Ethics and Accountability

Explain the difference between ethics and morality. On the basis of etymology, there is no difference between ethics and morality. On one hand, ethics comes from the Greek word ethos meaning “custom”. For the purpose of knowing, we can define ethics as the “study of the methods and principles used to distinguished rood from bad, [and] right from wrong action” (Articulo, 2003). On the other hand, morality comes from a Latin word mos or moris, which also means custom.

It is usually understood as a rule of human action (conduct), which is established through the repetition of acts and it is observed or exercised as a rule of society which becomes generally obligatory and binding to all (Babor, 2006). In this regards, ethic is also called moral philosophy. There is of course an undeniably affinity of ethics with moral philosophy and vice versa, based on their etymological construction. However, there is a slight difference between the two. This difference can be traced, if not asserted, by way of applying the concept of theory and practice in ethics (ibid).

Ethics, as a normative philosophical science, is a theoretical science of good and bad or right and wrong actions. So, ethics provides the principles on the morality of human acts; it equips the man with a (theoretical) knowledge of the morality of human acts (Babor, 2006). We know, however, that knowing is different from doing. It does not necessarily follow that man does what he knows. This means that ethics does not actually guarantee that man will be moral or good. One can only become moral (or good human person) when one applied ethics.

In other words, when one does the theories of ethics one actually performs the theory, meaning one is actually doing ethics. This is morality: the praxis of the theory (Ethics) (ibid). If morality, therefore, is the practice of ethics, morality, then, should be properly called applied ethics. While ethics (as theoretical science) provides principles or bases of right or wrong and good or bad actions, morality actualizes the theory. As ethics outlines theories of right and wrong and good or bad actions, morality is nothing else but doing of ethics (Babor, 2006). 2.

Discuss briefly the meaning of the ethical dictum “NO ACT IS THE CONCRETE INDIFFRERENT”. Human acts are those of which a man is master, which he has the power of doing or not doing as he pleases. True, we are physically free to perform certain acts or to omit them — to do one thing or its contrary, to choose this act rather than some other; but are we also morally free in regard to all such acts? Is it right for me on all occasions to do whatever my inclination prompts me to do? My reason plainly answers, No: it is evident even to a child that some actions are good in themselves, morally good, and others bad in themselves, morally bad.

According to Coppens (1895), “[A]n act considered in the abstract, i. e. , apart from all circumstances, may be specifically neither good nor evil. For instance, walking, riding, reading, etc. , are acts that in themselves do not imply a tendency to our last end or a departure from it. All such are called indifferent acts: specifically, they are neither good nor bad. ” Quito (2008) will also argue that a human act mulled over or theoretically pursued may be indifferent or neutral as to goodness or badness.

Once done, that human act becomes either good or bad and no longer indifferent. For example, if one wonders about walking or drinking or writing a poem of studying one’s lesson or cleaning one’s gun, these acts are indifferent. Walking can become evil of the assassin walks to the place of his crime, whereas walking to church or to a home is good. Drinking is in itself indifferent, but when concretely done, it becomes either good or evil depending on whether one intends to get drunk or merely to socialize. Actually writing a poem or studying one’s lesson for a good end is good act.

Cleaning one’s gun to prevent it from rusting is good, but it will become an evil act when the purpose of cleaning is to shoot an enemy during peace. This is the meaning of the ethical dictum “No act is the concrete indifferent. ” All our concrete actions therefore are either good or bad, provided they are done consciously. Unconscious actions like somnambulism or those actions done during sleep, or actions done under hypnosis are acts of man and therefore involve no responsibility (Quito, 2008). 3. CASE: A pregnant woman is endangered of dying due to complications brought about by her pregnancy.

Is her right greater than the child’s right to live? As moralist, how would you counsel a) the attending doctor? B) the husband? The practice of aborting a child from the mother’s womb is as old as mankind itself (Timbreza, 2007). It is a method of birth control in which conception is terminated rather than prevented. It is the expulsion of a living fetus from the mother’s womb before it is viable. According to our 1987 Constitution, “The state recognizes the sanctity of life and shall protect and strengthen the family as basic autonomous social institution.

It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception [Article II, section 12]. ” Hence, aborting the child from the mother’s womb is not permissible in the country. However, we may say the abortion is legally permissible under any circumstances, in which what we call therapeutic abortion and indirect abortion. As a moralist, I would counsel the doctor and the husband in using either of the two types. On one hand, therapeutic abortion is morally and legally permissible.

It is the deliberately induced expulsion of a living fetus in order to save the mother form the danger of death brought on by pregnancy (ibid). The case, however, does not imply that the mother’s life is simply preferred over that of the child. The choice is between a life which can be saved and a life which cannot be saved. The moral dilemma here now is either to let both die or to save the mother. For example, in the question above, if the mother has a heart condition and had a great chance of heart attack if she carries her pregnancy to term, the expulsion of the fetus from the mother’s womb would be recommended.

Note that the health and life of them mother are considered dominant in this case. On the other hand, indirect abortion is “the removal of the fetus occurs as a secondary effect of a legitimate of licit action, which is the direct and primary object of the intention (ibid). ” This is now the application of Doctrine of Double Effect or the Double Effect Principle which applies to a situation where good effect as well as an evil effect will result from a good cause. According to this principle, not every evil effect must be avoided simply because it flows from a good cause.

Some evil effects, voluntary in cause, may be permitted to occur provided certain conditions are fulfilled. There are two instances that these conditions are fulfilled. In our case, if the mother would fall under these instances, then it would be advisable to do the indirect abortion. Two instances are the case of the pregnant woman who has cancerous uterus and of the mother has an ectopic pregnancy. In the latter case, the life of the mother can be in danger if pregnancy continues.

This happens when the fertilized ovum does not descend into the uterus but becomes implanted in the fallopian tube and begins to develop there. The embryo, however, cannot grow into viability in the tube; in the course of the growth, it will cause rupture with bleeding, endangering the life of the mother. In the present state of medical science, only surgical removal of the fetus can save the mother’s life. As for the case of a cancerous uterus, the ethical principle is to follow to save the life of mother, if both lives cannot be saved. It would be unreasonable not to remove the fetus and let both human lives perish.

Right reason dictates that it is better to save one life than to let both human beings die (ibid). 4. Caroline is a devout person. She hears Mass everyday and helps the priest in the convent. She tells her family to cook for themselves because she is doing something for God. The children get sick because of neglect. Is Caroline right in devoting her entire day in the service of God? On the other hands, Bonnie is single and has no duties to anyone since she is alone in the world. Like Caroline, she hears Mass everyday and helps the priest in the convent.

She is in the convent practically the whole day due to demands of parishioners. Is Bonnie right in devoting her entire day in the service of God? To know whether an individual human act is morally good, we must consider it with reference to its object, end and circumstances (Coppens, 1895). For a human act to be good, all the constitutive parts must be good. This is the meaning of the Scholastic dictum, “bonum ex integra, causa, malum ex quocumque defectu” – “In order to be good, a thing must be totally good, a single defect renders it evil”.

This means that a human act is considered good only if the end, means and circumstances are good; when any of these parts is evil, the entire human act is considered evil, even if the two other parts are good (Quito, 2008). The object of an act is the thing done. In reality, it is not distinct from the act itself; for we cannot act without doing something, and the something done is the object of the act; say, of going, eating, praising, etc. The act or object may be viewed as containing a further specification e. g. , going to church, praising God, eating meat.

Now, an act thus specified may, when considered in itself, be good, bad, or indifferent; thus, to praise God is good in itself, to blaspheme is bad in itself, and to eat meat is in itself an indifferent act. But that an individual act may be good, its object, whether considered in itself or as further specified, must be free from all defect; it must be good, or at least indifferent (Coppens, 1895). The end is the second determinant of an act’s morality. The end here spoken of is not the end of the work, for that pertains to the object, but the end of the workman or agent.

No matter how good the object of an act may be if the end intended is bad, the act is thereby vitiated. Thus, to praise God is good in itself, but, if in so acting the intention be to play the hypocrite, the act is morally bad. And this holds true whether the vicious end be the nearest, remote or last end; whether it be actually or only virtually intended. On the other hand, a good end, though ever so elevated, cannot justify a bad act; in other words, we are never allowed to do evil that good may result therefrom (ibid).

The circumstances of time, place and persons have their part in determining the morality of an individual act. The moral character of an act may be so affected by attendant circumstances, which an act good in itself may be evil when accompanied with certain circumstances; for instance, it is good to give drink to the thirsty, but if the thirsty man is morally weak, and the drink is intoxicating, the act may be evil (ibid). In addition, Quito (2008) argued that there are some human acts that are not patently evil (Quito, 2008). But, there also some acts which can deteriorate into evil.

When such cases, we must apply the ethical dictum “bonum ex integra, causa, malum ex quocumque defectu” which was discussed earlier. In our case, Caroline’s act is good but deteriorates into evil. Praying is in itself good. The end or purpose is to open one’s heart to God. But Caroline stays in church all day long neglecting her children. In her case, the object and the end are good, but because the circumstances, namely, the length of time, is out of focus, the entire act becomes questionable since she also has moral duty to take care her children.

This means that it can no longer be said that prayer is always thoroughly good. In all things, propriety is to be observed. There is a proper time, a proper place, and a proper manner of doing things. For Bonnie, her intention for devoting her whole in church is good without a doubt since she is alone and practically her attendance in parish church is of great help for the parishioners. However, with the extent that negligence of work comes in her way of serving God, her intention to have a good act may become evil. For both cases, devoting your entire day in church and praying are good acts.

However, when devoting and praying becomes extended as to preempt a person’s duties like working or taking care of a family, the circumstance of extension of time renders in devoting and praying is questionable. Circumstances can enhance the goodness or badness of a human act but do not render an evil act good and can even render a good act evil (Quito, 2008). 5. A public office is a public trust, thus government officials and employees are expected to be accountable and responsible for their official actions. Explain how ethics can be applied and monitored as a matter of policy in whatever government transaction you engage in.

You can cite specific examples in your own organizations, be it public or private. Morality is founded on justice. Hence, any attempt to apply and monitor ethics in any transactions, be it public or private, as a matter of policy must be guided by what is moral. The nuances of human relations are so broad for law to cover all aspects. Often, it is the spirit of the law rather than the cold technicalities of law that which should apply. Truly, as the Bible points out, the law is made for man and not for man for the law (Agapay, 2001). Morality should inspire all employee and employer relationship.

All government offices and business enterprises, it must be observed, fundamentally – people. The golden rule of action therefore of not doing to another what does not want to be done to him applies with greater urgency (ibid). Justice promotes not only equity but goodwill and harmony. If all parties accept their respective responsibilities and duties with open kindness and generosity, there will be industrial peace. As an employee, conscience dictates our duties. It is consciences because it is impossible for anyone not to have an inkling of the following duties: 1.

Work honestly and comply with all agreements; 2. Never injure capital, nor steal from the employer; 3. Never outrage the person of the employer; 4. Never employ deceit nor violence in presenting a cause; 5. Never consort with “agitator” or men of evil principles. Employers also have their sacred task of caring for the employees. Theirs is the golden opportunity to become the ethical “man for others”. They must be fair minded and generous in their dispositions. The following are their duties towards their employees: 1. Respect the human dignity of workers; 2.

Appreciate their work; 3. Never treat them as slaves for making money; 4. Never assign them to task beyond their strength, do not employ them in work not suited to their age or sex; 5. Give them commensurate wages; 6. Provide for their health and social recreation; 7. Provide them time for the practice of their religion; 8. Instruct them on how to use their money wisely; 9. Instruct them to love their family; 10. Provide them with the opportunities for promotion. References: Agapay, R. B. (2001). Ethics and the Filipino. Mandulyong City: National Bookstore. Articulo, A. C. amp; Florendo, G. G. (2003). Values and work ethics. Meycauayan City: Trinits Publishing, Inc. Babor, E. R. (2006). Ethics: the philosophical discipline of actions. Manila: Rex Bookstore. Coppens, C. (1895). A brief textbook of moral philosophy. New York: Catholic Book School Company. Quito, E. S. (2008). Fundamentals of ethics. Quezon City: C ;amp; E Publishing, Inc. Timbreza, F. T. (2007). Bioethics and moral decisions. Quezon City: C ;amp; E Publishing, Inc. ——————————————– [ 2 ]. These conditions will be discussed in answering question number 4.

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