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Current Ethical Issues

Current Ethical Issues

Topics on ethics can be interesting to some, and unnerving to others, depending on how one perceives them. This article raises some ethical issues that have garnered considerable attention around the world. It's time you take a stand on them too.
Tilottama Chatterjee
A bit of news, freshly out of Iran says that they'd recently sent a monkey on a space flight, and managed to get it back alive. Local media reports that Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who also met the primate said, "I'm ready to be the first Iranian to be sacrificed by the scientists of my country and go into space".

No sooner than this piece of news made its way into cyberspace, it's been showered with a barrage of comments from the Western world, with netizens venting outrage over Iran's ethical impunity. Comments ranged from funny to condescending, to downright evil.

Peace mongers advised Iran not to attach nuclear warheads to their space missiles, when their own nations are n-capable. Animal rights people wanted them to refrain from animal experimentation, when their western counterparts have already sent everything from chicken embryos to tree frogs into space.

Ethical goof-ups, as we can see, are best observed in others, and rarely spotted in ourselves. The debate that surrounds current ethical issues, is not too different. While there are two sides to every story, there are also murky areas in between. Which is why the issue of ethics arises - and there is no clear right or wrong. There are few fields that escape the dubious distinction of being embroiled in ethical debates - education, medicine, religion, environment, human behavior - there's just no escaping them.

Understanding Ethics

Topics to Think on...
'Ethics' is the one word, that conveys several different things, that it's difficult to pin down a definition. Moral philosophy? Good versus evil? Right versus wrong? If only it were as easy to distinguish ethics into clear demarcations of black and white!

It is perhaps more difficult than one may realize, to understand the issues that exist between ethics and morality, integrity and existing belief systems, right and wrong, or even the age-old good and evil. It is due to the lack of clear demarcations perhaps, that the question of ethics arises, since one man's meat, more often than not, is another man's poison.

In a world where we're making up our own code of morals, it is time we revisit the old-school version. The version that ceased to exist ages ago. Here's a little help on understanding ethics.

Life Sciences

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In the past century, we have made considerable progress in the field of human health and life sciences. And yet, we remain light years away from explaining the reason of our existence. Every discovery made, takes us tantalizingly close to the answers we're searching, only to bring us back to square one. As our quests go deeper, a quiet acceptance about our mediocre existence in this universe, runs on a parallel plane.

We have scientists who are creating life in their laboratories, but do they ensure immortality? Even if they ever do, do we even wish to be immortal? How far is too far, when it comes to scientific research? And who, among us, is the best judge to decide that?

Ethical dilemmas are an inseparable part of science. People who embark upon a mission to understand the mystery of life, are bound to step on some proverbial moral toes. Research that treads on dangerous waters is conducted under the aegis of 'the greater good of humanity'. But how true can it hold when we all have our own versions of what defines 'humanity'?


Topics to Think on...
  • Home Schooling
  • Is Education Affordable?
  • Making Counseling Accessible
  • Setting Parameters for Evaluating Teachers
  • Stakeholders' control on School Policies

Education, and issues related to it have been at the center of controversy since a long time now. Mind you, we haven't even scratched the surface with topics like homeschooling and grading systems.

To begin with, it seems difficult to contain education within the confines of a classroom, as children, they say, begin learning things since the minute they're born. Which roughly means that they're being educated as their parents get into an abusive scuffle, when their schoolmates bully them, or even when they're surfing the Internet. Scary, isn't it?

A child's education is a constant, minute-by-minute process, and parents can be guilty of conveniently shifting the onus of it onto the school. When we see instances of juvenile depravity, we immediately begin a blame game of sorts, between the schools and parents. For things to improve, shouldn't education be breaking academic barriers to include propriety as well?


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All's fair in love and war, and money-making, is what they're saying these days, and it's certainly hard to find an exception. In the cut-throat environs of the corporate world, is there any place for business ethics? If you're a believer in business ethics, you may find that the way you operate isn't really the way the world runs. It is ultimately up to you to cling to your sense of morality, or just go with the flow and make the most of the opportunities that drift your way.

Here again, with the main motive being profit-making, is it appropriate to go all out to achieve them? Large-scale corporations do seem to agree. And to some extent, it also makes the shareholders happy. Who cares about those pesky environmental activists or legal sharks anyway?

This being the 'factory setting' of the corporate world, it is going to take a gargantuan effort to make the economy run in a clean manner. For every company that refuses to test its products on animals, there will be a chain of raw material suppliers testing chemicals on rodents. For every diamond that's sourced from fair trade, you'll have to use gold that's mined unethically.

Who said being ethical was a cakewalk?

Human Life

Topics to Think on...
  • Pro-life or Pro-choice
  • Population Control
  • Capital Punishment
  • Gender Bias in Society
  • Protection of Human Rights
  • Homosexuality

Human life is deemed precious above everything else, but the way things stand, it's not getting the respect it deserves. Everyone has an opinion on how to live life, never mind if they are actually imposing it on someone. Human rights abuses are blatantly happening in the most developed nations of the world, as we choose to politely look the other way. It is, after all, "their business".

As fellow humans, we do need to raise our voices against domestic violence in Europe, child abuse in Central Africa, gun violence in America, female infanticide in Asia, racial discrimination in Australasia; these issues don't have boundaries, do they?

In a perfect world, we'd be able to freely express our opinion (everyone can't), marry the person we want to (members of the LGBT community can't), wear the clothes we like (most women can't), and live the life we love (no one does). Until then, we've got some wishful thinking to do.

The whole question that arises in any discussion of current ethical issues, is the differences in viewpoints, core values, and beliefs that define what a person supports. What may be a gross violation of ethics for one, may be a regular day's work for another. Coming to a consensus is tough, but well worth the effort.