Government and Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Law Pages: 5 (2049 words) Published: January 23, 2011
Government and Ethics
Ethics is the study of what is right and what is wrong. In our daily lives were continuously forced to make simple and important decisions. Ethics help to guide people’s behavior and assist them in coming to conclusions. There is not an exact rule to what is morally correct because some people view things differently but by having a general since of what is ethically appropriate it can help a society function in a civilized manner. The role of government in ethics, and the role of ethics in government are very important concepts in forming that civilized society.

In a society there are laws and there are ethics; however there is a considerable difference between the two you cannot have one without the other. Laws are what the government determines right and wrong. Ethics are what the majority of society determines as appropriate. The laws of a society can only state what a person can and cannot do. But they do not cover the in between. Ethics cover the gray areas and indicate what is accepted in a society. Ethics are personal laws they help people make the choice between what is morally right and wrong. Morals help to make a society more civilized and stable. Even though there is a strong distinction between ethics and laws you cannot have one without the other. Laws are not possible without ethics. In the textbook Thinking Critical about Ethical Issues author Ruggiero states, “The only way for a law to be enacted or repealed is for one or more people to make a decision about right and wrong. That has always been true, whether the lawmaker was the chieftain of a nomadic band or tribe, a king or queen, or a group of elected officials” (Ruggerio, 2008). To determine what is unlawful lawmakers need determine what is moral or immoral. The majority of people in a society determine ethical values. But the idea of majority rule can be very dangerous when determining what is ethically correct. In many cases the majority does not specifically base their decision based on what is morally right or wrong. So in return the majority’s choice is not always perfect, and in many cases can be very ignorant. In a lot of occasions the majority rule often equals mob rule. People often forget to determine what is morally sound for the masses and instead determine what is right for them. Majority rule can also influence lawmakers. Laws are determined by what the masses determine as right or wrong. A good example of when majority rule was not necessarily right is that of slavery. The greater part of society believed that slavery was ethical, and that above all the right to do. And because people thought slavery was right laws portrayed these thoughts. Even though slavery hurt the minority the laws were still in place. Majority rules can infringe on an individuals rights. In many instances the idea of the majority rule needs to be altered to guarantee that the rights of the minority are still being represented. Everyone has obligations whether it is to our family, friends, or employer. Just like individuals the government has obligations to the people that it is serving. In the textbook Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues author Ryan Ruggerio defines obligations as, “restrictions on our behavior, demands to do something or to avoid doing it” (Ruggerio, 2008). The government is obligated to be fair and just. The laws that are being determined by the officials need to be sure that they are not infringing on others rights. Besides the government as a whole the elected officials have a personal obligation to the citizens that they serve. They need to be sure that they are behaving appropriately. That their decisions are made based on what is good for the community or country that they are making decisions for. Voters put their trust into these individuals, they vote for them based on the thought that they will serve our country in a morally appropriate manner and make ethical decisions that will...

References: Antholis, William and Strobe Talbott. Fast Forward: Ethics and Politics in the Age of Global Warming. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Catto, Jeremy. The Burden and Conscience of Government in the Fifteenth Century. Royal Historical Society. London, England.
Herrera, C. D. How are Law and Ethics Related? Montclair State University. Upper Montclair, New Jersy. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
Hudson, F.M., & McLean, P.D. (2006). Life launch. Santa Barbra, CA: Hudson Institute Press.
Ruggerio, Vincent Ryan. Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues. New York: McGraw Hill.
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