Moral Position Essay, Research Paper
. What is a moral position according to Mr. Dworkin?
Dworkin’s moral position is reasons, foundation theory and self-evident. Moral position has to give good (articulate) reasons for moral position to be valid. Things like prejudices and emotions are not justifiable characteristics for a moral position. In Dworkin’s essay The Concept of a Moral Position, he elaborates on what a moral position really is, and what it isn’t.
Dworkin states that moral position cannot be based on prejudice or emotion. According to Webster’s dictionary, prejudice is the unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes of a hostile nature regarding a racial, religious or national group. Therefore a person cannot judge another based on these grounds of prejudice or emotion. The example that Mr. Dworkin uses is the judgment about homosexual people, in which he states that “homosexuals are morally inferior because they do not have heterosexual desires” (Dworkin, 25). This example does not give the moral position on homosexuality, but instead it gives a prejudice perspective on homosexuality without any clarification. Its just a matter of opinion that is used in this example that just doesn’t give a justifiable reason to support his argument, yet it shows that the reason which is stated is completely true, (gay men will not have sex with women because they are homosexuals). Yet the statement is completely false, if you may because it lack supporting evidence for it to be a truly true statement.
Moral position cannot be based on emotional reaction according to Dworkin. Ones personal emotional reaction may not be the same personal reaction as another person. Therefore the moral position cannot be based on such conflicting views. Dworkin stated that “Moral position should justify the emotion, and not vise versa. If a man is unable to produce such reasons, we do not deny the fact of his emotional involvement, which may have important social or political consequences, but we do not take this involvement as demonstrating his moral conviction” (25). For example, if a man would say “I hate homosexuals” that would be considered as his personal emotion because he gives no justified reason for his statement aside from pure fear or inferiority. Yet he is still entitled to his own opinion under the first amendment. If the same man would also give a reason for his prejudice such as “ I hate homosexuals, because I’m afraid they might do something to me” it is his own justifiable reason but it is only justified to him and not to anyone else. Hence, making his moral opinion only his own and not societies moral opinion and his moral position is wrong which must be rejected.
Moral position cannot be based on the beliefs of others. By relying on other’s moral position a person shows that he doesn’t have his own views and values on the subject, and therefore his or her position is unjustified. It is a form of the advice we are given by others of “be a leader and not a follower.” For example if I say that I don’t like Russian people because no body else likes them. That statement would not be a justifiable argument for the sake of morality, it would just be a reason for myself, which lack supporting evidence. It would just show that I don’t have or formed my own opinion, and therefore I cannot give a good enough reason to prove my position, hence making my position not a moral one, but rather a personal one, which must be rejected.
In order to prove that something is a moral position a person has to believe and not contradict on his position. Dworkin says that even if you give reasons to justify your position, even if this reason is true, but you don’t show that this is an interest to you, then the others will not want to accept this as your moral position.
According to Ronald Dworkin, none of the mentioned above is considered a moral position. Dworkin says that a moral position can not be prejudice, it can not be emotional, and it can not be dependent on others. I think what Mr. Dworkin is saying is that a moral position can be different for everybody, but as long as it has justifying reasons and the belief of the person in it, then that is what his moral position is.
4. Discuss the differences between psychological and ethical egoism and the criticisms of each?
Human beings as a whole only thrive to be “perfect” in an imperfect world. There must be some kind of method of moving up in the imperfect world competing against one another. That method or if I may, methodical way of thinking is perhaps known as egoism. Egoism is a characteristic which people display by showing desires for self-preservation, happiness, self-respect, to obtain property, self-assertion and affection. Egoism is broken down into two categories that are psychological and ethical egoism.
Psychological Egoism is a form of thinking that people take through observation of others in society, which states that, we all act a certain way whether it be saving a life or to finish first in a race to further promote ourselves in society “subconsciously”. An example of this would be a man stopping on the side of the road because he saw a hurt person, and he only stopped because he knew subconsciously that there might be some sort of reward, if you may, some kind of media exposure. According to Beauchamp “defenders of psychological egoism are not impressed by the exemplary lives of saints, heroes, and public servants or by social practices of sacrifice. They do not contend tat people always behave in an outwardly selfish manner. However, these egoists maintain that not matter how self-sacrificing a person’s behavior may seem at times, the desire behind their actions is always selfish” (70). This belief allows us to justify all our actions that seem to be outrages because the action is done to self promote ourselves in society. Yet this way of thinking is completely different from the other form of egoism.
Ethical egoism is roughly defined as “the theory that the only valid moral standard is the overriding obligation to promote one’s personal well-being” (Beauchamp, 69). In other words, it drives us to want the best in our life and while promoting us to a higher social class, or better yet social statues. It holds that every act we do is for the self-promotion of ourselves, and we do think about the promotion of ourselves while or before we commit the act. Where as psychological egoism is the belief that we further promote ourselves by committing the acts we do, and expecting to promote ourselves subconsciously because we are acting saint-like, if you may. Beauchamp clarifies this example of ethical egoism in the text stating; “self-promotion is the sole valid standard of behavior recognized in ethical egoism, an ethical egoist says that in any given circumstance one should assess the available options, calculating what one would favor and disfavor, and then perform whatever action promises to be maximally self-promoting” (75). Ethical egoism is a merely a methodical way of thinking to promote ourselves, but the behavior for the self promotion was well thought out by weighing the good and the bad effects of the act before the act itself was committed.
The criticisms of both forms of egoism is that its form of thinking and acting for self promotion is an “evil moral doctrine– if it can be called a moral doctrine at all. This is because it advocates the overriding pursuit of selfish goals even when such pursuits lead to the defrauding of others or to enormous suffering” (Beauchamp, 78). Furthermore the achievement of higher standings in the social class through egoism is perhaps what makes every person evil or immoral, if I may say so in this world. “It advocates that a politician who can get away with stealing millions of dollars from taxpayers ought to do so, and that clever physicians should selectively lie to their patients and their families in order to save themselves minor embarrassments and additional efforts that would cost them time and money” (Beauchamp, 78). No matter how we act in our lives, it is almost certain that we act in one form of egoism because we constantly want to further ourselves in life, and to be happier. Whether it is psychological or ethical egoism, we drive ourselves to live and conquer this world through one of these thoughts.