CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS How do I know what is right or wrong? Ethics or Moral Philosophy as an academic discipline is essentially an effort to look for a universal guiding principle for human deed and behavior. As a critical examination for something normative in the real human behavior, ethics tries to establish a norm or standard whereby all human actions could be rationally based and eventually judged and assessed. In this regard, ethics as accurate philosophical attempt presents and exposes the several ethical theories that have been said by some of the great philosophers throughout history. Knowing the nature of ethics is the first basic step we can take to strengthen the foundation upon which to anchor ourselves in their quest to live ethically in and out of the workplace. General Objectives: 1. Discuss the origin, and nature of ethics, its definition based on the questions on morality 2. Explain and express the need to study ethics. 3. Explain the assumption of ethics Lesson I. The Origin and Nature of Ethics Ethics is a personal and a lifelong commitment. To be ethical does not only require knowledge of ethics but also the willingness to live ethically. The willingness and the moral conviction to live virtuous life is something this narration cannot give. We need a personal endeavor and pursue a conviction that we should cultivate and enrich our moral sense as we alone can make the decision to do what is good, what is right and acceptable or to refuse to do the right thing. Man is by no means has the power to decide as he is given freewill to choose. With man‟s action there is always a corresponding consequence and the consequence is the result of his own personal choice to the right things or otherwise. In this lesson, we will uncover how ethics as a philosophy and discipline rooted into man‟s sensibility and in society in general. What to Expect: 1. Discuss the origin of ethics and history of ethics as philosophy 2. Define ethics 3. Describe the nature of ethics I. The Origin of Ethics When man began to wonder about the right thing to do or about how he should live his existence, another exciting field of Philosophy came to life. Philosophers called it ethics, or moral philosophy. Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, meaning character. Ethics, in ancient Greece, was concerned with the development of virtuous and moral character. The Greeks believed that developing character would lead one not only to knowing the right thing to do, but to actually doing the right thing or living the right way of life. On the other hand, Morality' is the normative moral code, or codes, of behavior acceptable/prohibited behavior within a particular group at a particular time The Greek moralist, Socrates was the first to recognize the value of questions that affect how a person should live. He made his investigations through a process which philosophers called the Socratic Method. The Socratic Method consist of asking people question about the ideas that they apparently know about. Usually it begins by asking for an essential or analytic definition of a concept (e.g. good, justice, fairness, equality, etc.). Once a definition is offered, it is subjected to a critical analysis and examination until some defects are found. To avoid and correct the defect, the definition is reformulated, but another defect would soon appear once the definition is subjected once more to the same critical analyses and examination. The process continuous until other realizes that what they believed to be right is wrong. Socrates demonstrated the importance of applying the critical method of rational inquiry. By tearing down man‟s unfounded assumptions, man comes closer to the truth. Socrates also displayed humility with his desire to share what he knows. He never told people what to believe, he simply asked questions and left them to realize the errors embedded in their own judgment. This, in some way, reflects the true activity of ethics. It is not saying what others ought to do, but like the role of the midwife, helping others give birth to their own idea and showing them how to critically examine these ideas before acting on them. For Socrates, the pursuit of truth through the critical methods of rational inquiry is the way human being ought to live their lives. It is in this context that he preached that man must examine his life. To Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. II. Ethics Defined Ethics is the systematic philosophical study of morality. But what is the difference and morality? Don't they mean the same thing? Not really. Given our definition we should be able to infer that 'ethics' names a field of inquiry while 'morality' names the object of that inquiry. Thus, we need to offer a definition of morality so we know what, exactly, is being studied in Ethics. Broadly speaking, we can define „morality‟ as follows: Ethics is mainly known as the principle of moral conduct that makes a distinction between good and bad/ evil, right and wrong, virtue and non-virtue. It is a branch of knowledge that governs right and wrong conducts and behaviors of an individual, profession, group or organization. It is a core of the professional and personal lives of people. Different scholars have defined ethics differently. However different their definitions might be, ethics is always concerned with morality and right vs wrong and good vs evil. It is applied universally. There is also ethics in professions such as journalism, advertising, education, medicine, etc. Karen L. Rich defines ethics as a systematic approach to understanding, analyzing, and distinguishing matters of right and wrong, good and bad, and admirable and deplorable as they relate to the well-being of and the relationships among sentient beings. III. Nature of Ethics Ethics is critical As a particular type of that area of knowledge known as philosophy, ethics can also be defined as a critical, systematic and reflective analysis of what makes an act good or bad. It tries to do reflective investigations into the basis of that assertion. It also inquire into the meaning of the term “good”, “bad”, “right”. “wrong”, “ought” and the like. Thus, the nature of an ethical inquiry is one that does not simply describe how human live but how they ought to live. And more that, ethical inquiry is characterize by looking into the very ground or foundation of our actions, why we consider them as good or bad, right or wrong, proper or improper, worth doing or not, and what we exactly mean when we assert them as such. Ethics is Practical Ethics can also be viewed as a practical discipline since it is primarily directed to those that are found in actual conduct of human beings, how they can be assessed or evaluated as to their rightness or wrongness. The study of ethics allows us in any way to be exposed and be acquainted with moral or ethical principles. Moral principles serve as practical action guides in the conduct of one‟s concrete life. They help man to live the good life, to be moral, to be a good person. Thus ethics as a practical science presents thoughts and ideas that are not just to be known by the mind (as in the speculative and theoretical sciences) but to be acted upon in the realm of everyday life. Of all the sub-disciplines of philosophy, the study of ethics is perhaps the most strikingly relevant and practical, especially so that so much of our life is immersed and revolved around questions of morality. Every day we are all faced with moral dilemmas that leave us confused and groping for answers. The philosophical discipline of ethics can be of much help. Morality and its Justification Ethics or morality has to do with rules and principles of conduct. It has to do with the study of right and wrong. It is involved not just with a coherent articulation and reasoned interpretation of our value system (of what we embrace as good and bad) but also its systematic implementation and integration to our daily lives. Furthermore, the discipline of ethical questioning consists of raising the issue of why certain actions are deemed right while others are deemed wrong. Here, ethics is concerned itself with the whole delicate (and even controversial) question of justification. Therefore, ethics provide us with a certain rules of conduct. This is where the discussion of the so called “Ethical Theories or Principles” comes into the picture. Actions need to be rationally justified for them to deserve the title of “human actions.” For what separates the human being from the rest of creation is his or her capacity to think and reflect before he or she acts. Human actions are said to be within the domain of morality because of this very capability. Hence, responsibility or accountability, which cannot be said with other creatures, is present. Assessment Answer the following questions in not less than five (5) sentences. 1. Define ethics in your own point of view in relation to your future profession. 2. Why ethics is not static? 3. What are the nature of ethics and briefly discuss each. 4. What are the three normative codes and distinguish it from each other. 5. Distinguish ethics from morality. Modified True of False. Write the letter T if the statement is false and F if the statement is not true and also, underline the word or words in the blank that make the statement wrong and write the correct word or words that will make the statement correct. 1. _______ Ethics as a practical science presents thoughts and ideas that are just to be unknown by the mind but to be acted upon in the realm of everyday life. _________ 2. __________ _______ 3. _______ Rationalism as a Philosophical doctrine specifically uses source of knowledge and proof in explaining reality, while Empiricism regards experience and reasoning as the only source of knowledge. ______________ 4. ______ Morality' is the empirical moral code, or codes, of behavior acceptable/prohibited behavior within a particular group at a particular time. ______________ 5. ___________ With the many definition of ethics it can be inferred infer that 'ethics' names an object of inquiry while 'morality' names the field of that inquiry. Thus, we need to offer a definition of morality so we know what, exactly, is being studied in Ethics. _____________. Lesson II. The Need to Study Ethics Ours is an age of specialization. This leads many to believe that what we really need are the things that can make our knowledge more specialized, knowledge that can earn us a living and secure for ourselves life‟s necessities and comforts. Many claim that the study of ethics is unproductive and a waste of our valuable time. So, why do we need to study ethics in the first place? What to Expect: 1. Explain the importance of studying ethics 2. Discuss the foundations of ethics as a critical discipline Lesson Outline I. Importance of Studying Ethics We study "ethics" because society cannot function without a series of commonly- accepted moral codes that define boundaries of acceptable behavior. We also study ethics because there is not always a consensus on what types of behavior are acceptable. Since ethics, as a practical science, is the study of choices people make regarding right and wrong, and since most of us make a number of moral choices in our everyday lives, it is quite obvious why the study of ethics is important. We study ethics because of the choices and decisions that we make every day that affects the kind of life we live. We became good or bad persons based on our choices. Another reason is the fact that making moral decisions is oftentimes difficult. This is very true when we are confronted and come face to face with moral dilemmas. In here, there is a need for us to pause and reflect as to what particular action to take. Another thing is that the study of ethics can provide us with certain moral paradigm or perspectives that will, in anyway, guide us in determining what is right and wrong under such condition. Ethics makes clear to us why one act is better than another. Ethics contribute an orderly social life by providing humanity basis for agreement, understanding some principles of rules of procedure. Moral conduct and ethical systems both the past and the present must be intelligently appraised and criticized. Ethics seeks to point out to men the true values of life. The study of ethics will also enable us to reason out our moral beliefs and of why we hold them. It is not enough to have certain beliefs on what is good and bad. We also have to know the reason why we have them. Ethics as a critical discipline will enable us to examine more closely the ground and foundation of our moral beliefs and claims. II. Foundations of Ethics as a Critical Discipline 1. Ethics and Law Why do we still need ethics if we have laws to guide us on how to be good? Are the laws that we have not enough to tell us what is right and wrong? It is not that ethics essentially consists of rules concerning right and wrong, on what we ought to do or not to do? Ethical rules are necessary even if we have the laws that are implemented by civil authorities since legality is not identical with morality. We can be good in terms of what the law requires but we may still fall short of becoming a „moral” or “ethical” person. At times, what is legal is not always moral. At other times, what is moral is not always legal. Ethics is not identical with the law. Another reason why morality is still important even if we have laws to guide us in our daily conduct is that laws are only concerned with actions that are usually “public;” actions that in a way often harmed those around us. These types of actions are external ones that society forbids because they are detrimental to the common good or the general public. Moreover, ethics goes beyond the concern and parameters of law, for it includes human motivations in its investigations. It includes thoughts and feelings of individuals and their acts and conducts are subject to moral analysis and evaluation. Morality goes beyond legality. Even actions that we do in private are covered under the umbrella of ethics. Morality includes things that we do not directly harm others or even ourselves. Here, our innermost motives and intentions, even they are not carried out in concrete, fall under the scope of morality. Our laws are usually product of a collective agreement. It is a kind of a social contract where people come together and decide among themselves what is good and bad. This means that laws, more often than not, are decided by a majority vote. Morality is not all about how many people say that something is good or bad, or of how individuals favor and decide that a certain act is right or wrong. In short, morality precedes legality. Its scope and implications are deeper and wider than that of law. 2. Ethics is Prescriptive Ethics is a philosophical study that attempts to critically and systematically assess or evaluate the morality of human conduct as to whether they conform to certain ethical rules and guidelines. This specific task of evaluating the rightness or wrongness of human actions is very important area of ethical reasoning in particular and in moral philosophy as a whole. When ethics does evaluate human conduct with the aid of certain ethical theories and philosophies, it judges whether the act is good or bad and prescribes what is proper and what is not. As a prescriptive discipline, ethics therefore tells us what we ought to do or not to do, what actions we are supposed to perform and avoid. In short ethics is concerned with the very ground and foundations of morality. 3. Ethics is Normative Ethics makes the value of judgments through ethical norms it has developed. Value and prescriptive judgment may be both called normative judgments to distinguish them from purely descriptive and factual statements about something. They usually express or presupposed norms or standards that are rather than simple and objective descriptions about something (Holmes, 2003). Thus, a normative statement expresses a value judgment of some kind. Its correctness is essentially determined by reference to a norm or standard, which in ethics we call ethical/moral norms (Holmes, 2003) Norms are standards. An investigation such as ethics is said to be normative since it examines which ideas ought to be norms, values, or standards. Ethics as a normative discipline, attempts to find out the standards of right or wrong in terms of human conduct. It leads human to choose which of these are more reasonable and consistent. Some people, especially those who are more reflective, are not content merely to live. They feel driven to evaluate their lives as they try to judge the value of the goals they are pursuing and the various purposes that in a way fueled their actions (porter, 1995). In short, people assess their conduct against some sort of an ideal or norm that strikes them with force of an external authority. They may be in the form of God, conscience or rational principle that they are able to develop within themselves. Whatever it is, one thins is at least clear; we all want, to certain extent, justify our actions in a way that it would help us find sense and meaning in our lives. One of the aims of normative ethical theory is to provide us with standards to attain the best ethical belief. As moral intellectual beings we all, to certain varying extent, possess different beliefs as to what is good and bad, right and wrong with regard to how we behave. Therefore, the study of moral theories in ethics helps us to avoid to be swamped with unthinking opinions that have long characterized our ethical reasoning. The goal here to have our beliefs grounded on logical reason and reflection-beliefs that can withstand the rigor of philosophical analysis and criticism. Assessment Answer the following questions in not less than five (5) sentences. 1. In a rating of 1-10 as 10 as the highest, what is your rating on the importance of studying ethics? Defend your answer. 2. Considering your answer in number 1, how could this affects your future profession 3. What motivates man to study ethics and why? Test II. Identification, write the correct answer on the space provided before every statement. ______________________ expresses a value judgment of some kind. Its correctness is essentially determined by reference to a norm or standard, which in ethics we call ethical/moral norms. 1. ________________________ Moral rules and principles must be made public of they are to serve as guidelines to our actions. 2. _______________________ It is a kind of a social contract where people come together and decide among themselves what is good and bad. 3. _______________________It tells us what we ought to do or not to do, what actions we are supposed to perform and avoid. 4. _______________________ are necessary eve if we have the laws that are implemented by civil authorities since legality is not identical with morality. Lesson III. Assumption and Objects of Ethics Like any other discipline, ethics proceeds from some basic assumptions. Assumptions are fundamental beliefs or statements that are accepted to be true without the burden of proving or of proof which consider that man is a rational being and man is free. What to Expect 1. Explain why man is a rational being and free 2. Discuss the object of ethics I. Man as a Rational Being First, that man is a rational being. This means that man is rational and acts ' with a purpose, unlike brutes who merely act out of instinct and reflex. Man is capable of knowing both the intentions and the consequences of his actions, and is capable of judging them as right or wrong, or as good or bad. The assumption implies the moral awareness or the capability of man to know and distinguish right from wrong and good from bad. . 2. Man is free. Ethics assumes that man is free to act according to his will and he has the power to act, speak or think if he chooses to without restraints. In general this assumption tells us that man has the capacity to exercise choice in his actions. It implies that man has the capability to choose what to do and what is good. If we look closely, these two assumptions are not simple presuppositions but necessary conditions for moral judgments to be possible. Without assuming the existence of rationality and freedom in man, it is impossible to judge acts as ethical or unethical, and as moral or immoral. Because he thinks and is free, man is thus responsible for his actions. These two elements could mitigate or aggravate the degree of people‟s moral responsibility. This is the reason why we cannot rightly judge the action of a five-year-old child, or a person who has gone insane to be unethical, even if their acts harm or injure other people. Or judge the action of an automated machine designed to rescue people from rubble as moral, even if it has already saved hundreds of lives, or, the act of a carnivorous animal as immoral, even if it has devoured an entire village. Moral responsibility is, thus, basically defined based on these two assumptions. II. The Objects of Ethics The principal cause of actions is usually attributed to doer. If for instance, Jose committed a crime, Jose and not any malicious demon or spirit is responsible for his act or for the crime he committed. Because Jose did the act, it is expected that he suffer the moral or legal consequence of his act. Hence, a person in control of his faculties e.g. intelligence, and will is judged as moral, if he performs an act observed a particular standard of morality, and immoral if he commits an act that violates any given moral standard. This is putting the matter in the simplest possible way. It is important to distinguish, however, between the moral agent or the doer of a moral act, and the act performed by the moral agent. The Physical Object of Ethics The doer of an act and the act done by the doer are two different objects of ethics. The doer of an act is the physical object of ethics (e.g. moral agent). The physical object of ethics does not only refer to other person, but to an institution (e.g. the business firm, the government, etc.) and to other forms of social organization (e.g. non-government organizations, clubs, fraternity, associations, etc.) that perform moral actions and other rational activities as decision-making, moral calculations and others. The Nonphysical Object of Ethics On the other hand, the action made by a moral agent, such as the act of telling the truth, helping others in distress, fulfilling a promise, forgiving others faults, humility, including malicious deeds. Such as murder, stealing, lying, and others are called the nonphysical object of ethics. Though considering the nature of the moral agent is important in ethical analysis, it is the act and not the doer of the act which is considered to be the formal object of ethics Assessment Test 1. Essay. Answer what is being asked. 1. Explain why man is the only rational being? 2. What is the importance of the assumption that man is free in studying ethics? Test II. Case Study. Read the case example below and identify the physical and nonphysical object of ethics. A class of freshmen decided to buy a file cabinet for their school organization. They all agree to contribute P 50.00 for this purpose. Pedro, a member of the class, informs his parents of the project, which they readily support. Pedro then proceed to ask his parents for financial contribution to the project. When asked how much the individual contribution amounts to, Pedro, in all seriousness, say “P 500.00”. Physical Object Nonphysical Object Enrichment: Watch this Video. Click/copy the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvuvqOUc1ko Make a reflection on the video you have watched in not less that 200 words and relate it to your own personal experience. Chapter Summary Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, meaning character. The Greeks thinkers called themselves the “wise men” The history of ethics as a philosophy can be traced back in the 7th century B.C. The Greek moralist, Socrates was the first to recognize the value of questions that affect how a person should live. He made his investigations through a process which philosophers called the Socratic Method. Ethics helps us understand why one act is better than another. It is basis for agreement, understanding some principles of rules of procedure. It also seeks to point out to men the true values of life. The assumptions of ethics are man is a rational being and man is free. The doer of an act and the act done by the doer are two different objects of ethics. The doer of an act is the physical object of ethics The action done by a moral agent, such as the act of telling the truth, helping others in distress, fulfilling a promise, forgiving others faults, humility, including malicious deeds. Such as murder, stealing, lying, and others are called the nonphysical object of ethics Reference Agapay, Ramon (1991). Ethics and the Filipino. Mandaluyon, National Book Store Ariely, Dan (2010). Predictably Irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decision. New York: Harper Perennial. Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by J. E. C. Welldon. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1987. Articulo & Florendo. 2003. Values and Work Ethics. Philippines: Trinitas Publishing, Inc. Augustine, (1995). De doctrina Christiana. Edited and translated by R.P.H. Green. Oxford Clarendon. Babor. 1999. ETHICS: The Philosophical Discipline of Action First Edition. Manila: Rex Bookstore, Inc.