Ethics According to Me
Ethics, according to me, are the variety of moral codes that I follow based on my upbringing and the social environments in which I operate. This fits in with the definition given by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which described ethics as, “the standard of what is right and wrong… based on our values” (NCSL 2011). Ethics, therefore, are an entire framework that tells me what is right or wrong, and what I should do in various situations to have the most satisfactory outcomes from my moral perspective. I am a vessel of ethics, and I carry with me through the world this collection of moral codes and values of right and wrong. I apply these values through my decision-making capabilities, to make what I think are the best choices for every scenario in which I find myself.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defined moral codes as, “certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior” (Gert & Gert 2020). For example, if I were to be collecting money made from a charity fundraiser and chose to place it within the group’s bank account, rather than my own, this is an ethical decision in which I am following the rules as I believe I am expected, in order to do what is morally right from my perspective. According to me, my moral codes underpin the patterns of behaviour that I exhibit and maintain, and they indicate what I believe to be right or wrong.
My values concerning what is right or wrong mean that I follow an internalised idea of what is acceptable, depending on how it may affect another person. Usually, my sense of right and wrong relates to how I will feel about myself as a result of my actions, and less about what another party might think of me. These attitudes are likely to be a product of my culture. The relationship between our sense of self and our moral conduct has been discussed by Halberstam, who wrote “we have to confront the integrity of our character, our honed intuitions, our developed sense of fairness and honesty.” (Halberstam 2006).
As an example of the relationship between my self-image and my conduct, imagine I was visiting a paint shop and looking at a sample card. When I have finished with it, I make a choice to place it back in its original position, rather than throwing it to the floor. This is because otherwise, my self-perception would shift so that I would consider myself an unpleasant person. Personal decisions about what is right or wrong often seem to provoke other people to voice their opinions on the subject from the perspective of their own ethics.
My decision-making capabilities operate within a wide framework, the limits of which are defined by my ethics. Even simple decisions are, inevitably, influenced by context, and can become ethical issues, especially when considering the extent to which they impact on other people. For example, a decision to fall asleep on my bed is hardly an ethical one. But as a pilot, it would be unethical to fall asleep when I fly a plane. This simple example begins to illustrate the complexity of ethics as our personal decisions interact with our environment and the people around us.
In conclusion, ethics, according to me, are a personal ideology, created by my upbringing and values, that forms the framework within which I make moral decisions. Within the limits of this framework, I both consciously and subconsciously chose how to act based on the norms that I have, the situations in which I find myself, and the impact that my actions would have on other people and on my self-image.
Gert, Bernard and Joshua Gert, 2020. “The Definition of Morality.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta. Accessed September 25, 2020 https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2020/entries/morality-definition/
Halbersham, Joshua. “Right and Wrong in the Real World.” Greater Good Magazine, March 1, 2006. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/right_and_wrong_in_the_real_world
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 2011. “Tools of the Trade: Sorting Right From Wrong: February 2011.” Accessed September 26, 2020. https://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/sorting-right-from-wrong.aspx