Whatever people do, wherever people go, they always think whether they act correctly or not, whether their deeds are right or wrong. When talking to a person, people make a decision on whether to be tactful or offensive with this individual. When people make a decision, they think whether it is good and how it will influence their lives and the lives of people around them. Ethics covers all these questions. Since childhood, parents and teachers have taught children these ethical issues. Nevertheless, as time passes, people may change their beliefs about these things in life, and the moral actions may change as well. The situations that seemed right many years ago may become nonsense some time later. No doubt that it is hard to create things that will be correct for all people. However, ethics as a study tries to do it, and people who deal with this notion present their views on this subject.
Ethics for Everyone: How to Increase Your Moral Intelligence
One of such people is Arthur Dobrin who presents his views on ethics in his book Ethics for everyone: How to increase your moral intelligence. The choice fell exactly on this book because it is a real practical guide for those who want to improve their moral IQ and be more sensitive to moral matters. The work by Dobrin is a book of people’s ethics, and it consists of three parts. The first one gives the theory and basics on what ethics is. The second part provides information on how to improve moral IQ. The third part is a practical one that gives examples from life and presents the experts’ explanation of the necessary behavior. It elucidates how to behave with children, parents, friends, at work, how to be responsible to acquaintances, and be a good citizen. So, this book will be of great value for the people who really want to lead an ethical life.
To start with, it is important to know what ethics is. So, Arthur Dobrin (2002) offers his reader three basic types of ethical theories that exist nowadays. They are the virtue ethics, consequentialist ethics, and principled ethics (p.25). In the beginning, the first type, the virtue ethics, should be regarded more closely. Alasdair MacIntyre revived it in the 20th century. This kind of ethics focuses on the character: the person thinks what kind of man he or she should be. The main thing in this theory is individual integrity. In other words, a person must be true to himself or herself. As for the consequentialist ethics, it focuses on psychological processes such as sympathy, affection, and intuition. The founder of this approach is David Hume. People who follow this theory think what their actions may lead to. If to talk about the principled ethics, its followers base ethics on principles that are universal and certain. Immanuel Kant is the establisher of this philosophy. However, each of these theories has limitations, and the book reports which ones. Moreover, the person decides for himself or herself during the life what theory to implement in life and how to act in different situations.
The second part of the book teaches readers how to improve the moral IQ. It suggests that people should read fiction and history as they make individuals more sensitive to others. Such literature helps a person get in other people’s shoes and see the life through their eyes. Besides, the reader may think about ethical problems. The author suggests the schema of increasing levels of thinking about ethics by Lawrence Kohlberg. He tells that different people do right things in their life because of various reasons. They are to avoid punishment or serve personal interests so that others think well of the person. In such a way, the society may function as a whole, promote welfare of all people, and protect one’s rights (Dobrin, 2002, p.39). He suggests that the better the person thinks, the more moral he or she is. The next thing that the person should also do is to discuss ethical problems with other people. In addition, the author offers dilemmas for the reader to think and talk over with others.
Arthur Dobrin dedicated the third part of this book to the questions that worry people most of all in their life from the ethical point of view. The author tries to give his advice on how to act in difficult situations and what choices to make. For example, when talking about people in need, like orphans and widows, he suggests helping those who really need it. There is a big difference between those who cannot do and those who do not want to; therefore, he distinguishes between unwillingness and inability. According to Dobrin’s point of view, people who are unwilling to do something, even for those in need, do not deserve help.
One more difficult question from the ethical point of view is whether people always need to maintain confidence. In this matter, the author adheres to the point that whatever people entrust to others must be held in secret under any circumstances. Otherwise, he believes that a person would never say anything to another one if he or she was not sure that it would not go further. However, if to talk about professionals, like lawyers and doctors, sometimes they need to reveal the information. For example, the doctor should call the police if someone was shot, or the lawyer must present the information which his client entrusted him with in the court to defend this client. These should only include professional cases when the life of particular people may be at stake. On the other hand, the author claims that keeping a secret and the consideration as to what is best for a person are not the same thing (Dobrin, 2002, p.71). For example, a child tells a teacher about beatings that he or she is exposed to at home. The teacher cannot keep confidence in this case as some states have decided that it is a crime not to inform about such incidents.
Another example of confidentiality is to keep a secret in a family. Some secrets are small and insignificant; others are serious and may influence the life of another person. The consideration is whether it is ethical to reveal them. One of such secrets can be adoption. The person who is aware of this fact is faced with the choice of exposing this information to an adopted child. Moreover, he or is should take into account the circumstances that such an action may lead to. Moreover, such a decision depends on the reason that the person is driven by. If he or she does it in a caring manner with good intentions, the family may become stronger and closer, and people may forgive each other. However, if the person has cruel intentions, it may totally ruin the family. Moreover, the author claims that family secrets, whatever they are, are bad for family relations.
As for the problem of caring about elderly parents, Arthur Dobrin tells that as long as parents are alive, people should honor them (Dobrin, 2002, p.101). Furthermore, he suggests that when parents cannot take care of themselves, children should do it. On the other hand, he claims that it is voluntary because if parents had abandoned or abused the child, he or she would not have a desire to take care of them when they are old, and he or she will be right.
As for friendship, there are always situations in the relationship with friends when we need to compete with them. However, the moral question is whether it is really necessary and how we should behave from the ethical point of view. According to Arthur Dobrin, a person should do his or her best in life to achieve something. Besides, he considers it wrong to give, for example, your place or reward to your friend who is not as good as you are. Being good means doing your best (Dobrin, 2002, p.152). Moreover, competition should not exist in real friendship, and true friends must share their friend’s success.
Aside from the questions connected with the person, there are ones that deal with the person’s neighbors and the world. For example, individuals have their tastes and views on different spheres of life. So, there appears a situation when two standpoints meet, and a person may consider whether it is right to tell another individual what to do or think, especially if the thoughts do not have any common ground. According to the book, there are a lot of situations when some people that a person belongs try to make this person do what they want. If individuals do not like the way the person behaves, they can just try to express it or not communicate with this person at all if no common ground was identified. The difficulty here is to find an agreement between this person and the society. That is why it is very important to develop a general policy in the group with respect to the needs of everyone in such cases.
One more urgent problem in the society that always provokes argument is discrimination. There is a well-known notion that all people must be treated equally. The author suggests that when hiring someone, employers need to treat each person as an individual and judge him or her according to the qualification, knowledge, and competence. In the situation when choosing a person for any position, employer should take into consideration the employee’s strong points and, according to them, offer the person a job. It is important not to propose a job to the person on the basis of sympathy that his or her background or color of skin is different.
Other questions that are necessary to discuss are whether people need to return the money that they found, whether it matters who lost it or how much money was found. In such a situation, there is always an argument between what a person really thinks and what he or she would do in the situation when he or she actually found the money. In the case when the sum of money is not big and it belongs to a big company, the author provides three reasons why not to return the money found. Firstly, it is impractical and will not make any difference to a big company. Secondly, it balances the scale. Perhaps, the person lost money in the past, and in such a way, he or she returns it. Thirdly, if it is the company that lost the money, so it is not a person, and you should not return it. On the other hand, the person should be careful and not let it become a habit to confer someone’s money.
The last but not the least problem is responsibility in the society. People may sometimes consider whether they should do everything to be responsible or whether they should not care when someone does not fulfill the obligations. For example, two employees sleep during their work hours at the parking lot. The question is whether a person should inform their employer about it. In this situation, people need to have a look at its fairness. People should get money for doing their work. As customers, people expect a good and respectful service. So, customers have the right to complain. At the same time, people need to think of other reasons why these people do not do their work. Finally, it is important to say that people need to think carefully and only then make conclusions.
In order to summarize, it is necessary to say that after reading this book and following practical advice described in it, a person will improve his or her moral IQ, learn how to act in different difficult situations and become a really ethical person.
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