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Examining Philosophy Of Human Conduct Philosophy Essay

Our society was built on the value of hard work and the benefits that are due from it. We believe that effort deserves success and bad behavior deserves punishment. We all live by a set of rules, and laws. We expect those laws to care for us in the sense that they will bring goodness and justice. In this paper, I will elaborate on situations where this is fitting; I will also discuss where there can be a deficiency of justice when people are rewarded in circumstances when they should not be. 

Merit is any characteristic of quality that is the basis for distributing positive acknowledgment such as praise, rewards, and prizes. I believe what Pojman argues, that people should be rewarded or punished based on their merits. An individual that works harder than the average person does, deserves better opportunities than those who do not. People think that getting what is deserved is merited, and failure to receive what is deserved is unmerited. People believe it is good when people get what is deserved and bad if they do not, even if they deserve punishment.

The core of Pojman’s ideas on the subject is that whether good or bad, everyone should be rewarded accordingly for their actions and achievements. I agree with Pojman’s idea of just deserts and believe that it is the only fair and reasonable system for interactions within humanity (Pojman, 1999). In my perception of Pojman view, I concur, “Every action in the universe has a fitting response” (Pojman, 1999, p.96). Wicked deeds ought to be followed by wicked endings and good behavior by good conclusions. Specifically, I feel that his claim that people adhere to a primitive injustice based on merit and desert is essential to a productive society. In addition, I agree with him tenaciously that affirmative action is harmful to society in the end as it promotes feebleness. The idea of merit and desert has been instituted in every culture, religion, and throughout history to some extent or the other. Even strict utilitarianism allows for some aspects of merit and desert. However, the idea of deserts can be a complex issue with many variables. Therefore, it is not a method that is easy to make definite decisions, and each situation must be looked at from all sides. It is unsaid that it is wrong to treat people better or worse than they deserve, and right to treat them according to their deserts. In these and other ways, the notion of desert permeates our daily lives.

There are many difficult questions surrounding just deserts. Pojman states that, “Our sense of merit, especially regarding desert, seems to cry out for an omniscient and omnipotent Judge to match virtue with happiness and vice with punishment” (Pojman, 1999, p.100).

Pojman claims there are only two types of people in the world, good and evil. As Pojman argues for a world in which, “the virtuous are rewarded and the vicious punished in proportion to their relative deserts” (Pojman, 1999, p.100). Pojman explains that desert is “typically or paradigmatically connected with action, since it rests on what we voluntarily do

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or produce” (Pojman, 1999, p.86). The actions of the person are influenced by neither rules, duties, nor determinations of how to act in a specific situation.

A person who performs virtuous acts, which are those that help rather than hurt human prosperity, deserves to be rewarded for their efforts. I think people can be influenced by their environments, and cannot always be held absolutely to blame for their crime. They should still be punished but the punishment should not be pertinent to the crime necessarily but relevant to the intent of the person. Everything should be determined upon situation, with careful reason. After all, punishing the cold-blooded killer for murder the same way as a person who committed the crime in self-defense is unreasonable.

For example, student in college, who has spent countless hours on studying and shaping their abilities to perform their responsibilities to the best of their abilities, deserves to get better grades over the professors’ favorite. Say the professors’ favorite spends very little time studying and even less being responsible. The favorite has the notion that they will receive the best grade simply because he or she is

the professors’ favorite. Pojman stated, “I deserve to win the race because I have trained harder than anyone else” (Pojman, 1999, p.87).

Others may argue that we should not benefit from our success because of our intellect or social standing. However, there is a double standard, when people are rewarded in situations when they clearly should not be. In Pojman’s example of Mickey Mantle and the liver transplant, the idea of citizens who were on the donor lists long before Mickey Mantle became a candidate being overlooked in order for him to receive a liver first is atrocious (Pojman, 1999, p.88). Being the sufferer of any disease is awful, yet Mickey Mantle put himself in the position to develop health problems through the actions he chose to participate in. The people ahead of him initially on the donor list, the ones who had liver problems through no fault of their own, should have had the right to be treated and given a chance to live their lives. Celebrity positions should not automatically determine if they deserve any procedure over a non-celebrity. 

In difficult situations, I feel that reason is still the best approach, particularly in a situation concerning other people’s outcomes. Reason allows us to think decisively, look at all parts of a situation, and arrive at the best possible outcome. Why should the righteous be made to suffer with the ferocious. Although ethical theorists have differing opinions on how ethics are formed and determined. Each agrees there are rights and wrongs, some ethicists consider the way in which a person

behaves determines if they will lead an honorable life. Their moral fiber is called into play and helps determine if their

intentions were truly good or bad (Waller, 2008 p.103). Depending on the character of a person, the results should help

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determine if they receive what they deserve. This is a viewpoint that few normal people can oppose. Who wants to see a child molester go without punishment? I think virtue should be rewarded and vice punished, but I do not think it is as simple as the statement explains it. Living in the

world where there is a constant stream of crimes being committed, the news seems to focus on the criminals and bad things in world more than the good.

Now, given the perplexity about the topic, it seems the bulk of the argument about the topic is over exactly what the term means. If one considers just desert to mean an equalizing of grievances by mutual disgrace, it should be a matter of modest obscurity to disgrace and banish such a theory from the field of justice. However, if one considers the term to mean that criminals should get exactly what they deserve, then one would be compelled to find a convincing argument to stand in disagreement.

I agree with Pojman's belief of reward and punishment, but Pojman suggests that the decision of right and wrong is to be established by our intuitions. Pojman states that it is a truth that is, “obvious on reflection” (Pojman, 1999, p.100). I do not essentially think that intuition is a set of values we are born with. If this were true, would a two year old not react the same way to a situation as I would? Of course, not, the child would have not obtained the understanding and knowledge I have as an adult. A child may act greedily in a situation and may not fully understand the importance of kindness and consideration, which I think are values that are learned and observed. That brings up the question of nature vs. nurture. Are we who we are because of our upbringing or were we simply born with a predetermined destiny? I think that we are a product of our environment and what we observe.

There are many unrelated issues drawn into the mix where justice is concerned. It seems experts in the field are unable to make a distinction and define specific areas of focus, and so try to tackle everything at once in a single subject. The concept of distributive justice has long been a nuisance by changeable interpretations of the word equality, and it seems that this word, which refuses to match a universalized definition, it stands at the root of this matter as well. How can one have a sense of balance for what is just for an offender based solely on the nature of a specific offense, while maintaining any

appearance of fairness toward that offender as an individual.

Therefore, it is my belief that just deserts are a necessary factor of justice, when it is considered representative of the concept of punishment being a resulting effect of an offense having been committed. Unless the dispenser of justice

controlling the trial participated in the wrongdoing, then his/her own moral misgivings should be left out of the matter.

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