It is understood that ethical acts vary from people to people, religions, governments and societies. Out of numerous ideologies, one can be termed as utilitarianism, that justifies something as ethical or unethical on the basis of the number of people benefitting from it. Concept that maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain considering man as a self-interested being and prioritizing an action’s moral worth on its positive consequence on people. For example human experimentation to find the cure of a deadly disease or deforestation to construct housing facilities for refugees. But the question that arises is the measure of the benefit and how far is it quantitative or qualitative? Because one cannot measure happiness, satisfaction or gratitude. Therefore we cannot always know the moral value of an action or its defined consequences.
However if we look into the matter at hand, utilitarianism forgoes differences amongst people from different races or genders as everyone’s benefit is counted equally to calculate the possible consequence that people will enjoy after a certain action is practiced. But this idea too is flawed when we look back at history and see the Nazi experimentation on Jewish children and disabled individuals in a claim to cure hypothermia. As people of a multicultural society, do we consider this act as ethical?
To its contrary we come across the deontological approach, that revolves around the intrinsic nature of the action itself, whether a particular action is right or wrong in its own proximity. For instance the acts of stealing or bullying are wrong it their own nature regardless of the circumstances.
We come about the idea of moral duty and rationality that a man must adhere to in order for his action to be considered ethical however this idea sets obligations to justify every action that puts individuals into moral dilemma for example slaughtering animals is considered inhumane by a number of people however muslims, jews and christians practice animal slaughter either on the commandments of religion or on basic cultural duties and norms.
Over the course of time, man has been exposed to a variety of actions that are considered ethical on the basis of religion or dynasties. For example Hinduism, that puts forth individuals, books and scriptures that list what should and should not be done regardless that action is intrinsically right or results in a greater benefit.
People of African tribes practice female genital mutilation to preserve their centuries long tradition however the act itself is extremely painful and daunting.
We can practically conclude with the idea that, benefit to most people at the cost of innocent lives is an inaccurate idea because through this man-slaughter is justified, brutal torture to prisoners is justified and even constantly protested against-animal testing is justified.
Ethics and moral are ever changing and they are greatly influenced by religion, past understanding and rationality which are constantly questioned by individuals about their rightness or wrongness. In an ever-changing set of situations and circumstances which greatly influence our comprehensiveness of morality.