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Ethics and Critical Thinking

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1. What does ethics mean to you?
2. What are some of the tools of critical thinking for ethics? Have you ever used these? How?
3. Describe some different beliefs about ethical living. Which ones do you tend to agree with more? Is is hard to live ethically?
4. What role do reason, emotion, and intuition play when making ethical decisions? Have you experienced these, and have you ever felt a conflict between the three? Why or why not?

Please provide any references used. Thank you.

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Solution Summary

By responding to the questions, this solution discusses aspects of ethics, critical thinking and decision making. It also discusses the role of reason, emotion, and intuition in making ethical decisions and, by example, exmaines a situation where there was a conflict between the three. References are provided.

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1. What does ethics mean to you?

Ethics can be defined from a science perspective: The science of human duty; the body of rules of duty drawn from this science; a particular. Ethics is a general term for what is often described as the "science (study) of morality". In philosophy, ethical behavior is that which is "good" or "right." The Western tradition of ethics is sometimes called moral philosophy. This is one part of value theory (axiology) - the other part is aesthetics - one of the four major branches of philosophy, alongside metaphysics, epistemology, and logic. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics

On a more personal level, one way of understanding ethics is that personal ethics is about the values and beliefs we hold that guide our behavior. Our ethical motive is our motivation for behaving in a certain way based on ideas of right and wrong. Our personal ethics, our sense of what is right and wrong comes from various places, such as religious affiliations, societal and parental values, peers, groups, television, to name a few. In other words, ethics is a set of values and principles used in guiding our behavior, including our decision-making. Should I help that elderly lady cross the street even if it will make me late for my meeting or will someone else probably help her anyways? Should I give money to the church to feed to poor or am I enabling them to continue being dependent and encouraging them not to go out and get a job and be responsible?

As a case in point, let's say that a friend comes to you and asks to borrow money, should you borrow the person money, or does your personal ethics ("I know she won't pay me back when she says she will, so it is wrong to borrow her the money") informs you (from past experience) that this person will probably never pay you back, at least not on time? In other words, if you valued your friendship with this person, your logic might tell you that it is wrong to borrow her money, knowing that she has a difficult time keeping her promises and commitments, especially issues relating the paying back money. This ethical reasoning and critical thinking process (evaluating the consequences) is based on past experience, where it took her two years to pay back money that she had promised to pay back in two months. The alternatives would be to borrow her the money to save an argument or to say no and tell her that you cannot afford the money that she might not pay back for some time. This is an example of engaging in critical thinking in ethical decision-making.

Problem: Is it ethical to borrow money to a person, which will increase her sense of dependency and inability to take responsibility to budget her money so she will not continually run out of money, and have to borrow money from friends? Assumption: Because she did not pay last time, she will not pay again. Is this realistic? Does it make sense? What are people involved and what ate the consequences to each of the people involved? (e.g., friend, me, friends children, etc.) This process is engaging in one of the critical thinking tools mentioned below in the next question.

Some people use ethical theories to make ethical decisions, as ethical theories are often applied in decision-making as a methodology or an approach to evaluating acts and moral choice. Deontological theory consists of a set of moral rules in which moral choice is evaluated. Teleological theory consists of a guiding principle such as 'the good life' in which acts are evaluated in terms of ...

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