CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF VARIOUS ETHICAL SYSTEMS: ARGUINGFOR THE RELEVANCE OF THE NATURAL LAW THEORY
There is a good value in learning various ethical systems. The process allowsus to become acquainted with varied points of view, and hence broaden ourhorizon and understanding about these things. So far, our exchanges in theclass have brought us into the philosophies of relativism, hedonism, stoicism,pragmatism, and even the situational and power ethics theories. There aretimes that these systems clashed. One system may hold a tenet that iscontrary, and even contradictory, to the tenets of another. Often, the naturallaw theory is criticized on the ground that such theory fails to update with therecent developments in the human civilizations. With all these differences, wemay start asking: can there be a possibility to come up with a norm that canbe applicable to all? If Habermas’ discourse ethics makes us hope for reason’scapacity to name an agreement or understanding among discoursing parties,can we then hope for the possibility that our discourse in class can allow us toapproximate a norm, a particular way of doing things, which may beacceptable, or at least bearable, for all?At one time, I began to wonder, how should we really understand “ethics” as aparticular or specialized discipline? With the varied and at times conflictingethical standards, how are we to know the most appropriate ethicalperspective that could guide us to act morally on a particular situation? Will itbe alright to say that I am a utilitarian at times but I can also be a powerethicist when the situation warrants it? Is it justifiable to transfer allegiancesfrom one ethical system to another depending on which system soundsreasonable at a particular situation? Or, shall we fight for our loyalty to onlyone system which we believe to be the best, and defend the system from allforms of critique and even corruption?
ISSUES WITH “POWER ETHICS”
As the discussion progressed, one thing that I truly appreciated is the closerexamination that we do on the systems. It allows us to see more closely thestrength and weaknesses of each, and personally, it allows me to compare orto dialogue a particular system with my own natural law tradition, of which Iam raised because of my faith, exposure and training. Our discussions allowme to see views that are very different from what I traditionally hold. Inseveral instances did I encounter the dilemma of asking myself about “how farcan my commitment to natural law system allow me to converse with a newone?” One concrete instance of this dilemma was the discussion of the powerethics theory.Of the many ethical systems that we have discussed, the one system that hasdisturbed me most is the power ethics theory. In a sense, I am more or lessfamiliar with the other systems previously discussed. I have alreadyencountered relativism in the past. I got acquainted also with Stoicism,hedonism and pragmatism. Situational ethics is also among the most knownrivals of natural law theory, and so more or less, I also got acquainted with it.