Ethical Analysis Discussion
Below is a way to map one’s ethical construction. Our sense of ethics comes from a variety of people and experiences. In the past I had students do a six-page analysis of their ethics, but we’re not going to do that this semester.
Personal Ethical Influences
Believe it or not (I know you do believe it, though), we have several major influences on our ethical perspectives. Consider the types of influences below:
Now, consider how those influences have contributed to your beliefs on the following behaviors or situations:
- Right vs. Wrong
- Resolving Conflicts
Personal Ethical Philosophies
We could pull out any of the personal ethical influences, but let’s go deeper into personal philosophy. There are many kinds of philosophies, and many overlap with each other. For our purposes, I’ve identified five main philosophies for our discuss on ethics:
- Theologism–something is ethical if it follows divine doctrine
- Deontology–something is ethical if one feels there’s an imperative duty to perform
- Based on Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, this perspective is easy to remember because of the ‘D’ in deontology and duty.
- Teleology–the ends justify the means; judging whether or not the final outcome is ethical
- Utilitarianism–the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or one
- Consider Mr. Spock’s moral code as a Vulcan: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
- Objectivism–extreme self interest is the ONLY ethical stance; sacrifice and altruism are unethical
- One must pursue one’s self-interest in order that the system creates the most ethical/moral outcome.
- The example is from capitalist theory: the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker all pursue their individual self interests and produce the best products at the best prices.
- Therefore, the butcher makes money and pays the baker for goods; the baker uses that profit to buy from the candlestick maker; and so on.
- Sacrificing for others–where you end up worse off–is a corruption of this system.
- This is based on the extreme capitalist philosophy of Ayn Rand.