What is ethics and how should we approach it?
Ethics is defined as moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity. This definition on its own does not tell us much about what ethics really is. If you try asking people what they think ethics is, you would also get many different answers. Just as in our ethics classes where different scenarios were put forward and we were required to evaluate the situation and take a stand based on what we believed, there were always opposing views. More interesting though, was the fact that even among the people in the same camp, the reasons that they based their decision on differed greatly. The common approach
The three most common perceptions relate ethics to feelings and beliefs, following the law and what society accepts. Feelings and beliefs
Our feelings and personal beliefs are probably the first things we consider when we come across a situation requiring us to make a choice. However, ethics is not the same as feelings and beliefs – that is, being ethical is not as clear cut as simply following one’s own feelings and beliefs. This is primarily due to the fact that feelings and beliefs are likely to be influenced by the environment we live in – our parents, our friends and our cultures, amongst others. Take for example a neglected child whose parents are criminals and are constantly committing crimes and going in and out of jail. It is possible that the child may grow up thinking that committing crimes is not necessarily a bad thing because he saw it happening around him all the time. While we as outsiders know that committing crimes is not right, the child may well see it as the ‘normal’ thing to do to survive in life based on his experiences. Abiding by the law
Ethics does not equate to following the law. The law is simply a framework on which society abides to. The fact that laws are established by society itself makes it vulnerable to ethical conflicts. After all, the people who...
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