Ethics Paper

Ethics Paper Week 1 Assignment Rheana Willis 01/08/2012 Dilemma Choice 2: A married couple, both addicted to drugs, are unable to care for their infant daughter. She is taken from them by court order and placed in a foster home. The years pass. She comes to regard her foster parents as her real parents. They love her as they would their own daughter. When the child is 9 years old, the natural parents, rehabilitated from drugs, begin court action to regain custody. The case is decided in their favor. The child is returned to them, against her will. Does ethics support the law in this case? Discuss.

Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Major branches of ethics include: Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined; Normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action; Applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations; Within each of these branches are many different schools of thought and still further sub-fields of study.

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For this particular dilemma I chose Normative ethics and Applied ethics to solve and clarify the decision making process. Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking. Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts.

Normative ethics is also distinct from descriptive ethics, as the latter is an empirical investigation of people’s moral beliefs. To put it another way, descriptive ethics would be concerned with determining what proportion of people believe that killing is always wrong, while normative ethics is concerned with whether it is correct to hold such a belief. Hence, normative ethics is sometimes said to be prescriptive, rather than descriptive.

Using this method of choice to solve this dilemma would mean that both the foster parents and the rehabilitated parents would have to come up with an agreement in which the child is seeing both her real parents and her foster parents until she is comfortable to move in with her real parents permanently. That would mean that both parents would have to set aside their differences for the sake of the child and work on having unity together.

Applied ethics is, in the words of Brenda Almond, co-founder of the Society for Applied Philosophy, “the philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life that are matters of moral judgment”. It is thus a term used to describe attempts to use philosophical methods to identify the morally correct course of action in various fields of human life. Applied ethics is distinguished from normative ethics, which concerns what people should believe to be right and wrong, and from meta-ethics, which concerns the nature of moral statements.

Morally in this situation when using applied ethics, you solve the dilemma by act-utilitarianism. If raising their child on their own without involving the foster parents produces greater benefit than disbenefit, then, according to act-utilitarianism, it would be morally acceptable to do so, even if the child has been raised by them the first nine years of her life. Unfortunately, there are perhaps hundreds of rival normative principles from which to choose, many of which yield opposite conclusions.

Thus, the stalemate in normative ethics between conflicting theories prevents us from using a single decisive procedure for determining the morality of a specific issue. The usual solution today to this stalemate is to consult several representative normative principles on a given issue and see where the weight of the evidence lies. When using Normative ethics to solve the dilemma it involves arriving at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct.

In a sense, it is a search for an ideal litmus test of proper behavior. The Golden Rule is a classic example of a normative principle: We should do to others what we would want others to do to us. In Applied ethics resolving issues is easier based on consulting our normative principle of choice, such as act-utilitarianism, where if it’s going to benefit the parents to raise her on their own then they are acting morally by doing so.

The only similarities between the two ethics are that normative ethic principles can go hand and hand with applied ethics, for instance: commonly appealed to in applied ethical discussions: * Personal benefit: acknowledge the extent to which an action produces beneficial consequences for the individual in question. * Social benefit: acknowledge the extent to which an action produces beneficial consequences for society. * Principle of benevolence: help those in need. Principle of paternalism: assist others in pursuing their best interests when they cannot do so themselves. * Principle of harm: do not harm others. * Principle of honesty: do not deceive others. * Principle of lawfulness: do not violate the law. * Principle of autonomy: acknowledge a person’s freedom over his/her actions or physical body. * Principle of justice: acknowledge a person’s right to due process, fair compensation for harm done, and fair distribution of benefits. Rights: acknowledge a person’s rights to life, information, privacy, free expression, and safety I feel like these two school of ethics are better explained in real-life dilemmas because not only do they give you a better sense of what’s right or wrong but also different perspectives on how to reach a moral and ethical decision. Aristotle would have approved of the decision made using normative ethics because ethics is a practical rather than a theoretical science; he also gave careful consideration to the aspects of human nature involved in acting and accepting moral responsibility.

Although the virtues are habits of acting or dispositions to act in certain ways, Aristotle maintained that these habits are acquired by engaging in proper conduct on specific occasions and that doing so requires thinking about what one does in a specific way. This is the function of deliberative reasoning: to consider each of the many actions that are within one’s power to perform, considering the extent to which each of them would contribute to the achievement of the appropriate goal or end, making a deliberate choice to act in the way that best fits that end, and then voluntarily engaging in the action itself.

References 1) Kemerling, F. (11). Philosophy pages. Retrieved from http://www. philosophypages. com/hy/2s. htm 2) Wikimedia Foundation, I. (n. d. ). Applied ethics. Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Applied_ethics 3) Wikepedia. (2011, 12 07). Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ethics 4) Fieser, J. (2003). Psychological issues in methaethics. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www. iep. utm. edu/ethics

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