PHIL 186 Midterm 1 Review Notes CHAPTER 1 ETHICS Ethics (or moral philosophy) is a broad field of inquiry that addresses a fundamental query that all of us, at least from time to time, inevitably think about- namely, how should I live my life? Business ethics is the study of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and bad, human conduct in a business context. Business will be used here simply to mean any organization whose objective is to provide goods or services for profit. Businesspeople are those who participate in planning, organizing, or directing the work of business. Ethics deals with individual character and the moral rules that govern and limit our conduct. It investigates questions of right and wrong, duty and obligation, and moral responsibility. MORALITY AND ETIQUETTE Moral standards are different because they concern behavior that is of serious consequence to human welfare, that can profoundly injure or benefit people. Moral standards take priority over other standards, including self-interest. A third characteristic of moral standards is that their soundness depends on the adequacy of the reasons that support or justify them . Etiquette refers to the norms of correct conduct in polite society or, more generally, to any special code of social behavior or courtesy. In the 1960s, black and white members of the civil rights movement sought to dramatize the injustice that lay behind this rule by sitting together in luncheonettes and restaurants. This was a small price to pay for exposing the unequal treatment and human degradation underlying this rule of etiquette. MORALITY AND LAW Statutes are laws enacted by legislative bodies. Limited in their time and knowledge, legislatures often set up boards or agencies whose functions include issuing detailed regulations covering certain kinds of conduct- administrative regulations . Constitutional law refers to court rulings on the requirements of the Constitution and the constitutionality of legislation. - An action can be illegal but morally right. - An action that is legal can be morally wrong. PROFESSIONAL CODES Somewhere between etiquette and law lie professional codes of ethics.
RELIGION AND MORALITY Any religion provides its believers with a world view, part of which involves certain moral instructions, values, and commitments. First , although a desire to avoid hell and to go to heaven may prompt some of us to act morally, this is not the only reason or even the most common reason that people behave morally. Often, we act morally out of habit or just because that is the kind of person we are. Second , the moral instructions of the world’s great religions are general and imprecise. Third, although some theologians have advocated the divine command theory- that if something is wrong (like killing an innocent person for fun), then the only reason it is wrong is that God commands us not to do it- many theologians and certainly most philosophers would reject this view.
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