Integrating Ethics

 

We are constantly faced with making choices. Some of these will be trivial such as what outfit to wear today, some will be much more serious issues, even involving life and death. We offer that all decisions we make are fundamental to our character, and that they will shape the kind of people we become. This is why decisions have to be made carefully, and with ethics in mind.

While there are not usually simple answers to our questions and decision-making, this does not mean there is NO answer, or that ethics is of no value. In these cases, ethics takes more time, more reflection, more critical thinking, and more discussion with others, especially with people you admire.

Sometimes in spite of all our efforts to clarify an issue in which laws, policies or guidelines are unclear, we may still not know what to make of a situation. In this case, and if an urgent decision has to be made, we can encourage our students to do their best. As long as we do that, all we can be charged with is a mistake or an error of judgment. Ethics cannot make us infallible, but it can sensitize us to how commonly we are confronted by ethical issues, so we recognize them more readily, and think about them more honestly. In the long run we will become better people as a result.

Many times ethics and ethical decision-making seem out of the scope of a person’s day-to-day life, but the reality is that seemingly insignificant decisions can have larger ethical implications. Take, for example, what we choose to eat. This “simple” decision can have complex ethical consequences, such as to environmental and economic sustainability, as well as impact to our health.