What Is Ethics?
Ethics is not equivalent to feelings. We feel on whether a certain thing is right or wrong. Feelings actively affect our daily choices. It may sometimes prevent us from making the right ethical choices. [Peter Zafirides, 2012]. Some may feel remorse when an unethical deed is done. This can be mainly attributed to persons’ different needs and desires.
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In 1992, Dr. Cox, a 70 year old, with a lethal injection of potassium chloride had what rheumatologists’ described as the worst case of rheumatoid arthritis ever seen. Conventional medicine was unable to relieve her pain and repeatedly requested to die. The Independent, 1992].
In that case, Dr. Cox was charged with attempted murder. It may seem to some people that it is ethically and morally “alright” to end a persons’ suffering and misery by taking his/her life, if requested. However it is unethical to end a persons’ life for whatever the reason so. Hence, an ethical standard cannot be judged by feelings alone. Ethics is not religion as well. Many people are religious but not all are ethical. The same applies to people who are not religious are not necessarily ethical as well. However, most religions do practice an ethical code of conduct.
Faith in religion does not require ethics but ethical principles apply to everyone. For example, during the 9/11 incident, what happened a decade ago was raging a “holy war” against the Americans and other western democratic nations in the name of their religion. Although the Islamic religion advocated good ethical standards, some deviate from the path and become corrupted, even in the name of their religion. Al Qaeda and the leader had taken the religion to its extreme. [Scholastic; Natalie, no date] A law abiding person may not necessarily be ethical.
Although the law does embody high ethical standards generally accepted by the public, it may easily deviate from ethics as well. The law may become ethically corrupt under totalitarian regimes and turn it into a form of power to serve the interest of certain people or groups. For example, abortion is made legal in certain states and countries. Like China, where abortion is not a criminal offence but in turn is available on request by the patient and is even done by the government as a public service. Furthermore they are able to receive 2 weeks to a month of sick paid leave for abortion. [Act Now AU 2008][UN Abortion Policy, no date].
It may have been made legal by the law but that does not mean it is ethical to do so, unless in certain situation, it may affect maternal health or life. In Malaysia, an abortion is legal when there is risk of life or threat of injury to the pregnant woman. [WAO, 2011] Ethics is also not parallel to socially and culturally accepted norm. Although many cultures are ethical, some are very corrupted and even blind to ethical concerns. One good example would be the Netherlands Drug Law and Cultures. In the Netherlands weed or pot (common name of the drug marijuana/cannabis) is openly traded and consumed every day.
There are even specific places (the coffee shops) in the Netherlands where they specifically cater to drug consumption. [Mark Owoll, 2000] Although it is widely accepted culturally, socially and legally in Netherlands, it is still unethical to consume cannabis/marijuana as it does harm to ones’ body through lung diseases, heart diseases, weakened immune system and many more and it is unethical to do harm to oneself. [WebMD, no date] Ethics is not a science as well. Ethics is not based off accurate calculation and scientific formulas and most certainly is unable to certainly predict the correct action to every ethical issue.
However, social science and natural science are able to aid in making a better ethical decision. Science may provide the explanation but ethics provide the reason as to how we should act. For example, Cheryl, a mother of one and was pregnant with another at that time, was diagnosed with cancer while she was pregnant. Science had given her the option to have an abortion, and then proceed with chemotherapy or continue without chemotherapy and save the baby, but endangering her own life. Cheryl then decided to have the baby and died shortly after giving birth to her second child in an emergency caesarean birth.