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As Nussbaum puts it, “The moral world is not neat, that fulfillment and loss do not cancel each other out, that values are plural diverse, and incommensurable, not simply superficial versions of some underlying…
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The issue of ethics in a real world setting can indeed be murky. As Nussbaum puts it, “The moral world is not neat, thatfulfillment and loss do not cancel each other out, that values are plural diverse, and incommensurable, not simply superficial versions of some underlying and unitary value expressible in terms, for example, of money or pleasure” (1986). This only suggests that there is no one best way, or right way where one can resolve an ethical dilemma with moral precision because the realities of everyday day life makes it messy.
Though resolving ethical dilemma can be a challenge, one must not give in to resignation. Instead, one must strengthen its ability to discern morally which can be developed through a regular and thoughtful deliberation of any ethical issue. Education is a pre requisite to be able to discern what could be morally appropriate in a given situation. This was demonstrated in the dialogue between Steed and Paxmore in the book “The Responsible Administrator” where Steed wondered how could the Watergate scandal happened. Paxmore explained that it is because “men without character . . . never comprehend the awful downward course they’re on”. Paxmore attributed this to lack of education where they went to “chrome and mirror schools where procedures are taught but not the principles”. Thus, they cannot contemplate about a moral problem in “the abstract where character is formed”.
Having a grounded and educated moral compass within is necessary especially in public service where the interest of diverse groups collide that it would be difficult to discern what is ethically appropriate. Unlike in the early stages of the Republic where governance was truly intended to serve the greater good of society, governance today is already murky and peppered with self-interest after the adoption of spoil system. Thus, it becomes difficult what could be right or wrong and this pervades in all spheres of our public life.
We need not look far for example how lack of ethics could be damaging. The recent financial crisis that made everybody’s life difficult where millions lost their jobs and thousands more lost their homes can be attributed directly for people lack of ethics or willful disregard for any concept of ethics. The financial scandals that rocked America from Enron, Worldcom to mortgage crisis all redound to greed which is a byproduct of lack of any sense of any ethical consideration. Worst, the crisis was not solely a financial crisis but also a crisis of trust. Investors and the general public suddenly became wary of the ethical practice of American business that they stopped investing their money that made America’s economic recovery more difficult. This was evident with businesses having extra cash but are not investing to expand the operation of their business that would create jobs because they do not trust America’s economic environment. This created a vicious spiral where the anticipated crisis becomes a reality because the economy will naturally contract if businesses are not investing or expanding. And all of this can be traced back to lack of ethics. Read More
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