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Ethical Systems & Political Issues in Public Health

I need help getting started with these questions:

1. Is there really a single ethical system that can be used for all human behavior? If not then what should govern human actions?

2. For your first written assignment, you are to rank order the seven ethical systems discussed in Munson according to your own preference (i.e., you number one choice being the most consistent with your own way of thinking, the sixth being the furthest from your own thinking). State the reasons for you first choice and critically compare it to your other low ranked choices.

The seven systems

Kantian Ethics - First Principles
Natural Law -Teleological Ethics - Purpose and Nature of Things
Utilitarianism or Consequential Ethics - Outcomes are Determinative
Relativism - It all depends on Frame of Reverence

Existentialism or Freedom Ethic - Not what we do, but who we become - Principle of Autonomy

Duties and Rules - Ross - Beneficence and Nonmaleficence
Theory of Justice - Rawls - Distributive Justice

Solution Preview

Please see response below (also attached, along with an informative article).

RESPONSE:

1. Is there really a single ethical system that can be used for all human behavior? If not then what should govern human actions?

This is a matter of opinion. Some strong proponents of certain ethical systems would argue that the theory could indeed be used for all human behavior. Often, these proponents would argue that there is an 'absolute' truth' e.g. laws and rules that guide all human behavior and therefore can also explain all human behavior. Likewise, others think that certain systems lend themselves to certain human behaviors, but not to others. This is mainly because some people argue that truth is relative to the situation, so with no 'absolute' truth, each ethical system has some truth, while others have their own form of truth. However, for application to health programs and the likes, some theories are clearly more applicable than others. Human behavior is complicated so perhaps the need for some specific theories focused on specific areas of human behavior to make them more practicable. This fits with my beliefs and values as well. Is this how you see it?

2. For your first written assignment, you are to rank order the seven ethical systems discussed in Munson according to your own preference (i.e., you number one choice being the most consistent with your own way of thinking, the seventh being the furthest from your own thinking).

This section of the assignment is asking for you to rate the seven theories based on your own ethics and values. As a case in points let's argue that Ross's Duties and Rules Moral Theory is the best fit.

State the reasons for your first choice and critically compare it to your other low ranked choices.

ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE:

The seven systems are listed in the ordered they were rated.

(1) Duties and Rules - Ross - Beneficence and Nonmaleficence (1)

This is rated # 1 because it is a Deontological moral/ethical theory, which fits best with my own values. The nature of what is right or wrong does not depend on the outcome, but on certain principles of fundament and objective rules http://www.commerce.usask.ca/faculty/backman/lectures/hca434/ethics/ethics1/slide1.htm

It is comprehensive ethical system and seems to fit best with my own values (e.g., autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, ideals, virtues and conscientiousness) of what I consider 'right" behavior. It is a logical theory. It allows us to look at the situation and logically decide what the best course of action would be based on several values (justice, etc.). (See full details of ethical system below).

Does this fit with your views and values?

(2) Kantian Ethics - First Principles (2)

Likewise, Kantian Ethics is also deontological, so I rated it a 2. Deontological ethics, which holds that one ought to do the right thing not for the sake of any goal or consequence, but simply because it is the right thing. It is in contrast to teleological ethics, which is consequential and you do something because of the consequence.

Kant refers to these two types as hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives, respectively (and believes that ethics ought to focus on the latter). In his theory, Kant claimed that various actions are morally wrong if they are inconsistent with the status of a person as a free and rational being, and that, conversely, acts that further the status of people, as free and rational beings are morally right. Therefore, Kant claimed, we all have a duty to avoid the first type of act and perform the second type of act (see more detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics).

See http://webs.wofford.edu/kaycd/ethics/deon.htm for an excellent summary to consider in your contrasts and comparisons with other theories.

For example, the following argument (excerpt) fits with my value system ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses ethical systems in terms of universal application to all ethics and political issues in public health and, if not universal, then what should govern human actions. By illustrative example, it also assists in ranking the seven ethical systems in order as discussed in Munson. Supplemented with information on Deontology ethics.

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