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The society can only function in a productive manner if its members exist harmonious with each other. For such an existence to occur, the individuals making up the society must observe certain well-established principles which are known as ethics. Bauer (2005, p.25) defines ethics as “a code of values which guide our choices and actions and determine the purpose and course of our lives”. This definition is corroborated by Crane and Matten (2007) who assert that ethics comprise of rules established by the society to guide the behavior of individuals by stipulating what is deemed right or wrong.
Ethics differ from values in that they add a moral dimension of right and wrong to the action taken (Rothwell, 2010). Having ethical norms imposed on a person will not lead to ethical behavior because the effectiveness of ethics depends on the willingness of the individual to follow them. This is because ethics are not about the rules or laws set out to govern our behavior but rather, they are about what we do with the rules. Without ethics, the society is doomed to breakdown as each person acts in his/her own self interest. Considering the significance of ethics in the community, I have a personal philosophy on ethics which is constructed from a number of sources. The philosophy is also grounded in the works of various ethical theorists.
My Personal Philosophy
My personal philosophy on ethics is borne from the realization that ethics are the foundation on which a productive and well functional society is built. This philosophy obliges me to make a conscious decision about the impact that my actions or choices might have on the people I interact with. One of the tenets of my philosophy is that I must always endeavor to act in a manner that is beneficial to most people in the society. I owe this part of my philosophy to my parents who are also the biggest moral influence in my life. While growing up, my parents insisted that I act in a manner that benefited most members of the family. As such, when carrying out actions, I had to consider not only my interests but also those of my parents and siblings. This ethical norm is inline with Utilitarianism which is considered to be the most influential consequentiality theory. According to Utilitarianism, the collective welfare of the people takes precedence over an individual’s right and therefore, one should choose actions that benefit the greatest number of people (Kotler & Keller, 2008).
Another attribute in my philosophy is that I should always do the right thing. This is an ethical norm that I acquired from the society where I learnt that my actions should be such that if everyone decided to act as I did, harmony would still be preserved in the society. I am therefore forced to consider the “rightness” of my action instead of whether the action suits my needs at a given time. This reasoning is supported by Kant’s theory of Categorical Imperative where duty is the basis of all moral actions (Thiroux & Krasemann, p.54). From Kant’s theory, the ends do not always justify the means and duty rather than consequences is the basis of all moral actions. This theory dictates that I have an obligation to do the right thing at all times since moral actions are only those that can become universal rules for society.
The final tenet in my philosophy is that I should always obey the laws and rules put in place. This part of my philosophy is influenced by the legal apparatus at work in the society. While my family and friends are mostly lenient and do not emphasis on the importance of being accountable, the law dictates that every person should be held accountable for their actions. As such, my philosophy requires me to abide by set rules at all times. This stance is supported by Kant’s Categorical Imperative theory which states that an action is moral if it is in accordance to set rules (Crane & Matten, 2007). The rationale behind this is that while people may at times act irrationally, rules are always constant and following them will lead to harmony within the society.
Ethics are essential for the balanced functioning of the society and violating them results in real damages to an individual and the society as well. In this paper, I set out to articulate my personal philosophy on ethics and to this end; I have explained my personal philosophy of ethics and identified a number of ethical norms that are significant to me. I have also revealed the influences that made me acquire these norms. My family and the society have been highlighted as the two major sources of my ethical norms. A comparison of my norms with various theorists and philosophers has also been made so as to demonstrate that my ethics are grounded in sound theory. From this paper, it is clear that ethics greatly influence my decision making and I believe that I am able to make sounder judgments because of them. I can therefore confidently state that I am a better individual as a result of my philosophy.
Bauer, C. (2005). Better Ethics Now: How to Avoid the Ethics Disaster You Never Saw Coming. CA: Aab-Hill Business Books.
Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2007). Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kotler, P. & Keller, K.L. (2008). Marketing Management (13th Ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Rothwell, W.J. (2010). Effective succession planning: ensuring leadership continuity and building talent from within. NY: AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.
Thiroux, J., & Krasemann, K. (2008). Ethics: Theory and Practice (10th Edition). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.