2) Do the ends justify the means?
The ends do not justify the means. I hold this view because I believe that the desired end result is interdependent upon the means in which it takes to reach it. The means used are therefore a part of the end itself, not just the method to obtain any particular desire. For example, say it is raining and your goal is to keep your feet dry on your way to class. In one scenario, you wear rain boots and take your normal route. In another, you wear flip-flops and have to travel on well-drained sidewalks and avoid puddles. In the end, you make it to class, but the way you made it to class made the arrival different (longer commute time, or simply the matter of the shoes on your feet). Maybe the boots were uncomfortable, so although you attained your end desire, this scenario is less favorable meaning that the same end result is impacted greatly upon the means in which it takes to obtain it. With the end obtained, it is often compared by the means used to judge on the performance. A project completed is a project done, but if it is done in half the time compared to other attempts, the means used to influence aspects of the end result reflect upon how the end is perceived (in the case, positively).
A famous phrase in the business world is “You can’t move up in the world without stepping on a few toes.” This indicates an end ethics viewpoint; acknowledging that the means to reach an end may not be pleasant but may be necessary. Goal orientation is highly sought, and if the end is the only check, than it makes sense to over look the means as they have already been established as irrelevant. Getting to class on time wouldn’t be pleasant in those uncomfortable boots (though).
6) Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less?
My life is not worth more than the lives of others and is the same. I hold this view because our individuality is malleable. The reason we believe we are unique, better, special derives off of our survival instinct. In many situations where you could be hurt in order to save another, be altruistic, you hesitate in selfish thought as your conscience argues to preserve who you are. There are instances when someone would be completely altruistic and sacrifice themselves for the ones they love, but the thoughts behind the action may be selfish ones (ex, risking life to save love because you wouldn’t know what to do without them). Even I believe myself to be “better” than others; it is only natural. Although I believe myself to be important, my life is not worth more than others. The sense of self is commonly taken away in military practices and in times of war so the soldiers act in the name of the country and not simply out of individual pride that would succumb to survival instincts in a battlefield.
What weighs us as being worth more or less is more easily debatable. As a nation, the United States believes the president to be one of the most important people, protected over and ravished more than most individuals. Many would argue that the president is worth more because he/she is contributing more to society. But, that is comparing human worth over life worth. Disregarding anything the individual has done, they are of the same composition and just like picking out goldfish from a tank, their life is worth just as much as the others (and that’s why most people don’t particularly care which one they get).
4)Do ecosystems matter for their own sake or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans?
Ecosystems matter “for their own sake.” I take this stance because, in relation to the above ethical scenario, they would need to remain sustainable to support life whether we existed or not. I stated my position on life’s worth in the previous question, and find that ecosystem’s worth is based similarly to how we define our own. If a dog could walk, talk, and perform a job better than a human, the dog would be worth more to the job. But as an anthropocentric culture, we would (generalization) find the life of the human to be over the dog’s. However, if we put anthropocentricism aside (take humans out of the equation), the functionality of an ecosystem is still crucial to all the living organisms in the community.
One counter argument may be that animals that do not serve a purpose if they do not aid in the human survival, and therefore ecosystems matter for humanities sake. Every component of an ecosystem affects the way it functions. I learned from visiting Yellow Stone that reintroducing wolves back in to yellow stone have not only made the elk population healthier but also increased the bear population. So although farmers need to protect their flocks again, the elk, bison, and bear they eat/ use are now more plentiful. By dismissing the importance of one component, its interdependent components also become disrupted and ultimately affect the entire ecosystem, which affects us. Keeping the wolves outside would allow the decreasing biological health of the elk (edibility would be compromised, as well as the population could die off) and in turn the unrivaled elk would eat up the bear’s reserves.