How ethics apply to society today
Individuals are faced with ethical dilemmas everyday. Making correct decisions can often be difficult because people think differently about things.
On Friday, a panel in the UMC East Ballroom discussed, among other things, whether or not there are absolute principles when making ethical decisions.
“There are some problems with any system of thinking which proposes to know absolute truth. I don’t think absolute truth is possible. So out of hand, I would have to reject any ethical system that would present itself as absolute truth,” Thomas McNamara, an author and scholar said.
While McNamara said that there are no absolute guidelines while making an ethical decision, Mark Levine, a nationally syndicated talk show host on government news, said he believes there are some absolute principles in ethics.
“We have to rely on something. We have to rely on some truths or else we can’t go about living our daily lives,” Levine said.
Levine offered suggestions about what some guidelines when making an ethical decision in today’s world.
“Do no harm on purpose. I think that is a fair beginning for a standard of ethics,” Levine said. “While we can argue over the definition of harm, at least, I’d like to think of it, as a way to decide ethical questions.”
Levine also said that relative ethics, or making decisions that are relative to cultures, time and place, are not the best way to make decisions.
Seth Shostak, an astronomer engaged in searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, talked about some of the foundations of ethics, like altruism, but was more concerned with where ethics came from.
“The bottom line is this: for me, ethics is mostly just a Darwinian response to necessity to survive in a social environment,” Shostak said. “It also, however, clearly depends on the ability to think ahead and foresee consequences of actions, so that means that free will and ethics are very closely tied.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Kyle McDaniel at firstname.lastname@example.org