What is ethics and why is it important?

Question: Does acting ethically mean the same thing as being a good person?

Share this video with others you feel are good people and see how they respond to the situations presented. What would you do?

[BrainCraft]. (2015, August 14). Can You Solve This Dilemma? [Video] . YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xHKxrc0PHg&t=1s

Did you ever wonder why we live as we do? Why do we have school? Taxes? Health insurance? Elected officials? Countries and boarders? Cars? Smartphones?

Did you ever wonder why bad things happen in our world? Like why do we have wars? Slavery? Pollution? Poverty? Crime? Violence?

All of these things did not happen by chance. They are the result of ethical decision making . All things happen because of the decisions of individuals and groups of people who either create change or remain silent as change happens.

As the trolley problem shows, decisions can be complex. How do you make the right decision? How do you behave as a good person? Do you save the most people? Do nothing at all? Do you find out why those people were tied to those tracks in the first place?

To become proficient in making ethical decisions, it helps to understand ethical concepts. For example, are all these words synonyms for the word ' ethical '?

Make a list of these words and define them in your own words:

  • Justice
  • fairness
  • equality
  • legal

Would everyone you know define these in the same way?

What about your values? Where did you get your values? Do you consider them carefully and change them as you learn?

Here is a list of some values:

  • Honesty
  • Duty
  • Happiness
  • Loyalty
  • Compassion
  • Fairness
  • Safety
  • Wealth
  • Freedom
  • Being accepted

When making a decision, which of these values take priority? Is it the same for all of your friends, family and leaders? This is what makes ethics complex. Ethics emerges when values come into conflict. But how does a person or group of people address different values to make the most ethical decision? Can you see why it may be difficult to find clear right answers when making ethical decisions?

Here are some questions that may help you decide whether ethics in important!

If a company develops a vaccine that everyone needs, should everyone get access to it? Including those who cannot afford it? If so, who should pay for that?

Should everyone have access to good food and water? Including those who cannot afford it? If so, who should pay for that?

If having a smartphone or second car means communities will have polluted water and a lower quality of life, should you purchase them?

Should people in power like company executives have salaries hundreds of times higher than the cost of living where their employees make less than the cost of living?

Should a person be excluded from having certain jobs or living in certain places because of where they were born or how they look?

If you feel these are important questions, then you are interested in ethics! Ethics and ethical decision making processes provide the means of addressing these complex issues.