ETHICS AND THE LAW Defining Ethics Chapter 1.1 HOW ETHICAL DECISIONS ARE MADE The difference between right and wrong can be difficult to determine Morality – involves the values that govern society’s attitude toward right and wrong Ethics – in contrast, are the means for determining what a society’s values ought to be THE GREATEST GOOD PRINCIPLE Most people live and work together in society Because of these relationships, every action has the potential to affect other people The decision of a ‘wrong action’ is based on whether an action will create the greatest good for the greatest number of people The more good that results, the more ethical the action “THE GOLDEN RULE” “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” Some may identify this rule with religion, but it is universal The heart of this rule is empathy, which means putting yourself in another person’s position This rules says that those who wish to be treated with respect must first be respectful to others Can be misused for personal gain ETHICAL CHARACTER TRAITS Honesty Being open and truthful Its not easy to be honest in every situation This person can be trusted and keeps their promises Justice Treating people fairly and equally Being capable of treating EVERYONE fairly and not just family and friends ETHICAL CHARACTER TRAITS CONT…. Compassion Being sympathetic to the difficulties of others and wants to help Respect for other people and their right to make their own decisions Integrity Willing to do the right thing, regardless of personal consequences Stand up for their convictions even if the majority is against them Willing to take the risk for their moral beliefs WHY LAW IS NECESSARY Law – is the system of rules of conduct established by a government of a society to maintain stability and justice It defines the legal rights and duties of the people Provides a means of enforcing these rights and duties through law enforcement agencies, courts, legislatures, and regulatory agencies ETHICAL AND LEGAL CONFLICTS Law is made by people, therefore imperfect Ethics and law will sometimes conflict Legislators and judges bring their own personal opinions and views Regardless, having laws is better than not having any CASE SITUATION Alex witnesses a mugging while walking home from school. He continues on his way instead of getting involved. Can the law force Alex to testify? What can the law do about the mugger? How does this demonstrate why law is necessary? Answer: The law cannot force Alex to admit he witnessed the mugging. The law can punish the mugger. The law draws the line between allowable and unallowable actions so people do not harm each other. CASE SITUATION Jackie and Min are not the best of friends. They come from different cultures and care very little about what happens to each other. While playing softball on opposing teams, Jackie’s teammate Lori tagged Min out and 2nd base. Jackie, who was playing shortstop saw the Lori’s foot was not on the bag and pronounced Min safe. Which ethical principal was Jackie applying? Answer: The Golden Rule ETHICS AND THE LAW Sources of Law Chapter 1.2 THE 5 MAIN SOURCES OF US LAW Constitutional Law Common Law (except in Lousiana) Statutory Law Court Decisions Administrative Regulations CONSTITUTIONAL LAW A country’s constitution spells out the principles by which the government operates The US Constitution sets forth the fundamental rights of citizen There are 7 articles 27 amendments States have their own constitution ENGLISH COMMON LAW Legal system is rooted in English common law Stems from the early settlers In early days, a court system was established Judges traveled in circuits deciding cases Because laws were not written down, judges often made decisions based on customs and traditions of the people = common law Eventually court decisions were written down and judges would refer to past cases when making decisions = doctrine of precedent STATUTORY LAW Statutes are laws specifically passed by a governing body that has been created for the purpose of making laws. Statutes can: Be created to declare the law on a particular issue or govern certain circumstances May order people to do something Forbid people from doing things Prevent people from discriminating in employment Statutory law is found in both federal and state statutes COURT DECISIONS Court-made law is often called case law, court decisions, and judge-made law Decisions made by the highest court of any state become the law of that state and must be followed by other courts within that state When a statute seems to be confusing, incomplete, or unclear, it is the courts job to figure out what the statute means ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS The use of administrative agencies, a.k.a. regulatory agencies, by federal and state legislatures serves as a means to regulate certain kinds of activities Administrative Law consists of those rules and procedures established by regulatory agencies For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates broadcasting These agencies have a great deal of power but can be put to an end or have its power changed by the legislature that created it CASE SITUATION Lucy wants to quit high school. However, a state law forbids minors from dropping out of school. The same statute gives juvenile court the right to suspend the driver’s license of any minor that has dropped out of school. Lucy argues that statutes passed by the legislature may be able to forbid certain acts, such as stealing, but they cannot order her to attend school. Is she correct? Explain your answer. Answer: No, she is not correct. A statute may order people to do something. Each state has its own laws governing minors and dropping out of school. Each situation is dealt with individually following certain criteria. NYS = must have turned 17 by July 1st.