After taking this class I sit here and wonder. Am I the only one who has never realized how much ethics plays such a large part of the world today? I have always known that most businesses that I have worked in have a code of ethics but I did not realize why they have it. Until now after being in this class I have been looking at how ethics not only needs to be a part of a business but how it is such a large part of society in itself.
For me I did not know how many different parts of ethics there are but how they play make me look at what’s going on in the world today in an ethical way.
Society today is full of chaos because it seems those that are younger than me have a whole different outlook on the world or is it that they don’t know about how ethics plays a part in their lives.
For example: During this quarter when at dinner I would sit with my teenage son and ask what does he knows about ethics and he looked at me like I was crazy. So I said to him do you think that you follow a code of ethics at school and he said yes. What do you think they are I ask? Well we have to follow rules, and have to respect the teachers by listening to them and doing the work they give us. By having this conversation with him at dinner we would talk about how there are ethical meanings that relate to his answers. I proceed to tell him how he basically has a social contract. David Gauthier contract theory is to show self- interested individuals should favor a minimally cooperative moral system (Waller, 2005, p. 68). He still did not understand so I used an example that I think I remembered from school and that was Audi does not through his book bag at Mr. Lucabaugh and Mr. Lucabaugh listens completely to his response. Then I said basically the code of ethics at your school uses a contract theory because you agree to respect and listen to your teacher and your teacher agrees to respect and listen to you. He finally got it.
With what is going on in the world today from the economy, the war, and what is happening in Libya if we as a society did not have any ethical beliefs there would be so much chaos that society would self destruct. A perfect example of this would be Libya and their leader Omar Gaddafi. This is similar to the second reflection paper that I wrote for this class. When I wrote that paper Egypt was in chaos and now it is Libya who is in a “war of all against all” (Waller, 2005, p. 64). In Libya the people are not only protesting against their leader Moammar Gaddafi and want him to step down. Gaddafi to me is defiantly using Dostoyevsky’s challenge which is using the utilitarian calculation by getting much pleasure at the cost of his people (Waller, 2005, p. 55). Could it be that Gaddafi needs to have a social contract with himself and that according to Thomas Hobbes our natural tendencies are toward murder and mayhem (Waller, 2005, p. 66) and he is out for himself. Gaddafi is an individual and universal egoist. On one hand he wants for his country what will benefit him. He has been quoted as saying “I will die a martyr” (Metro, 2011) and on the other hand he says that he does not need help from any other countries and that they should stay out of Libya and the happenings with his country and people. Many countries have different outlook on this issue and most of it is because of cultural relativism this is how one culture has different value from another. This could be an example of America and Libya. For American culture we value people and the fact that we have free speech and that everyone should be free compared to Libya where the people their do not have the same rights of free speech and really are not free because if they go against their government they could die.
Having ethical beliefs or morals in society is a positive thing because it helps control the chaos that would be if there were none. Ethical beliefs should also fall into individuals as well. If the individual person does not have ethics then how would they be able to socialize in an acceptable manner? Everyone has different ethical beliefs whether it is based upon religion or their culture or it could be based upon gender. Many people follow the Ten Commandments and that is their moral and ethical belief system and believes they were created to help control chaos and keep some order of peace in the world or within themselves. As a society we also have the Constitution of America which many people follow that as their code of ethics. And then many people will tell you that ethics and morals are passed down from generation to generation within the family. It does not matter what you believe or were they came from but that we may not be aware of the importance of them and how they relate to our lives.
In the Bible one of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not steal” now imagine if no one in the world has any morals or ethical beliefs. Everyone would be stealing from one another and no one would have anything that they could call their own. But by people having some type of ethical beliefs a majority of people do not steal because it would be against their code of ethics or moral beliefs. Immanuel Kant basic principle of ethics is Categorical Imperatitive says always act in such a way that you could and will act (Waller, 2005, p. 22) which is basically saying do unto others as you would have them do to you . So if you want to be treated well then you should treat others well. If people did not have this ethical belief to follow then there would be more people in the world that only look out for them and have no consideration for others.
This could also be related to virtue ethicist Aristotle who says that virtuous person is not one that does the right act but one who consistently does the right act and for the right reason (Waller, 2005, p. 98). You might ask what does this have to do with individual ethical belief well if you think about it. Because people who do not steal have made it a habit not too and for that they consistently do the right thing. Another example could be as babies most of us were taught not to hit someone because that is not right and it could be against the morals of your family not too. So we eventually grow up that the right reason not to hit someone is because you would not like that to happen to you.
When it comes to ethics many people do not relate it to critical thinking. Critical thinking can play a large role when it comes to ethics because when people start having conversations about anything that can be ethical it can turn into a heated argument or if they do not like what they are hearing they will use the red herring fallacy. Red herring fallacy is what they call a common argument trick (Waller, 2005, p. 2). For example: You and I are having a discussion about the war and I do not agree or like what you are saying so I change the conversation by saying I see, did you know that the Red Sox won the game yesterday. If more people take on the charity fallacy which is to be charitable or generous toward the positions and argument we oppose (Waller, 2005, p. 4). The perfect example of would be you are having a conversation about the war and how they agree with it and you listen to them and calmly respond yes but.
As people get older and our minds get more developed we realize that men and women are not only physically different but emotionally different as well. Women become more act utilitarian because we want to increase pleasure and decrease suffering for everyone compared to men who become more rule utilitarian’s look at the act. It is known that women are more emotional and think differently from men. For many women care ethics plays a large role in morals. Care ethics emphasizes on the importance of affection, friendships and relationships (Waller, 2005, p. 119) which is for most women the core of their feelings. A good example of this could be a couple goes out to dinner and while walking to the restaurant the wife wants the husband to hold her hand and the husband does not want too. This is the women wants to feel some type of affection and the guy does not. Another example would be a guy usually does not care if he doesn’t talk to some of his friends were it would really bother a women because her friendships are important in her life.
I decided to go into this class with an open mind and by doing so I can actually say that I look at ethics in a much different perspective. I don’t think I have ever really thought about ethics other than my own beliefs or corporate ethics. I realized how I never really looked at my ethical beliefs and how they may not be the way I think that I live my life. By this I mean the teacher used a scenario about a little girl and someone was going to kill her if I did not lie. For me I do not believe in telling a lie or getting lied to. As the teacher continued with the different scenarios and I kept saying I would not lie, he finally said over the brake really look at yourself and what you say or respond to things even the smallest of things and see if you lie. So I did just that and low and behold he was right. . I am finding that it is hard to live 100 percent ethically on my beliefs.
As I was writing this I am trying to think about myself and what how the different parts of ethics fit into my life and can say that I am an act utilitarian because I do go through life wanting to not only have maximize pleasure but the people involved in my life and try to minimize the suffering of people involved in my life which is a hard thing to do. For someone whom I may be in a relationship whether a friend or on a more intimate level I can understand the social contracts that we share that we try to be as honest as possible to each other agree to not to cheat on each other even though tendencies may take us elsewhere. I also believe that we all must do what is in the best interest for each so that could make me follow the universal ethical egoism theory. When I think of virtue ethics, I think about myself and what or how I think of individual character. Many people say that I am kind, caring and very considerate person. That always think about other people and how I can help them. This would be because my moral belief is that I treat others as I like to be treated. So if you want respect then you have to give respect. But I also think about how I feel when I help someone which would be the care ethics part of my beliefs. . I myself know that I am consistently kind to people and care very much for people in my life but also for the elderly, kids and pets and I do this for the right reasons and that would be because it makes me feel good about myself.
Without ethics whether personal or for society in a whole the world would not be able to function in order and there would be chaos beyond control. Everyone has ethics whether they are taught them in the home, from the bible or from government itself makes everyone a better person or country. For me taking this class has defiantly made me look at myself and what I honestly think and how I much of an ethical individual person I am. I also know that as we get older me ethical beliefs can change. I have also learned that even though we may not agree with other people’s beliefs we should be open about them and are able to have conversations with bringing anger or disagreements in them.
Metro. (2011, February 22). Gaddafi: I will die a martyr. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from Metro: http://www.metro.us/newyork/international/article/781278–gaddafi-i-will-die-a-martyr
Waller, B. N. (2005). Consider Ethics Theory, Readings and Contemporary Issues. New York: Longman.