Week Two

This weeks reading –

What is Ethics
If It’s Legal, It’s Ethical,Right?

What is ethics?

Ethics is a term derived from the Greek work ethos which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition. It is essentially a system of moral principles to which people live their lives – making decisions which impact themselves and society. Ethics is the very basis of what we humans refer to as “right or wrong” and helps us to determine whether actions are in fact good or bad.

What use is ethics? 

There are many moral issues throughout the world which people are passionate about. This is all well and good, but the passion can sometimes cause people to follow their hearts instead of their brains. What ethics does is provide us with a framework that we can use to find outcomes to difficult issues. Ethics does not however provide the right answer to ever single issue. It is instead “a set of principles that can be applied to particular cases to give those involved some clear choices.”

Are ethical statements objectively true?

I lean more to the side of the ethical non-realists on this issue. There are many different ethical codes and moral beliefs which people follow, many of which constantly are changing and so something that is not ethical to one person may be seen as ethical in someone else’s eyes. The realist idea that human beings discover ethical truths is a nice one, but I simply see ethical statements as way to provide knowledge of a persons opinions/feelings.

Where does ethics come from?

Ethics has sprouted and grown from various different areas of human existence.

  • God and religion
  • Human conscience and intuition
  • A rational moral cost-benefit analysis of actions and their effects
  • The example of good human beings
  • A desire for the best for people in each unique situation
  • Political Power

Are there universal moral rules?

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to debating this question – Moral absolutism and Moral relativism.

Moral absolutists believe that there are some moral rules that are always true and that they apply to everyone. Any acts which break these rules are immoral and are wrong in themselves, regardless of the circumstances or consequences. Many religious views of ethics tend to be absolutist. Many people disagree with the idea of moral absolutism because the consequences of an act or the circumstances surrounding it are relevant to whether that act is good or bad.

Moral relativists argue that what is “good” refers to the things that a particular group of people approve of. They believe that relativism respects the diversity of human societies and responds to the different circumstances surrounding human acts.

What is the difference between ethics and law?

Law and Ethics usually work well together hand in hand, and their differences are what make them work in equilibrium. Ethics are social guidelines based on moral principles where laws are rules and regulations created by the state. Laws may have specific penalties and consequences when broken whereas ethics have no such penalties or fines. “Both set standards of expected societal actions, but laws enforce actions while ethics set forth social guidelines.”[Ask – Government & Law]

Weinstein, Bruce. “If It’s Legal, It’s Ethical…Right?”. Bloomberg.com. N.p., 2007. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.

“BBC – Ethics – Introduction To Ethics: Ethics: A General Introduction”. Bbc.co.uk. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.

“What Is The Difference Between Ethics And Law?”. Ask. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.



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