Values of Ethical Standards

Various philosophers and critics of ethics have argued about the practical principles that ethical rules provide, even though people do not follow them. To put it another way, the statement refers to the fundamental principles that people are often supposed to follow, even though their choices are not driven by ethical norms. The majority of the time, people are aware of the correct and incorrect actions to take. Despite this, they continue to make mistakes. As a consequence, it is fair to argue that, even though individuals chose to ignore life’s universal principles, ethical norms guide people’s everyday choices, whether they are correct or incorrect. Scholars from various schools of thoughts have asked themselves a range of philosophical questions, which only seem to be answerable by the societal moral codes. Springer draws several concerns relating to ethical standards and asks some of these rhetorical questions: “Shall we aim at happiness or at knowledge, virtue, or the creation of beautiful objects? If we choose happiness, will it be our own or the happiness of all? And what of the more particular questions that face us: Is it right to be dishonest in a good cause? Can we justify living in opulence while elsewhere in the world people are starving? If conscripted to fight in a war we do not support, should we disobey the law?” (Singer 371). Of course, people will always face these moral dilemmas and either choice would have significant impact. Ethics cover all the questions mentioned above. The subject of these concerns entails fundamental concepts of practical decision-making and the main issue is the ultimate value’s nature and the standards by which the actions of people may be deemed wrong or right. There is a close relation between the term morality and ethics. People often refer to ethical principles or ethical judgements where at some point it would have been relatively more rampant to speak of moral principles or moral judgements (Singer 376). Based on Springer’s thoughts, these applications serve as extensions of meaning to ethics.

Ethical standards are the environmental standards that are viewed as acceptable to the majority in the society. In the western world, for example, ethical standards are values that are acceptable based on the principles of the Judeo-Christians. In other words, ethical standards are what the majority of the population view as ‘good’ and the manner in which behavior is viewed without necessarily imposing regulations and rules (Singer 373). In vast of the societal structures, sanctions are always imposed on the people who do not adhere to the stipulated ethical standards. In several instances, the law determines the consequences that people found guilty of contravening ethical standards are supposed to suffer. Ethical thinking is the process of considering the consequence of our actions upon institutions or individuals that we serve. Even so, whereas vast of the decisions made on those who behave unethically are routine, people may face unethical dilemmas unexpectedly in events of sudden occurrence of unusual situations where immediate response is required. Based on Singer’s thoughts, “The foundation of ethical decision-making involves choice and balance; it is a guide to discard bad choices in favor of good ones” (Singer 380). Hence, when making ethical decisions, one of the most important issues to add to the account is the consideration of what reasonable people would do or how they would act in particular situations.

Springer looked into the practical value of ethical standards and brought a link with the value of life. In his sentiments, he asks, “What is a human life worth? You may not want to put a price tag on it. But if we really had to, most of us would agree that the value of a human life would be in the millions” (Singer 377). The assertion draws us back to the thesis of the paper, which argue that in as much as the ethical standards have informed decision making, people still do not live up to them. The scholar claims that many people would value lives of people at millions, yet nobody can manufacture life for others to buy. The fact that people know that they cannot give life should be a reason enough to respect life. On the contrary, people have not lived by this. Based on the inherent dignity of human beings and the foundations of democracy, all human beings were created equally regardless of their race, color, sex, nationality or ethnicity. Therefore, the moral or the ethical standards necessitate that everyone be treated equally with the utmost level of dignity they deserve. Everybody around the world, regardless of their faith or belief, knows that people were created equally. Even though, the majority do not live by this ethical standard. This claim can be best explained by the increasing incidences of the worldwide discrimination. People have looked down upon others based on their social classes. The poor have continued to suffer at the expense of their rich counterparts. In addition, people have continued to fight and hate each other in the line of faith and beliefs. All said and done, the lack of respect for life has even been extended to killing of people and animals, which is an ostensible show of going against the ethical and the moral standards. Several police killings linked to racial discrimination, for instance, have been reported in the United States. Besides, there have been many reports regarding animal killing, especially the killing of the elephants in the Middle East and Africa (Pollan 401). However, it does not mean that the people who are involved in such practices are not aware of the moral ways or the ethical standards they are expected to uphold. Many people make selfish decisions to benefit themselves without thinking about the negative impacts that their actions have on others.

Michael Pollan also seems to concur with Springer’s view on the future of ethical standards. Just like Springer who claims that people have diverted from the moral expectations, Pollan also believes that people do not live up to ethical standards anymore and that the situation will even be worse off in the near future. In his assertion in An Animal’s Place, the philosopher says, “Eating animals, wearing animals, experimenting on animals, killing animals for sport: all these practices, so resolutely normal to us, will be seen as the barbarities they are, and we will come to view speciesism” (Pollan 410). The respect to animal life has been outdated, despite the efforts by the proponent of animal life and environmental conservation to conserve nature. Scientific experiments in the digital era focuses on animal experiments, where researchers use live animals in the laboratories. The trend is increasing and the respect to animal life is even more worsen when researchers kill animals to use their parts that resemble those of humans in completing their life experiments. Whereas to many people in the society animal experiment might look acceptable as a measure of understanding life processes, the ethical standards do not advocate for this since it does not only deplete nature but also does not look into the dignity of animal life. Based on the moral expectations, Pollan and Springer concur that people will accept equality more readily than the way they practice it. Everybody in the society knows that no one is more precious than the other is, yet not everybody would like to share their sadness and happiness with one another. Pollan reiterates, ”Equality is a moral idea,” Singer points out, ”not an assertion of fact” (Pollan 411). The moral idea in this context is that the interest of every person should be accorded with adequate consideration, which is still lacking in the society today.

In as much as Orwell can also debunk right and wrong based on the societal definitions of ethical and moral standards, he apparently has a challenge acting in a manner that is perceived to be ethically right. Contrary to Springer and Pollan’s conceptions regarding the ethical standards, Orwell goes ahead to shoot a mad elephant since he believes it can cause harm to people. Moreover, he takes advantage that the owner of the elephant is one of the minority classes, meaning that according to him he deserved no right to claim the life of his property. He says, “The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing” (Orwell 437). As opposed to Springer and Pollan who believe that everybody is equal regardless of their race or color, Orwell seem to look down upon the Indians, thinking that they do not have equal voice. Finally, yet important, when Springer and Pollan view animals lives as precious, Orwell does not adhere to the moral standard of respecting the dignity of animal’s life when he shoots the elephant.

Works Cited

Singer, Peter. “What Should a Billionaire Give—and What Should You?,” pp. 368-79. Available at:

Pollan, Michael. “An Animal’s Place,” pp. 398-413. Available at:

Orwell, George. “Shooting an Elephant,” pp. 436-41. Available at:

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