Argumentative Essay on Ethics
Ethics refers to the basic concepts and fundamental principles that emanate from the conduct of humans. Ethics entail the evaluation of universal values that range from the essential of equality of human beings to obedience and compliance with the laws of the land. This is also coupled with concerns over issues such as health and safety as well as the natural environment. Ethics determine the way people carry themselves around and conduct their business in all aspects of the environment. However, we should ponder about the fact of whether ethics really describe what is right and wrong. This should occur through covering the debates about the function and value of codes of ethics.
There are controversies or rather differences in the perceptions people make about ethics. To start with, there are those who think of ethics as the morals or rules that are used in distinguishing between right and wrong. This applies a basic rule that requires people to do unto others what they would like to be done unto them. Similarly, they also believe that there is a basic code of professional conduct that requires them to do no harm. This perception follows a religious creed that was applied in the Ten Commandments. This refers to the usual way of describing ethics, as it provides the standards for behavior that discriminate between what is suitable and improper behavior. These perceptions are mostly acquired during the development stages at home, school, church, or even at social gatherings. However, the sense of right and wrong is acquired during childhood while moral development takes place throughout life. This is characterized by the different stages human beings pass through in their maturity process.
This paper will focus on bringing out the aspects involved in ethics through well-thought arguments that bring out the different perceptions people have. Similarly, it will also emphasize the different types of ethics that are employed in the way people conduct their lives. This will be characterized through the analysis of different situations where ethics may be applied. In addition to this, the paper will also bring out the codes of ethics that guide people in different scenarios of their lives as well as the different individual ethical decision-making styles. This will be accompanied by a comprehensive overview of the issues in business and professional ethics.
To start with, there are various types of ethical theories applied in the way people conduct themselves. The first theory involves the teleological ethical theory, which is applied in judging how to right action is based on the external goals or purpose (Dunn and Brooks, 2011). This theory is characterized by consequences that play a significant role in the determination of the dos and don’ts of life. It allows some room for good intentions as people will avoid the consequences regardless of the situation aimed at bringing out the desired outcome. It attempts to relate the aspect of morality to the reality of the situation where the considerations of consequences allow the adaptation of different circumstances and situations (Dunn and Brooks, 2011)
The second theory is referred to as the consequentiality theory where the consequences of an action determine the moral value of the actual situation. The only question that emerges in this theory is how to measure the moral worth of the consequences (Dunn and Brooks, 2011). This depends on the consideration that consequences may at times be good, neutral, or even evil. It also brings about the question of what consequences should be held accountable for the actions that occur. It also questions the fact whether these consequences were intended to happen or are actual. Additionally, it drives the question of whether only actual consequences count and if they can be distinguished using direct and indirect, individuals or objects affected as well as the influence of complicating factors. These aspects contribute to the shaping of ethical theories. According to Dunn and Brooks (2011), these aspects determine whether an action is good or bad based on the actual consequences of that action. They are also defined as good in terms of the pleasure achieved after doing something while evil was described in terms of the agony it brings to the individual (Dunn and Brooks, 2011)
The consequentiality theory helps in forming the basis for actual effects where moral actions aim at improving the lives of human beings on earth. It follows the notion that when an individual acts in a moral way, it would improve their lives thus giving the incentive to them to act morally regardless of the fact that they believe in the afterlife (Jovanovic et al, 2007). However, despite the fact that this theory can shape the way people react and conduct their lives, the consequences involved in this theory are difficult to predict in that there are some actions that may bring about good intentions and have a high probability of causing good results. On the other hand, if the actions turn soar and the consequences brought out are bad, then it means that the actions carried out by the particular individual were morally wrong. This brings about a hindrance due to the fact that situations that involve many people and alternatives become more difficult to determine what action would produce the best consequences (Jovanovic et al, 2007).
Additionally, there is the deontological theory that follows the belief that there are features incorporated in actions carried out by people that help in the determination of whether a particular action is ethical or not. These features describe the extent to which the actions become conventional to the moral duties that are recognized (Jovanovic et al, 2007). For instance, in a situation where a driver is behind the wheel and is drunk, this situation would violate the duty to do no harm. Thus, the duties involved in this situation are derived from various sources that range from religions, psychology, culture, biology just to mention but a few. Based on deontological theory, the obligations do not have exclusions and can be overruled by more significant duties (prima facie). This may also involve conditional duties that only hold under specific circumstances (Jovanovic et al, 2007).
This theory does not put into consideration the fact that consequences may be more imperative when identifying whether any action is right. Therefore, it does not really matter whether the drunk driver got home safely, what really matters is the fact that drunk driving is a wrong action. This is due to the fact that the intentions of the driver were wrong in terms of drinking alcohol when he/she knows that they will be required to drive. According to Immanuel Kant, actions are normally right if they are performed out of duty. He views moral duties as monotonous laws for the conducts of human beings (MacKinnon, 2012).
This is followed by the belief that morality emanates from the ability of human beings to think rationally and thus enables them to be free. He believes that if human beings are not free, then they cannot be accountable for the actions they carry out. His beliefs mainly focus on the protection and promotion of the free actions of rational beings. This also follows three formulations that are derived from Kant’s beliefs. The first formulation requires people to act out duty at all times according to goodwill. It requires people to do the right thing due to the fact that they recognize that it would be the right thing and not due to the fact that it brings them pleasure (MacKinnon, 2012).
The second formulation requires people to act as though the maximum of their actions would be the will of the universal law of nature. This mandates people to act with considerations as to whether they would allow other rational beings to act on the same reasoning used in justifying another person’s actions (MacKinnon, 2012). Additionally, there is the consideration of the third formulation that urges people to act as if they were treating the capacity for rationality. This means that people should never treat another rational being as just a means to an end (MacKinnon, 2012). The advantage of this theory is that the right or wrong actions may be determined through considerations of the duties they carry out. It also applies the use of judgment in the determination of duties that are applicable and how. It also provides a solid foundation for inalienable rights and inherent values and since duties remain static, there is a greater sense of security or rather predictability of the accepted behaviors of other people (MacKinnon, 2012).
However, the deontological theory does not provide a single standard for morality. It actually follows the principle that ignorance of consequences may bring about pain and suffering. This is prevalent through specific moral beliefs that have been imposed on other people and the way they have brought about significant harm over the years (Rachels, 1998). Some of the deontological theories applied lack the proper equipment that maintains the respect of diverse beliefs. Although there are some theories that hold respect for the beliefs of others while some that are based on religion and obey one way of earning respect in the diverse beliefs among individuals (Rachels, 1998).
The other theory involves relativism or subjectivism, which denies the fact that there exists any unique right moral theory, standard or value. It bases everything on subjectivity and the fact that there are no moral standards that may be applied and have any more authority than the ones created (Rachels, 1998). This applies the notion that things even people only have value because it has been given to them. This theory is advantageous in that it allows room for adjustment for factors that change in the society as well as allowing room for multiculturalism. It gives every individual full responsibility for their own moral beliefs due to the fact that they choose to create and value them. However, it also has limitations based on the fact that it brings about some form of social anarchy where moral values are considered as tools meant to help people live together through some degree of harmony and security (Rachels, 1998). The acceptance of the fact morality is actually relative brings about the acceptance that there are no standards through which people can judge the moral beliefs of others. It questions the meaning and significance of morality due to the lack of any standards that may be used to judge such claims other than individual choice.
In addition to these theories, there are those that are based on virtues also known as teleological theories. These put into consideration the goals obtained from various actions (Rachels, 1998). They focus on people’s characters with the notion that ethics involve the kind or rather type of person any individual wishes to become. This is accompanied by the qualities that individuals should develop in their virtues for instance kindness, generosity, integrity, faithfulness, honesty just to mention but a few. It is actually the contrast of deontological theories as they focus on acting according to moral duties and obligations (Rachels, 1998).
This theory requires people to act through the development of these virtues in their own ways. For example, according to Aristotle, the only way to become an honest individual is through being truthful. This tends to bring a habitual fact if applied at all times. This theory put into consideration the fact that individuals and circumstances are unique (Rachels, 1998). It also gives room for every individual to use their own judgment in making difficult moral decisions and still recognize certain common goals. It also allows room for mistakes in that they are expected and recognized as part of the learning opportunities. However, the theory has some limitations in that some argue that it leaves too much room for the judgment of individuals, which paves the way for bias and prejudice. Additionally, the theory can be interpreted in different ways as virtue ethics rely on demonstrating for some of the education. Some people may choose poor role models and thus develop a false sense of virtue (Rachels, 1998).
Codes of Ethics
These are the standards that should be maintained as the ethical benchmark for investment professionals across the world. They define the way people in whichever job title or position are supposed to carry themselves around regardless of the culture they are entitled to. They require individuals to place the integrity of their profession and the interests of clients above their own interests. They also entitle individuals to act in accordance to the various standards that are set in place with integrity, competence, and respect (Rutherford et al, 2012). Similarly, they obligate individuals to uphold and develop their professional competence at all times. Individuals should note that being ethical does not necessarily mean that they should do the same things that are being done in society. This requires the acceptance of certain standards that are basically ethical. However, the standards of behaviors within the society may change from what is ethical. In order to be ethical and do whatever the society accepts, it would involve finding out what the society perceives to be ethical or not (Rutherford et al, 2012).
Codes of ethics in the business venture are involved in the evaluation of ethical principles and moral or even ethical problems that emerge within the business environment. These codes apply to all facets of business conduct and are very pertinent to the behavior of individuals and the overall organization. They incorporate both normative and descriptive dimensions where the normative dimensions describe the practices held out in the corporate and specialization of a career. The descriptive dimension on the other hand describes the attempts made by academics in understanding the business behaviors (Rutherford et al, 2012). The variety and quantity of ethical matters maintained in the business field give an overview of the interface between the behaviors of maximizing profits and concerns that are not related to economics. They also give the basic ethical issues involved in the field of business such as finance, human resource management, sales and marketing, production, property, property rights, and intellectual property rights. This is also accompanied by the ethics applied in technology within the organization (Rutherford et al, 2012).
In the business venture also known as corporate ethics, ethical behavior and corporate social responsibility bring out significant benefits that range from the attraction of customers to the organization that boosts the sales and profits to making employees want to stay with the business in order to reduce turnovers in the field of labor (Eastman, 2013). This increases the productivity within the organization and may also be coupled with the attraction of employees who aim at working for and within the organization. It would nevertheless reduce the costs incurred during the recruitment of new employees and facilitate the organization in getting the best-skilled employees. Investors would also be attracted to the organization with the aim of keeping the organization’s shares high. This in the long run protects the business from takeover (Eastman, 2013).
Ethics involve the consideration of moral theories that are concerned with right or wrong behavior. They incorporate the practical concerns that reflect on the right behavior and may at times change the questions revolving around ethics. This is prevalent through the way theories such as deontology and consequentialism revolve around the right action while virtue ethics focus on reflecting the good life and the kind of life people should live (Eastman, 2013). These theories develop the questions such as what the right involves and how people should live or what kind of individual they should be. The first question brings out the dilemma involved with ethics while the other two focus on life as an entirety. Therefore, it is important for people to apply ethics in what they do regardless of the fact whether it is the normal way of doing things. They should engage in activities that bring about the right decisions and when in dilemma, they should also focus on enquiring about the right ways according to the society (Eastman, 2013)
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