Recently I had the opportunity to review some references I kept aside for further reading. One was on a particular philosopher. I am not going to reference the philosopher here because I think that would not be fair to his body of work. However in a short newspaper article, he described the concept of ethics as being broader than the concept of morals, and that the concept of ethics includes the concept of morals.
And there lies the rub. According to this philosopher, ethics can be any set of principles adopted by an individual and an organisation. The principle does not need to be moral. In his defence he also said that such things as ‘profit’ is a non-moral goal. And so in that, and therefore maybe all of this philosopher’s works, there may be a failure to understand that morality is functional in all areas of decision-making.
The philosopher then goes on to recommend that politicians only use the word, ‘ethical’, as this encompasses things that aren’t moral. Afterall, we wouldn’t like a politician to get between a ‘man’ and his profit, nor ‘man’ and his right to hold destructive goals (as long as it aligns with that ‘man’s’ principles).
I have recently commented on the failure of the pluralist society to build moral capacity and leadership, and this is leading to poor societal learning processes and destructive social and economic decision-making. If that plural society is taken much heed of this and similar philosophers, well it is no wonder. Often philosopher’s rebuke we lesser mortals, for not questioning our thinking. I agree. And, as this case shows, we should especially question the thinking of anyone who is claiming to provide the broad society with correct thought.