Student Response 1:
Ethics can be defined as doing what is morally right based on principles set by a group, community, etc. However, one might consider an individual’s ideology, religious beliefs, and local laws when defining ethics. Laws were created to standardize and enforce a society’s viewpoint on what is right or wrong. Right and wrong (ethics, law, or morality) are often highly subjective. What is considered unethical can most times be legal and moral under various legal and religious codes.
Ethics is a personal belief that is reinforced by society. For example, some laws are considered universal ethics. Most countries will agree that it is wrong to take away someone’s life. However, many countries have corporal punishment. Ethics is a personal concept. So then are morals. Therefore, how does one decipher who is morally correct and the same goes with ethics: how can someone decide who is ethically correct. There is no sufficient or definitive way to decide which ethics is of value and which are disgraceful.
Ethics does not exist based on emotions and feelings. Other primates can “feel” as well. Ethics exists because humans are able to reason abstractly. It is rational to develop a standard for dealing with other humans to ensure social harmony. Humans are social creatures who depend on social constructs to survive. Thus, feelings are the root of how ethics is defined, but reasoning is the conscious and deliberate decision to act in a said ethical fashion to benefit oneself and the social structures that one relies on to survive.
Velasquez, M. (2010). What is Ethics? Retrieved from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/whatisethics.html
Student Response 2:
Ann M. Wrote:
What is legal and what is ethical? An act that is legal relates to governing laws that apply to all equally in a particular society or region. The laws tell us what we can or cannot do and there are legal consequences if you do not comply with the laws. A legal act is objective. The law is broken or it isn’t. According to Twomey & Jennings, p.33, ethics deals “with values that relate to the nature of human conduct and values associated with that conduct.” It is based on personal opinions and values and therefore is subjective.
A society may have a set of laws but within that society the people may have different opinions as to what is ethical and what is unethical. Just because there is a law stating something is legal does not mean that everyone believes it is ethical. For instance, the death penalty in Florida is legal. However, many people think it is immoral and unethical to take the life of another, even of the murderers themselves.
Different states have different laws. There are 18 states that do not have the death penalty and 32 that do. How would we explain that “anything that is legal is ethical” in this case? It is clear cut in 32 states that the law says capital punishment is legal. That does not mean that all individuals find it ethical. There can be differing opinions within each state.
Many laws originated based on the ethics of the society where they were made. In many societies murder, bodily injury and theft are illegal because most people believe it is unethical. However, there are many ethical and unethical acts that laws do not cover. For instance, most people would believe that breaking a promise or deceiving someone is unethical but there may be no law that is broken.
Although the law can be and sometimes is influenced by ethics, the law does not determine what is ethical. Ethics are more subjective than the law and therefore the statement, “anything that is legal is ethical” is insufficient.
Jennings, M., & Twomey, D. (2013). Business law: principles for today’s commercial environment