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  • Posted By: jkl24jkl
  • Date Posted: 07/12/2011
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 1636
  • Pages: 7
  • Views: 971
  • Rank: 763

Ethics And Moral Philosophy

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Ethics And Moral Philosophy

Ethics can be defined as a branch of moral philosophy that is devoted to addressing issues of morality and the responses of an individual, group or institutions to dilemmas such as good versus evil, virtue, and justice. Ethical values are what guide the decision making process, and can be learned from personal study, or they can be a set of established guidelines that must be followed based on institutional guidelines. An example would be a hospitals directives regarding a patient’s right to refuse life support which may go against a doctors personal ethical beliefs.


The definition of ethics can be narrowed by understanding what it is not. Ethics is not the same as the law. While in an ideal society laws would be just and ethical, history has demonstrated repeatedly that this is not always the case. Slavery, racial segregation, child labor, and violent anti-union practices were all considered legal at one point and time in America’s history, but they could no longer be considered ethical. Laws are often based on public opinion and fears, and may go against an ethical view. Although the goal of the punishment in the criminal justice system is often the rehabilitation of the individual into society, the public opinion of the crime in question often alters the application of justice.


The Nuremberg trials can be used as an example. The tribunal afforded the defendants all of the rights they would have been accorded in the United States, a view that was in opposition to several key political figures of the time. Joseph Stalin argued for Winston Churchill argued for the equivalent of a show trial, with the guilt of the defendants being a foregone conclusion and the end result being a prompt execution for those involved (Smith, 1981).These trials would have been legal, ...

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