Critical thinking is a learned thinking process. Like riding a bicycle, it takes time and effort to learn but once one gets it down, critical thinking can become as natural as breathing. When one applies critical thinking to ethics, the use of these three questions will help in almost any scenario. What are the moral responsibilities that are tied to the issue? Are there conflicts in one’s own moral ideas or obligations with this issue? What is the best outcome that one can achieve to reach one’s goal while keeping with one’s own moral code? In the Internet video, “To drill or Not to Drill”, Nightline (2004) states that there may be an ethical and environmental issue with drilling in the Midwest but lets the viewer answer the open ended question, should we drill or not drill. With the help of Nightline’s video, we shall put these questions to a test.
Moral Responsibility and Moral Failings
The first question is what are the moral responsibilities of the participants in this issue? The land to be drill is government land and the “Bureau of Land Management is responsible for balancing the uses of public lands” (Nightline, 2004). The drillers are morally responsible for the land they lease and the people working in their company. The people living in the area have a responsibility to uphold the environment, their community and homes. The moral failings happen when one does not hold up to their responsibility. In this case, the drillers are not taking care of the land like they should and due to pressure, the Bureau of Land Management is not balancing the use of public land. The people living in the area are trying to uphold their responsibility.
Conflicts in Ideas and Obligations
Most moral failings are because of a conflict of ideas or obligations, which leads to question two: Are there conflicts in one’s own moral ideas or obligations with this issue? With the case of the drillers, one assumes that the conflict is in obligations. Nightline did not interview the drillers nor their companies. It is from Nightline’s report that one gets the feeling that they are more concerned with profits then the land or people, when it is reported that there are $20 million in profits from each well but no updated equipment, nor updated disposals for waste. (Nightline, 2004)
The moral obligation not to harm should not have to written down in law, but without it, the moral obligation to shareholders has greater sway. Where are the laws and regulations for the land? The Bureau of Land Management is having ethical conflicts of their own. “The Bush Administration has directed federal land managers to expedite oil and gas development” (Nightline, 2004). This direction causes moral conflict as morally obligated they still have to balance the uses of land but obligations to the family or themselves to keep their job, they have to quickly develop the land. The people living in the area are in conflict between the fairness of the amount leases and the cost to their community and the environment.
In question number three, we come to the heart of the issue. What is the best outcome that one can achieve to reach one’s goal while keeping with one’s own moral code? In this case, the best outcome is the Bureau of Land Management to include more regulations and rules for waste disposal for drilling and slow the drilling down, the drillers that are there need to update their equipment and waste disposal for the environment. Both the drillers and land management need to remember that while “experts have estimated that there’s roughly 20 trillion cubic feet of gas here. That would supply the entire nation’s natural gas needs for about a year.”(Nightline, 2004), they will not be drilling forever. The damage to the environment that they do now will have long term effects on the people and animals in the area.
In the nightline video, To Drill or Not to Drill, we found an ethical issue with drilling in the Midwest. We used three questions to navigate the ethical issue and found the best outcome for the issue. The questions we used were, What are the moral responsibilities that are tied to the issue? Are there conflicts in one’s own moral ideas or obligations with this issue? What is the best outcome that one can achieve to reach one’s goal while keeping with one’s own moral code? By applying these three questions, one can use critical thinking to steer though most ethical situations.
Ruggiero, V. (2012). Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues (9th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix Collection database. Nightline (2004, June 19). To Drill or Not to Drill [Video file]. Retrieved from Pearson website: https://media.pearsoncmg.com/pls/us/phoenix/1269738887/To_Drill_or_Not_to_Drill.html