Michael Boylan recognizes the fact that our happiness greatly depends on how ethically we relate towards other beings. Individuals, who participated in assisting disadvantaged individuals, had the advantage of living a happier life than those who did not bother to sympathize with others suffering or in need. This paper will focus on a philosophical student who encounters a homeless person at the streets and decides to sympathize with him by giving him $5 dollars as a way of exercising generosity towards other individuals. This paper will seek to evaluate if the philosophical student acted according to the requirement of basic ethics that is based on virtue, character and excellence of individuals.
Ethics refers to a set of moral principles that relate to a specific group that are supposed to govern its behaviors. That is, ethics offers guidelines on how individuals should relate with other beings. On the other hand, virtues refer to individuals’ behavior in showing high moral standards towards other individuals. As Boylan gives meaning to ethics, one should possess high standards of ethical virtue that shall guide him or her towards doing absolute good (Boylan 182). Doing so should not only be directed towards certain individuals like relatives, friends and those from inner circle, but should be extended towards the larger community that involves all classes of people, particularly disadvantaged, poor, disabled and aged members of the society among others. Excellence calls for consistency in doing good to others; in the bid to do well to others one shall not only do it once, but shall be required to go on with the same as long as he or she lives.
Repercussion of participating in doing good is that one will have a chance to live happier life. According to Boylan, our happiness is solely determined by the perception others hold towards as, that is, one will always be happy if he will ignite a sense of happiness to others. For this reason, he will have a chance to participate in happiness particularly when he is much convinced tht he contributed to that happiness. Basic ethics will be measured upon the following principles as Boylan articulates.
First constituent in this regard is respect for other individuals. Respecting other persons brings some ethic convictions. That is, it calls for individuals to be treated as autonomous agents where all those people with diminished autonomy must be respected at all cost (Boylan 187). In the process of abiding to this requirement of respect, individuals are required not to obstruct the opinions, choices and ideas of those they chose to assist and protect, unless the latter participates in actions that are detrimental to well being of other individuals. As Boylan explains, individuals are treated in ethical manner by not only respecting their opinion and protecting them from harm, but also through ensuring their well being. This notion falls under the basic ethic principle referred to as beneficence.
Secondly, all living creatures must be treated and accorded with universal love. While trying to act along with the basic requirements of ethics, individuals should strive to come up with a feeling of love, solidarity and be compassionate towards other individuals. The love should not be limited towards particular individuals but should be extended to all people, even those who act immorally. It is against this principle to consider anyone an enemy because of his condition, status or level of behavior (Boylan 189). Instead, one must exercise that good love to everyone just like a mother does to her children. Even when one of her children does the most terrible things, the mother still loves the child deeply. Thirdly, it is an expectation of the basic ethics that all individuals shall be a subject of just caring. While in a bid to try and help others, it is recommended that one will pay priority to those with whom you feel a personal and emotional concern as well as involvement towards. The choice one makes in helping a needy individual should, however, tolerate other helpers who might be willing to help the same individual. The concept of just carinng is important towards ensuring that, in the pursuit to assist others, individuals will act out of their will; in other terms, they should be influenced by their emotions to do so and rather not being forced by others.
The golden rule of basic ethics requires that all individuals must abide to those principles that they would require others to abide. That is, individuals must strive to give the good example and do whatever every moral being should do considering that he or she would have required them to do exactly the same thing. Also, while choosing to do any action and especially that is directed towards other beings, it is highly important that we should ask ourselves what will be the consequences of that particular action (Boylan 190). One should be environmentally friendly, to point that he or she must create a favorable atmosphere to accommodate others regardless the condition they are in. Justice and fairness must dominate our actions while dealing with others. It is in justice to act immorally towards other individuals, instead it is required of us to consider the very value of each and every being and treat them positively.
The scenario at hand prompts a philosophical student to act in accordance with the requirements of basic ethics. Firstly, the student does not stop to look down upon the man in the street on the grounds that he is homeless. She takes her time to talk to homeless man and it is for this reason that she comes to the knowledge that she does not have somewhere to live. The main criteria defining respect and understanding is doing away with ones pride and falling to the shoes of others to a point of listening to their plights. She goes ahead to offer assistance in form of $5. Student’s ability to be in a position to listen to a person suffering and offering assistance in form of money, confirms that she is not only caring but also very loving. The two virtues care and love conform to the basic requirements of morality that guide individuals at society levels and that which clearly acts as a measure of one’s level of excellence.