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Reflection: Does Ethics Really Matter?

Autor:   •  April 2, 2011  •  Essay  •  621 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,609 Views

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Reflection: Does Ethics Really Matter?

During one of our first lectures in philosophy back in college, I remember discussing something about a tree falling in the middle of the forest, with not a soul to witness its fall. Our teacher asked then if a tree fell. In a way, one can say that nothing happened because there would not be a soul who will ever think that a tree indeed fell, without any sign or hint. However, one can also argue that a tree still fell even though no one knew because some people might feel the after effects of the tree falling, they just would not know what exactly caused those effects.

I remembered this story when I read the article, Does Ethics Really Matter. As Kohlberg described in his stages of moral development, the first level of moral development, is obedience and punishment orientation, which is classified under pre-conventional level. This means that when we first become conscious of concepts like morality and ethics, we choose to do the right thing not because it is right to do so, but because we are afraid that we will get caught and be punished if we do the wrong thing. If we are assured that we would not get caught, then maybe, some would consider choosing the bad option despite their conscience, just because no one would know, just like no one would know that there was a tree that fell in the middle of the forest. Yet, other people, even without knowing, would feel the effects of such a decision, and even if they do not know that you are the one responsible and would not be able to punish you, you would know, and hopefully experience some guilt and shame.

But what is written in the article is indeed true. Why is it that some high-ranking government officials who very well know that they have the public's eye on them still have the guts to make such unethical decisions and do such unethical acts? In this light, does ethics really matter? Because it


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