Definitions: Ethics – A branch of philosophy concerned with ways of thinking philosophically about morality, and moral judgment. Can be personal or social. It is the summary of values, principles, judgments and standards by which to measure right or wrong. = Standards
Morality – Human conduct and character referring to those acts which it makes sense to describe as right or wrong, good or bad. = Behavior Moral Judgment – Judgments based on considerations of how other people are to be treated, and how others interests are to weigh against our own. = Decisions
Simply Ethics = rules of the game Morality= performance within the game (personal & group) Moral Judgment= individual & collective decision-making (affects self & group)
Absolute Morality – a fundamentalist understanding of right and wrong, determined solely by religious dogma or doctrine; theres an absolute right/wrong in every situation; Divine Command Ethics Relative Morality– The is the other extreme based on the belief that anything can be right or wrong depending on the situation; Situation Ethics
Absolute Morality - Leviticus 20:9 For anyone who curses ones father or mother shall be surely put to death. Leviticus 24:17 "Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Exodus 34:26 Thou shall not boil a kid in its mothers milk.
Relative Morality (Moral Relativism) - The position that ethical propositions do not reflect objective/ universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to personal or cultural circumstances. Moral relativists hold that there is no universal standard (e.g., Divine) by which to assess truth. This is moral subjectivism; it is the opposite of moral absolutism.
Relative Morality -- sees moral values as applicable in the context of individual or cultural preferences (= Situation Ethics or moral subjectivism) --- e.g., terminating an inconvenient pregnancy; honor killing.
Catholic Morality – is based on the belief in Natural Law --- i.e., an objective, eternal, divine order in the universe. It is neither absolute nor purely relative. Rather, it is accessible by Reason. Since humans are rational, they get it. But right and wrong have to be determined by weighing out various circumstances and principles within any situation.
Understanding requires REASON to discern right from wrong, good from evil, truth from falsehood. Reason employs CRITICAL THINKING.
Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) Taught that real faith seeks understanding ("fides quaerens intellectum)
So whats the problem? Isnt it easy to make good ethical decisions?
PROBLEM: (called moral dilemmas)… Often ethics involve tough decisions
in which significant values come into conflict… in which WRONG may look RIGHT and BAD may look GOOD!
That is, sometimes primary values we have come into conflict. This conflict of moral values is called a moral dilemma
moral judgment based on our awareness of right & wrong; CONSCIENCE = moral judgment using reason
To be ethical is not simply to resort to a little voice inside. Rather it requires using your conscience-- critical thinking (reason) with sound moral judgement (discernment).
According to the Church conscience takes precedence over every kind of human authority. Conscience is Gods voice within us.
In fact, the Church tells us that we must obey our Conscience - a law inscribed by God in our hearts.
A person has the right to act in conscience…. That person must not be forced to act contrary to to his/her conscience. - Catechism #1782, Article 6
The Church, acknowledging conscience as a moral compass, calls us to inform it-- For without an ethical framework, Conscience is a compass on the open sea, without a map as a reference.
Informing your conscience with an ethical framework provides you with a map. Though you have never been there before, someone else has -- why not use their experience & knowledge?!
Of course you need to use discernment and test the moral advice of others to see if it rings true with your own conscience!
Indeed, you must form your conscience in order for it to be the most effective.
Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. - Catechism, #1783
Conscience using DISCERNMENT requires Patience Practice Perspective (an objective one!)
-Personal: your job is to establish an Individual Moral Code -Social: our collective standards that are drawn up in accordance with particular moral principles (such as the common good); these include civil law.
Can you think of any examples of personal or social moral dilemmas?
Personal Moral Dilemmas - Whether or not to lie to parents Whether or not to cheat Whether or not to gossip Whether or not to steal Whether or not to be sexually active
Embryonic stem cell research Social Dilemmas - Capital punishment whether or not to allow Concealed weapons Immigrant labor
Can you think of any situations today (or in the past) when something wrong looks right?
Slavery Women, Native Americans, African Americans denied the right to vote the atom bomb was dropped to end World War II, killing many innocents
- Medicine - Business - Politics - Journalism - Law - Human Rights and more…
Two roads diverged in a wood and I--- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. By Robert Frost
Pioneers need to be Trail Blazers the path of least resistance or the road less traveled Which will you take?