How To Be Ethical: Applied Ethics
You certainly can get by without walking the ethical line. Most people do in fact wander from it whenever it suits them. But Natural Law exists in spite of us—it comes with our being, and we are able to ignore and/or take advantage of it because it’s there in spite of what anyone else does. The truth is, we assume (correctly) that most people will behave predictably because of it, and most of us do, most of the time. But it’s also true that many of us take advantage of those trusting souls who generally do follow it. We can use it to our advantage without subscribing to it. But is this right? It certainly isn’t ethical.
So, to be ethical, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule really says it all, if you would reflect on all that it implies. However, most people expect something more than what they might consider (but really is not) a cliché. So we’ll put it another way: Acknowledge, affirm, accept and apply what is (fact, truth), honestly.
Now we’re put in the position of having to define the terms.
It’s a fact that one can’t know something that isn’t true. Knowledge requires truth—facts. Fact represents what is. What isn’t counts for nothing. To be ethical it is first necessary to acknowledge and affirm the facts, accept them, and apply this knowledge, honestly. Be honest first to yourself, then to others. Venture to do no harm while doing so. It’s really that simple.
Still not enough? Maybe some rules? How about:
- Do not violate trust (don’t lie, mislead, cheat or steal); and
- Do not cause harm (don’t murder, damage, impair or deprive).
Stop me if I’m wrong, but now we’re back to the Golden Rule. Why make things complicated when they’re not?
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