Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?
It is my summation that it is more important to be a good person than to perform good acts. However, it appears to me that this is only the case by hedging virtues on the basis of a definition. Undoubtedly virtue and action are interconnected. If one holds a certain virtue the person will act according to their virtue. For example, the honest person will tell the truth, the conservationist may compost their leftovers at home, and the courageous may face bold tasks without hesitation. The problem with valuing action ethics is that actions are subject to review by our peers. One may value the virtue of honesty and always tell the truth, however the act of telling the truth may get you into trouble by hurting someone’s feelings, o revealing a telling secret of a guilty friend, which may lose that friend’s trust. The courageous virtue may catch one being foolhardy upon review of one’s actions. There is no measure of perfect virtue when it comes to the critiques of our actions. Therefore, I think that it is more important to be a good person and act closely to the virtue, than to be held accountable for the action.
Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans (ecocentric ethics vs. anthropocentric ethics)?
Culturally, I find it almost impossible to separate anthropocentric ethics from ecocentric ethics because we are humans and have a human understanding of the world. To act in an ecocentric fashion and think in an ecocentric manner seems to mirror the virtue vs action dilemma. As a species we think about our own survival first. In addition to this survival mechanism we have an expansionist quality to our actions that sees us using the Earth as it belongs to the human race above all else. We refer to nature as “resources” for our use, and other species as beneath our own species, and rendered for our use as food, labor, and companionship. However, I think that opening up the door to an ecocentric philosophy would feel most unnatural to human kind. Regardless of feeling superior to other animals or to nature, it seems to me that acting with an ecocentric view would itself go against the nature and cycle of the ecosystem. The hawk does not consider it’s food a lesser species, it is simply feeding. The bird does not consider the trees and branches of which it makes its nest, it simply is building its home. Maybe as a species of advanced understanding we could act more sustainably. However, I think that an anthropocentric view is an of itself part of an ecocentric view and hard to separate, because it is a humans way of acting naturally, not unnaturally and against the universe, but simply as another species surviving, expanding, and reacting to the world around us.
Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?
I would like to combine this question with the previous question, as I find the theories intermixing and controversial to one another. I find myself evolving on the issue of speciesm, and I am not even sure how my feelings align with my thoughts on the other areas of ethics we have discussed. In my condensation, I find that other animals emotions, thoughts, and feelings are just as important as humans. With the reading and extra research throughout the week, I am really inspired to try a vegan diet in an effort to help end animal suffering inflicted by factory led suffering of animals bred for food consumption. I also would like to see a world where zoos exist as a compassionate sanctuary for animals that is in fact a better more rich life experience for the animal than would be a wild led life. However, I also think that this moral obligation led by humans to end specieism is at its core both subject to the critique of action ethic and anthropocentric ethics. How can one value an ecocentric viewpoint, and the natural cycle of life, and ignore our own species history of a carnivorous diet. One would in fact become even more anthropocentric by saying we have the compacity to control our diet based on moral regulation and therefore become more aware of other species “otherness” by handing them more respect and avoiding their suffering. At the same time, I think that it is important to avoid the suffering of all species, so I am both a proponent of avoiding the suffering of other species and respecting their oneness with us, but I think that this makes me MORE anthropocentric than ecocentric, even though ecocentric views consider our oneness with the ecosystem. This is definitely an enlightening conversation and has me constantly considering right and wrong philosophies. I think my views will continue to mold and evolve.