Ethics as the word implies is the philosophical analysis of human morality and conduct. And, therefore, we say that the moral principle of one nation may not be the same of others. Or it may be of a different thing to different individuals in some cases. But is this inference correct?
When I was driving in Australia during my tertiary education between the years 1965-1970, it would be an ethical courtesy to always let the right side of your traffic pass first when you reach a junction. It would also be appropriate to give indication when you want to switch driving lane.
But it is not at all so in my own home of Thailand. It would not be considered as good ethics for doing both when driving. I remember when I took the wheel on the Bangkok streets just after I returned from my studies overseas, I had about 12 car accidents in 10 months time. I was simply not used to the practice of not giving signal when making a lane change. I rammed into most of the cars that came into my lane swiftly without prior notice. The insurance terminated my policy for too many claims allowed to make.
In the business world, it is absolutely alright to slip some bank notes under some documents submitted to certain Government agencies here in Thailand. This would be considered an unacceptable ethics in the near by country of Singapore.
Ironically, an illegal driving habit of overtaking a long queue of vehicles only to force the way back in the same line at the front end was concluded as ethical in my Seminary Ethical class. The logic is although it is illegal, but if officers at the site do not mind and do not interfere with the action, then it would be ethical to do so.
In certain counties, a Minister may tender his/her resignation or commit suicide on ethical issue for any personal scandal, say taking bribes like in Korea or Japan. In other countries like Philippines, Indonesia or Thailand, it would need to drive the Minister out with an on street people's power shout or military Coup D'état. Ministers do not realize that it is not ethical to take bribe.
It seems that ethics is a different matter to different person. Earlier this month in October 2007, two Ministers of interior and Communication and one assistant Commerce Minister of Thailand were caught holding an un-acceptable more than 5 % shares in private companies. As a result, the Communication Minister immediately tendered in his resignation citing ethical issue and inappropriateness of the way he had handled the matter. However, he was quick to add that this is purely his own personal ethical believes and had no intention what so ever to be a guideline for his other two compatriots.
The Interior Minister responded in the likewise promptness by saying he will not quit for he had done nothing wrong ethically. The third assistant Minister was hugging tight to her position with a wait and see attitude. The confusion of the political ethics was flared for about two weeks before the two Ministers were being eventually expelled from their offices.
The point is, is it really so that ethics is different to different individual person or group or nation? It certainly is not. Any argument for it is fallacious. There is definitely a clear black and white drawing line of ethical or unethical in regarding an issue. There is no grey or blue or unclear area within an ethical situation. How can a human morality and conduct be right to a person and wrong to others?
Some arguments go by the way in accepting there is a drawing line, but the line is rather wide. And at time, we might get caught in between this thick line. Hence, one sees it as white when he leans to the white side and vice versa.
I personally think the drawing line is not only not a thick ones, it is in fact a fine line drawing an ethical issue. Holding more than 5 % of shares in a private firm can only be ethical or unethical but not both. Bribing is the same. And so are driving. It is the same in...