Deciding between right and wrong in the 21st century
By Cobus Swart
Marcus Aurelius once remarked: “If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.” One of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, however, is to determine what is right and what is wrong. We live in a VUCA world characterised by;
This is the world in which we must find our way every day and decide between right and wrong. Laws help, to a certain extent. But even though something is lawful, it does not necessarily imply that everybody agrees as to the ethical merits of the action. A good example is the legality of the recreational and medical use of cannabis. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Signatories can allow the medical use of cannabis, but it is viewed as an addictive drug with a profound risk of abuse.
The use of cannabis for recreational purposes is unlawful in most countries around the world. Many others have moved towards a policy of decriminalisation, making the simple possession of cannabis a non-criminal offence. Other countries, especially in Asia and the Middle East, have strict penalties where any possession of cannabis is punished by imprisonment. Countries such as South Africa and Canada have legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
Do you think it is right or wrong to smoke “weed” at a party? Should someone who does this occasionally be arrested? Can cancer patients be treated with cannabis? Opinions are divided on these matters.
This is but one example of many. Think of divisive ethical issues such as homosexuality, euthanasia, imposing the death penalty and abortion.
A general practitioner recently shared the latest ethical dilemma he was faced with. A young 16-year-old patient visited him with her father. She was pregnant and wanted to keep her baby. The girl’s father insisted on terminating the pregnancy as the father of the baby was only 17, unable to provide for them and from a different racial and religious background. The doctor had to advise them on the best course of action.
As part of our online course Hero’s Journey, we have added a chapter on Ethics that provides a philosophical perspective on this important topic. In this thought-provoking part of the course, Ethics: a philosophical perspective, we explore the following:
Ethical issues psychologists and doctors are confronted with.
Having worked through this chapter on Ethics, medical practitioners and psychologists will be better able to give informed ethical advice. CPD points will also be awarded on completion of a short number of questions.
Enrol today for Ethics: A philosophical Perspective – an online short course that is informative, good value for money and can be completed when it suits you.