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Unformatted text preview: No. 1 eHandout Business & Professional Ethics On Ethical Theories Your text for this course will go over various ethical theories. You should familiarize yourself with these theories, as they will help you think about the ethical dilemmas and issues that will be presented in this course. Questions regarding the various ethical theories will be on the final exam. That said, this is not a course in theory, but rather it is a course concerning practical ethics. Very few people live out their lives trying to adhere to a single ethical theory. It might be useful to employ the notion of "ideal types" as you consider these theories. The sociologist and intellectual Max Weber coined this expression. An ideal type is a coherent pattern of thought or phenomenon. However, in the real world, ideal types (perfect expressions of a pattern of thought or phenomenon) do not really exist. Ideal types are used to guide our thinking and may serve to educate us as heuristics. The ideal type of personal transportation is the car but the car comes in all shapes and sizes, some looking more like buses and some looking like bicycles. Ideal types help us guide out thinking about things in a consistent and coherent way. To try to find them or live them in the real world can prove problematic, because the world just does not accommodate "ideals" of anything. One of the problems with theories is that they sometimes lose sight of the real world to which they are to have application. Often, people are more attached to the theory (whatever it may be) than to the realworld situations that they theories are constructed to help explain or improve. As you consider the various theories, I urge you to keep one question in mind in fact, I ask you to keep this question in mind throughout the course. And here is the question: What has to matter? Sounds like a simple question, right? But as you will see, it is one of the most important questions an ethicist must face, and it is the reason that so many theoretical purists wind up holding to beliefs about ethics that seem to be quite wrong once we start to think things through? Dr. David E. McClean ...
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- Spring '08