September 29, 2019

When Can We Be Excused For Not Doing The Right Thing?

Kevin Hattie, 26

This collection of three very short stories explores the material problems that weigh on our moral decision making. Often when we contemplate ethics, we try to ascertain what is right and what is wrong. The problem takes on an epistemological character: how do we know what the right course of action is? Keeping the epistemological question in sight, though more in the background, I want to shift the focus onto freedom, responsibility and moral courage. In each story, there are pressures underlying the moral decision making of each character, be they institutional, economic, societal, or psychological. I believe such pressures are key in understanding why so much injustice still exists in our world today. Violence, poverty, corruption and much else persists despite an almost universal agreement that they represent moral failings. Our material circumstances often weigh more heavily on our actions than any moral ambiguity that may exist. While we must have sympathy for those who face extremely difficult decisions and not be quick to condemn their behaviour, we must consider the cost of moral paralysis. Can we ever be excused for not doing the right thing?