Meaning Of Moral And Ethical Values

There is a difference between what I should do in an ethical dilemma, and what should do in a moral dilemma.In ethical dilemmas, individual decision-making may draw on the frameworks of “must-do” imperatives, utility consequences, the seeking of goodness, or a guiding framework from God.

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According to this understanding, “ethics” leans towards decisions based upon individual character, and the more subjective understanding of right and wrong by individuals – whereas “morals” emphasises the widely-shared communal or societal norms about right and wrong.

Put another way, ethics is a more individual assessment of values as relatively good or bad, while morality is a more intersubjective community assessment of what is good, right or just for all.

The relevance of the distinction is seen when questions such as “how should I act? ” are broadened to Socrates’ question, “how should we live? Granted modern society’s multiplicity of cultures and traditions, resulting in a diverse moral collage, with no single truth easily identifiable, the big moral question is surely, “how should we live together? In approaching such a question, the individual ethical answer can be limited by its essential egotism.

It can be restricted to one’s own worldview rather than being inherently aware of the existence and relevance of others.

In moral decisions, in which the importance of others and their actual situation in the world, is recognised, community decisions are based on dialogue between all those on whom the decision impacts.

That dialogue should aim to be inclusive, non-coercive, self-reflective, and seek consensus among real people, rather than seek an elusive absolute moral truth.

Put another way, moral decision-making relocates ethical decision-making away from an individualistic reflection on imperatives, utility or virtue, into a social space.

In that space one is implicitly aware of the other, wherein we understand from the start that we need to have a dialogue.

Collecting the facts precedes any ethical or moral decision-making.

The ethical dimension of the decision leads me to think about myself and recognise, say, that I have certain talents, or that I would like to maximise my work-life balance.


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