There are so many areas of life where ethics can be applied to. Prior to taking up this course, I was under the impression that as long as I am not doing any harm to anyone, whatever I do is acceptable. It is a pretty simplistic way of looking at the world and the way that humans conduct their relationships with each, yet up to a certain level, it is an acceptable code of conduct. However, there are various theories and perspectives that can be used in analyzing particular circumstances.
More importantly, there are so many issues that seem to be black and white at first glance, yet upon deeper analysis the gray areas are glaring.Through the Ethics course, I became more aware of my own ethical standards, how I apply them to people and how I form my judgments of people and issues. I gained important critical and analytical thinking, reading and writing skills. I also received several good inputs that can aid me in analyzing the ethical issues surrounding various social and personal dilemmas and issues. Analytical Skill Building More than just the theories learned however, one of the contributions of this course to me personally is the improvement in the way that I analyze my readings, sift through the written words and absorb the meanings embedded there.In analyzing any particular issues, the establishment of framework is necessary before the nuances and the implications of a particular issue can be established.
Through the ethics course, there have been a lot of inputs through which I can construct a more informed and more analytical reading of particular issues and the possible responses to them. Truly, there is a discrepancy between what one should do and what one actually does. There is an awareness of duty in human beings yet it is not always what is right that is being done. Why?Because there are also other considerations and arguments that play in the minds of people.
Philosophical reasoning and the defense of arguments seem to be tedious at first. But when I began using it the way that it was presented in the course, I realized that there is value in practicing these principles and methods. They have trained my mind to be aware of the assumptions upon which arguments were founded, the implications of arguments being put forward as well as the premises upon which these arguments were built. This has had great utility in the class discussions, as well as in my personal interactions.
By recognizing assumptions and implications, arguments can be broken down to their bare essence and can then be rejected or accepted based on their merits. I have also learned how to frame intelligent arguments in the course and defend them against attacks and counter-arguments. Writing is even more rigorous than speaking since there is more time to plan how to present arguments. There is also considerable time to polish them. As an extension of the skills I gained in analyzing assumptions, implications and premises of arguments, I was able to analyze my own writing and decide whether I was writing sense rather than blabbering.Initially, my written arguments were less precise.
There were several assumptions not specified. This usually led to minor confusions in the way that I presented my thoughts and arguments on paper. As the course progressed, however, and I gained more skills in critical reading and analytical thinking, I was able to purge some unclear and unsupported ideas and improve them. Knowledge Acquisition It is impossible to enumerate every bit of knowledge I gained through my study of the humanities.
In addition to the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills I gained, I have gained important concepts and ideas that helped me formulate a better understanding of the world and how various processes and relationships wo¬rk. Although critical thinking is important, it is equally important to receive important input. These inputs come in the form of concepts and ideas that are very helpful in formulating arguments and stands on certain matters. The practical issues discussed in the realms of medicine, politics, and business are very eye-opening and presented various sides of the arguments.The issues of sacrificing relationships and convictions in favor of money and other gains, the issues of genetic engineering and the practice of medicine have developed a keener sense of the ethical for me. It is impossible to be totally “objective” in the face of these issues.
Yet, in becoming too subjective, however, there is also a danger of becoming too particular and as such, the bases of ethical behavior would be difficult to establish. Moreover, the issues presented in class were not remote issues—they are rooted in reality and are actually happening in several segments of society.Thus, it became more interesting to study them because they have both direct and indirect relationship to me as a person and as a citizen. When I watch television and hear stories around me, I realize that these issues indeed happen in the society and are worth studying. The skills I have gained from the course, therefore help me become a more informed and more responsible member of society.
By the time that I shall have greater access to the decision-making process of the society, my hope is that I will become more informed and more sensitive of the ethical issues surrounding the issues that will need resolution.I hope that when I do, I will be able to balance duty, what is “objectively” and “subjectively” right. These are difficult issues yet given the analytical skills I have learned as well as the additional inputs given to me, I believe that I will be able to manage it. Another important trait that I noticed has growing in me is being more observant on the things that are happening in my country and in other countries as well. Since I recognized that ethical issues are all around, my eyes were symbolically opened up to various social phenomena that used to be there but I just did not notice.
Given the concepts, ideas and learning experiences I have had in the course, I was able to observe social issues more keenly. Previously, I did not care about the presence of the United States Troops in Iraq, yet given the skills I have learned, I cannot but notice the various ethical issues surrounding the presence of US troops there. Moreover, there are a myriad of environmental issues facing the world today, yet pollution still proceeds unabated. Practical Application I started to care not only about broader social issues but also with the choices I face everyday.I have tried practicing fair-mindedness and considered various viewpoints in analyzing my dilemmas and the choices available to me. I became aware of the power that emotions play in my decisions and how they tend to undermine logical reasoning.
According to Thomson (1999), it is important to evaluate myself with the same standards that I use in evaluating other people. This way, the advantages and biases that I might accrue towards myself will be minimized and I am on equal footing with other people. Consider the simple act of lying, however.It seems funny, but even the act of providing a white lie can become quite a dilemma. Should I lie by saying a half truth just for the sake of the feelings of a friend of mine or should I simply tell the truth as it is? It seems petty, but when this dilemma is amplified to the arena of politics or business, it takes on a new life and scale. Although it is difficult, I am learning to recognize my own biases and prejudices and take them into account in the process of evaluating ethical issues.
Emotions are perhaps one of the most difficult factors to tone down, especially if loved ones are involved.Sometimes even if I intend to be as “objective” and fair-minded as I want to be, sometimes protective emotions come in the way I end up deciding a little bit in favor of my loved one. The area of politics is more contentious given its high profile nature and the high stakes involved in such areas. Nonetheless, it is important to consider the various ethical implications of political processes and issues. Perhaps if people and countries would be fair-minded, the world can be a better place. Given the international scene, however, it appears that making this dream a reality is still far from happening.
Can all people undergo an ethics course? Probably, through this, they will have a greater awareness of how they are making their decisions and policies. But then again, that may not be the solution at all. For ethics courses are meant to develop the necessary analytical skills in persons in order for them to perform better in the society as free citizens. Choices—they are ever present in the lives of individuals as well as in the processes occurring in the society. Yet there are no clear cut criteria that can make a person follow this or that action.
Rather, there are various shades of gray with varying levels of whiteness and blackness. That is where ethics comes in. It is a tough place to be in, yet given the training, skills and knowledge I gained from this ethics course, I feel more prepared to consider the ethical considerations of the choices I make in my life. Conclusion Sometimes it is easy to disdain philosophy in general and ethics in particular, as subjects only for geeks and people who have the luxury of time in going through philosophical and ethical ideas.The ideas, thinking skills that can be gained, however, are very helpful, not only in understanding life and society, but more so in conducting one’s life.
Problems, dilemmas, moral issues, difficult choices are all part of life. Without the necessary skills to handle these issues, it would be very difficult to navigate through life. Going through the Ethics course have given me the necessary training and grounding in critically examining various arguments, whether they be oral or written.I have also learned how to analyze the assumptions of my arguments and their implications as well.
In writing these arguments, I have learned how to be more concise and direct. The knowledge I gained from the class also helped me understand myself and my society better. The concepts, ideas and knowledge are important inputs in improving the way that I understood my world. Lastly, I have become keener in observing social processes and issues and have learned how to analyze and apply the principles I learned to my own situation and to the society’s.