Ethics is increasingly essential in many disciplines and workplaces and is at the core of many professions. Think about how often we hear people talking about medical ethics, ethics in sport, business ethics, ethical behaviour of religious leaders or schoolteachers.
Ethics strongly impacts many industries, from politics to health care, welfare, education and environmental management. As such, it’s a field of study that can benefit many careers.
When you study ethics, you explore your own ethical boundaries, learn about different perspectives on moral philosophy and gain a greater understanding of what differentiates one perspective from another.
The Certificate of Ethics will provide you with knowledge on the origins and theories of ethics, different ethical viewpoints, reasons for ethical decision-making and the virtue ethics model.
When you study ethics courses, you will gain insights into the theories of social contacts, applied ethics in relation to individual rights, society, business and the workplace.
Outcomes achieved if you study ethics courses include:
- Overview and Introductory Ethics
- Who invented ethics – What are its origins?
- Ethics and Philosophy
- Current Ethical Theories:
- Divine Command Theory of Ethics
- The Theory of Forms Theory of Ethics
- Theory of Relative Ethics
- The Three Areas of Ethics
- What determines your own ethics/ sense of morality?
- Arguing an Ethical Position – An Overview of Meta-Ethics
- Metaethical Theories
- Expressivist Theories (Non-Cognitive)
- Accommodating Varying Viewpoints
- Different Ethical Viewpoints
- Ethical Dilemmas
- Virtues and Morality
- Developmental Model of Virtue Ethics
- Reasons for Ethical Decisions
- Theories of Ethical Decision-Making
- The Theories in More Detail
- The Principle of Double Effect
- The Social Contract
- Principle of Self-Interest
- Theories of Social Contract
- Twentieth-Century Social Contract Theory
- AppliedEthics A – An Individual’s Rights
- Basic Human Rights
- The Underpinning Values of Human Rights
- Categories of Human Rights
- Human Rights Breaches
- AppliedEthics A
- AppliedEthics B – An Ethical Society
- What Is an Ethical Society?
- AppliedEthics B
- Case Study: African Caribbean People and Schizophrenia
- AppliedEthics C – Ethics in Work and Business
- Why do Organisations NeedEthics?
- AppliedEthics C – Organisations and Professions
- Benefits of Ethics in Healthcare
What is Ethics?
Ethics is about the norms and rules of conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and is a sub-division of the broader discipline of philosophy (the study of human thoughts).
Commonly, the study of ethics is divided into three main areas: meta ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics.
Meta-ethics is the study of the nature, scope and meaning of moral judgement and attempts to understand ethical positions.
Normative ethics is the study of ethical behaviour and investigates and questions how one should act in a moral sense. In other words, the study attempts to understand how we should respond to an ethical position.
Applied ethics refers to the practical application of moral considerations. It is an area of study concerned with the treatment of moral problems, practices and policies in personal life, professions, technology and government.
Why Study Ethics?
There are many reasons to study ethics, and the knowledge gained can be applied to your personal and professional life.
So, why should we study ethics and is it relevant to our personal and professional life? The answer is absolutely! That is if you want to live a meaningful life, gain greater personal success, cultivate inner peace, contribute to a stable society, understand religion and the afterlife … and so much more.
Live a Meaningful life
Having a strong sense of integrity is vital to living an authentic and meaningful life. When you study ethics, you build a strong sense of self and are able to understand and follow your own moral compass. It’s helpful in your personal and professional life.
Gain Greater Professional Success
The old saying, ‘good guys finish last’ is false. Ethical people are better employees, managers, business owners – and simply better people. Why? Because they have traits that lead to goodwill and success in life – they’re genuinely honest, reliable, trustworthy, loyal and caring.
On the other hand, those without strong ethics have to work hard to emulate these qualities, and that’s exhausting and transparent. Those without a strong ethical code will also fail in most interpersonal relationships in the workplace. That’s not good for business or their career.
So, when you study ethics, you’ll be improving your future prospects of success, whether that means being a valued employee worthy of promotion or operating your own business.
Become Aware of Your Personal Ethics
When you study ethics, you will develop your own code of ethical guidelines that will guide you through life. They’re at the heart of your core values and guide your professional ethics. Personal ethics can include honesty, loyalty, integrity, selflessness, equality and fairness, empathy, respect for others and self-respect.
Ethics courses can help you develop a personal ethics statement, which is a written declaration that outlines your important ethical principles. These statements are valuable throughout life and are of particular significance for university applications, job applications and performance evaluations.
A personal ethics statement will also help you to understand your priorities in life, make better decisions, improve your goals setting and identify and improve your leadership style.
Cultivate Inner Peace
Ethical values help shape a more peaceful world, but they also create inner peace. When you cultivate inner peace, you also develop a quieter mind, keener intellect, positivity and a healthier body. That’s a lot of stress-reduction when you study ethics and apply what you learn to your personal and professional life. Might this be the most important reason to develop your personal ethics code?
Contribute to a Stable Society
When people have strong ethical values, they are honest, law-abiding and generous. A strong and stable society requires that its population works together to maintain law, order – and harmony. Conversely, insensitive and dishonest people find it challenging to integrate into a healthy society. Ethics courses will help you further understand how reliant society is on strong ethics to operate harmoniously.
Religion and the Afterlife
What’s greater than personal, professional and societal success? For those who are religious, strong ethics are a portal to the afterlife. Only faith can foster a belief in eternal life, and only good behaviour can lead to prosperity in the life hereafter.
Contemporary Ethical Dilemmas
There are many ethical dilemmas, but some of the most pressing in today’s society are the environment, machine learning and online privacy. For those who study ethics, these difficult questions will need to be answered.
Should Poor Farmers Be Allowed to Clear Land?
Deforestation is destructive to the environment, but what about poor farmers who rely on the land to make a living? Rural farmers depend on the land and natural resources for food, their livelihood and physical wellbeing. But what about environmental management and biodiversity conservation? When you study ethics, you might be able to tackle these types of ethical, environmental dilemmas.
Should We Abandon Privacy Online?
The battle between online and individual privacy and national security is ever-present in our technology-obsessed society – but where do we draw the line? It’s a fine line between safety and privacy.
Do we have the right to send encrypted messages? Or to keep browser history on Google private? It’s a tricky balance between individual privacy – we all have legal secrets we’d rather not have others knowing – and finding and convicting criminals who would be able to communicate in private, such as those operating child pornography sites.
Should We Let Cars Drive Themselves?
Machine learning is another ethical dilemma, and one that’s hot on our heels is the implementation of driverless vehicles. Self-driving cars should drive more safely and more fairly than people do. In fact, cars shouldn’t drive like people at all – humans are not very good drivers. They drive in ethically troubling ways – whether to speed if in a hurry or to go through a crosswalk depending on the age, gender, ethnicity of the cross walker.
But then there’s Moravec’s Paradox which highlights the fact that what’s easy for humans (perception, such as recognising facial expression) and mechanical tasks (such as riding a bike) are hard for machines. Can we depend on machines in the same way as we do humans in the future? It’s unlikely.
However, predictions about when cars will be fully automated are a mixed bag, ranging from the next ten years to many decades away.
So, in future, will engineers and algorithms decide how every car drives and, as a result, define policy about safety and mobility? When you study ethics, these are the types of questions that will become important for the future of our society.
Should We Edit Our Children’s Genomes?
Many of the most common genetic conditions still lack effective treatments or cures. So, should parents be able to screen for all genetic conditions in pregnancy? This screening would lead to decisions about terminating the pregnancy or planning for the condition before the child is born.
The leap from screening for genetic conditions to ‘genome editing’ is not great – but the consequences and ethical dilemmas are huge. So, if it’s possible to remove the gene causing variant before the child is born – should we do it? It would certainly alleviate the problematic decisions around terminating pregnancies.
While the positive is obvious – curing disease in future generations – there are also fears about creating ‘designer babies’ and what it means for the future of the human race. It’s another big question that those who study ethics will need to tackle for progress to be made in future.
Should We Give all Animals Rights?
Human beings have fundamental, absolute rights no matter how they behave or whether or not stripping them of those rights is better for humanity. But what about animals? If we are to eliminate suffering in all creatures, should we be giving animals the same protections as human beings? Should it be considered in terms of intelligence?
In his book Animal Liberation, Peter Singer states the basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment but equal consideration. He says animals deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation, and the most important aspect of rights is not ‘can they reason, or can they talk’ but rather ‘can they suffer?
Supporters of animal rights believe that animals have an inherent worth, which is separate from their usefulness to humans.
Should We Support or Boycott Overseas Products?
Do you know how the last item of clothing your bought was created? Should we boycott all products that come from countries that endorse child and/or underpaid labour? If we stop buying all of these products, what happens to the people working in these overseas factories? How will they support themselves and their families?
Globalisation means that many of the products we buy are sourced from supply chains from all over the world. It also means that those in wealthier and developed nations can buy inexpensive products that improve their quality of life. But at what cost? Consumerism is an ethical dilemma that’s not easy to solve. However, for those who study ethics, a solution may be possible. At the very least, asking these difficult questions helps build awareness for consumers in Australia.
Professional Development and Ethics
Those who study ethics will be encouraged to think out of the box and will be challenged to identify their values and the significance of these values. This understanding – a belief system – and morality will colour all areas of life, from home to public image and the workplace.
Ethics courses will help develop your ability to question codes of ethics, their place in society, as well as their usefulness and limitations. Apart from the obvious professional areas of psychology and counselling, which adhere to strong ethical codes, ethics courses are important in many professions.
In fact, ethics courses have wide-ranging appeal and are vital for people in a variety of careers, including:
- Social work
- Caring roles
- Health professions
- Human resources
Gain knowledge in the fundamentals of ethics when you study ethics courses like our Certificate of Ethics.