“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.” –Albert Camus.
An individual who does not consider ethics is a dangerous human being to the society. Ethics offer the rules of engagement among the members of the society. In a just ethical system, an individual should be awarded for what he has accomplished and worked for, instead of being credited for external factors, which alters the status of the individual by giving a head start. To understand the just ethical system, it is worth considering the articles by Namit Arora and David F. Wallace.
The articles, “What do we deserve?” by Namit Arora and “Consider the Lobster” by David F. Wallace surface the issue of ethics and morality. In Arora’s article, the lower class people are left with limited power. Arora’s article focuses on how the inequality of financial distribution, wealth, and poverty are the glitches in the main three models, which are libertarian, egalitarian, and meritocratic. One of the main claims is that “We do not start at the same starting place.” This gives an overall perspective of the idea that although people might be offered the same opportunities; they might not be able to take advantage of that opportunity because of their background status (Arora, 88).
Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster” raises an issue; is it acceptable to boil a sentient animal to please people’s desires? This is a question that raises many ethical concerns. Is it ethical to boil any animal alive? Although ethical concerns are more apparent in Wallace’s article, he also states; “There is much more to know than most of us care about -it’s all a matter of what your interests are” (Wallace, 499). This quote emphasizes that the boiling of the lobsters can be either a literal or metaphorical issue that addresses the superiority of people over animals. The general theme within these two articles seems to clearly be, “Those in power, do not consider those beneath them.” This quote combines how both the role of ethics, and morals impact the human life. Both essays display the issue of ethics that stem from status, inequality, or ignorance. The question after reading and comparing these articles is who determines these ethics and do morals agree with ethics?
Initially, ethics are created through society, whereas morals are personal ideologies of what is right and wrong. These two concepts do not necessarily go parallel. Hence, society does not have to conform to one’s moral beliefs. However society has to consider ethics. For example, wealthy individuals taking advantage of the poor ones outline the idea that if one has more the others must have less. Although this raises ethical question, it is imperative that at no given time shall there be absolute equity. With this approach of a just ethical system, individuals will not be categorized by the wealth of their parents, but the wealth of themselves. However, the system of economic distribution has become the issue, which deflects the power of an individual. Although it is natural for people to be in competition to get the most income, if the competition enhances any inequality in the individual’s opportunity, and independency or life in general, ethics should be considered. It is not ethical to give an individual inferior treatment by depending on the income of the individual. On the other hand, people cannot limit other’s morals since it is a personal belief of the right and the wrong; however, if ethics get in the way of allowing somebody to be successful, the problem is with the society.
Opportunities are presented to all those who seek them and this makes the basic consideration of rewarding the hardworking people. On a fair ground, the hardworking can have an equal access to the opportunities more often than the lazy one. From this premise, therefore, the lazy that stay still waiting for opportunities to be given to them ought not to expect the hardworking to give opportunities to them. Consider this, in most instances; all people have accesses to education facilities with the same tutors, same environmental condition, etc. Although, there are differences in the background of the individuals, the opportunity is equal to all. In addition, all the people have equal length of day hours and hence, it is upon individuals to strive to find opportunities since they are available to all.
People need to understand that the way one utilize their time determines their success and the reward thereof. One ought to make decision based on what one wants to achieve and set realistic goals depending on the capability of the person. Although one may claim that it is unethical for the rich to misuse the poor, the poor have not opposed this situation by seeking to liberate themselves from such. If the rich do not give the poor a chance to work for them and earn the little amounts offered, the poor shall have no any other means of survival, and hence, from the rich man’s perspective, it is ethical to offer them the little amounts rather than let them perish. In addition, it is a personal choice where one works and hence, since the poor are not forced to work, then it is ethical for them to work for the rich men.
On the other hand, if it is not ethical to boil a chicken alive or any other animal, then why should it be ethical to boil a lobster? The position of the animal in the society matters just like the position of the upper class matters in Arora’s essay. Wallace states, “The nervous system of a lobster is very simpleit is decentralized with no brain. There is no cerebral cortex, which in humans is the area of the brain that gives the experience of pain” (Wallace, 504). While this statement could be accurate, the human form is more developed than a lobster’s form. “The lobster behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water (with the obvious exception of screaming).”(Wallace, 506) There is no 100% accurate way for a human to tell if a lobster feels pain. It is impossible for a human to feel empathy for a lobster because no human has ever even remotely experienced what it is like to be a lobster. Therefore, it is unethical to boil lobsters. Even the idea of boiling a lobster alive is unethical. In a just ethical system, no animal should be boiled alive.
The reaction of the lobsters while been boiled is enough to indicate that even without the brain; they are sentient and can feel pain. The big question is; are humans allowed to cause pain willfully? Wallace’s article about lobsters discusses ignorance, and rights of animals. Wallace mentions, “Humans are more important than animals.” This statement should not imply that humans have a right to treat them like non-living beings (Wallace, 509). Humans clearly feel they are superior to lobsters and all animals for that matter, which is why humans tend to shape the norms of ethics to whatever suits their needs and comforts. This is immoral since human beings ought to treat other animals as sentient animals. Moreover, all living things ought to be respected by the fact that they are alive. Ending the life should not be done in a manner that causes a lot of pain. On the contrary, the animals do not have morals and do not think as humans. Therefore, whether killed by boiling or not, they do not understand what is happening around then, and hence, it is okay to boil them! However, this is against the basic principle that human ought to have morals; the morals held by humans ought to be extended to other animals even if they do not have equal morals.
On top of this, even within humans there are unfair statuses. “In Rawlsian terms, the problem in the United States is not a minority that has grown super rich, but that for decades now, it has done so to the detriment of the lower social classes” (Arora, 89). Although humans shape the codes of ethics, some individuals deal with the status problems. The disadvantage the higher social class has given the lower social class is not ethical. In a just ethical system, higher class should not affect the lower class in a negative way. If they do, the higher class should be penalized. For example, the rich can be penalized in monitory terms and the proceeding used to better the lives of the poor. It is based on this principle that taxations are different with the rich paying more than the poor. Penalization can also be done by passing laws that prohibit certain actions. For example, increasing the minimum wages translates to the rich paying their workers more and hence reducing the gap between them. It is possible to increase the minimum wage to such levels that the rich are forced to uplift the lives of the poor.
Morals of an individual display what is right and what is wrong. Hence, not everybody has the same opinions of morals. An individual’s ability to understand morals makes an impact on decisions. It is one’s values and beliefs that create the personality of the individual. In regards to Wallace’s essay, a person can debate whether or not it is right to boil a lobster alive, but cannot get punished for thinking a certain way. In both essays, readers can have different opinions of the events. One might think giving more power to the higher class is ethical since most of the changes in the economy begin with the skills of the rich. On the other side, ethics are agreed upon by the society. Hence, if a just system of ethics is established, people will follow the code of ethics efficiently.
People act based on their moral convictions and the ethics that the society hold. Nevertheless, the personal consideration supersedes the society in choosing what to do. For example, one chooses to do what bring to him, the largest benefits from the actions. Therefore, the title of Wallace’s essay, “Consider the lobster” raises the question of ethics in the title. Also, in Arora’s title, “What do we deserve?” an indirect reference to ethics is made. Ethics are used mostly in the business, medical and justice field. If one does not follow, or refuse ethics, one can be punished for it.
In conclusion, if people were more concerned about ethics, there would be more justice. Ethics are described as the rights and wrongs in society and if people are treated unfairly by a financial distribution than where is the line for right and wrong? It is not fair for the upper class to keep gaining while the lower class struggles to make a living. This point is also displayed on the topic of boiling lobsters; it is not fair for humans as the higher power to be inconsiderate to lobsters. People should consider the preference of others within their actions. To the best of our knowledge, humans are the smartest and best-developed species in the planet, so they should be designated to make most of the calls. However, these actions that humans in charge make should consider compassion towards other species and compassion towards less fortunate human beings. Nevertheless, creating a perfect system of ethics is impossible, one can only suggest. People that are in charge of the ethical system should focus on creating a structure where everyone involved is at least considered, and considered compassionately. In just ethical system, animals should also be involved to this unit of “everyone.”
Arora, Namit. "What do we deserve?" Barrios, Barclay. Emerging . Boston: Bed Ford/St. Martin, 2013. 87-93.
Wallace, David F. "Consider the Lobster." Barrios, Barclay. Emerging. Boston: Bedford/St Martin's, 2013. 497-511.