Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy to be ethical

I have just finished a book by Peter Singer called Practical Ethics. Singer was one of the key thinkers in the animal rights movement, but his work goes much further than this, and has informed much of the debate that exists around environmentalism amongst other things.
In his conclusion to the chapter on the environment he says :

“The emphasis on frugality and a simple life does not mean that an environmental ethic frowns upon pleasure, but that the pleasures it values do not come from conspicuous consumption.”

In the final chapter on why we should act ethically he argues that taking the ethical point of view offers a meaning and purpose in life. And I think that in our increasingly secular society this is certainly true. I think that there is a certain amount of fulfilment that can be gained through trying to live an ethical life, which is something that those who accuse us of being killjoys seem to miss.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is the simple pleasure I get from commuting by bike. Nothing I could go out and buy, at whatever price, would give me more satisfaction than the simple freedom that the bike gives me.

2 comments:

Messenger of Doom said...

Good post. I think 'doing the right thing' is very satisfying, more satisfying than anything material that I could ever own. Even if it doesn't seem to make any difference, all the efforts we make are worth it, whether it's saving energy, riding a bike instead of driving a car, refusing to buy products or use companies that aren't environmentally and ethically sound. It's better than closing your eyes, being ignorant like everyone else and not caring about our actions.

This sentence sums it up for me too: "Nothing I could go out and buy, at whatever price, would give me more satisfaction than the simple freedom that the bike gives me."

It could be argued that the above statement is hypocritical because the bike is a material posession that I have bought, but it's not the bike that I love, it's the riding. You don't need to own a bike to enjoy riding one...

messenger of doom said...

<--- that should say "You don't need to own a bike" - dunno where the "/* came from...