Definitive Essay

Ethics is a term that confuses many in term of its meaning. Different
people give meaning to the term in the wrong manner leading to the
adoption of bad acts in society. This assignment will discuss the issue
regarding what constitutes ethics and what does not constitute ethics.
Besides, examples of ethical and unethical behavior will be discussed.
Ethics can be defined as the basic fundamental principles and concepts
of upright human conduct. It entails the study of universal values like
the vital equality of women and men, obedience to the rules of the land,
natural rights, concern for safety, and concern for the natural
environment (Preston 36). Rather than following this meaning, many
individuals link ethics to their feelings. Nevertheless, being ethical
is not a subject of following a person’s feelings. An individual
following his feelings is likely to recoil from doing the right thing.
As a matter of fact, feelings often deviate from ethical actions.
Other people associate ethics with religion. Although most religions
advocate for high standard ethical behavior, ethics cannot be identified
with religion because it will only apply to the religious individuals.
Ethics should be followed by everyone, whether religious or not
therefore, ethics cannot be identified with religion. Religion helps in
setting up high standard ethical behavior, but ethics cannot be the same
as religion or confined to religion. Besides, ethics should not be
equated to following the law. Some people tend to think that following
the laws is the same as acting ethically however, this is not the case
because the law usually incorporates ethical actions, but laws just like
feelings, sometimes diverge from what can be termed as ethical. For
example, slavery laws constitute actions that deviate from ethical
behavior. Thus, ethics cannot be the same as following set laws.
On the other hand, ethics cannot be equated with doing what is
acceptable in society. Although in society most people accept actions
that are of high ethical standards, ethics should not be equated to what
is accepted by a society. This is because some behavior that are
accepted by a given society deviate from ethical actions. Some societies
are morally corrupt, which implies following what is acceptable to them
one will be following unethical behavior (Angle 42). In case, being
ethical concerns doing what a certain society accepts, then finding out
what constitutes ethical would entail finding out what the society
accepts, which may turn out to be unethical. Take, for example, in the
American society, abortion is acceptable which imply that if a person
would equate being ethical to following what is acceptable in society,
he would consider abortion ethical, but it is not. The lack of societal
consensus on different issues makes it difficult and impossible to link
ethics with acceptable behavior in society.
In understanding what is ethics, it is fundamental to know that ethics
entails well-founded standards of wrong or right, which prescribe what
humans should do, in terms of obligations, rights, fairness, benefits to
society, or specific virtues (Spinoza 39). For instance, ethics refer to
actions that enforce reasonable obligations in refraining from rape,
murder, assault, fraud, and slander. Ethical standards also entail those
that enjoin the virtues of honesty, loyalty and compassion. Besides,
ethical standards entail standards associated with rights like the right
to privacy and the right to life. These standards are sufficient
standards of ethics since they are usually supported by well-founded and
consistent reasons.
Alternatively, ethics refer to the study and improvement of a person’s
ethical standards. As indicated above, laws, feelings, and social norms
have the likelihood of deviating from ethical standards so it is
essential to constantly scrutinize one’s standards to make certain
that they are well-founded and reasonable (MacKinnon 84). Therefore,
ethics also mean continuous efforts of studying one’s own moral
conduct and moral beliefs, and striving to make certain that he lives up
to the standards that are solid-based and reasonable.
An example of an ethical behavior entails conserving the environment.
The environment is one of the most crucial elements in production
therefore, it determines what is produced that in turn eliminates
poverty. Hence, conservation of the environment is considered ethical
because it leads to the improvement of the environment, which leads to
productivity and poverty reduction. This is a good action, which makes
it an ethical behavior (Singer 56). On the other hand, an example of an
unethical behavior entails performing an abortion. Performing an
abortion entails killing a harmless unborn human killing is a bad
behavior because it does not reflect reasonable obligation. This makes
performing abortion an unethical behavior.
Conclusion
Being ethical cannot be equated with personal feelings, laws or
acceptable behavior in a society. This is because actions that result
from feelings, laws or acceptable behavior in society may deviate from
what is right. However, being ethical constitutes following standards
that are right that are under the guidance of virtues. Therefore, ethics
results from those actions that are upright and usually supported by
well-founded and consistent reasons.
Works Cited
Angle, Chris. Defining Ethics, Good & Evil. Redding, CT: Philosophy Pub.
Co, 2004. Print.
Preston, Noel. Understanding Ethics. Annandale, N.S.W: Federation Press,
2007. Print.
Spinoza, Benedictus . Ethics. Ware: Wordsworth Editions, 2001. Print.
MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, Concise
Edition. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Singer, Peter. Ethics. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1994. Print.
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