Unlike morals, which are deeply held convictions held by an individual in regards to right and wrong behavior, ethics are recognized rules of conduct in regards to a specific action or a particular group of people. In short, ethics come from an external social structure whereas morals come from within – a person’s own perceptions of right and wrong regardless of what society’s rules say. The three primary schools of ethics that can be used in discussing ethical problems and dilemmas are care-based ethics, rule-based ethics, and end-based ethics.
In the case of ethical dilemma number 2, if one were to apply care-based ethics, then both of the adult parties in the situation would yield to what would be best for the child. Care-based ethics involves having the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes and see a situation from his or her point of view. The ethical dilemma clearly states that the girl was taken away from her foster parents against her will after her biological parents sobered up and wanted to regain custody.
To abide by care-based ethics, the adults would need to let the girl make the decision; everyone would have to consider how the child feels. ; care-based ethics is not determined by law, courts, or duty. Utilitarian ethics looks to solve a dilemma by producing the greatest good for the greatest number. In ethical dilemma number 2, utilitarian ethics would most likely favor the girl living with the foster parents because it would be the case of three people against two.
The girl spent her entire life with her foster parents, growing up to love and respect them. In addition, her foster parents more than likely developed mutual feelings for her. Her biological parents have had absolutely no connection to the girl and so by a court ruling in their favor they are setting up a family of strangers. In addition, it is unfair to the foster parents who were probably under the impression that they would raise the girl throughout her entire childhood.
Both of the laws applied to ethical dilemma rule in favor of the girl living with the foster parents and not the biological parents. However, care-based ethics does so out of genuine concern for the child’s interest. It doesn’t really consider what the outcome for other parties would be. End-based ethics, though coming to a similar conclusion did so by a different route. All parties in the situation were considered and the pros and cons are weighed out based on what is most fair for those involved.
I think that though the schools of ethics can be applied to many real life situations and provide a good springboard for making judgments; I believe that applying formulaic standards to something life like could ultimately be hazardous. Life isn’t a math problem where you can plug and chug a situation into an ethical framework and get only one correct outcome. There are many different factors and feelings that need to be considered when making decisions on real life matters.
Aristotle’s idea of virtue factored in the uncertainties of everyday life. To Aristotle, to be virtuous was to practice practical wisdom. In other words, he believed that making ethical decisions was dependent on choosing the right thing at the right time for a situation. I think Aristotle would have agreed with the both of the decisions to let the girl live with the foster parents because it would be the most practical choice to keep a loving family together than to tear it apart by giving the girl back to her biological parents.