Reason 1 Idea (Penalties):But simply knowing what' s "right" isn' t enough. Lots of times we say to ourselves, "I know I shouldn' t do this, but I'm going to do it anyway."
Take a case like this. You' re dating someone and have an explicit understanding that you won' t see anyone else. However, one day you meet someone whom you find very attractive. You would like to start seeing this person, but you don' t want to jeopardize your original relationship in case this new one doesn' t work out. Since you feel that the person you' ve been seeing trusts you, you figure that you could get away with a few lies. But would this be justifiable?
There really shouldn' t be any question that lying in this situation is wrong. The action itself is clearly unethical (you are breaking your promise and deceiving) and the consequences are dubious (since you' ll be spending less time with the person you have an understanding with, he or she will probably experience someunhappiness; if you' re guilty, you' ll be less fun to be with when you are together, even if your deception is successful; both of the people you' re dating will be deeply hurt if they find out what' s going on). Nonetheless, many people would lie and deceive in a case like this, simply because they want the pleasure of dating someone else. Maybe deceiving someone is wrong, but if it' ll make you happier, why not go ahead and lie?
In situations like this, there' s more to it than a simple question of right or wrong. All of us have an interest in adding to our happiness, whether that is some pleasure of the moment, success in a job, or whatever it takes. If what is right and what is in our own interest coincide, we have no problem doing the right thing. Or maybe we' re willing to do the right thing (and avoid some guilt) only if it' sa little inconvenient. But when what is right and what makes us happy are 180 degrees from each other, that' s when we' ve got real problems.
At times like this, when strong desires pull us in opposite directions, it' s hard to do the ethical thing. When we do resist the pull of temptation, we usually want to feel that somehow we' re going to get something for it. That may not be very high-minded, but most of us, when confronted with moral dilemmas, really want to ask: What' s in it for me if I do what' s right? It doesn' t have to be fame and fortune-- it may just be a good feeling about who we are. But most of us want a good reason to be good.
Why should we do the right thing? The question is simple; answering it probably the most difficult task in ethics. Legal systems and religious traditions have an easy time giving us answers, of course. We should do what' s right in order to avoid punishment for doing wrong--either in this life or the next. But philosophy does not approach it this way. It has to give a rational, secular account of why living the moral life is valuable in its own right, here and now. This is very hard to do.
Think about it for a minute. What reasons