Essay on Ethics of Civil Disobedience

1807 Words 8 Pages
Ethics of Civil Disobedience

Ban animal cruelty! Give aid to the poor! Save the rainforests! Obey the law! As a human race we must strive to fulfill these commands, for they are our moral duties and obligations. Our obligation to morality sometimes leads to a dilemma. What happens when a law contradicts the morally right thing to do? Would it be moral to act illegally by breaking the law? No matter how drastic the measure, we are still required to act morally--even if one must break the law to do so. But why is it so important to be moral that one could justify something as serious as breaking the law?

If morality is so significant that one could justify breaking the law we must consider the importance of being moral in the first
…show more content…
In Singer’s own words inspired by F.H. Bradley’s views on morality, “we can never get people to act morally by providing reasons of self-interest, because if they accept what we say and act on the reasons given, they will be only acting self-interestedly, not morally” (Singer 323).

However, if morality is so important, are the motives behind acting morally really all that significant? According to psychological egoism “every human action is motivated by self interest” (Rachels 64). As humans we are incapable of acting unselfishly. So what makes anyone think we could behave morally for altruistic reasons?

It is however possible for ethics and self-interest to find a common ground. As humans we are naturally benevolent. We care about the welfare of others--especially of those closest to us. Without close relationships we can never truly be happy. According to the American psychologist A.H. Maslow,

Human beings have a need for self-actualization that involves growing towards courage, kindness, knowledge, love, honesty, and unselfishness. When we fulfill this need, we feel serene, joyful, filled with zest, sometimes euphoric, and generally happy. When we act contrary to our need for self-actualization, we experience anxiety, despair, boredom, shame, emptiness and are generally unable to enjoy ourselves. (Singer 327-328).

In opposition of Maslow’s observation, we may consider the psychopath. “A person who is asocial, impulsive, egocentric,

More about Essay on Ethics of Civil Disobedience

Open Document