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Defining “Right”: Using Ethical Framework To Define The Term “Right”

1204 words - 5 pages

Defining “Right”
The topic of morality and what is right or wrong is a deeply complex and profound subject. There is not a basic rule as there is in physics; there is no Newton’s law of motion and conservation of mass to base all theories upon. The shape of right and wrong must be modeled after the morals and values of the given culture, using the moral compass as a guide. There are frame works such as utilitarianism and deontological that pose questions that help use analyze the find the “right” thing to do. With anything, there is no steadfast rule on what is the correct framework to use. It is a mix between different thought process mixed with your personal values that help create a personal sense of “right” and “just”.
Ethical Relativism
Ethics cannot be discussed without first addressing ethical relativism and pointing out the potential traps of this flawed thinking. Ethical relativism argues that ethics is, “simply a matter of opinion”. (DesJardins, 2011. pp 29) It contends that everybody opinion is equally valid, without taking into account evidence or research to support the opinion. This would negate the whole purpose of the study of ethics, since if everything is valid, there is no use to investigate decisions further. Ethical relativism can be attractive since it requires only a basic level of analyzes of the issues and does not require to dive into the true substance of the issues. It is the easy way to assert everybody’s opinions are on equal ground. Tempting as it is to apply ethical relativism, it will ultimately produce only unsupported and faulty idea of ethics.
In an article, “The Challenge of Ethical Relativism in a Coalition Environment” by David Whetham (2008), explores the ethical quagmire of different ethical standards in the military. Whetham discourse involves a discussion of ethical relativism and if America should intervene when coalition partners are not obeying by American ethical standards. If ethical relativism is held to be true, Whetham asserts that these countries believe they are doing the ethical thing according to their own culture standards (pp. 303). They cannot be shunned or condemned because they are following their own ethical code, just how America follows our code. This argument is rejected because there is universal values that all cultures hold highly, such as the care of young and the rejection of suicide. (pp. 304) This article demonstrates how a seemly straight forward concept of ethical relativism can be a complex topic. The principle of ethical relativism has merits but fails to withstand scrutiny and therefore, must be discounted.
Utilitarian Ethics
It can be extremely difficult to find a definition of what is “right” that will satisfy the needs of people globally. DesJardins (2011) discusses utilitarian as a policy of analyzing the decision in the context of, “maximizing the overall good”. (pp. 29) It considers the consequences of each action and the effect it will have on humanity. On...

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