The point of ethics
October 20, 2007
This week, George F. Will asks why we would want to teach our social workers a code of ethics (“Politically correct, to a fault,” Oct. 16). What a valuable question. To me, the worth lies with the assurance that folks of less fortunate circumstance, like a child with Down syndrome, will be treated fairly. Ethics reduces the chance that any person is seen as a lesser being or deserving of exploitation.
His worst-case scenarios of conservatives not being able to pass professional ethical standards didn’t transpire because the governing institutions followed ethical standards. They accommodated conservative viewpoints. When ethics failed, the law worked. Thus, will we honor the Supreme Court decision that, “No official, high or petty can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion.”
I would differentiate ethics from faiths or politics, because ethics is a self-evident, positive, universal human endeavor. It only advances societies. Societies without ethics will degenerate into Neanderthal contests of ruthlessness and brut force.
If I had your intellect and audience, I’d be asking folks to, “Do unto others what we want done to ourselves.” That’s the essence of ethics, creating positive feedback. Ethics is about empathizing with those we fear! It is not propaganda.
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