Stranglehold in the Name of Ethics
As the vine entwines and creates a stranglehold on the tree, should ethics be used by some not simply as a means to sort out what is a good practice and what is not good but used, in the name of ethics, to entwine and inhibit rational development and progress?
In the world of commerce and business, if the management finds that certain actions by employees do not meet set standards of ethical practice, the employees may be told their actions are “unethical”. But how are these standards set, by whom and for what purpose? And what comprises an ethical standard? And for whom should these standards benefit: the management, the employees or the public or others who trade and an engage in business with the companies? Can standards defined as “ethical” actually lead to a stranglehold on development and progress?
The same might be asked when discussing the establishment of ethical practices in science and medicine. If one group sets certain actions as “unethical” and inhibits progress with benefit to all by disallowing such actions, is that really “a good”? Such an example of such a reaction by a group might be President G.W. Bush preventing federal funding for further development and use of embryonic stem cells all in the name of a moral concept, an action reversed by the current Obama administration who apparently looked at the ethical decision of Bush in a different way.
The question is whether all ethics, all morality when acted upon in the name of “ethics” can represent a “good”. If one says, “I want it done this way because this way is ethical” is that all that needs to be said? Should all ethical decisions be first researched and tested out to be sure that they are truly good for the greatest number of stakeholders, enhancing life and not strangling, before the word “ethical” is attached to that decision? What do you think? ..Maurice.
Graphic: Photograph of a tree and an entwined vine taken by me 12-16-09 in O’Melveny Park, Los Angeles County, California.