Introduction to Ethics - ACFE San Diego Chapter

Presented by: Chuck Cochran, CFE
Sponsored by: San Diego Chapter-ACFE
About Your Presenter; That’s Me!
• Licensed Private Investigator since 1982
• Certified Fraud Examiner since 1993
• Researching, studying and instructing in ethics since 1992
• Office Phone: 619-691-6379
• E-mail: [email protected]
The Plan Boss, the Plan
• Introducing Ethics
• Why Ethics are Important
• A Brief History of Ethics
• Examination of Some Ethical Theories
• Becoming an Ethical Person
Introducing Ethics
What It Was, Was Ethics
• Ethics is that branch of philosophy concerned with what is
morally right and wrong
• Ethics isn’t just about the way the world is, but how the
world ought to be, or should be
• Ethics provides a guideline for our actions and defines our
duties and obligations
• Ethics involves making the right choice even when no one
is looking
What’s the Difference?
• Ethics and morals are commonly thought of as being
identical; i.e. synonymous
• Many ethicists make a distinction between the two terms
• The term “morals” is used to describe certain customs,
precepts, and practices of peoples and cultures
• Ethics is the standard from which we should develop our
Why Does It Matter?
• Ethics tells us what we ought to do and morality reflects
what we really do
• Ethics should be a constant, unchanging guide to doing
what is right
• Ethics can free us from the prejudice and dogmatism that
creep into moral precepts
Yeah, but is it Legal?
• Some people equate ethics and morality with law
• There are differences between the two practices
• Ethics may judge a law as being immoral while
recognizing its validity as a law
• Ethics may say lying is immoral, but there is no general
law against lying except in certain circumstances
How do We Decide “Right” from “Wrong”?
• That’s the $64 question that people have tried to answer
for a couple of thousand of years.
• A number of theories have been suggested to provide
guidance in determining “right” from “wrong”
• No one theory has received universal acceptance
• And you thought this was going to be easy!
The Importance of Ethics
Ethics Are Important Because:
• Ethics can be in your self-interest
• Thomas Hobbes describe a man’s life as, “solitary, poor,
nasty, brutish, and short.”
• Hobbes is describing life in a society whose members
hadn’t learned to cooperate an ethical manner
• Our self-interest is better served living in a cohesive,
ethical society than in a culture of backstabbers and
More Self-Interest
• Living an ethical life reduces stress
• Living an ethical life leads to richer relationships since
people know they can trust you
• Living an ethical life protects and enhances your
• Living an ethical life may keep you out of prison
A Brief History of Ethics
The Greeks Started It!
• The Greeks were the first to develop a systematic study of
ethics based on critical thinking
• Socrates: real moral knowledge existed and could be
discovered through argument and debate
• Plato: real moral knowledge existed, but it could only be
discovered by a few “experts”
• Aristotle: ethics could be determined by ordinary practical
men using common sense
Let God Sort it Out
• With the rise of Christianity, ethical study became part of
Christian theology
• Basically, God decides what is right and what is wrong
and His commands are absolute
• St. Augustine: “God’s gifts of conscience and reason that
enables us to distinguish between good and evil”
• Charles Hodge: morality is based on “the principal that a
higher obligation absolves from a lower stands firm.”
The Rise of the Humans
• Humanism placed a greater emphasis on human
achievement and less on the role of God in human affairs
• Jeremy Bentham: morality should focus on maximizing
pleasure and minimizing pain for the majority of people
• Immanuel Kant: moral action is done from a sense of duty
rather than doing what we want
Back to the Future
• Joseph Fletcher promoted the belief that the situation
must be considered in making an ethical choice
• Melville Herskovits felt that culture was the deciding factor
in developing ethics
• Helmut Thielicke believed in absolute moral principles but
recognized conflicts in those principles
An Examination of Some Ethical Theories
Your Choices Are
• Utilitarianism: presented by Jeremy Bentham
• Situationalism: presented by Joseph Fletcher
• Cultural Relativism: presented by Melville Herskovits
• Unqualified Absolutism: presented by Immanuel Kant
• Conflicting Absolutism: presented by Helmut Thielicke
• Graded Absolutism: presented by Charles Hodge
And the Question Is!
• Was it ethical for Robin
Hood to steal from the
rich to feed the poor?
Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham
• Based on the theory that there are no absolute moral laws
• One should act to produce the greatest good for the
greatest number of people
• A positive value of utilitarianism is that it stresses
individual responsibility
• A flaw is the implication that the end justifies the means
Would Bentham Support Robin?
• Maybe
• Yes, if the result is the
greatest good for the
greatest number
• No, if more pain results
than pleasure
• The decision is
independent of the
Situationalism: Joseph Fletcher
• Situationalism believes that there is only one absolute
moral law; unselfish love (agape)
• It places people above all other moral principals
• Situationalism has the positive value of a single
unbreakable law, the law of love
• However, the general nature of the single law can create
ambiguities about what love is in actual situations
Would Fletcher Support Robin?
• Yes, if Robin is acting
out of unselfish love
• No, if Robin is acting in
his own behalf
• Motive for the action is
the deciding factor
Cultural Relativism: Melville Herskovits
• The basic view is that the cultural group decides what is
right and what is wrong
• Denies that any other culture has the right to judge
another culture’s value system
• This has the positive effect of creating cultural tolerance
• The flaw is it doesn’t resolve cultural differences
Would Herskovits Support Robin?
• Probably not
• Robin’s society forbids
theft and defying the
authority of the crown
• Robin’s actions are
outside this cultural
norm and are unethical
Unqualified Absolutism: Immanuel Kant
• Believes that there are many absolute morals laws that
never conflict
• Teaches that all moral conflicts are only apparent, they
are not real
• An attraction of this theory is the unchanging ethical
anchor it provides
• Critics challenge the premise that all moral conflicts are
not real
Would Herr Kant Support Robin?
• Nein, No, Never!
• Stealing is always
wrong and cannot be
justified by good
• Robin must find a
different way to help
the poor
Conflicting Absolutism: Helmut Thielicke
• Believes that there are absolute moral law and moral
conflicts are unavoidable
• Faced with a true dilemma we must choose the least
harmful choice
• Provides realistic solution while preserving moral
• Approach is flawed since a moral duty to cause harm is a
moral absurdity
Would Thielicke Support Robin?
• Probably
• Recognizes the conflict
between stealing and
letting people starve
• Could consider theft as
the lessor evil
• Therefore, stealing to
feed the poor would be
Graded Absolutism: Charles Hodge
• Accepts that there are absolute moral laws, however
there are higher and lower moral laws
• In the case of an unavoidable moral conflict, choose to
obey the higher law
• Allows a decision to be made based on the greater good
rather than the lesser evil
• Others will dispute that there are higher and lesser moral
Would Hodge Support Robin?
• Probably
• Hodge might consider
feeding the poor as the
greater good
• In that case, Robin
would be behaving in
an ethical manner
On Becoming an Ethical Person
The First Step
• “The unexamined life
is not worth living”
• A critical examination
of your life, beliefs, and
decisions is essential
• This may not be a
comfortable activity,
but ethics is not about
Putting It All Together
• Decide what basic principles will guide you in making
ethical decisions
• Examine your principles to ensure they are in harmony
with each other
• Be consistent in your application of your guiding principles
• Have the courage to adhere to your ethics
A Last Thought
• “Do the right thing. It will gratify some
people and astonish the rest”
Mark Twain

similar documents