Dissonance. Discrepancy. Depravity. Three pervading forces which have poisoned the nurturing well of societal wellbeing. Cynicism. Cupidity. Corruption. Three pillars of canker which bear a weight upon the plinth of societal spirit, forcing it to struggle against its weight. These are indeed testing times for the 7.53 billion inhabiting this planet. All around us we witness death, pain and suffering from a variety of sources, ranging from the news, books and even to frivolous video games. This increased exposure results in a very direct and immediate effect on the minds of people, as well as their physical selves, considering the fact that the mind is the entity which regulates each and every one of our actions. If the very root and stem of our being is under the threat of being violently uprooted from the clutches of serenity, and infected by the rising forces of nihilism that continue to garner power and influence, what chances do we have? What hope remains? And most importantly, are we morally responsible for all of our actions, even when we are not truly at fault? The English Common Law is an extensive and detailed network of judicial rulings, which are ‘binding’, used by judges as reference to decide the outcomes of a case, and establish edicts for the future. It is of the utmost importance that philosophical debates are continued to allow for much needed reformations and evolution of the Law.
The prominent and inveterate spiritual movement known as the Brahma Kumaris, have established in their teachings that the world has undergone numerous stages and cycles, which are referred to as Yugas in the ancient Sanskrit writings, and explicitly state that we have reached the horizons of the Kali Yuga – the final and ineluctable end. If one is to only take the briefest of glances at the events of the 21st century, immediate concerns and red flags come to take rise and weigh upon the mind of the beholder. Murders, terrorist attacks, slavery, human trafficking and many such dastardly deeds sprung forth from the devil himself. Societal pressures serve as volatile catalysts for such inhumane and impassive acts. There is no level playing field or equality in terms of the opportunities a person gets ; it is simply the harsh nature of life. An increasing strain on the mental health of individuals, stemming from a source of depression, discontent and general hardships, leads to a weakening moral resolve as the seeds of resentment and hatred are sown. In turn it ignites the expulsion of a negative and violent energy, which drives forth the wheels of anarchy. The pervading whirlwinds of evil continue to inveigle their puppets and spread their cancerous ‘lore’, thus contaminating our intelligence and valued humanity.
Selfishness and Selflessness. Arrogance and Humility. Love and Hate. Two sides of the same coin. The two sides of man. Our worlds are full of both personal and interpersonal conflict. We war against our darker sides, to bring out the best in us. We war against our ensuing emotions to heal ourselves and others. As people, we form relationships and friendships which can span our lives, or else rise and fall like the empires of history. No one is immune from the test that is life. So are we truly morally responsible for our actions, even when life throws at us its unrelentless tests?
The answer is difficult to find.
Kantian Deontological ethics is a form of thought pioneered by Immanuel Kant. Deontology concerns our duties with our actions, without the aim of bringing about the greatest good. This is because the attempt of maximising a certain ‘good’, may possibly be against our duties. Instead it focuses on the intrinsic rightness of an act itself, for example the act of ‘not killing’, and resolutely establishes them as rules, cemented into legislature. Kant argues that certain choices are made according to maxims and that morality is just a set of principles which we can all follow. Additionally, he adds the only good will is good without qualification and no end such as joy or pleasure is always good. It is also this good will which is actually motivated by duty because to have a good will is to carry out a duty simply due to the fact it is so. Returning to the absolutist tendency of the rules that are set – it is these rules or ‘categorical imperatives’ that consist of maxims, which must be universalised without contradiction and completely avoid the use of people as means to an end, but simply to treat them as ends. Any categorical maxim which fails to pass this test of universality is deemed to be morally wrong. For example the universalisation of the maxim ‘you can kill’, would lead to a severe contradiction due to the dire circumstances it would create in society, as there would be a significant rise in serial killers and murderers. Kant enhances this very theory by stating that morality is based on reason. Reasoning and morality are both categorical and apply to all beings with the ability to rationalise. As a result he evolves the Categorical Imperative into the Formula of Humanity, in which a person should act in a way that allows humanity to be treated as an end, and also allows respect for the rational ability of others, so that we may help them achieve their ends. The allowance of the maxim of killing fellow men and women goes against this with quite some voluptuous force. By taking lives there is no way in which we are affording others the respect that their intuition demands…
Continued in Part 2.
- Philosophy A Level (2020) ”Overview – Metaethics” https://philosophyalevel.com/aqa-philosophy-revision-notes/metaethics/
- The influence of Roman Law on the Common Law – Peter Stein
- Classical Legal Tradition – Richard A. Epstein