Some thoughts on Ethics

Ethics–if all it required was an understanding of the English (the language, not the British) then there wouldn’t be much to say.

I am not someone who believes there is a need for ethics training. The rules for what constitutes ethical behavior have not changed. Something is either ethical or it isn’t. What has changed are the boundaries. Individuals constantly shift the boundaries, expanding the realm of what is ethical. In the minds of most individuals, those boundaries differ by person and by situation.

I operate from a mindset that ethical boundaries are fixed. As an example, consider the boundaries between the US and its neighbors. Those are fixed. That doesn’t mean there aren’t those who don’t like where the boundary is between the US and Canada, or those who would argue that the boundary should be different, or those who believe the boundary is different. Disliking the positioning of the boundary, or disbelieving the positioning of the boundary does not invalidate the boundary.

When people expand the boundaries for what they choose to call ethical behavior, they rarely do so at their own peril. Generally, they do so for their own convenience, they do so to remove any latent feelings of guilt. Each time they move the boundary, it makes it that much easier to move it the next time. Taken to its limit, at some point there are no boundaries.

Setting larger boundaries in some sense allows people to draft their own sets of Commandments, like little mini-Moseses descending from Mount Sinai with their sets of ethics. Unlike Moses’ stoned-carved commandments, the mini-Moseses draft theirs on an Etch-A-Sketch, making them much easier to change.

However, I don’t think ethical behavior need stem from nor be limited to any religious belief. It need not be employed because of some fear of punishment, but because of a love of righteousness and out of respect for others.

Integrity is doing what’s right even if nobody is watching. A person of ethics knows what’s right even if nobody is asking, and ethical behavior requires action in order to be expressed.

 

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