Ethics is one area of knowledge studied about human action, but it is not studying how people act (which is a human science) nor how they have act (which is history) but rather of how people should act! Ethics is about knowing which one is right and which is wrong, wondering what should I do or not do; it is more on the morality and humanity of people. It is one of the difficult subjects in an area of knowledge since it will be related to our emotions, culture, religion, society. Ethics try to guide people to moral decisions and to reflect. Most people don’t care about how they act as what Sam Haris said: “What would our world be like if we ceased to worry about “right” and “wrong,” or “good” and “evil,” and simply acted to maximize well-being, our own and that of others? Would we lose anything important?” But actually knowing about ethics is important so that people could respect others and live peacefully.
Learning ethics itself is hard since we all know different people have different perspectives and their own points of view, making it hard to know which one is right and wrong. Culture, religion, society, emotion are the four main sources where influences people to think that they’re doing the right things. Different cultures will have different kinds of ethics or behaviour; for example, in Indonesia, most Indonesian will really pay attention and respect their parents. Every day, they get to kiss their parents’ hands to show some respect for their parents. While in other countries such as America, Australia, etc. did not really have that kind of traditions, for them it is usual to call their parents by their name, not ‘father’, and ‘mother’ (which for us Asians is unethical) since the way they live makes them feel like their parents are their friends, so it is okay to call them by name, for them, it is not an unethical thing.
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In some religious people, religion was being thought differently because they have different beliefs and points of view and these differences will create a different behaviour and affect ethics. For example, in some religions, it is unethical to eat foods that contain pork, beef, etc., which for some people, it was actually okay. The society also affect ethics since society will be affected by culture and religion. Family and friends might influence people about how they should act. But the most thing that affect ethics is emotion. Emotion will affect how people think. Sometimes when we saw a crime or took pity on the murder, the feeling of guilt will change our mind and judge us that doing those things isn’t right.
Reasoning has also taken some role in ethics. The reasoning is a way of knowing which is so close to people; it uses critical thinking and mostly logic. It is natural for people to always questioning why are things going on like this? Why this why that and so on. It is normal for a human being to ask since it will enlarge our knowledge, but sometimes things do not go as they are. Sometimes we could not define/justify why we could not do this or that; as Valdemar W. Setzer said, “Ethics is not definable, is not implementable, because it is not conscious; it involves not only our thinking but also our feeling.” The reasoning will sometimes be affected by experiences and also emotions. As people grow bigger and they’ve experienced many things, they began to know which one of the actions is wrong and right. Some bad experiences such as being bullied before might affect a person being bullied into being more kind to others since they have the reason (the experience) that being bullied is not nice; it is a pain.
But some experiences might lead people to be unethical as well; for example, the children that had experienced a broken home family will think that their parents were such a disaster and they would not be that close to their family; they also might not be close to other people, they might treat other people the way they were treated in their home. As one of the quotes says, “treat others the way you wanted to be treated” By reasoning or knowing the real, people often disregard ethics in such a way that they think it was no longer right. An example could be seen by today’s problems that people disagreed with the abortion, homo-sexual life/ gay marriage. All of this is seems unethical, killing the babies that are not wrong, vanished the chances of the babies to live and experience the world, all of these things will come to mind and seems unethical when they get to use their emotion in how to pity the dead embryos are.
On the other hand, people might have some reasoning in why they’re doing it. Rather than letting the baby be born and couldn’t take care of them properly or maybe the parents have some economic problems, etc. Now, people will start thinking that it is no longer valid. Some unethical situations could be the best solution. In some countries, they do allow people to do abortions, so countries such as Indonesia that do not allow their citizens to do abortions could actually go to Canada, etc., to go and do the abortion, but how about the poor Indonesian citizen who couldn’t afford to go there? People have the same rights, then why do rich people have an abortion while they can’t? Is this what you call ethical? NO. Gay marriages are unethical since they fell in love with the same gender, which is totally wrong. They should follow the rule by marrying different gender, but people do have the right to speak and choose, so why should they be abandoned? Is this what you called ethical when you actually abandon people’s rights? NO.
On the other hand, moral action could only be motivated by reasoning rather than emotion and desires. The moral action could be back up by some justification and explanation of why we did this and that; people need to be able to explain why they couldn’t steal? And with reasoning, they could tell the reason that it will make the owner of the thing that is stolen upset and the people who steal it will be able to get into the jail since it was a crime. Language has also taken a role in ethics. Language is a tool for thinking and communicating. By language, people will understand the world and others more. Language is also the most common thing that people used. Roles of language are so important for people since people think, interact, express emotions, create, and persuade by language.
By language, we could actually see whether the person who talks to you is nice or rude; some people could also see whether the person’s purpose is good or bad. By language, people express their emotion, so we could see by the word choice that is being used, the emotion express, the evidence is bias or not, and know the purpose of talking. But by using our perception in analysing the people’s expression and all that could not make exact results. This is because the language has been divided into 2, connotation and denotation; connotation is a word that is symbolize something, while denotation is the explicit or direct meaning. Since one word brings the same denotative effect to everyone but different connotative meanings. Therefore people have to consider what meaning they wanted to deliver.
Different types of people will have different languages and ways of talking, which could affect their ethics. For example, most Indonesian Javanese people talk really slow and politely to respect the people to whom they’re talking. In contrast, some Indonesian seems to talk rudely since the way they speak is loud, so it’s rude; this dialect could hurt others or might create a bad misunderstanding since others will think that they are angry and have no respect for them. Another simple reason that language has a role in ethics is that language, when it comes to being translated, is biased, it might not be what the first person is talking about, so it will create a biased which is not so ethical. Also, Indonesian always called black people (negro) a niger, while we didn’t know that it is not ethical to call them that way since we’ve never been taught not to talk like them. Basically, the choice of words will also determine our ethics.
In conclusion, the reasoning is critical since all human beings will never stop asking. While ethics is more on emotion, reasoning is more on logic and reality. Reasoning and ethics are very different but yet they are related. So reasoning will definitely change people point of view and behaviours. On the other hand, language also has an important role in ethics since the role of language is to express emotion, and emotion really supports ethics, so language will definitely be related to ethics.