analyzed when making decisions, but rather the situation should be analyzed to guide the decision-making. People should strive to ensure that they uphold virtues in all situations. The highest value of virtues in human beings is to do the right thing at the right time and in the right way bearing in mind the expected outcomes. Aristotle's pointed that doing the right thing by upholding the ethical virtues people derive immeasurable pleasure. Pleasure may be derived from activities or decisions that some people regard as inappropriate in a given situation. The main concept in the decision-making process is the desire to derive one's pleasure and to feel that they acted in the best way possible. There is no universal definition of wrong or right because rightness or wrongness of a given situation is determined by one's definition of wrong or right. The global goal of upholding virtue is to live well and to avoid conflicts with own self. The conflict may arise as a result of failing to make a decision based on what ones define as right or wrong.
Aristotle's metaethical theory can be divided into four main fundamental virtues that should be applied on a daily basis by human beings. The primary virtues guide people in making the right decision that increases their wellbeing. The decision that increases one's wellbeing might be in conflict with other people around him or her but this should create room for compromising one's virtues. The guiding principle in the selection of virtues is to derive maximum satisfaction from the chosen course of action under a given situation or circumstance.
The first fundamental virtue that should be applied by all people is self-control. Through self-control, people can exercise moderation in whatever activity they partake or in whatever decision they make. Moderation helps ensure that people do not cause harm to others in the name of claiming that they are exercising the freedom to make independent decisions. The second fundamental virtue is the practical wisdom that guides people in making judgments. The practical knowledge helps people to analyze the situation at hand and make the most favorable decision. Through the practical knowledge, people exercise the virtue of moderation to assess the best outcome of a given situation. The third fundamental virtue is bravery that helps people to overcome fear when analyzing a particular situation. Through courage one chooses a decision that he or she feels that is the noble thing to do in a given situation. Failure to uphold bravery in decision-making makes the individual feel disgraced with the decision he or she makes out of fear. The fourth essential virtue according to Aristotle's Meta-ethical theory is justice for all. People should always engage actions or decisions that benefit others if they deserve the benefit. On the contrary, people have the liberty to make decisions that can harm other people if the other people deserve the injury. People should always take a right course of action guided by the anticipated outcome.
Application of the Metaethics
I think that instead of enforcing laws to prevent abortion or allow abortion we should concentrate on educating the people on what the Bible expects from us. People should be given the liberty to choose whether to abort or not based on their values and reasoning. If they before their eyes they see abortion as the right thing to do then they should abort. On the other hand, if they feel that abortion is not fair then they should not abort. The Bible does not talk about abortion but points out that all the deeds will be judged accordingly. Some Christians feel that abortion amounts to murder which is prohibited in the Bible. According these Christians taking away human life regardless of whether it’s an infant or an already born person should not be allowed. However, I think that we as Christians have a responsibility to love and support our neighbors and not judge them based on their actions that we feel are against the Biblical teachings. Instead of judging other people we should help educate them on what God wants from us while still allowing them to make their choice and to support and to love them regardless of their choosing. It is not up to us to judge them. God asks us to love our neighbor not judge them.
We should all seek to cultivate our inner character and act virtuously which is pleasing to God. The heart of Virtue Ethic is that the insight we do flows from who we are and therefore we need to cultivate a virtuous character if we are going to respond to a situation morally. If we do what is asked of us by God which is to love our neighbor and to treat others the way we would want to be treated then why would we judge someone or shame someone for a decision we have no control over nor should we.
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