Page 0057

57

In particular, doing ethics can help to:

 avoid being swayed by ill-founded, but at first sight persuasive, arguments, that is, to recognise bad rhetoric 1

 develop a deeper understanding of the range of perspectives on the issue, and use this understanding to

inform judgements

 make sure that decisions and judgements take into account all relevant features of the issue at stake

 engage in debate with people who hold different views and, by pin-pointing exactly where the agreements and

disagreements lie, learn from each other, identify any common ground and move towards consensus

 feel more confident in the decisions that are made, knowing that, at the very least, all involved have done their

best to identify the most acceptable standpoint or solution to a problem.

Ethics, however, cannot positively prove that one judgement is "the correct solution" compared with all other

possibilities, and choices must still be made. Indeed it can be argued that studying ethics "makes it more

necessary, not less, to stand on your own feet, to be self-critical, and to be obliged to choose for yourself. It

makes you more rational, more responsible, more of a human being" (Raphael, 1994, page 10).

Approaching ethical judgements in practice

As discussed above, the quality of ethical judgements depends largely on the depth and breadth of thought that

those involved put into them. Higgs (1997) has set out a list of possible aims of ethical discussion that are important

elements in the process of arriving at decisions, or ways forward, on ethical issues (see box below).

This list emphasises that good ethical judgement requires:

 as comprehensive and accurate an understanding of the issues at stake as possible; and

 consideration of all the relevant factors and interests involved.

The latter includes an understanding of the context in which the judgement is made. This, in turn, includes any legal

framework or relevant professional codes, historical precedent, range of current perspectives (both amongst people

directly involved in the issue under consideration and perhaps across society more widely), and possible general

frameworks for thinking on the issue.

Approached in this way, judgements will not result from "gut feelings" alone. However, emotions do still play a part.

Such feelings can, at least, help in identifying areas of ethical concern, suggesting a need to pause and allow time

to consider the issues in depth (Hope et al. 2008, p. 7; Gillett, 1997).

Aims of ethical discussion (Higgs 1997)

 Identification of issues at stake, whom they affect, and in what way.

 Further exploration of morally relevant facts, together with a reasonable attempt to assess the perspectives

and purposes of all involved.

 Clarification of the concepts and arguments being used, including asking whether any person or group is

distorting the discussion by manipulation, misuse of language, or distortion of concepts and arguments.

 Interaction and dialogue between the various parties to ventilate feelings, share points of view, and make

sure everyone feels heard.

 Analysis or synthesis of different points of view and arguments in order to create a response or way forward.

1 Rhetoric attempts to persuade others to adopt a particular point of view - in this case about what is right and what is

wrong. Bad rhetoric is based on poor argument - it might merely play on the emotions, or it might exploit incomplete,

disputable or incorrect facts, or it might use logically inconsistent arguments, for example.

Index

  1. Page 0001
  2. Page 0002
  3. Page 0003
  4. Page 0004
  5. Page 0005
  6. Page 0006
  7. Page 0007
  8. Page 0008
  9. Page 0009
  10. Page 0010
  11. Page 0011
  12. Page 0012
  13. Page 0013
  14. Page 0014
  15. Page 0015
  16. Page 0016
  17. Page 0017
  18. Page 0018
  19. Page 0019
  20. Page 0020
  21. Page 0021
  22. Page 0022
  23. Page 0023
  24. Page 0024
  25. Page 0025
  26. Page 0026
  27. Page 0027
  28. Page 0028
  29. Page 0029
  30. Page 0030
  31. Page 0031
  32. Page 0032
  33. Page 0033
  34. Page 0034
  35. Page 0035
  36. Page 0036
  37. Page 0037
  38. Page 0038
  39. Page 0039
  40. Page 0040
  41. Page 0041
  42. Page 0042
  43. Page 0043
  44. Page 0044
  45. Page 0045
  46. Page 0046
  47. Page 0047
  48. Page 0048
  49. Page 0049
  50. Page 0050
  51. Page 0051
  52. Page 0052
  53. Page 0053
  54. Page 0054
  55. Page 0055
  56. Page 0056
  57. Page 0057
  58. Page 0058
  59. Page 0059
  60. Page 0060
  61. Page 0061
  62. Page 0062
  63. Page 0063
  64. Page 0064

powered by PageTiger