Human life is not as simple as natural phenomena. Man has both intelligence and sentience.
Often, while his feelings, senses, desires and tendencies pull him one way, his intellect pulls him in another direction. He is both selfish and selfless.
Feeling is an almost daily occurrence. Then a highly intellectual person is confronted with another problem. He goes so deep in each subject and he has so many alternatives before him that he finds it difficult to take up any of the causes of action open to him.
Almost everyone has experience of similar situation. In this situation the person becomes paralysed and his duties do not suggest themselves to him. Moral deliberation is necessary to escape a moral situation.
Moral decision can be reached in the following ways:
1. Through Moral Analysis:
In a moral situation there is a struggle between an individual self and social self, between selfishness and selflessness. If moral analysis can make the moral truth clear that the true personal gain lies in selflessness, then this struggle would end. In the Gita when Arjuna was at his wit’s end, Lord Krishna tried to solve the problem. It was Arjuna’s social duty to perform his natural role without any longing.
Had he done so the problem of selfishness and selflessness, freedom and determinism would not have arisen because the two would have appeared identical?
But Arjuna, distinguishing between knowledge and action left action and steeped himself in knowledge. At this Lord Krishna told him that actually knowledge and action are not different i.e., he who sees yoga and sankhya as one, sees correct. Thus man should keep on doing the work natural to him without any longing or attachment.
2. Through Logic:
In a moral situation one is in doubt whether a particular course of action is right or wrong and the only way of dispelling the doubt is to make a logical analysis of the two alternatives and to again knowledge of the right and the wrong and to choose the right.
Lord Krishna used logic along with ethics in the Gita. He had used many logical arguments to explain the same thing. In the Gita, from the second chapter (Sankhya-yoga, Kanua-yoga, Jnana, Karma Sanyash-yoga, etc.) right upto the eighteenth. Lord Krishna has, in many logical ways. Countered Aijiana’s moral strife. In this way, he solves the moral situation as a result of which Arjuna says to Lord Krishna –
O! Achyuta! By your kindness, my delusion has been removed and I have received knowledge whereby I am now out of it and I will obey your command. This is the solution of moral situation. Moral decision comes after moral solution.
Different steps in moral judgement:
But an analysis will show many steps in this activity of reaching a moral decision.These steps are as follows:
1. Classification of Alternatives:
It is due to the in distinct nature of the alternatives in an ethical situation that no path suggests itself. In the Gita Arjuna have two alternatives to fight or not to fight. Although he saw many defects in both the alternatives yet he decided that it was morally creditable to be called a coward and disregard duty than to fight, bringing ruin upon the whole family and he did this for want of a better alternative.
In this thinking, to fight would be selfish, if had therefore, to be sacrified for self won Id be selfish, it had therefore, to be sacrified for self would be selfish, if had therefore, to be sacrified for selflessness. But he also knew that he was disregarding his duty as a Kshatriya. He was in a fix due to this conflict; Lord Krishna showed him other alternatives more clearly. He said that there is a third alternative which can solve the difficulties of the two previous alternatives.
Besides war working without any longing or working and leaving the vest in the hands of God, work can also be done with a purpose of social consolidation. In such a situation, duties will be fulfilled and there will be no bondage due to result of actions. The interests, both of the individual and the society, rest safe, in this course of action.
2. Analysis of Consequences:
After the alternatives have been classified, their consequences should be analysed. The person analyses consequences of alternatives on the basis of history and past experience.
If the consequences of all alternatives are analysed, the situation becomes clear, moral judgement becomes easier. In the Gita, Arjuna had two alternatives. He thought more about the consequences of fighting than the consequences of abstaining from – it. This was done by Lord Krishna. He explained that the infamy accuring from abstention would be worse than death.
Besides analysing the consequences of the third and best alternatives, Niskam Karmayoga, he was shown that it has no defects and is good from every standpoint. In this way, it is necessary to analyse the consequences of all the alternatives.
3. Imagining oneself in the time-and place of the consequences:
By this power of imagination, every person can think of the consequences of his work by imagining to himself the shape of things to come. Thinking in this way may facilitate judgement. The more power but the imagination the quicker will be the decision of the correct course to be followed.
4. Looking at oneself with the eyes of the people to be affected by one’s activity:
A person with an eye for ethics should be imaginative enough to be able to establish a connection with others and to understand their condition. He should analyse the consequences of his work from the view point of society. He should put himself in the place of another and think of the effect his work may have oh them.
Only then will he be able to work rightly from the social view point because any work improper from the view point of altruism is always improper, whatever may be its justification from the selfish view point. Ultimately, a compromise between the personal and social good is necessary.
5. Evaluation and Comparison of values:
After the fourth step the person should evaluate the activities of each alternative and see which one of them has a higher moral value by comparison. This task makes a proper knowledge of ethics indispensable. He should know what are values, which of them are superior ones etc. In a moral situation the intellect becomes paralysed so that advise can be solicited from some able person. In the Gita, Lord Krishna has evaluated the various alternatives and after comparison of their values has suggested the best course to follow.
Now comes the stage of decision. A mutual comparison of the values of the alternatives brings the best alternative into the focus leaving the others out of it. In this way, a path is decided upon.
But unless the decision is given an active form, the mental struggle of the moral situation does not cease. Thus a complete solution of moral decision is possible only when it is made active.
The above seven steps in the activity of moral decision are present in some form or the other. It is possible that their order may be slightly changed or that their number may vary. In a man’s practical life, the above order will change according to the man’s mental and moral condition but when these seven steps analysed can be traced.