Thursday, September 17, 2015

Legal, Ethical, Moral

Recent news events have reminded me of the final lesson in my Negotiations class, as we discussed negotiation ethics.

Keeping in mind that the professor was a lawyer, he pointed out that:
1) What is legal is not always ethical.
2) Less commonly, what is ethical is not always legal.

Since this was a business class, we were reminded that companies are obligated to follow the law. There are personal and corporate consequences for not doing so.

I've added "moral" to this discussion, in part because I was raised in Catholic schools where we regularly discussed the moral issues of the day.

In reviewing my memory, it seems as though many of the ethical "grey areas", the things that might be ethical in one circumstance and unethical in another, were often given a solid moral line by the Catholic church. For example, the hot topic of abortion. (Be forewarned, more on that subject will likely be coming this year.)

The thing to know about moral issues, is that where ethics are rooted in proper relationships between humans, morals are based in particular theological or religious perspectives.

Remember that there are approximately 5 major world religions, another 7+ "minor" (my term) world religions, and perhaps hundreds of other native, aboriginal, traditional, or non-traditional modern practices.

Also, I've been given to understand that not every religion provides a clear-cut authority on moral questions. A Jewish friend once explained that when they have a question, the Rabbi will gather the relevant passages of the Tanakh and writings about the question, and give at least two or three positions supported by the scholarship to date. The decision, then, is not the Rabbi's to dictate, but rather the individuals to study, weigh, and then make.