ACT, The concept of an act is Ethics


Investigating the concept of good at the beginning of the current chapter, we pointed out that one of its most important meanings is a correct, moral act. So far, we've considered the phrase "good deed purely intuitive, believing that everyone represents what is at stake. But its comprehension will lead us to new paradoxes that help to better understand the moral experience of man.

The concept of an act

The first significant difficulty arises around the very concept of an act. Do we recognize all of our actions as such? Every day we make many mechanical actions: we cross the road, turn on the light, talk on the phone. Does each of these manifestations of activity have to do with good and evil? On this occasion, there are also two rival opinions. One of them suggests that only significant events in people's lives connected with the need to make an important choice are considered to be morally relevant acts. For example, admission to the institute, recruitment, marriage, etc. In this respect, all the multiple daily activities are considered non-independent, i.e. caused by external influence on us. For example, in the elementary operation of opening a door, no free choice is required, which means that it should be recognized as morally neutral.

But another point of view insists on the opposite: any, even the most elementary actions should be evaluated as good or evil, because they all have consequences that affect to some extent other people. So, you can cross the road according to the rules of the road, and you can violate them, thus exposing several people to danger. The door can be opened neatly or carelessly, hitting someone, and talking on the phone can be done correctly or roughly. It turns out that since any act is committed in the world of people, it can not be considered morally neutral.

In our opinion, both presented points of view fall into the extreme and therefore do not reflect the essence of the matter. The point is not whether the event is significant in our life or very ordinary; whether the act is a fleeting, one-time accomplishment, or involves a multitude of compound actions. For ethics, it is important how much the act depended on ourselves, it was determined by our decision, and what value we wished to realize through it. In this connection, it is important for us to mention the opinion of the founder of ethics of Aristotle. He believed that an act that could be called virtuous should meet the following criteria.

First, he is conscious, ie. we must clearly understand what we are doing and what we are avoiding in this way. Hence purely mechanical actions, which we do in many ways unconsciously, do not fit this criterion. Of course, they entail certain positive or negative consequences, but it is far from obvious that we bear full responsibility for them. Secondly, the act is elected intentionally, ie. we are clearly aware of the goal that we want to achieve, and we choose the means to achieve it from several possible alternatives. Finally, in Aristotle's terminology, the act is distinguished by & confident; firm committing. Here we have in mind situations where an act is a collection of many actions or other actions. For example, one person decided to change jobs. To achieve this goal, he will need to perform many other operations, but only a confident, sustained and consistent implementation of them will allow us to call his behavior a single act. If, on the contrary, a person changes his decision several times and takes very contradictory actions, then we are dealing with a series of different actions.

Thus, under the act, we will in future mean a free action, which is the result of an independent decision, and pursues a clear goal.

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