I posted this on Facebook, but something about it embarrassed me. I'll post it here instead.
Ethics are important.
A couple of days ago I saw a £10 note on the floor. I'm struggling financially, so I could have benefited from picking it up. I decided not to.
I think that it's good to uphold the following two moral principles: 1) Try to be as nice as possible to everyone that I meet and 2) Try to do the right thing when an ethical dilemma arises.
Deep down I am a bit of a misanthropic arsehole, but I do think that people should be treated well. I can't regulate my behaviour well when I imbibe alcohol, which is a shame. I have tried recently to uphold this principle on the internet as well, as it is a lot easier to insult someone online, especially in a heated political argument.
I don't really know if am obliged to help billions of people that I am not connected to, but I certainly am obliged to be good to people in my immediate surroundings. Perhaps I would feel obliged to to something for others on a larger scale if I owned a lot of capital. If I owned millions of pounds, I would feel obliged to give most of it away, I'm sure that it would make me feel guilty.
Upholding these principles is not always easy, as the world is very chaotic and random. There are billions of other people with conflicting motives and goals, so ethical motives can often go awry. It often feels like there are billions of egoists trying to realise their own goal and that the whole world is against you when you have made up your mind on something.
I'm not altogether sure that we are even controlled by universal moral principles, as contemporary neuroscience suggests that there is no such thing as volition. We might be irrational creatures controlled by irrational urges. However, just as an individual I feel that I am fighting against the motives and choices of billions of other individuals, I feel like I struggle with my own mind when I make a choice of some sort, as my mind is often conflicted, contradictory and scattered.
I still think that it is right to have the right motives. Whilst I am certainly entitled to having rights - healthcare, education and the liberty to choose what I want to do - I can only have rights when I have duties. I should treat others well, do the right thing and should ultimately make some sort of contribution to society. There you go, some vague speculations on ethics.