Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ethics, Morality, and Responsibility

It's very interesting to read and hear the different perspectives on what is ethics. I will now share mine:

For me ethics is simple. It is linked to (1) awareness of your own actions and the consequences they have (and might have) --in the other human being, in yourself, and in your surroundings-- and (2) the responsibility for your actions and amendments if necessary. Note that when you act, you have thought before committing the act...

I see the term morality as the particular code of ethics bounded to a certain religion. Thus the word "ethics", without (any other word accompanying it) are more universal aspects to preserve life, harmony, and consensus between people.

And in the context of engineering, ethics has traditionally been linked to the set of codes belonging to, for example, the IEEE or any other engineering professional organization. It should also include the simple ethics I mentioned before.

Recalling our friend, Nel Noddings --why we don't send her a Christmas card? She will get happy and we'll exercise Utilitarianism-- we see that Noddings use the terms 'moral' and 'ethics' interchangeably (p. 151).

I liked some aspects of Kantianism, but not all. For example, I liked that Kant see ethical agents "constrained not to do things that will interfere with the free agency of other" (p. 159); however I must interfere if I see that the person is trying, for example, to suicide. I must interfere if an infant, child, person with a severe mental illness is being the recipient of harm by other with more strength.
If I do not have the physical conditions to stop the situation, I have the responsibility (ethics) to either call the police, or scream, or notify someone else, or do something to stop that. The other aspect I liked is his approach to do "the right (procedural aspects of ethics) rather that the good (the context or ends sought in ethical action)" (p.158).
Of Utilitarianism, I liked the idea of "sensitive thinkers" (p. 160).

Going back to my simplistic definition of ethics, I see that it might fit more with Dewey, because "Dewey put much more emphasis on the responsibility of individuals and institutions than is usual in utilitarianism. For Dewey, the primary criterion of ethical behavior is willingness to accept responsibility for the full range of anticipated outcomes" (p. 163).
--I cut here to prevent myself from writing an essay --

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