Our environment is the world of values that reflect the attitude of a one person to different notions. The behavior of a human being is also controlled by the values. These assumptions and beliefs become crucial for a person if there appears the necessity to make a choice. The personal values may differ across cultures and historical periods, however, the majority of them are the same for every nation and epoch. The article describes such values as the truth, beauty, liberty, goodness, equality, justice, ethics, morality, and the principles of right and wrong. It also outlines the problems of gun control, religion, politics, war, and social phenomenon, as well as gives the explanation of the trolley problem.
The truth is a moral value that allows people avoid unfairness in the relations with each other. It always corresponds to the real situation and does not modify it. The feature of truthfulness should be developed from the early childhood. In future, it will help the person to keep the word. The truth is the basis of the society that cannot exist without it. The truth individuals to be able to rely on each other and build social relations. Truthfulness cannot be bought, but it is highly appreciated. Sometimes one thinks that it is permissible not to be honest at all times. However, the absence of truth leads to the mistrust between the members of any community.
Beauty is the highest degree of harmony and at the same time the combination of contradicting elements. This value gives an aesthetic pleasure to the observer. It is one of the most important elements of the culture. Beauty represents the perfection of the surrounding objects and creations. This conformity may be found in the sound of the wind or the sunshine. One can also observe it in famous works of art, poems and songs. It serves as an inspiration to live and to create. Beauty became one of the bases of a moral evolution. It makes people search for their ideal and change their lives for the better.
Freedom is the free will of a person to carry out one or another action. In the ancient times, this word meant the independence from the will and desires of another person, as well as from one’s politic despotism. In the Medieval Ages, the freedom meant the absence of sins. In the Renaissance epoch, it signified a possibility for the free development of a human personality. Nowadays freedom is the ability to make a choice that is not depending on the consequences. A person has a wide spectrum of decisions to make in any situation and has the right to choose the best solution. A choice may be considered to be free, if it is based on the intellectual and volitional abilities of a person, and if the moral requirements are combined with the internal needs. The choice is limited and dependent if it is based on the feelings of fear or duty, as well as the outer pressure and will of people is divided between the desire and the obligatory action.
Ethics is a philosophical discipline that investigates morality. It determines the system of norms of a certain social group. The main issues of ethics are the problem of good and evil criteria, the search of the sense of life, and the question of the free will of an individual. Representing a practical study that describes a correct behavior, ethics is also the system of knowledge about the derivation of moral norms. Ethics is the qualitative characteristic of a society, and at the same time it also refers to the problems and values of a separate person.
Goodness is the intention of a human being to improve the life of other people. It is interconnected with altruism. Goodness inspires people to do good deeds. It ensures the openness to others, events and the life in general. It helps in transforming the world for the better. In the family, goodness is used to explain children the difference between good and evil. Goodness forms the basis of social relations. Due to this notion, people study how to trust each other and not to condemn the mistakes that may be made by anyone.
The equality is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society. This principle rejects the submission of people on their social status, gender, origin or sexual orientation. It means that all people in a democratic society are free, equal before the law, and have the same rights. At the same time, all the representatives of a social group are subjected to the existing norms of behavior. Ideally, the equality has to be officially acknowledged and supported by the government. Moreover, it is necessary to promote the equality within the society. There still exists bias on the sexual orientation, gender and racial discrimination that are unacceptable for any democracy.
Justice is the fairness in the right defense of every person, regardless of his/her gender, religion, status, sexual orientation and other social factors. The judges, who carry out the justice, should not depend on the government, local authorities or political parties. The principles of justice are based on fundamental laws that appeared in the course of the society development. The society has a huge influence on the formation and interpretation of the justice ideas. Thus, it may have a national character. The roots of justice may be found in the religion, traditions, mythology and history of almost any nation.
Nowadays, the problem of gun control is critical in the American society. On the one hand, people have the right for self-defense. The society faced numerous events where people, who had access to weapons, managed not only to prevent crime but also to detain the criminals. On the other hand, the restriction of weapons sale may lessen the number of crimes. It is necessary, though, to prohibit the sale to people, who were accused of home violence and other crimes.
Religion is a special form of understanding of the surrounding world that is based on the belief that the universe was created by a supernatural power. It includes a set of moral norms and the models of behavior, cult actions and the unification of people in religious organizations. Religion suggests that a human being is connected with the spiritual world. The notions of good and evil and the aim of life are essential for every religion. Most of the religious norms and ideas are written in sacral books that, according to the opinion of the representatives of a religion, were inspired or dictated by gods or people with the highest level of spiritual development.
Policy is the activity of governmental institutions that reflects the social order and the economic structure of a country. It is the tactics to take decisions that allow to achieve the declared and planned highs. Policy determines the strategy of relations with other subjects on the grounds of common interests and competition. The constitution reflects the policy structure. It is a complex hierarchical system of relations. In short, the policy is a program, activity, aim and the complex of methods directed towards the implementation of interests and the achievement of the established goals. A policy is a social notion that may be understood as the instrument of the self-regulation of any society.
The aim of a war is the victory of the allies and the destruction of the rivals. One of the main causes for a military conflict is the desire of the members to impose their will and control over others. It is the tendency of the political powers to use the armed struggle for the achievement of the external and internal political aims. The sides of a conflict try to change the behavior of their enemies, forcing them to refuse from freedom, ideology, territories, national wealth, natural resources, etc. Sometimes, the initiators of the war want to achieve indirect aims such as the strengthening of political positions and the destabilization of the situation in a certain region. The conflicts may be divided into air warfare, sea, local, nuclear, colonial, informational, and cold wars. According to the final outcome, the wars may be divided into those, where the interests of a given side were fully satisfied, and the conflicts that brought no satisfaction.
Social phenomena are the elements of the social reality that have all the spectrum of social qualities and features. Social concepts include objects, people, their relations, actions, thoughts and feelings (all the material and spiritual products of human activity), social institutions, establishments, organizations, interests, etc. Many of the social phenomena have a latent nature. They demonstrate not only the obvious characteristics of the social reality but also its deeper processes, the connection of which with a certain social phenomenon cannot be directly traced. Such link may be found by performing sociological investigations. The secondary and random relations and the notions that characterize the social objects may also belong to the social phenomena. The widely-spread social phenomena are investigated with the help of statistic methods.
Any social phenomenon may be learned as a social fact in the case its repetitiveness, generality, typicality and the social value are established. Thus, a social fact may turn into the scientific one and become an element of theoretic knowledge.
The Trolley Problem
The trolley problem is an imaginable experiment in ethics that is also important for the cognitive science. It was subjected to a discussion on many television channels in the country. The utilitarian point of view requires moving the trolley in the way with only one person. According to the plain utilitarianism, this decision is not only permissible but also it is the best variant from the moral point of view. The alternative standpoint suggests that this situation is already based on the moral unfairness, and the movement in another direction causes the involvement of a person in this unfairness. He/she becomes responsible for a human death. If choosing not to do anything, no one can be blamed. One may also make an accent on the importance of even a single human life. According to some interpretations of the moral duty, the presence of a person in such situation and the opportunity to influence it creates the duty to make a choice. In this case, the decision not to react may be considered immoral if a person attaches more value to a single life than instead of five. The trolley problem causes a strong emotional reaction in the human brain. When a person deals with such conflicts, emotional and cognitive receptions are contradictive.
The participators of the survey also heard the version when one person on the other way was their relative or a friend. In this case, the percentage of the supporters of moving the trolley the other way became significantly smaller. People are not ready to sacrifice that life to save more lives of the others. When putting on a helmet of the virtual reality, where a person could see the faces of people and hear their cries, it was more difficult for the individual to kill one person and to make the choice.
The trolley problem has one more variant, when there is only one way, and the trolley may be stopped by something heavy falling in front of it. Suddenly, the observer can see a very fat man, and the only opportunity to stop the trolley is to push that person from the bridge that will cause the death of this person, but will save the lives of the other five.
This scenario poses an even harder challenge. The majority of people, who in the first case agreed to move the trolley, do not agree to push the man in the second case. One of the moral differences between the two situations is that in the first one the observer does not have the intention to cause harm to one person. The death in this case is only the negative consequence of moving the trolley in another direction, farther from five people. In the other situation, first of all, the person causes harm to the fat man, and only then saves five lives.
The described problems create the individual`s personal values. The investigation of such values as truth, beauty, liberty, goodness, equality, justice, ethics, morality, right and wrong, the problems of gun control, religion, politics, war, as well as the social phenomenon, and the trolley problem helps the students make a right choice in different scenarios in their lives and be responsible for their deeds in future.