Free Ethical Theories Essay Sample

Ethics involves a systematic, defending, and recommendation of the concepts of right and wrong behavior. There are three main divisions; Metaethics looks at where our ethical principles are founded, and what they imply, whether they are invented socially or whether it involves expressing of an individual emotions. Metaethical answers focuses on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments. It also looks at the meaning of the ethical terms. Normative ethics looks at a more practical way of arriving at moral standards which regulate right and wrong behavior. It may involve forming of the good habits that ones acquire, the actions that we follow, and the implications of that behavior on other people. Applied ethics on the other hand involves examination of specific controversial issues, like abortion, infanticide, animal rights, environmental concerns, homosexuality, capital punishment, and nuclear war.

Applied ethics is the most appropriate school of thought that one should apply in making moral decisions in both personal and business life. Applied ethics uses the conceptual tools of both metaethics and normative ethics in trying to resolve controversial issues. All the three divisions of ethics cannot be clearly distinguished from each other. Issues of both personal and business life may involve a controversial issue, but may also depend on normative as well as methaetical principles.

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Philosophical school of ethical choice-making cannot realistically fit into one's everyday life. Decisions in life revolve around many aspects some of which cannot be confined to philosophy. Moral psychology as a field of study began as an issue in philosophy and is now considered part of the discipline of psychology. The term "moral psychology" can be used to refer to the study of moral development. However, the term can be used more broadly to include other topics that lie between ethics and psychology. These are the topics that involve the mind and centers around and moral ethical issues.

Ethical theories and principles are the fundamentals of ethical considerations since they are the points from which guidance can be viewed when making a decision. Each theory gives some emphasis different principles; however, for an ethical theory to be useful, it must be aimed towards common goals. Ethical principles are the common goals that the theories attempts to achieve. The goals include beneficence, least harm, respect for autonomy and justice

In the story of Ms. Brockovich, a legal assistant with the law firm of Masry&Vittitoe in Los Angeles, California, in which it drew global attention with the launch of the Julia Roberts movie that bore her name in 2000. There are many moral considerations which are taken into account. In the first case where Ms. Brockovich won the case for fighting for the legal rights of the citizens of Hinkley, California, against the Pacific Gas 7 Electric Company (PG&E).there was no ethical principles which were violated since the effects of the chemical carcinogen had been proved to be harmful to the health of the residents hence observing the principle of justice. The award of the compensation can be seen to have been fair.

However, it can also be argued out that awarding of compensation was unfair because of a number of reasons, first the health of human being cannot be equated to compensation based on monetary values, violating the principle of beneficence, and this is because the health effects cannot be reversed back by the compensation. Secondly it is difficult to determine the value of the effects on health on monetary value.

If on the other hand the accusations by Michael Fumento against the facts of the case are found to be true, then there are serious moral considerations which have been violated. The award of the compensation would have been unfair. This is because it violates the principle of least harm.

The global attention which Masry&Vittitoe and Ms. Brockovich gained can also be seen to be flouting moral ethical issues. If the award of the compensation was fair then the matter should have just been seen as justice delivered, but it is rather raising the profile of the people who just did their job. By giving attention to them then it looks like there was unfair judgment based on their competencies. It violates the principle of respect for anatomy.

The residents of Hinkley were not appropriately compensated by the settlement. This is because it the rights ethical theory is not observed. It is not ethical for the attorneys' to take 40 percent of the compensation. The amount is too large as a payment for winning the case. The society involved were awarded a small proportion of the compensation whereas the rights theory states that the rights set by the general public are protected and given the top priority. Rights are taken to be ethically correct and legitimate because a large number of people approve them.

The complication of this theory, however, is that one must translate the characteristics of a right in a society. The society has to establish the rights it wants to maintain. For a society to settle on what rights it wants to endorse, it must make a decision on the society's goals and ethical priorities. Therefore, in order for the rights theory to be effective, it has to be used in together with other ethical theories that will constantly explain the goals of the society.

On his defense Erin Brockovich was given the opportunity to respond to these accusations. She points out some discrepancies on the part of "G&E's which raises questions on the intention of all the accusation. Their documentation confirming that chromium-6 was toxic differed with the research of William Blot. The allegation that William was a "paid expert for PG&E shows that there are great disagreement on the moral decision take by all parties involved.  

Ethical theories and principles convey important characteristics of the decision-making process. Even though ethical theories try to follow the ethical principles so as to be applicable and valid, each theory has shortcomings. These theories, however, can be used in combination so as to get the most ethically correct possible answers. For instance, a utilitarian and the casuistic theory may be combined in relation to real life to arrive at the most appropriate choice. By combining ethical theories, one uses various ways to analyze a situation on hand in order to come up the most ethically correct decision as possible.

The ethical issues in the case of PepsiCo agreeing to notify consumers that Aquafina actually comes from ordinary tap water rather than mineral water revolves round deontological theory which states that people should stick to their obligations and duties when analyzing an ethical dilemma. This means that a one will pursue his or her obligations to another person or society since doing one's duty is considered ethically correct.

Deontology gives a foundation for particular duties and obligations to specific people, such as in a family or a society. Though deontology contains a number of positive attributes, it also has a number limitation. One of the shortcomings of this theory is that it has no grounds or logical base for determining an individual's duties. Duties may also conflict and this theory does not give a solution in such a case. Since deontology is not concerned with the context of the situation, it does not give any direction when a person is in a complicated circumstance where there is conflict of duties.

The issue of PepsiCo Company deciding to notify the customer that Aquafina actually comes from ordinary tap water is a step in the right direction. The ethical issue is that so far the customers had been deceived by the company. It is the moral responsibility of the company to inform the consumers on the correct quality of their products. PepsiCo had so far failed to fulfill their expectations, hence flouting their obligation. It is deceptive to sell bottled water that is no more pure than tap water to unsuspecting person. There are a number of ethical issues in producing the plastic bottles. The argument that it pollutes environment raises serious moral responsibility of the producer as well as the user. Production of plastic bottles uses a lot of energy as compared to the final benefits of the product.

In the case of Betty Hansen, the manager of Peppercorn, and his employee Tom Caneat, the highly talented chef. Tom Caneat has been performing his duties well but his condition as HIV positive is causing some moral challenges to his employer. The moral concerns surround the popularity of the business, safety of her employees and the customers. Hansen is also concerned about the reaction of her employees and customers to the condition of Caneat and also her obligation to Caneat especially that he is infected her employees and customers.

The utilitarian ethical theory is the most applicable on this case. It is based on the ability to foresee the consequences of an act. To a utilitarian, the option that yields the most to the most people is the most ethically correct. The advantage of this ethical theory is that a utilitarian can evaluate comparable predicted solutions and decide which alternative is more favorable for more people. The point system gives a reasonable and justification of a case for every decision and allows one to use it on a case-by-case context.

There are two types of utilitarianism; act and rule utilitarianism. In act utilitarianism, one does the actions that benefit many people. It does not consider personal feelings or the societal laws. Rule utilitarianism, on the other hand, considers the law and is apprehensive with fairness. A rule utilitarian seeks to do good to the majority of the people but through the fairest and most just way. As a result, additional benefits of rule utilitarianism are that it values justice and takes into account beneficence.

Utilitarianism has a number of shortcomings and limitations as other theories. The major one being the ability of predicting the future. Human actions cannot be properly and accurately predicted. A person can never be certain that his predictions will always come true. This leads to unexpected results. This may make the decisions unethical since it may not help the majority of the people as predicted. It is also difficult to compare the result of a decision on many people since the reaction of people to a situation is not always the same. Also material gains of a decision may not be easily compared with intangible gains.

The least appropriate theory in this case is the Deontological theory. This is because it provides a foundation for special duties and obligations to specific people. These obligations may not always be the best decision in the case of Hansen. This is because it does not take into account the reaction of the people concerned and may end up hurting the people they were meant to help.

All employees have a responsibility to be trustworthy and loyal. There is no reason ever that loyalty is inappropriate in workplace. For one to be trusted he has to trust others. One is trusted only when he thinks of others as worthy of there trust. The advantages and rewards of being trustworthy are practical and emotional. 

People that are trusted provide incentives to being trustworthy. They give us better way to trust since they do not require rules and contracts to be certain that we will meet our responsibilities. They believe in us and consequently believe us, even if what we say is contradictory with that of others, or seems unbelievable. Being trusted is also expressively fulfilling. It raises our self-esteem and enhances our good character. In professional matters trust is a very valuable and indispensable. Trustworthiness involves four main traits: truthfulness, integrity, keeping promise, and reliability. Each of the qualities produces principles which tell us how a trustworthy person behaves.

Employees should be worthy of trust, and show loyalty to employers and institutions. And devotion to duty, they should not use or divulge information learned in confidence for there personal advantage. They uphold the capacity to make autonomous judgments by avoiding unjustifiable influences and conflicts of interest. They should be loyal to their employers and colleagues, respect the information of their employer, and decline to engage in any behavior that takes unwarranted gain of their positions.

Although some Enlightenment philosophers continued to emphasize the virtues, with the ascendancy of utilitarianism and deontology, virtue theory moved to the margins of Western philosophy. has made an effort to reconstruct a virtue-based theory in dialogue with the problems of modern and postmodern thought.


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