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Ethical perspectives

Character and virtues in a person relate to traits that are strengths, which describe and demonstrate the level of aptitude, skills and expertise, which are inherent in him to identify him in relation to the opinion of people around him. This depends on the person’s knowledge and wisdom, which is displayed through his wisdom and love of learning. A person of strong character and virtues will always exercise a strong sense of courage, humanity and justice through leadership qualities. It is these qualities in a person that separate him from the majority who may not have such qualities in them.

A high character entails immense power in a person and such people are always held in high esteem by those who are around him as also by those who deal with him. He is characterized by qualities of high tolerance to mental and emotional attacks as also in having a strong resistance against doing things that are immoral and not in keeping with his value system. Such people always appreciate beauty and have a sense of gratitude for whatever they are. They are always hopeful of good things happening in this world and are spiritually inclined.

Obligation/Deontology Obligation and deontology are human ethical thought processes that focus on the rightness and wrongness of actions taken by people at different times in different situations. To understand the two terms we should not at all focus on the consequences of 2 such good or bad deeds, but the basic idea is to see that justice is done. People who strongly advocate being deontological advocate that some actions are totally wrong whatever their consequences may be. Deep rooted implication of such belief is that even

if an action is incorrect the moral implications should be positive and rewarding in any aspect of the action that has been taken. The term deontological was first used by C D Broad, whereby theories are used that study results and consequences of the doings of people. He was basically stressing on the differences between values and right actions. So this turned out to be an ethical theory that explained on the goodness, rightness and the adversities of particular actions. If the resultant situation due to any action is good or bad,

it is dependant on whether the action was in effect right or wrong. To illustrate this theory with an example, supposing we decide that a world without stray dogs would be a much safer place, it would require that all stray dogs be killed. In this context, a deontologist would go to the extent of saying that a world without stray dogs is bad, and that it is a bad state of affairs. Results/utilitarianism Utilitarianism refers to the ethical belief that the true moral worth of any action is ascertained by the contribution that it makes in the quantum of utility derived from such

actions. Thus it relates to the belief that the moral consequences of any action are a consequence of that action. It also implies that the ends justify the means so that the satisfaction and outcome is positively maximized as also resultant happiness and pleasure 3 to avoid pain and suffering. The maximum benefit is to be derived and measured to ascertain the value of the action in question. Utilitarianism is in total contrast to deontological thinking and virtue ethics, that are very specific about disregarding the consequences of an act, and focusing on character, respectively.

This ethical practice lays a great deal of importance on the principle of pain and pleasure. It implies that all actions that bring maximum pleasure to the greatest number of people are ethical actions. A strong advocate of this principle was Jeremy Bentham who primarily talked about the positive aspect of his “greatest happiness principle”. Utilitarian advocates emphasize always that the maximum of good should be done for the greatest number of people. Equity/relativism Relativism relates to ideas that some percentage of cultural and human experience is

related to other factors such as historical events and cultural changes. Such beliefs stress on the idea that there is no absolute truth or explanation for the results that we get in life, implying that the truth is always relative to or dependant on or the result of some other related factors. The cognitive bias prevents one from understanding things objectively and that we rely on notional bias to form our opinion about various happenings in this world. Relativism implies that all points of view are not valid and that there is a notional and culture bias in one’s understanding and actions.

The theory advocates that a particular happening has occurred not on its own strength due to particular action being taken, but has resulted in relation to a particular set of viewpoints and beliefs. All behaviors, customs, practices, perceptions and value judgments are said to be variables 4 dependant on independent factors such as culture, language, religion, gender and status etc. Discuss three issues you are likely to face in addressing ethical dilemmas An ethical dilemma is a situation where there is a clash of ideologies when there is a

conflict of moral implications, whereby implementing and adhering to one principle will result in the violation of another ethical belief. This is often referred to as the ethical paradox where the particular paradox plays a vital role in discussion of such dilemmas. A typical example of an ethical dilemma is a situation when a staunch believer of nonviolence is confronted by a man who is all out to deal with him in a violent way and no other means of counseling works on him. If he is attacked and killed by the perpetrator his nonviolence principle is finished and he dies.

This is an example of an ethical decision clashing with an external force that has to be dealt with no matter what, obviously using the ethical practices that one is committed to. Another issue of ethical dilemma concerns morality whereby it is difficult to decide in favor or against a decision in view of moral implications.

A principled father may face a situation whereby his disgruntled son engages in illegal activities and he has to contemplate taking legal action against him. A third dilemma situation may arise when doing a wrong thing may be considered essential in a do or die situation.People may be required to steal as a last resort to save one’s life or to prevent something drastic from happening. 5


Immanuel Kant, The Generalized Structure of Ethical Dilemmas, 1988, http://www. friesian. com/dilemma. htm Austin Cline, Virtue ethics, Morality and Character, http://atheism. about. com/od/ethicalsystems/a/virtueethics. htm Tony L. Henthorne and Michael S. LaTourA model to explore the ethics, Journal Business Ethics, 1995 Kerby Anderson Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number http://www. probe. org/content/view/921/77/

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