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How to Have Ethic Behavior
LaTasha Williams
PHI 208
Dr. Diane O’Leary
February 24, 2013

How to Have Ethic Behavior
Is ethics natural or learned behavior? A behavior can often be defined as the conduct of a person, the manner and mode of action in which this person treats others and the way he or she responds to a stimulus (MacKellar, 2007). People come into the world with no knowledge of their surroundings and with complete innocence. Therefore, in my opinion ethics is learned behavior. The argument for this paper is if ethics comes natural to people in our society or if ethics is something that people learn as they grow. Is ethics natural or learned behavior? When learned behavior is taken into thought you have to consider that the types of behaviors and attitudes that are believed to be ethical or unethical by a society are depending upon the set of values and norms a society adopts. The great philosopher Socrates often disputed this question with his peers. His viewpoint was that ethics “consists of knowing what we ought and such knowledge can be taught.” Socrates was not the only one who supported the view that ethical behavior was learned. It is sometimes regarded in higher education institutions also. According to (Rajamma, 2008), “individuals should become more ethical as they increase their educational accomplishments because of increasing exposure in both receiving and administering ethics curricula.” It is also said that “as individuals progress through different levels of cognitive moral development, their ability to deal with ethical dilemmas improves (Christensen & Kohls, 2003). On the other hand, ethical behavior can come natural to an individual. Another well-respected philosopher is Aristotle. He was interested in many things. According to (Mosser, 2010), Aristotle explored many different topics, to include, biology, physics and the natural world. Aristotle believed that nature and its moral laws were recognizable through common sense and reason. Human beings naturally have the two of these and therefore should already know nature’s moral rules. Think about natural law ethics. It is defined as laws that are higher than human-made laws because they are universal to everyone and all societies. The ethical theory of deontology, which is associated with the philosopher Immanuel Kant, also supports the view that ethics is natural behavior. (Benton, D.A., 2001) suggests that ethical behavior turns out to be the easiest to do when an individual has an “unwavering constitution,” and can be himself and not work so hard trying to be something you aren’t. In other words, if people have a solid structure or foundation to stand on they have no need to pretend. The argument of ethics being a learned behavior seems better to me. As I mentioned earlier, one reason is that higher educational institutions point out that when individuals gain more and more education they become increasingly aware of ethical or principled behaviors. The moral learning approach encourages the development of proper judgment decisions. In the field of moral development, psychologist James Rest found the following: 1. Dramatic changes in moral thinking happen in young adults in their 20s and 30s in terms of the basic problem-solving strategies they use to deal with ethical issues. 2. These same changes are linked to fundamental changes in how a person perceives society and his or her role in society. 3. The extent to which change occurs is associated with the number of years of formal education. 4. Deliberate educational attempts (formal curriculum) to influence awareness of moral problems and to influence the reasoning or judgment process have been demonstrated to be effective. 5. Studies indicate that a person's behavior is influenced by his or her moral perception and moral judgments. Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg looked into if education could affect an...
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