Compare and Contrast Five Ethical Models

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Compare and Contrast Five Ethical Models
Ethics and Society, MPA 607
Alexis E. Anthony
Belhaven University
February 28, 2013
Ethics play an integral and necessary part in our lives. An individual’s course of action is dictated by which ethical model they adhere to. Ethics answers the question, "What do I do?" It is the study of right and wrong. “At a more fundamental level, it is the method by which we categorize our values and pursue them. Do we pursue our own happiness, or do we sacrifice ourselves to a greater cause? Is that foundation of ethics based on the Bible, or on the very nature of man himself, or neither?” (Hursthouse, 2012)

A proper foundation of ethics requires a standard of value so that an individual can compare their goals and actions to it. This standard of value allows us to achieve happiness as it provides a measurement of what is right and what is wrong. This standard is our own lives, and the happiness which makes them livable. This is our ultimate standard of value, the goal in which an ethical man must always aim. It is arrived at by an examination of man's nature, and recognizing his peculiar needs. “A system of ethics must further consist of not only emergency situations, but the day to day choices we make constantly. It must include our relations to others, and recognize their importance not only to our physical survival, but to our well-being and happiness. It must recognize that our lives are an end in themselves, and that sacrifice is not only not necessary, but destructive,” Landauer & Rowlands, 2001).

Ethics has always been a cornerstone for personal life, but recent years have seen an increase focus on ethics in business. There are many who believe that their actions in business are separate from their home life and should be held to a different standard. This learner does not believe this is a good practice. Adults spend the majority of their working hours in their business settings. It would be highly dangerous if individuals behaved in one manner and work and a different one at home. How can one consider themselves honest if they engage in dishonest practice five days a week?

In order to determine which ethical model is most effective, this learner did research on several. Those that will be discussed in this paper are Ethical Relativism, Utilitarianism, Deontology, Virtue Ethics and Divine Command Theory.

Proverbs 3:1-6 speaks of the importance of getting wisdom and understanding. This passage also speaks of the importance of having a set of guidelines to follow and how it will enhance a man’s life. It states, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” (The Holy Bible).

The ethical relativism ethical model asserts that there are no universal principles, and moral standards are set by the rules of society. “Ethical relativism is the theory that holds that morality is relative to the norms of one's culture. That is, whether an action is right or wrong depends on the moral norms of the society in which it is practiced. The same action may be morally right in one society but be morally wrong in another. For the ethical relativist, there are no universal moral standards -- standards that can be universally applied to all peoples at all times. The only moral standards against which a society's practices can be judged are its own. If ethical relativism is correct, there can be no common framework for resolving moral disputes or for reaching agreement on ethical matters among members of different societies”...
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