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Ethics are principles that dictate the choices made by an individual or the society at large based on their perceived correctness in morals in existing situations. This cannot exist without consideration of the level of fairness made in judgment in relation to both the group and the individual. Therefore, the theory of justice propagated by John Rawls would suffice to strengthen the definition and application of ethics. This theory was developed from the previously defined Kantian moral philosophy (MacKinnon 2012). Both developments emphasize the aspect of autonomy in individuals and groups, which is well evaluated through the level of freedom in making concise choices for the welfare of the individual as well as of the group. It is perceived that the choices made are based on equal rationale, which would demand fairness and thought of others who have vested interests in the choice or consideration made.
The only intention, act or thing that can be absolutely good and right is goodwill. This is defined by Kant in trying to determine what moral worth is, by stating that only those acts or intentions that are derived from a sense of duty or responsibility contain moral worth. This is because duty holds one accountable for the outcomes realized, but emotions and sympathy does not guarantee one that the resultant actions will be of good moral worth. This is because good deeds can be subjected to bad application or can be misused by individuals (MacKinnon 2012). Good will always contains internal value more than the act itself. Therefore, a person who wins over the absence of sympathy for others due to his personal sense of respect towards his set and known obligation would prevail in moral worth as compared to one who is driven by sympathy.
The theory of utilitarianism is important in determining ethics and moral law, especially in situations addressing the masses or the general society. This theory emphasizes the definition of the right thing to do, thus it states that whatever choice we make, full consideration should be placed on creating or generating the utmost happiness for everyone involved. This means that not everyone will get to their individual highest levels of happiness, but each person in the group will get the best that will ensure others attain their best too. This should, therefore, not be confused to mean that everyone will be fully satisfied, but some level of equality is targeted in distributing the common happiness. This, therefore, calls for a good understanding of all the outcomes and results of an action long before settling on the best that would yield maximum happiness for everyone.
We cannot, however, determine moral philosophy if we do not have a means of measurement. The categorical imperative aspect aims to analyze what motivates individual into certain actions and forms the basis of Kant’s moral philosophy (MacKinnon 2012). Kant defines an imperative as any activity or perception that makes an action to be considered as necessary. An example can be: for one to stop feeling hungry, they must eat food. Therefore, the eating is justified by hunger and it can be universally considered to logically satisfy the situation. A categorical imperative, therefore, holds the essence of being the only alternative available, and therefore, whichever way it is perceived or whoever is concerned, it would settle for the same alternative.
In conclusion, ethics cannot be considered as such if we do not take into consideration the natural law aspect. This is evaluated or defined by how human beings reason to set a clear decision path and also the nature of human beings. By acknowledging human beings to be social creatures, we, therefore, have to understand that anything considered ethical must not interfere with the good interaction and relationship in a given society. Thus, ethics is not only what makes one feel just and right, but what they consider to be just and right in the eyes of the society as well.