I recently went through a defining moment in my relationship with my mother when she told me that she had a miscarriage. There have been few moments in my life in which i’ve been faced with an issue that forces me to question the foundations of right and wrong beyond anything trivial like cheating or stealing, and this was one of them. For some reason, when it’s concerning a life, particularly one that hasn’t even begun yet, everything seem so insurmountably grave. I had originally found a photograph of her positive pregnancy test on her laptop and was furious for her being pregnant. I handled the information disastrously. I justified my bad work ethic in school by saying that I didn’t have to try because my opportunities were being taken from me anyway because would have to stay home instead of going to college so I could help her take care of her new baby. We had an actual conversation later and she explained that she had gone to the doctors where they said it was a false positive due to the miscarriage. The roller coaster of blame and fault had come to an unexpected end and the only thing left was to look at the debris and try to figure out where everything went wrong. Why were my actions so missguided and how did I believe I was justified when leading my crusade?
Her miscarriage prompted me to reflect and find closure, so I looked at my issues with her withholding knowledge about the pregnancy to begin with. I questioned whether the ethics of disclosing knowledge is determined by the people around you or if you determine it yourself. In this situation, I believed that her ethical responsibility to tell me was greater than her desire to keep it to herself, thus making her personal judgement of ethics void to my outside consensus. This was a selfish outlook that forgets the power of personal choice. I could not make her talk to me in the same way that I wouldn’t want her to force me to talk about something. It wasn’t even a lie, but an unasked for piece of information that would have never come to light had I not pushed the envelope. A personal choice has to power to act without prompt, but It would be naive to overlook influence. The entitlement of my position is determined by the power that comes with being a daughter to a mother in society, and being a daughter to a mother in our family arrangement. The world’s point of view, my point of view, and her’s are all weighing in on the consensus of right and wrong. The complexities are only beginning and only get more complicated with each incoming variable that’s thrown into the mix, so for analyzing purposes the question will be limited to the possession of knowledge and the ethical responsibility that comes along with it.
Ethics is a special area of knowledge that isn’t found in the Diploma hexagon so its not discussed too often in TOK. Are there any objective ethical rules, or does every moral judgement depend on the circumstances? Even though it’s not explicitly a way of knowing, we can see it in Emotion and Reason. In order to talk about reason we have to address its confusing proximity to logic. Logic is the deducing of valid conclusions from given starting points or premises. Human reasoning can be delusional in nature, so conclusions cannot be strictly deduced from their flawed premises. My mother’s reasoning cannot be blamed for coming to the conclusion that her pregnancy was something that I didn’t need to know about because human reasoning is flawed to begin with. If I am to apply this conclusion to all aspects of the senario than my reasoning that my need to know was greater than her discretion cannot be blamed either. Once those differences become moot the next differences between our judgment comes from our experiences as members of the mother daughter relationship. We have a unique level of openness between us that would not necessarily work in any other pairing. By way of my personal point of view and under this doctrine of openness a pregnancy would be immediately on the discussion table between us, but it is impossible to know what rational she was following when given the same positions and influences she decided to keep it from me. The next level is cultural influences and for this, we have to assume that standards of rationality and norms of reasoning are inherently grounded in society and the social etiquette we subscribe to. We as individuals cannot define the limits on the Areas of Knowledge, they set their own requirements for the types of reasoning that is accepted. Therefore, as her position within our family dynamic as my mother, and her social standing as the mother her judgement and conclusions based on reasoning holds a greater importance than my reasoning that’s inexperienced and lacking title.