Thursday, May 25, 2006

Talking about Ethics

Here is an extremely interesting discussion of ethics by some faculty members at Pepperdine University.

I certainly fall in the camp of those who believe that not everything that is unethical is illegal, but also take the view that because of that, people should strive to meet a higher standard than the law requires.


King of Pain said...

Today's young people, unfortunately, must be looking upon the financial services sector of the business community with jaded eyes. They read of Enron, ImClone, WorldCom, and all the various other scandals that have hit the business world, and probably wonder if there is any thing left of such things as ethics and "looking out for the other fellow." They probably see a repeat of the "Robber Baron" years of the beginning of the last century and turn away disillusioned to think that we have not learned anything from the past.
The last few decades have seen a tremendous change in the culture of our people and our corporate structure. Greed, insatiability, avarice, the need to “beat the market” and top the other guy’s salary, fee, bonus, and so on have led to a lessening of ethical behavior by people who should know better. The Generation X and Y students are bombarded with different signals from Madison Avenue and the like. They are constantly told that accumulating the greatest amount of wealth in the shortest time period possible is the only key to success. The current climate in the institutions of higher learning deviate from the old-fashioned ethical base be it Judeo-Christian or Hippocratic to a more politically correct focus on Secular Humanism.
The Council for Secular Humanism states that they cultivate rational inquiry, ethical values, and human development through the advancement of secular humanism. To carry out its mission the Council for Secular Humanism sponsors publications, programs, and organizes meetings and other group activities.
Secular Humanism is a term which has come into use in the last thirty years to describe a world view with the following elements and principles:
1. A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
2. Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.
3. A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
4. A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
5. A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
6. A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
7. A conviction that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.

The problem with the Secular Humanism is its malleability i.e. ethical relativism. If your guidelines are subject to loose interpretation then you can justify unethical decisions by revising the rules of conduct. Holding the moral base is the answer and when it comes to gray areas I like what Kant said that if you are good natured you will do good no matter what the situation.

Michael Wade said...

Thanks for a very interesting post. You'll find many people who chafe at religious commandments; choosing instead The World According to Bob or Mary as their benchmark. They don't seem to appreciate the danger that exists in a "non-standard standard."