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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Applied ethics is, in the words of Brenda Almond, co-founder of the Society for Applied Philosophy, "the philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life that are matters of moral judgment". It is thus a term used to describe attempts to use philosophical methods to identify the morally correct course of action in various fields of human life. Bioethics, for example, is concerned with identifying the correct approach to matters such as euthanasia, or the allocation of scarce health resources, or the use of human embryos in research. Environmental ethics is concerned with questions such as the duties of humans towards landscapes or species. Business ethics concerns questions such as the limits on managers in the pursuit of profit, or the duty of 'whistleblowers' to the general public as opposed to their employers. As such, it is a study which is supposed to involve practitioners as much as professional philosophers. [1]

Applied ethics is distinguished from normative ethics, which concerns what people should believe to be right and wrong, and from meta-ethics, which concerns the nature of moral statements.

Contents

Modern approach

Much of applied ethics is concerned with just three theories:

  1. utilitarianism, where the practical consequences of various policies are evaluated on the assumption that the right policy will be the one which results in the greatest happiness,
  2. notions based on 'rules' i.e. that there is an obligation to perform the 'right' action, regardless of actual consequences (epitomized by Kant's notion of the Categorical Imperative), and
  3. virtue ethics, derived from Aristotle's and Confucius's notions, which asserts that the right action will be that chosen by a suitably 'virtuous' agent..

One modern approach which attempts to overcome the seemingly impossible divide between deontology and utilitarianism is case-based reasoning, also known as casuistry. Casuistry does not begin with theory, rather it starts with the immediate facts of a real and concrete case. While casuistry makes use of ethical theory, it does not view ethical theory as the most important feature of moral reasoning. Casuists, like Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin (The Abuse of Casuistry 1988), challenge the traditional paradigm of applied ethics. Instead of starting from theory and applying theory to a particular case, casuists start with the particular case itself and then ask what morally significant features (including both theory and practical considerations) ought to be considered for that particular case. In their observations of medical ethics committees, Jonsen and Toulmin note that a consensus on particularly problematic moral cases often emerges when participants focus on the facts of the case, rather than on ideology or theory. Thus, a Rabbi, a Catholic priest, and an agnostic might agree that, in this particular case, the best approach is to withhold extraordinary medical care, while disagreeing on the reasons that support their individual positions. By focusing on cases and not on theory, those engaged in moral debate increase the possibility of agreement.

List of subfields of applied ethics

See also

Bibliography

  • Chadwick, R.F. (1997). Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics. London: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-227065-7.  
  • Singer, Peter (1993). Practical Ethics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43971-X.   (monograph)
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Anthologies

  • LaFollette, Hugh (2002). Ethics in Practice (2nd Edition). Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-22834-9.  
  • Singer, Peter (1986). Applied Ethics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-875067-6.  
  • Frey, R.G. (2004). A Companion to Applied Ethics. Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-3345-7.  

Journals

External links

References

  1. ^ Brenda Almond, 'Applied Ethics', in Mautner, Thomas, Dictionary of Philosophy, Penguin 1996

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Applied ethics is a discipline of philosophy that attempts to apply 'theoretical' ethics, such as utilitarianism, social contract theory, and deontology, to real world dilemmas. Topics falling within the discipline include medical ethics, legal ethics, environmental ethics, computer ethics, corporate social responsibility, or business ethics.

1.Medical ethics is primarily a field of applied ethics, the study of moral values and judgments as they apply to medicine. As a scholarly discipline, medical ethics encompasses its practical application in clinical settings as well as work on its history, philosophy, theology, and sociology

2.Legal ethics refers to an ethical code governing the conduct of people engaged in the practice of law. In the United States, the American Bar Association has promulgated model rules that have been influential in many jurisdictions. The model rules address the client-lawyer relationship, duties of a lawyer as advocate in adversary proceedings, dealings with persons other than clients, law firms and associations, public service, advertising, and maintaining the integrity of the profession.

3. Environmental ethics is the part of environmental philosophy which considers the ethical relationship between human beings and the natural environment. It exerts influence on a large range of disciplines including law, sociology, theology, economics, ecology and geography.

4. Computer ethics is a branch of practical philosophy which deals with how computing professionals should make decisions regarding professional and social conduct. The term "computer ethics" was first coined by Walter Maner[1] in the mid-1970s, but only since the 1990s has it started being integrated into professional development programs in academic settings. The conceptual foundations of computer ethics are investigated by information ethics, a branch of philosophical ethics established by Luciano Floridi. Computer ethics is a very important topic in computer applications.

5. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept which encourages organizations to consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of the organization's activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment in all aspects of its operations. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.

6. Business ethics is a form of the art of applied ethics that examines ethical rules and principles within a commercial context, the various moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business setting, and any special duties or obligations that apply to persons who are engaged in commerce *


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