Moral and ethical issues greet us each morning in the newspaper, confront us in the fundamentals of our daily jobs, encounter us from our children's daily school activities, and bid us good night on the evening news. We are bombarded daily with discussions of drug abuse, the morality of medical technologies that can prolong our lives, the rights of the homeless and abortion, the fairness of our children's teachers to the diverse students in their classrooms, and sexual morality. Dealing with these moral and ethical issues is often perplexing especially when individuals are trying to think through an ethical issue and determine what questions to ask and what factors should be considered.
Personally I have encountered several events in my life involving many ethical and moral implications, but at this time I will focus on at least two, adultery and homosexuality. Having been married and divorced and going through the betrayal of my ex husband committing adultery, my feelings have always been the same concerning this issue. I feel that adultery is immoral. My religious upbringing has played an important part in my beliefs. Adultery involves relations in which one or both parties are married, but not to one another. According to the New Testament’s representations of the teachings of Jesus, there are three forms of adultery. The first form is the act in which a married person commits adultery by physically engaging in sexual acts with someone who is not his or her spouse. The second form is the thought in which a married person commits adultery if there is a lustful desire for someone other than his or her spouse. The third form is divorce and remarriage. This describes a married person committing adultery if he or she divorces and remarries, unless the divorce is caused by a spouse’s unfaithfulness. Many people do not take into consideration the affects of adultery. It is often the afterthought that makes a person realize the moral and ethical ramifications involving this issue.
Homosexuality is a form of sexual conduct that is becoming more accepted in our society. Again, I feel that this is immoral and is based on my religious perspective. I believe God’s intent for marriage involves sexual union between male and female within the marriage union. Homosexuality was once considered a mental illness. Coleman and Cressey (1990) states the American Psychiatric Association was persuaded to drop homosexuality from its list of mental disorders because homosexuality is not a mental illness. This issue is very personal to me. I have a close cousin, who is like a brother to me, who has chosen this lifestyle. Even though I do not condone this type of sexuality, I do not judge him or think different of him. This person is still my blood and I accept him as a person without accepting the whole idea of homosexuality.
In an article written by Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, and Meyer, it is suggested that there are certain methods that can be used to apply in choices and decision-making concerning ethical and moral themes to demonstrate how to make associations and connections in the future. The first step in analyzing moral and ethical issues is obvious but not always easy: Get the facts. Some issues create controversies because we do not bother to check the facts. This first step is also among the most important and the most frequently overlooked. Sometimes having the facts is not enough. Facts by themselves only tell us what is; they do not tell us what ought to be. In addition to getting the facts, resolving an ethical issue also requires an appeal to values. Philosophers have developed five different approaches to values to deal with moral issues.
The first approach is the utilitarian approach, which was conceived in the 19th century by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill to help legislators determine which laws were morally best. Both suggested that ethical actions are those that provide the greatest balance of good over evil. To analyze an issue using the utilitarian approach, an individual must first identify the various courses of action available to us. Second, ask who will be affected by each action and what benefits or harms will be derived from each. Third, a person must choose the action that will produce the least harm and the greatest benefit. The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.
The second important approach to ethics, the rights approach, has its beginnings in the philosophy of the 18th-century thinker Immanuel Kant and others like him, who focused on the individual's right to choose for himself or herself. According to these philosophers, what makes human beings different from mere things is that people have dignity based on their ability to choose freely what they will do with their lives, and they have a moral right to have these choices respected. People are not objects to be manipulated because