Personal Reflection on Values and Ethics

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, New International Version). I have heard and read these words perhaps a thousand times. This is what my minister and my parents used to quote all the time as I was growing up. I believe this is where my values start. According to chapter 2 (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2016), “Many people get their ethical or moral views from their religion. Although religions include other elements, most do have explicit or implicit requirements or ideals for moral conduct”. Although my values begin from my religion and faith, my values are based on my family, love and happiness for the most part. My parents started taking me to church at a very young age and to this day, I still go to church and attend the worship service where I hear the words of god. My values guide me every single day including during times of tribulation. My values also guide me when I get to a point where I would have to make a decision that might hurt someone. Loving, caring, giving respect, honesty and courage are what defines me as a person because of my values. I love and respect myself, everyone in my family, as well as my brethren from church. I care deeply for everyone close to me and I am always honest to them because that is how I earn peoples trust.

On top of that, standing up for what is right which makes me courageous. According to (Oxforddictionaries.com, n.d), moral courage is the kind of courage which enables a person to remain firm in the face of odium or contempt, rather than depart from what he or she deems the right course”. It pretty much means despite adversity and personal risk, moral courage makes you decide to act upon your ethical values to help others during difficult ethical dilemmas. Throughout this past several weeks, this course have thought me more about values and ethics. The lessons I learned from this course have lightened up my point of view in dealing with moral differences, utilitarianism, Kant’s deontology theory, egoism theory, individual right’s justice and approaches to punishment, virtue ethics, difference in gender and many other important theories. Every module from this course covered moral lessons which I took to heart and apply in my everyday life. Making decisions in everyday life based on moral and ethics isn’t easy, but applying the lessons I learned really helps. The ethical issues which include; the leader who is not positive of what movement should be carried out. The train driver who needs to decide whether to sacrifice his love one in order to save many other lives or not. The teacher who has to decide whether to give the student a ‘C’ to qualify for a scholarship, and many other examples. These ethical dilemmas have taught me moral lessons and to think about every action which has consequences. Owning up to your own actions, taking responsibilities and making an ethical decision based on maximizing the happiness of the greatest number of people.

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Drawing on the different moral structures we have examined this term are; ethical relativism, egoism and objectivism, utilitarianism, Kant’s deontology, personhood, rights and justice, virtue ethics, as well as gender equality. The moral point of view that I have for ethical relativism is that each culture has their own set of guidelines and codes, different societies don’t have the right to blast other cultures. One good example of having a very diverse culture is the United States. The United States has many people with various religions and beliefs, cultural backgrounds, and ethnicity. I was born in the Philippines but grew up in the United States, my parents continued to keep the Filipino culture within us however we would still need to respect other cultures in the U.S. and follow them at some point. Egoism and objectivism are other theories to understand when it comes to moral differences.

Egoism and objectivism based on what the authors explained in book during this term is that individuals seek to only assist others just for their own benefit and their own happiness (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2016). The way I understand this is that it is in our human nature no matter where you are from to look after ourselves, seek only our best interest and find ways to make ourselves happy. Contrary to this way of thinking is utilitarianism.

My point of view out of utilitarianism is that the choices that are made must be based out of causing happiness to the lion’s share of individuals. Also, according to (MacKinnon & Fiala 2016), “utilitarianism is a normative theory that we ought to concern ourselves with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people”, which they associated with Bentham and Mill. This view contradicts egoism and objectivism as I stated. Though utilitarianism is based on happiness for most, many of us were brought up to have sympathy for others and we decline to settle on choices that could hurt others. Hence, it ought to dependably be a case to case premise to whether utilitarianism ought to be used or not. Perhaps we ought to think about the consequences of our actions, or maybe not. Maybe we should apply Kant’s deontology theory to not think so much about the consequences.

In the lesson I learned, Kant’s deontology is about outcomes or consequences that are not as significant as to performing duties, having the right intentions (MacKinnon & Fiala 2016). This focuses on what makes us worthy of the happiness. This also brings me back to what I’ve learned from my religion. God’s commandments is a duty that we must obey no matter what the consequences. One good deontological theory example is the biblical story of Abraham and Issac (in Genesis 22). By having to follow God’s words, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son. This was Abraham’s duty despite the consequences and the unhappiness produced. Although this was a duty to God, this may conflict with ethical duties. What was going on inside Abraham for him to take such course of action even though it was God’s command? Such action to decide must’ve been really hard.

Personhood, rights and justice from what I learned is that a person is someone capable of psychological and social interaction with others, decides on the course action and being responsible for the action. This is telling me that we should be capable in thinking about our decisions before we act upon it and having the responsibility for that action. Everyone has their own set of rules and guidelines to whether do or don’t in order to gain what we want.

My understanding on virtue ethics on the other hand, is that rather than asking how we ought to act, we need to ask what kind of person we ought to be. My virtue ethics is heavily influenced due to my religion or faith in Christianity and I believe it’s the same for many other people. Conducting ourselves according to God’s will is important and our course of actions are mostly based on the Ten Commandments.

As far as gender equality, my ethical perspective is that males and females have equal opportunities to realize their full human rights and contribute to and benefit from economic, social, cultural, and political development. Everyone should be equally treated on and given equal opportunities to anything is what it boils down to. Due to my faith, belief, experience and how I was brought up is how I have adopted my point of views.

My experiences growing up helped developed my perspectives or viewpoints because it is how I saw life itself and it is how I lived it. These ethical frameworks brought to me came from my faith, family, friends, teachers, and experience. One of my framework, ethical relativism was brought up to me by my family. When I was growing up, I still needed to speak my native language inside the house and eat Filipino food. My parents told me to speak my native language and just speak English at school or elsewhere but never inside our home. Although my parents encouraged me keep and practice my native culture, they also told me to learn about other cultures to expand my knowledge and experience based on morals, values and ethics. Doing this when I was young helped me determined what is morally right or wrong through our cultural moral rules. It helped me respect the decisions of other cultures when I they were morally wrong.

My egoism and objectivism framework was brought to me by my parents. My parent’s used to tell me that sometimes you need to set your priorities straight and to think of yourself first before helping others. This is because many others think this way and they like to take advantage of people. So I apply this to my life depending on the situation.

Third framework is utilitarianism was brought up to me by my teachers. I was thought to choose the best course of action that will have maximize the happiness of the greatest amount of people. My teachers used to have me and my classmates role play as politicians and come up with the best solutions for an issue. We used to split it between two groups. One group would be the Democrats and I was in the Republican side. These games or role plays helped me develop my perspective in making the best decision.

My fourth framework which is deontological perspective was brought up to me due to my experience and faith. Just like what the bible said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, New International Version). One good example of this is when gave up my seat for an upcoming flight to someone that had missed an earlier flight. That person needed to fly right away because of family emergency. I felt as if it was my duty to help him out regardless of the consequences. I knew then that giving up my seat would have me wait another night before I can fly. However, it felt good when I gave up my seat and I sure would appreciate it if someone did the same for me if I ended up in the same situation.

My decisions are usually based on experiences and faith. This is where my fifth framework which is personhood, rights, and justice come from. My minister and the words of God thought me to take responsibility for my actions and that everyone is equal and have their own rights.

The sixth framework which is virtue ethics, this was brought up to me by my family and my faith. My religion thought me to always act upon the will of God. For example, my family and I always prayed before every meal and before many others. We used to have family prayer at a certain time every night because we were heavily influenced by our religion and had strong faith.

Gender equality is the seventh framework that was brought to me through my experience. My experience thought me that just because some jobs are dominated by men, does not mean that a woman can’t be successful in that job. I have been in the military for over ten years as an aircraft mechanic. The aviation industry is dominated by men. From my experience, I have worked with females in aviation and seen that they can equally get the job done or be equally if not more successful.

In conclusion, most of what I have learned from this course already applies to me. However, it helped me understand it better and I will apply it in my everyday life. My values will always start based on my religion and faith. Also, my family, love, and happiness are always going to be a big factor into my values. This not only helps me but also my future children who I can raise to have courage, be loving, caring, respectful, and have honesty.

References

  1. MacKinnon B. & Fiala A. (2016). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. (9th ed.). United States of America.
  2. Oxforddictionaries.com (N.D.). Definition of Moral Courage in English: Moral Courage. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/moral_courage

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