Bioethics Discussion Blog: “Being Too Ethical”: Is That Real and Is That Ethical?

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Being Too Ethical”: Is That Real and Is That Ethical?

I have been asked and I have also wondered whether there was such a condition or behavior as “being too ethical”. Being ethical has to do with doing good by deciding and doing the right things and it usually is applied to how actions affect others and not necessarily simply what is right for one’s self-interest. But, the question is can “ethical do gooders” go overboard, by inappropriate ethics conclusions or application of their ethics so that their acts become, themselves, unethical?

For example, President Bush has expressed concern that those in Congress who ethically want to preserve the privacy of the American people and refuse to allow eavesdropping on telephone conversations without a court order are in fact overstepping the ethics of justice and autonomy and allowing terrorists to gain access to harm the American people. On the other hand, some have found that President Bush’s refusal to allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research based on ethical/moral grounds was also impairing and delaying the anticipated good that could be the result of cures for currently untreatable or poorly treatable disorders.

So, what is your opinion? Is there such a thing as “being too ethical” and is it unethical to be that way? ..Maurice.

1 Comments:

At Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:24:00 AM, Anonymous TT said...

Dr. Bernstein,

I guess my question would be is it really a question of being too ethical or being selectively ethical.

In my experience, politicians tend to be selectively ethical, and their opinion of what is ethical or moral varies with the results of the latest poll.

As you stated, a true ethicist must look at the basic issue of right and wrong for everyone, and not be colored by their own perceptions or interests - a tough path to walk.

 

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