On Thursday I had an absolutely fantastic workout. I had taken two large cups of coffee on an empty stomach and just felt explosive entering the gym. Honest to goodness I felt like a fucking lion tearing up the savanna. I hit the dumbbell bench press, lat bar, flyes and then those quirky 360 pull ups. I could just feel myself in shape, you know? Everything was taught and burning with sheer fierce strength. Just bloody fantastic. I’m also down to 159 lbs! I haven’t been under 160lbs since February (when I started bulking back again) so it feels great to be leaning down.
The next day was a large dissapointment. I just don’t feel that great on abs day. I suppose the lack of resistance training just makes me feel like I’m not pressing myself in the same manner. I also think the guy that did almost double my squat weight for 5 reps, but then had to rest for half an hour was unreal. I’m not sure what the point of that was.
I found it interesting that there exists two other ethical standpoints besides deontology and teleology. In a win/lose situation, the alternatives provide options for two flawed perspectives. They unfortunately are also wrought with holes and I have yet to determine just where I stand as an individual.
AKA consequentialism, teleology stands by the view that the principle of benefit maximization, in that the rightness of an act is determined by providing the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. Problem 1- This sounds simple enough, until we try to decipher just what is “good”. Not only is “good” a subjective term, it is also immeasureable to determine if the pleasure of one individual outweighs another’s (which “good” should be the overall determining factor?). Problem 2-Do we allow morally abhorrent choices if, for example, the group by nature is sadistic? As well, what is good tends to be hedonistic/self pleasurable by nature. Should we allow such utilitarian thoughts to guide us then? Problem 3-Even if we make a decision that seems to satisfy the benefit maximization principle, do we know all resulting consequences of said choice (e.g. over time)? We can never determine if a decision is absolute in providing the greatest good. This inherent flaw, that we lack access to an omnipotent resource leads to doubt in the teleogistic standpoint.
We then turn to deontology for help. AKA non-consequentialism, Immanuel Kant suggests that we act as though the maxim of our actions were to become the universal law of nature. In layman’s terms, we must act as if our rules would be universal (therefore would we want to be treated in the same manner). The first problem is deciding whose rules are sacrosanct? Studies show that students in professional programs tend to lean towards the laws of society as they near graduation, rather than social contracts or universal principles. Over time, they lose their ability to reason morally, and simply abide to our governing laws. Whose rules should we be abiding to? The second problem is how general or specific should such rules be? Should “thou shall not kill” apply to soldiers? How about “thou shall not steal?” This is one where I find myself in most conflict. I have recently begun an overhaul of all my media, in an attempt to legally own my music and software (out of respect for my favorite artists and companies). However, in a time where pirating is the norm, and the industry is clearly changing, as are perspectives as to what is theft(such as bands like Radiohead offering a pay what you want fee) I find myself questioning whether some of my efforts are warranted. For example, is it ok to watch your favorite clips on YouTube of an otherwise shitty movie you wouldn’t have bought? Millions of viewers seem to think so. I thus find myself in question just how far my hands dip into teleology vs. deontology.
During the 1950s, a growing disatisfaction with these two perspectives produced two other standpoints, not without their own problems. Virtue ethics focuses on the character of the individual, rather than the choice of action. Our ethical considerations are always at question, rather than just during dilemmas. Is this the type of person I want to be? Unfortunately, virtues are ideals and must be kept in their own places (especially outside the professional environment). Imagine losing your credentials because somebody important thought you lacked humility. I’m not entirely sure where I stand with this view. I enjoy its constant self reflective nature, always building character out of self criticism. However, it places too much faith on the individual, that one will self actualize their governing principles ignoring the plight of the surrounding society. I believe few, if any individuals contain the tools to develop a perfect ethical system on their own.
The fourth perspective, Relational ethics, focuses on the social nature of the surrounding world. Ethical actions always take place in relationship with others (we act out of concern and consideration). This means that one can make decisions out of what is best for bonds/connections. I’m quite unsure how deep this standpoint goes, and will need more clarification. Although it certainly provides a motivational avenue as to why we should be ethical, I don’t understand its guidelines enough to govern my behavior.
Finally, my largest problem with ethics in general, is adhering to a particular system. I feel as though it is an innate basis from within that I often make choices, rather than sticking to one train of thought. Do I choose a deontologistic option because I have a label of non-consequentialist? Should I pirate music because I believe in John Stewart Mill? Arguably more people benefit financially from freeware at a given moment. What about piracy’s long term consequences, such as waning product quality? Which “greater good” outweighs the other? Should I look at this as a teleogist? Always gets the panties in a knot.