The chosen painting is called ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring.’ It is one of the most famous paintings of Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch painter. Vermeer painted this painting in the year 1665. He used oil as the medium and canvas as the base for the painting.
The size of the painting is 44.5 cm x 39 cm (17.5 in x 15 in), and it is a vertical composition. At times, this painting is also referred to as ‘The Mona Lisa of the North’ or even the ‘Dutch Mona Lisa.’ Presently, the painting can be viewed at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, The Netherlands. Following is a depiction of the painting:
To a very large extent, the question or problem of morality arises from ethical principles. Considering that human belief is the foundation of morality, different philosophers have presented critical ideas in order to address the question of morality. In his writings, Immanuel Kant uses the term Moral Law to explain why human beings should act in a universally acceptable manner.
Purportedly, rationality is the main source of morality in human beings. As a result, acting morally implies acting according to sound reason. In general, people tend to act morally only when it is beneficial for them to do so. Although such individuals will act morally when dealing with some people, they will act immorally toward others. Clearly, this explains why many arguments have been presented by philosophers to justify morality.
Based on a study by Feinberg and Shafer-Landau, the issue of morality is better understood from a Christian point of view (4). In the presence of God, we are all created with weaknesses that often lead us to do things or acting in ways that are offensive to others. In addition, we all have the freedom to make choices whether bad or good. As a consequence, it is expected that time and again, human beings will act wickedly.
Apparently, God is just and generally cares for every single individual equally. For this reason, Christians contend that wickedness is the outcome of the freedom that human beings enjoy as people created by God. According to John Mackie, the idea of a powerful, caring and kind God is questionable considering that evil is prevalent throughout the world (Feinberg & Shafer-Landau 4).
Mackie further argues that God, because of his loving and caring attitude, should consider getting rid of evil in society. Consequently, the fact that evil exists may as well imply that God does not exist and if at all he exists, he is not perfect. Many other critical arguments are in support of the claims made by Mackie and seek to show that it is illogical for evil and God to co-exist.
In my opinion, it is important for every individual to act morally and to be concerned about the interests of other people. As explained earlier, some people only act morally when they stand to gain in one way or another. While this may be beneficial, it is only for a short while. Chances are that such people will act differently when dealing with different people. Generally, acting morally is often in the best interest of everyone else (Beckwith 38).
In his writings, Aristotle argues that by acting in a rational manner, human beings are forced to act ethically and to identify the actual meaning of life. It is equally important for every single individual to have a moral understanding in order to promote his or her happiness as well as the happiness of others.
People should, therefore, act morally in every situation and it must be clear why a person’s interests are relevant to other people in society (Beckwith 64). This helps to clear any doubts regarding a person’s behavior.
I also believe in doing to others what I would like for them to do for me. Consequently, acting morally when other people may cause them to also act morally. Although this may appear selfish, it serves to help individuals focus on doing what is morally acceptable in society. By seeking the good of others, we are essentially giving a hint of how we would like to be treated.
As an example, I would be quite unhappy if any person took what belongs to me without my knowledge. As I do not want anybody to take my property without my authority, it follows that I should not take other people’s property without seeking their permission. Undoubtedly, acting morally has its own benefits even if a person has no regard for God.
If a person can not tell any lies, for example, it will be apparent to every person he or she interacts with and he or she will be regarded as a trustworthy person. Similarly, most people feel comfortable being around a polite person. I also tend to believe that acting morally creates a healthy environment for people to live in and be happy.
Irrespective of one’s religion, therefore, it is imperative for every person to act morally and think about the good of everybody else. Despite the fact that the law exists and may be used as a useful tool to shape the behavior of people, everyone must take personal responsibility to act morally for the betterment of the wider society.
An Objection to My Position
As I have already stated, my stand is that every single person should act morally for the betterment of all people in a given society. For many philosophers, however, happiness is something very personal and does not consider the thoughts or feelings of other people.
As a result, any person who wants to maximize his or her happiness will only be able to do so when it appears right for him or her to do so (Beckwith 75). Arguably, this tends to happen without any consideration for the thoughts and expectations of other people.
Expanding on the Objection
As pointed out by Pojman and Fieser (48), the end result of any moral action by an individual is his or her happiness. Certainly, this may not necessarily be true given that happiness implies different things for different people. For this reason, some people may act immorally but still, be happy while others will be sad in the event that they act wickedly.
Drawing on a study by Wood (65), people generally tend to be careful when seeking what appears helpful to them. As a consequence, every individual will act in a proper manner so as to achieve his or her intended goals.
Ostensibly, human beings are always accountable for any form of information in their possession (Wood 74). For this reason, morality is not a compulsory condition for human beings to attain happiness. It is, however, an important ingredient of a human being’s happiness.
While this explanation presents the notion of selfishness, it may be justified on grounds that human beings are generally selfish individuals and often think about themselves before anyone else (Rachels and Rachels 7). This explains why a human being will act morally because of a benefit only known to him or her.
In the absence of the perceived benefit, it is very likely that the same person will act wickedly. Obviously, this is not the way that people should live with one another. It creates a spirit of jealousy, competition, and envy among individuals in a society. In some cases, it may even contribute to acts that create a hostile environment for people to live and operate in.
There are many reasons for people to act morally. Even though human beings are generally not perfect, acting morally creates a comfortable environment for every individual to live in and be happy. Among other reasons, morality is a command from God and should be taken seriously, especially by those who fear God.
As has been explained in this paper, morality also leads to happiness. However, different people have different perceptions of happiness, and this can create some confusion. While some people may act immorally and still be happy, others are careful and will do almost anything to avoid being immoral.
Undoubtedly, getting people to act morally is a very challenging task. Although it is common sense that acting morally is beneficial to everyone in society, many people still act selfishly and would rather take care of their needs first before thinking about those of others. Considering the benefits that are associated with acting morally, it is imperative for every individual to create some time to think about their morality.
Parents should especially spend quality time with their children to train them the benefits of being moral. Sadly, most children are neglected by their parents during their formative years and are often left with no one to help in shaping their future as they grow into adulthood. To a large extent, this affects how they behave later in life.
Beckwith, Francis. Do the Right Thing: Readings in Applied Ethics and Social Philosophy. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2001. Print.
Feinberg, Joel and Russ Shafer-Landau. Reason and Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, Cloth: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Pojman, Louis and James Fieser. Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Rachels, James and Stuart Rachels. Problems from Philosophy. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011. Print.
Wood, Allen. Kant’s Ethical Thought. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Print.