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    Ethics and elsewhere Essay

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    According to Utilitarian ethics, the right thing to do was to tell the principal, because it would most certainly stop her acts of cheating; thus everyone would benefit. However, telling on a friend was difficult. Our friendship would be threatened; and the person who helped her would feel disappointed in me for telling on him. However, I couldn’t let my emotions take control in this situation. Clearly it would be fair and reasonable for everyone including myself to report the cheating. In the end I did so.

    In this case I allowed both ethical theories to guide my actions. In the area of applied mathematics and engineering, architects and engineers must strictly follow the theories that exist to guide the way a building must be built so that the forces holding the building together are strong enough to keep it from collapsing. If we were to build a light bulb or a radio, the physical theories or blueprints created by Edison and Machoney, respectively, must be followed, or the light bulb will not light, and the radio will not work.

    Certain physical and mathematical theories such as the ones mentioned have either been deduced or induced from observations of real life phenomena, and have proven to be unfalsifiable until this point in time. Thus, the theory has fully taken into account all that needs to be, and is describing reality as it is; which is why human beings allow their actions to be guided by these theories. Conversely, theories become vulnerable when they try to explain the complexity of the world and predict complicated human behavior.

    For instance, theories in psychology attempt to explain the workings of human consciousness; however, we are far from understanding consciousness and should be wary of letting those theories guide our therapeutic practices and behaviors. In physics, Maxwell’s electromagnetism and Newtonian physics have proven to be inconsistent and incompatible with modern technological development, e. g. computing. At the extreme margins of microscopic levels and hi-speed near the speed of light are where these theories fail to meet the level of complexity to explain reality, thus becoming unreliable.

    Moreover, our attempts to understand geography, meteorology, atmosphere, plate tectonics, etc, in order to forecast certain weather patterns are not always reliable. Thus, we can’t plan a trip to an island and be 100% certain that a rain storm will not hit simply because the forecast is promising. Nevertheless, our attempts to understand and explain all these natural phenomena can’t be completely dismissed. Clearly there are limits to what theory can tell us about ourselves and our universe. Consequently caution must be used as we move from the known to the unknown.

    A central example which I want to focus on is based on the study of economics. The principle or theory underlying economics is that it is based on coherence, and the result is anticipated. When data has been collected, we can start to extrapolate and thus come up with projections that attempt to explain the occurring phenomena. Results in economics can actually be anticipated as long as each limitation is stated in the theory. For instance, when aggregate demand goes up, banks will then lower interest rates. The anticipated effect of this is that more people will be borrowing and spending on durable goods.

    Up to this point, the theory works fine and holds true. However, it does not take into consideration all the other variables that occur in the economy such as price level and inflation rates. This is why economists use the phrase ceteris paribus, meaning ‘if all the other variables are held constant,’ a relationship between two variables can then be anticipated. However, when taking into account all that is happening in the economy at once, the reality is far too complex to be explained by any central theory.

    Low interest rates will have to be raised, since soon enough not enough money will be available for loans that drive the economy. Because economic activities are constantly changing, it is difficult to develop any one theory that can explain all that is happening at any given time. This is why macroeconomic goals such as low unemployment and price stability come into conflict with each other. It can’t be denied that human beings attempt to understand the universe by explaining it with theories. The theories that have proven to accurately describe natural phenomena provide a basic guideline to direct our actions.

    To the extent that the theory is unambiguous, we can follow it. However, most theories collapse when they attempt to explain a reality that is too complex. This is where we as human beings must “go it alone,” using our experiences and a bit of common sense to make it through the day. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

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