You are on page 1of 5

CE LAWS: 01 1

CHAPTER 01:
INTRODUCTION TO GENERAL ETHICS AND
ETHICAL VALUES
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After completing this chapter, you should be able to:
• Understand the terminologies involved in ethics.
• Determine the ethical core values.
• Explain the concept of ethics and all its principles.

“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”


- Albert Camus
“To know is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.”
- Socrates
WHAT IS ETHICS?
At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead
their lives. Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral
philosophy.

The term is derived from the Greek word ethos which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition.

Ethics covers the following dilemmas:

• how to live a good life


• our rights and responsibilities
• the language of right and wrong
• moral decisions - what is good and bad?

WHAT USE IS ETHICS?


If ethical theories are to be useful in practice, they need to affect the way human beings behave.

Some philosophers think that ethics does do this. They argue that if a person realizes that it would be
morally good to do something then it would be irrational for that person not to do it.

But human beings often behave irrationally - they follow their 'gut instinct' even when their head suggests
a different course of action.

However, ethics does provide good tools for thinking about moral issues.
CE LAWS: 01 2

ETHICS DOESN'T GIVE RIGHT ANSWERS


Ethics doesn't always show the right answer to moral problems.

Indeed, more and more people think that for many ethical issues there isn't a single right answer - just a set of
principles that can be applied to particular cases to give those involved some clear choices.

Some philosophers go further and say that all ethics can do is eliminate confusion and clarify the issues. After that
it's up to each individual to come to their own conclusions.

ETHICS CAN GIVE SEVERAL ANSWERS


Many people want there to be a single right answer to ethical questions. They find moral ambiguity hard to live
with because they genuinely want to do the 'right' thing, and even if they can't work out what that right thing is,
they like the idea that 'somewhere' there is one right answer.

But often there isn't one right answer - there may be several right answers, or just some least worst answers - and
the individual must choose between them.

For others moral ambiguity is difficult because it forces them to take responsibility for their own choices and
actions, rather than falling back on convenient rules and customs.

MAJOR BRANCHES OF ETHICS


The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right
and wrong behavior. Philosophers today usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas:
metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics.

Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social
inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these
questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the
meaning of ethical terms themselves.

Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong
conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow,
or the consequences of our behavior on others. Finally, applied ethics involves examining specific controversial
issues, such as abortion, infanticide, animal rights, environmental concerns, homosexuality, capital punishment,
or nuclear war.

META-ETHICS

- The theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth-values may be
determined.
- Seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes, and judgements
- What does ‘right’ even mean?

NORMATIVE ETHICS

- The practical means of determining a moral course of action


- Standards of rightness and wrongness
- Investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how ought one to act
- How should people act?
CE LAWS: 01 3

APPLIED ETHICS

- About how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations


- Identify the morally correct course of action in various fields of human life
- How do we take moral knowledge and put it into practice?

DESCRIPTIVE ETHICS

- About what moral values people actually abide by


- People’s beliefs about morality
- Research into the attitudes of individuals or groups of people
- What do people think is right?

RECOMMENDED CORE ETHICAL VALUES

The following recommended core ethical values were developed based on research by the program founder, Dr.
Ron Bucknam, for the development of an applied ethics in professional practice program to assist in evolving
solutions to ethical dilemmas encountered in professional practice.

1. Integrity, including
a. Exercising good judgment in professional practice; and
b. Adherence to ethical principles.
2. Honesty, including
a. Truthfulness;
b. Fairness; and
c. Sincerity.
3. Fidelity, including
a. Faithfulness to clients;
b. Allegiance to the public trust;
c. Loyalty to employer, firm or agency;
d. Loyalty to the profession; and
e. For the theist, faithfulness to God.
4. Charity, including
a. Kindness;
b. Caring;
c. Good will;
d. Tolerance;
e. Compassion/mercy; and
f. Adherence to the Golden Rule.
5. Responsibility, including
a. Reliability/dependability;
b. Accountability; and
c. Trustworthiness.
6. Self-Discipline, including
a. Acting with reasonable restraint; and
b. Not indulging in excessive behavior.

THE ETHOS OF A MAN IS REVEALED IN THE FOLLOWING:

1. He is able to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral.
2. He feels within himself an obligation to do what is good and to avoid what is evil.
3. He feels himself accountable for his actions, expecting reward or punishment for them.
CE LAWS: 01 4

HOW GOOD IS A SET OF PRINCIPLES?

1. They serve as landmarks – generic indicators to be used as compelling guides for an active conscience
2. They are not absolute rules or values
3. They are more like rough measurement where an exact one is not possible
4. They often conflict within each other in practice and some will trump under certain circumstances.
5. They are compatible with argument that we should simply follow our intuition and rely on the inner voice.
CE LAWS: 01 5

CHAPTER 01 REFLECTION

Through the Introduction to General Ethics and Ethical Values:


_____________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________