My Ethics Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


A few months ago a friend approached me with a moral dilemma. She had witnessed a coworker stealing cash from her office. Although her first instinct was to rush and tell the supervisor what had occurred, she hesitated and consulted me beforehand. "This guy has four children. His wife died two years ago. He gets paid not much more than minimum wage and can barely make ends meet. I know that stealing is wrong, but at the same time I know that he is poor, and ... " I stopped her right there. What she was suggesting was to possibly ignore the stealing because the man's moral imperative was not toward his company but toward his family. Clearly my friend had a tendency to support what I have since learned to be called ethical relativism and like me, she might tend to believe in situational ethics.

I have always found ethical relativism appealing because I know that each situation must be judged differently; I do not believe that normative ethics can or should apply to all of life's situations. I also do not believe in absolutism. Life is simply too complex for blanket ethical theories. I have always thought that extenuating circumstances can justify the breaking of one's moral codes. Still, in my friend's situation, I did not feel that the man was justified in stealing money from his place of employment. Rather than advise my friend to tattle on him, though, I thought the most ethical action she could take was to confront the man directly. The ethical conundrum that my friend presented me with illustrated that my personal ethics consist of a combination of ethical relativism, libertarianism, and situational ethics.

I believe that I acquired my ethics from my culture: through the media and my peers primarily. My parents have had a significant impact on my moral…

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