Ethics and Government

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Ethics and Government
Angela M. Roberson
SOC 120: Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility
Professor Kay Green
May 30, 2010

Ethics is defined as a set of principles of right conduct. It is also a theory or a system of moral values (Merriman/Webster online dictionary). Government Ethics is often times referred to an oxy-moron. The reason for this is that many believe that our government does not have ethics in decision making. In this paper I will attempt to analyze the links between laws and ethics and how they have a relationship with one another. I will also explain how our government and ethics have a connection and how this connection can be made better. In recent months there have been several government issues going. It appears to me that there is a lack of ethics being applied in the decision making. One of the current issues that I will discuss is the Oil Spill going on in the Gulf right now. At the time this paper was written, the President has failed to answer any questions concerning this issue nor has he addressed the country. Laws are being created and amended each day. As the people, we look up to laws to help protect us. But many people have lost their faith in our laws. Some people may think “why do we have ethics if we have laws to govern our behavior?” The best answer that I can come up with is no ethics, no laws. According to Ruggiero ethics is the reason that we have laws in the first place. Why do we need ethics if we have laws? Laws would be non existent without ethics Laws are a set of guidelines to help define ethical issues and the consequences of these issues that are to be given if someone decides to act wrongfully. Lawmakers look to ethics as guidance when creating laws however Ethicists are not lawmakers. One of the reasons why many people feel that our government does not ethics is the lack of understanding of the true meaning of ethics. There are two different definitions of ethics. These are the scientific sense and the philosophical sense. The scientific sense describes ethics as a descriptive discipline which involves the collection and interpretation of data based upon what different cultures believe. The philosophical sense involves two sides; normative ethics and metaethics.

The main goal of normative ethics is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating good habits that we should have or will acquire, the duties that we should follow, and the consequences of our behavior to others. The Golden Rule is an example of a normative principle. We should do to others what we would want others to do to us and vice versa. Other normative theories are more focused on foundational principles and good character traits. The definition of metaethics is to investigate where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean (Fieser, 2006). Metaethics answers questions that pertain to social interventions and expression of our individual emotions. Many of these questions focus on the issues of the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, universal truths, and the meaning of the ethical terms themselves (Fieser, 2006). Metaethics can also be defined as the study of the origin and meaning of ethical concepts. According to Fieser there is a third side of philosophical ethics. He calls it applied ethics. Applied ethics is defined as a branch of ethics which is an analysis of specific controversial moral issues such as abortion, animal rights, and euthanasia. In order for an issue to become an applied ethical issue there must be a double point of view. In recent years applied ethical issues have been subdivided into smaller groups such as medical ethics, business ethics, environmental ethics, and sexual ethics. There are a lot of issues pertaining to these groups because there was no majority view of what was right and wrong. Issues like gang violence or child abuse are not considered...
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