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How can we know if at all that our behaviour is ethical

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Introduction

THIS DOCUMENT WAS DOWNLOADED FROM COURSEWORK.INFO - THE UK'S COURSEWORK DATABASE CLICK HERE TO VISIT COURSWORK.INFO HOW CAN WE KNOW IF AT ALL THAT OUR BEHAVIOUR IS ETHICAL? When was the last time you thought something like "I wonder if it was right on my part to do that"? "Did I do the right thing?" Most people ask themselves this question after having done something that when their actions putsactions put some pressure on their conscience. But before one carries out this type of action one makes a decision that is referred to as Often, people's actions are based upon an 'ethical judgement'. Many argue that ethics are rules of conduct that are deemed justifiable according toare determined by behavioural standardsrules set by cultures, religions and societies. However, But for example a murderer criminal wouldn't think "oh, I can't kill him, my society forbids it"; he/she makes a decision alone. It can Thereforetherefore be argued that our ethics are nothing but personal opinions that are influenced by religion, emotion and culture. So it is incorrect to say that one 'knows' that one's behaviour is ethical, one can only compare it to the opinion one has formed on the rightness/wrongness of the deed. The environment each individual grows up in is different. Different cultures, different religions, different societies. ...read more.

Middle

Thus we can see that in religion and society people belong to a group that have a shared code of behaviour which is considered ethical and this is what is used to know and distinguish ethical behaviour. However just because society or religion deems it so, are these codes of conduct actually ethical? Can anyone prove that they are ethical? Religious customs and beliefs are rooted in rational reasoning. However over time the practicality and the applicability to life have become more obscure as people's lifestyles have changed dramatically. Therefore religious "truth" it has moved from something rational, to a faith or a dogma.. Another way of knowing what is ethical is consequentialism. According to the internet encyclopaedia of philosophy, ""Consequentialism" refers to a class of normative moral theories which maintain that an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favourable than unfavourable." Furthermore, this theory can be divided into three components. * Ethical Egoism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable only to the agent performing the action. * Ethical Altruism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone except the agent. * Utilitarianism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone. ...read more.

Conclusion

"There is no universal principle or set of principles by which to judge the morality of an action. Instead each society or culture has its own set of moral rules..." (Henri-Claude de Bettingnies). I agree with this statement because, for example if one says that "that society treats children unethically" about a society that forces children into hard labour, one is in fact applying one's own standards another society which has different code of ethics. Some argue that there is a basic code of ethics that everyone must follow which distinguishes humans from animals. But who is one to say what the other society is doing is wrong, just because one's code of ethics is different? Thus ethics are relative. Thus we can see that one has an individual code of ethics that have been influenced by the society one lives in and often one's religion. These ethical judgements are also made based on emotions, consequentialism and reasoning. Thus each person uses this knowledge to determine if they are being ethical in their actions. Above all ethics are relative and one cannot judge the ethicality of the actions of individuals and societies that do not share the same ethical code. Hence I think it apt to end with the words of Henri Claude de Bettingnies; "Ethics cannot be reduced to some master list of rules applicable to everyone. There are no ethical principles that everyone should follow. There are only ethical principles that apply locally... ...read more.

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