Insights 70 Days Ethics Plan
Day – 2
- In your opinion, which factors affect most – in the present socio-economic milieu – an individual’s ethical behaviour in a society? (150 Words)
Ethical behaviour is characterized by honesty, fairness and equity in interpersonal, professional and academic relationships and in research and scholarly activities. Ethical behaviour respects the dignity, diversity and rights of individuals and groups of people.
It is influenced by the following factors:-
- Legal Interpretations
- Most ancient societies shares common ethical codes, such as against murder, causing injury to fellow human, and attacks on honour and reputation of an individual. In modern world societies, Law and justice to the public are closely related to ethics and they enforce certain rights and duties in an attempt to repress and punish deviations from these standards.
- The culture and the country, in which an individual is based, influence one’s ethical decisions or behaviour. All cultures differ in values and morals.
- In western culture, one may look into the person’s eyes when one is conversing or talking to them. But in certain Asian cultures such as Korea, it is very rude to converse with a person that is “higher” status (age, work etc.) while looking into their eyes. Thus, what is ethical in a country may not be ethical in other countries.
- Individual factors
- The individual factors that determine the ethical standards of a person are moral development, personal values, family influences, Peer Influences and Life experiences.
- Stages of moral development
- Moral development is the process through which children develop proper attitudes and behaviors toward other in society, based on social and culture norms, rules and laws.
- Personal values and morals
- An individual’s values and morals will also influence his or her ethical standards and behaviour. A key variable which affects the ethical behavior is “locus of control”. An individual with an internal locus of control believes that he/she can control the events in his/her life. An individual with an external locus of control believes that fate or luck or other people affect his life.
- Family influences
- Individuals start to form ethical standards as children in response to their perception of their parent’s behaviour and are likely to adopt high ethical standards if they see that their family members adhere to high ethical standard. They develop lower ethical standards if their family members are involved in unethical behaviours.
- Peer influences
- The behaviors and attitudes of peers influence an individual’s decisions in their life. They play an important role in ethical decision making.
- Life experiences
- Individual’s life experiences analyze key ethical concepts such as “right”, “wrong,” and “permissible.” It lets people explore possible sources of moral obligation such as God, human reason, or the desire to be happy. It seeks to establish principles of right behavior that may serve as action guides for individuals and groups.
- “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.” Comment. (150 Words)
Desires are a natural tendency for any human being. Buddhism emphasizes that desires as the root cause of all evils. Even Gandhi emphasized on the virtue of self-control for achieving happiness. Desires can influence a person for greater good or make a human selfish. It is the desire of man that made him/her explore so many paths and rule the world. But the uncontrolled desires make man a slave of these desires and make him/her do things which may not be considered as moral.
In life there is an ongoing conflict among internal desires like self observance,self evaluation and scrutiny etc and external desires like greed, vengeance, conflict, war etc. Many people seek happiness and victory through external desires like power, wealth, status etc.
To win an enemy few tactics and strategies are required but desires are bound to
the existence of man. Conquering them would be an all-out war which has to be
consistent and to be waged for whole life.
In the case of public administrators who are the guardians of public interest, there are many instances that show that they are characterized by self- aggrandizement, self-promotion, self-interest etc. This had led to corruption, crony capitalism, nepotism and favoritism in public affairs. Self interest has replaced public interest.
Self discipline begins with self-knowledge. Self knowledge is necessary to understand your motivations and your desires. So to overcome your desires, you must start with self-knowledge, then you can move to self-discipline, then, with practice, comes the victory over your desires. A victory over self will lead not only to greater public good but also to self-satisfaction and a peaceful life.
3.Define the following with suitable examples:
Consequentialism or teleological ethics is based on the premise that the morality of an action is contingent with the outcome of that action. This implies that morally right action produces good outcome and morally wrong produces bad outcome. It bases morality on the consequences of human actions and not on the actions themselves.
The most common forms of consequentialism are the various versions of utilitarianism, which favour actions that produce the greatest amount of happiness, hedonism (pleasure is the most important pursuit of the humankind so individuals should strive to maximise the total pleasure (net of sufferings and pains), egoism (an action is right if it maximises the good for the self).
Despite its obvious common-sense appeal, consequentialism turns out to be a complicated theory, and doesn’t provide a complete solution to all ethical problems. Problems with consequentialism are:-
- It can lead to the conclusion that some quite dreadful acts are good
- Predicting and evaluating the consequences of actions is often very difficult
The non-consequentialist approach or deontological approach or the duty ethics focuses on the rightness and wrongness of the actions themselves and not the consequences of those actions.
There are several variants of non-consequentialist approach such as Divine Command Theory; Natural Rights Theory etc.
Divine Command Theory says that an action is right if it has been sanctioned / decreed by God that it is right. Thus, the moral obligations arise from the command of the God.
Natural Rights Theory, much developed by John Locke and Thomas Hobbe says that absolute and natural rights which are inherent in the nature of ethics and are not contingent upon the human actions.
c) Moral absolutism:-
Moral absolutism is an ethical view that particular actions are intrinsically right or wrong. Stealing, for instance, might be considered to be always immoral, even if done for the well-being of others (e.g., stealing food to feed a starving family), and even if it does in the end promote such a good.
Moral absolutism stands in contrast to other categories of normative ethical theories such as consequentialism.
For example, someone who believes absolutely in nonviolence considers it wrong to use violence even in self-defense.
Absolutism takes a universal view of humanity that there is one set of rules for everyone – which enables the drafting of universal rules – such as the Declaration of Human Rights. Religious views of ethics tend to be absolutist.
People disagree with moral absolutism:
- Many feel that the consequences of an act or the circumstances surrounding it are relevant to whether that act is good or bad
- Absolutism doesn’t fit with respect for diversity and tradition
Meta-ethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes, and judgments. Meta-ethics is one of the three branches of ethics generally studied by philosophers, the others being normative ethics and applied ethics.
Meta-ethics addresses questions such as “What is goodness?” and “How can we tell what is good from what is bad?”, seeking to understand the nature of ethical properties and evaluations.
Some theorists argue that a metaphysical account of morality is necessary for the proper evaluation of actual moral theories and for making practical moral decisions. Studying moral judgments about proper actions can guide us to a true account of the nature of morality.
e) Normative ethics
Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking. Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions.
Virtue, deontological, and consequentialist (utilitarianism, for example), theories are all instances of normative ethical theories. These theories aim to arrive at standards or norms of behavior, and in doing so provide a framework for ethical thinking.
Normative ethics addresses such questions as “What should I do?”, thus endorsing some ethical evaluations and rejecting others.They examine the rightness and wrongness of actions.