Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thinking about Justification

At this point in our course work I am beginning to wonder whether or not the justification for an action is more valuable than the action itself. For Sartre, it seems that who a person is is constituted in their behavior, hence we are who we are in the mode of not being it not in our reflection upon that action. For Sartre, whenever we attempt to become some ideal, we are making an error as we can never truly and wholly fulfill that ideal. With that being the case, I wonder if the justification for an action can take precedence over the action itself in the way we actually live our lives. So if I steal money from my friend and never get caught, there is no need for justification. In that situation I need only justify to myself why I did it, if I choose to do that at all (perhaps I do not feel any moral inclination at all to engage in such a practice). Additionally, if the action is perceived, then I must make a case for what I have done, especially if it is morally reprehensible.

For Simone de Beauvoir, ethics are wrapped up in our conception of freedom. I am responsible for my actions and it seems that in this way the actions themselves become less important than the justification. Of course, there would be no need for justification if we did not act in the first place. However, in a world of other freedoms it seems as if it is not simply the things I do but how I can make a case for those things to others that defines me. We live in a world with other people, rules and prescribed modes of being and because this is the case, it seems to me that I can never be truely free from having to justify my actions.

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