1) Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?
Ultimately, I believe that it is more important to perform good acts and to be altruistic as opposed to just being a good person (virtue). The reason I say this is because one can be a good person, but if they don’t take action, then they’re not making an impact like those who do take action. I have always been a supporter of the common phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” because it is so true. One can say that they are a good person all they want, but if they felt strong enough about a matter, then they would try to take a good action. When one performs good acts to help others (altruism), as opposed to just being a “good person (virtue),” they are bettering the thing(s) that they feel so strongly about (rather than just having good thoughts about something, but doing nothing about it). Now, I understand that often times taking action can be difficult (i.e. wanting to end world hunger). However, one can contribute in the best way that they can to help by donating canned goods, working at a soup kitchen, etc. Even the smallest good action can make a change. All of these reasons are why a person who performs good acts is better than one who is a good person.
5) Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?
This is a difficult question for me to answer because I am an avid animal lover. However, I do believe in Darwin’s “survival of the fittest,” and it is quite obvious that humans are the dominant species (anthropocentrism). Thus, (all though it kills me to say) human pleasure and pain matters more than animal pleasure and pain. Humans need to do all that they can to survive and live comfortably. That means we needs to kill animals for food, clear animals’ homes (forests i.e.) for homes/stores/etc, and other things that are necessary for humans to live that affect animals’ lives. With that being said, I think that humans go the extra-mile when it comes to contributing to society that animals. Also, we should prioritize taking care of our own kind first (human welfare). For example, if both a school and a puppy shelter were on fire, it would be more ethical to save the children and teachers of the school first than the puppies. However, I think humans should have some governance when it comes to certain things we do. For example, people who kill animals for “fun” take the whole concept of “human lives mattering more than animals’” out of proportion. Just because animal lives don’t matter as much as humans doesn’t mean animal lives don’t matter at all, and it doesn’t give people the right to abuse animals.
6) Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
My life is worth the exact same as anyone else’s. No one is above or below me. Often times, many people classify others above or below them due to gender, race, financial standpoint, culture, beliefs, etc. However, at the end of the day, we are all humans. As humans, we are in this together. We need to survive, we need to reproduce, we need to get along with each other. Why should someone be considered to be more worthless than someone else? There is nothing that makes anyone better than the rest of us. No matter what someone’s status is, my life is no better or less than theirs. We, as humans, are all equal, and our lives matter equally. I know that many people will disagree with me, but I think that criminal lives matter too. Sometimes many people are jailed for minuscule reasons. What if a person was jailed for stealing bread for their family? Just because they are considered a “criminal,” does not mean that their life is worthless. Or what if someone committed a small-level crime, but realized that they were wrong? Everyone makes mistakes; no one is perfect. As for murderers and those who commit serious crimes, I still think that their lives are worth the same. Consider this, if someone(rich, poor, white, black, homosexual, etc.) committed a serious crime, they should receive the same punishment for their act because their lives are worth equally. For example, a white man shouldn’t receive less punishment for a murder than a black man.