The Definition of Ethics

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Ethics. Most of you are probably familiar with this term, but what does it mean? Ethics are the rules we follow to decide what is right, and what is wrong. So, in this class we'll be asking ourselves what is ethical in different situations? How do we decide what is right or wrong. We'll look at different ethical principles to do this. We'll use these ethical principles to analyze the situation and justify our decision about what to do. So, today we're going to use an example; the example from your homework and look at it from two different ethical principles. We'll look at it from the principal of individual rights and the principle of common good. Let me repeat that: we're going to look at two principals. First, I'll just review the example: a woman is dying. She has ten thousand dollars in the bank, but she has no family. The woman tells her friend to use her money to hold a very expensive funeral. She tells the friend to buy a lot of flowers and the most expensive coffin. However, the friend thinks this is a waste of money. The friend decided to use some of the money for a simple funeral and then give most of it to a school for homeless children. However, the friend lies to the woman and says he would use all the money to pay for the funeral. Now, is this lie ethical? Let's start with the principle of individual rights. The source of this principle is the writing of Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher of the eighteen century. Kant had believed that our most important right as humans is our ability to think and make decisions. Unlike an animal,each person has the power to make choices and think about what we are doing. Animal cannot think and decide like people can. This ability to think is what makes us human. Therefore, to be ethical you must think: Am I respecting the right of other people to think and make decisions? So that's how we can define the principle of individual rights, to respect other people right to think and make decisions. So, what would...
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