An Example Of Personal Ethics Could Change Society
How does one become an example of personal ethics, and what should we base our ethics on? Most people base their ethics on feelings and emotion.
But following your feelings does not always lead to ethical behavior. Think about what would happen if everyone acted out in anger. Religion, by itself, is also not the most reliable basis for ethics.
Although many religions promote high ethical standards, what about people of different faiths with differing ethics? If ethics is based on religion, how are atheists supposed to know how to act?
Obeying the law is no guarantee of ethical behavior. Laws change; ethics should not. And there are countless examples of unethical laws throughout human history.
Perhaps we should base our ethics on whatever society accepts. But this is no solution because whole societies can be unethical, such as Nazi Germany.
And how would we even know what ‘society’ accepts? Are we to take a public opinion poll every time a question of ethics arises?
Morals are the way we act. Ethics is the way we should act.
Ethics has a societal and a personal meaning. In general, our personal ethics should be reflected in our relationship to our society. Ethics impacts our understanding of rights, obligations, and privileges.
Our societal ethics should be well-founded and should reflect our personal ethics. If it is a good thing for a person to be honest in their personal relations, it is also good for a person to be honest in their public dealings. And it is also good for our society to be one where honesty is encouraged and honored.
Personal ethics means that the way we expect others to act in public, we should act in private. It means that we should expect and strive toward excellence and honorable relations with our personal friends and acquaintances, as well as our society. This, of course, requires that we closely examine our personal ethics.
If we pay attention to our personal ethics, and make sure that we are ethical in all aspects of our lives, societal ethics will improve naturally. It does not work the same the other way around, however, because we know that society is not always a good basis for personal ethics. Of course, someone should tell that to Congress.
Our societal ethics flow from our own personal ethics, and not the other way around. This concept is fundamental to improving our society. If we tried to change societal ethics through direct mandate, we would run into the problem of basing ethics on the law. It would be a self-defeating endeavor.
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