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INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS Presented by: Chuck Cochran, CFE Sponsored by: San Diego Chapter-ACFE.

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Presentation on theme: "INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS Presented by: Chuck Cochran, CFE Sponsored by: San Diego Chapter-ACFE."— Presentation transcript:

1 INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS Presented by: Chuck Cochran, CFE Sponsored by: San Diego Chapter-ACFE

2 About Your Presenter; That’s Me! Licensed Private Investigator since 1982 Certified Fraud Examiner since 1993 Researching, studying and instructing in ethics since 1992 Office Phone: 619-691-6379 E-mail:

3 The Plan Boss, the Plan Introducing Ethics Why Ethics are Important A Brief History of Ethics Examination of Some Ethical Theories Becoming an Ethical Person

4 WHAT’CHU TALKING ABOUT? Introducing Ethics

5 What It Was, Was Ethics Ethics is that branch of philosophy concerned with what is morally right and wrong Ethics isn’t just about the way the world is, but how the world ought to be, or should be Ethics provides a guideline for our actions and defines our duties and obligations Ethics involves making the right choice even when no one is looking

6 What’s the Difference? Ethics and morals are commonly thought of as being identical; i.e. synonymous Many ethicists make a distinction between the two terms The term “morals” is used to describe certain customs, precepts, and practices of peoples and cultures Ethics is the standard from which we should develop our morals

7 Why Does It Matter? Ethics tells us what we ought to do and morality reflects what we really do Ethics should be a constant, unchanging guide to doing what is right Ethics can free us from the prejudice and dogmatism that creep into moral precepts

8 Yeah, but is it Legal? Some people equate ethics and morality with law There are differences between the two practices Ethics may judge a law as being immoral while recognizing its validity as a law Ethics may say lying is immoral, but there is no general law against lying except in certain circumstances

9 How do We Decide “Right” from “Wrong”? That’s the $64 question that people have tried to answer for a couple of thousand of years. A number of theories have been suggested to provide guidance in determining “right” from “wrong” No one theory has received universal acceptance And you thought this was going to be easy!


11 Ethics Are Important Because: Ethics can be in your self-interest Thomas Hobbes describe a man’s life as, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Hobbes is describing life in a society whose members hadn’t learned to cooperate an ethical manner Our self-interest is better served living in a cohesive, ethical society than in a culture of backstabbers and thieves

12 More Self-Interest Living an ethical life reduces stress Living an ethical life leads to richer relationships since people know they can trust you Living an ethical life protects and enhances your reputation Living an ethical life may keep you out of prison

13 HOW DID WE GET HERE? A Brief History of Ethics

14 The Greeks Started It! The Greeks were the first to develop a systematic study of ethics based on critical thinking Socrates: real moral knowledge existed and could be discovered through argument and debate Plato: real moral knowledge existed, but it could only be discovered by a few “experts” Aristotle: ethics could be determined by ordinary practical men using common sense

15 Let God Sort it Out With the rise of Christianity, ethical study became part of Christian theology Basically, God decides what is right and what is wrong and His commands are absolute St. Augustine: “God’s gifts of conscience and reason that enables us to distinguish between good and evil” Charles Hodge: morality is based on “the principal that a higher obligation absolves from a lower stands firm.”

16 The Rise of the Humans Humanism placed a greater emphasis on human achievement and less on the role of God in human affairs Jeremy Bentham: morality should focus on maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain for the majority of people Immanuel Kant: moral action is done from a sense of duty rather than doing what we want

17 Back to the Future Joseph Fletcher promoted the belief that the situation must be considered in making an ethical choice Melville Herskovits felt that culture was the deciding factor in developing ethics Helmut Thielicke believed in absolute moral principles but recognized conflicts in those principles

18 DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS An Examination of Some Ethical Theories

19 Your Choices Are Utilitarianism: presented by Jeremy Bentham Situationalism: presented by Joseph Fletcher Cultural Relativism: presented by Melville Herskovits Unqualified Absolutism: presented by Immanuel Kant Conflicting Absolutism: presented by Helmut Thielicke Graded Absolutism: presented by Charles Hodge

20 And the Question Is! Was it ethical for Robin Hood to steal from the rich to feed the poor?

21 Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham Based on the theory that there are no absolute moral laws One should act to produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people A positive value of utilitarianism is that it stresses individual responsibility A flaw is the implication that the end justifies the means

22 Would Bentham Support Robin? Maybe Yes, if the result is the greatest good for the greatest number No, if more pain results than pleasure The decision is independent of the motive

23 Situationalism: Joseph Fletcher Situationalism believes that there is only one absolute moral law; unselfish love (agape) It places people above all other moral principals Situationalism has the positive value of a single unbreakable law, the law of love However, the general nature of the single law can create ambiguities about what love is in actual situations

24 Would Fletcher Support Robin? Yes, if Robin is acting out of unselfish love No, if Robin is acting in his own behalf Motive for the action is the deciding factor

25 Cultural Relativism: Melville Herskovits The basic view is that the cultural group decides what is right and what is wrong Denies that any other culture has the right to judge another culture’s value system This has the positive effect of creating cultural tolerance The flaw is it doesn’t resolve cultural differences

26 Would Herskovits Support Robin? Probably not Robin’s society forbids theft and defying the authority of the crown Robin’s actions are outside this cultural norm and are unethical

27 Unqualified Absolutism: Immanuel Kant Believes that there are many absolute morals laws that never conflict Teaches that all moral conflicts are only apparent, they are not real An attraction of this theory is the unchanging ethical anchor it provides Critics challenge the premise that all moral conflicts are not real

28 Would Herr Kant Support Robin? Nein, No, Never! Stealing is always wrong and cannot be justified by good intentions Robin must find a different way to help the poor

29 Conflicting Absolutism: Helmut Thielicke Believes that there are absolute moral law and moral conflicts are unavoidable Faced with a true dilemma we must choose the least harmful choice Provides realistic solution while preserving moral absolutes Approach is flawed since a moral duty to cause harm is a moral absurdity

30 Would Thielicke Support Robin? Probably Recognizes the conflict between stealing and letting people starve Could consider theft as the lessor evil Therefore, stealing to feed the poor would be ethical

31 Graded Absolutism: Charles Hodge Accepts that there are absolute moral laws, however there are higher and lower moral laws In the case of an unavoidable moral conflict, choose to obey the higher law Allows a decision to be made based on the greater good rather than the lesser evil Others will dispute that there are higher and lesser moral laws

32 Would Hodge Support Robin? Probably Hodge might consider feeding the poor as the greater good In that case, Robin would be behaving in an ethical manner

33 IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU, ME? On Becoming an Ethical Person

34 The First Step “The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates A critical examination of your life, beliefs, and decisions is essential This may not be a comfortable activity, but ethics is not about comfort!

35 Putting It All Together Decide what basic principles will guide you in making ethical decisions Examine your principles to ensure they are in harmony with each other Be consistent in your application of your guiding principles Have the courage to adhere to your ethics

36 A Last Thought “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest” Mark Twain

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