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Ethical Issues

I need some help getting started with either one of these topics

(1) In the election of public officials, such as the presidential candidacy, people sometimes say that their opinion of the character of the candidate is very important to them. Some people believe that their assessment of the "character" of the candidate helps them assess how the candidate will act in office. How would you relate the idea of moral character to ethical theory? How does this contrast to using consequestialist (teleological) principles or nonconsequestialist (deontological) principles to assess ethical conduct? You are required to demonstrate your understanding of these principles by providing a thorough discussion using a minimum of two credible academic sources (APA format).

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(2) In the election of public officials, such as the presidential candidacy, people sometimes twist the facts, in an attempt to mislead the public by distorting, manipulating, or using selective information. How would you relate the idea of moral character to ethical theory? Discuss your argument on whether you believe these acts are ethical, providing justification and explanation to your argument. You are required to demonstrate your understanding of these principles by providing a thorough discussion using a minimum of two credible academic sources (APA format).

Objective: Describe basic ethical issues facing today's society.
Use case studies to evaluate and apply theories in support of a personal position on ethical issues.
Deliverable Length: 3-4 pages (including a reference list).

I need help and ideas to get started. Thank you.

Solution Preview

One approach to help you with an assignment like this one is to look at each section of your paper from various perspectives, which you can draw on for your final copy. This is the approach this response this response takes. I also attached a supporting article at the end of this response.

Let's take a closer look at the first scenario.

RESPONSE:

Your tentative outline might be something to the effect:

I. Introduction (introduce topic, scenario and purpose or thesis statement)
II. Virtue Theory
III. Consequential (Teleological) Principles
IV. Nonconsequential (Deontological) Principles
V. Conclusion (sum up main points)

Now, let's look at some information to fill in the outline.

The scenario can be part of your Introduction, and you will need to include a purpose statement or thesis statement. Let's go with the first scenario.

There are many ethical issues facing today's society. In the election of public officials, such as the presidential candidacy, people sometimes say that their opinion of the character of the candidate is very important to them. Some people believe that their assessment of the "character" of the candidate helps them assess how the candidate will act in office. This paper explains how to relate the idea of moral character to ethical theory and how this contrasts to using consequestialist (teleological) principles or nonconsequestialist (deontological) principles to assess ethical conduct.

The fundamental question of ethics is, "What should I do?" or "How should I act?" Ethics provides "moral principles" or universal rules that tell a person what to do as well as how to assess the actions of others. For example, many adhere to the moral principle of utilitarianism: "Everyone is obligated to do whatever will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number." Others are just as devoted to the basic principle of Immanuel Kant: "Everyone is obligated to act only in ways that respect the human dignity and moral rights of all persons." So how do we judge the candidate in terms of character? (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, & Meyer, 1988).

The question you will address is: How would you judge the presidential candidates based on moral character? Virtues ethical theory helps to explain this.

Virtues Ethical Theory

According to "virtue ethics", there are certain principles, such as excellence or dedication to the common good that every individual should strive. People use these principles to judge candidates. "Virtues" are attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop this potential. People also use these virtues, also referred to moral qualities, to form an opinion about the presidential candidate. These virtues define the moral character of a person, according to this theory, and are reflective of a person's behavior, such as dedication to the common good. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of virtues associated with 'moral character'. Virtues are developed through learning and through practice. Just as the ability to run a business develops through much training and practice, so too does a person's capacity to be fair, to be generous, to be self controlled, to be courageous, or to be compassionate (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, & Meyer, 1988). In other words, virtues are habits, and once they are acquired, they become characteristic of a person. This is referred to a person's "moral character."

As argued by Aristotle, an ancient philosopher, a person can improve his or her character by practicing self-discipline, while a good character can be corrupted by repeated self-indulgence (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, & Meyer, 1988). Since character is stable and even "moral" character can be corrupted, virtues theory argues that when considering a person for public office, like a candidate for presidency, the character of the candidate is very important to consider in the decision-making process. In fact, based on the virtues theory, the assessment of the "moral character" of the candidate helps to assess how the candidate will act in office. If the candidate is self-indulgent or lacks self-control in some areas of her or his personal life, that person will more than likely carry this to the oval office. Likewise, a presidential candidate who has developed the virtue of self control or compassion or generosity is often referred to as a disciplined, compassionate or generous person because she or he tends to be disciplined, compassionate or generous in all circumstances. Furthermore, a presidential candidate who has developed virtues will be naturally disposed to act in ways that are consistent with moral principles. The virtuous person is the ethical person (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, & Meyer, 1988). Likewise, the non-virtuous person is the unethical person.

Who the candidate hangs out with is also important to virtues theory, as community is at the heart of the virtue approach to ethics. It determines the candidate's "moral" character. That is, a president candidate's character traits are not developed in isolation, but within and by the communities, to which he or she belongs, including family, church, school, and other private and public associations. Community values and principles therefore shape the presidential candidate's personality. Therefore, the virtue approach urges everyone should pay attention to the shape of their communities and the habits of character they encourage and instill (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, & Meyer, 1988). Thus, a person considering the "moral character" or the presidential candidate, also look to the communities of the presidential candidates in assessing their character and how she or he will act in office.

Consequential (Teleological) Principles

A consequentialist theory judges the rightness or wrongness of an action based on the consequences that action has. The most familiar example would be utilitarianism: "that action is best that produces the greatest good for the greatest number'' (Jeremy Bentham) (Sullivan & Pecorino, 2002). In other words, the moral principle of utilitarianism is: "Everyone is obligated to do whatever will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number" (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, & Meyer, 1988).

From this perspective, the person judging the presidential candidate would not be looking to the "moral character" of the presidential candidate like the virtues theory, but instead assess the candidate in terms of which candidate will do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Consequentialist theories suggest that the moral value, the moral rightness or wrongness of an act, is entirely a function of the consequences, or the results of that act; however, it does not spell out what sorts of consequences are morally good and what sorts are morally bad (Sullivan & Pecorino, 2002). Thus, it is subjective, and the person would decide if the presidential candidate was fit for public office based on ...

Solution Summary

In reference to one of the scenarios, this solution describes a basic ethical issues facing today's society (e.g. as related to public officials, such as the presidential candidates) through the lens of various ethical theories e.g., consequential, virtues, deontological, etc.. Supplemented with an overview of the ethical theories.

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