How do we develop our ethics? What are the primary sources for us to develop our ethical position?
William Shaw (2017) says that, “Many things influence what moral principles we accept: our early upbringing, the behavior of those around us, the explicit and implicit standards of our culture, our own experiences, and our critical reflections on those experiences.” I agree with Shaw that how and where we were raised formed the foundation of our ethics. At an early age, we grasp any knowledge we are able to understand and begin to formulate our ethical bases. This knowledge is fed through us by way of communication, behaviors, and observations. What our parents say is right and wrong becomes law, whether we refuse it at the time or not. We may pick up social behaviors out in public of how to behave and communicate with friends, schoolmates, and strangers. Lastly, we may observe ethical behaviors through books and movies that show a multitude of ethical and unethical situations. Our interpretation of these primary sources and what we choose to accept and adopt into our own beliefs become our ethical position.
Our ethical understanding is always changing and evolving. As we grow up, we experience new things that challenge our ethical views and force us to think about the harder topics. With our foundation built, we face the harder questions and scenarios that don’t have a simple black and white answer. We find ourselves caught in the middle or what is ethical and what benefits us. We begin to travel around and learn that different cultures and religions have different ethical beliefs. We begin to take classes that argue these positions and we continue to evolve our ethical position.
Citation: Shaw, William H. Business Ethics. 9th ed, Cengage Learning, 2017