Understanding ethics

Understanding ethics

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s as simple as black and white”? People often use this analogy, or comparison, when referring to making a decision. The colors black and white are easy to recognize, and sometimes, when we need to make a decision between right and wrong, it is easy to recognize the right decision.

Sometimes, though, we must choose between making a ‘good’ decision that may have seemingly undesirable consequences, and a ‘bad’ decision that seems more comfortable to us. You could call this a gray area, because there is no clear separation between black and white—the colors seem to have merged. When we’re faced with a gray area, ethics can help us out.

What is ethics?

A person who consistently makes good decisions has strong character. In this context, the definition of strong character is “ethical quality". What do you think “ethical” means? Now look up the word in the dictionary. How close were you?

What would you do?

Grace’s best friend Sylvie wants to go to a concert with some friends. Sylvie’s parents will not give her permission to go—they say that a concert is not a safe place for a 6th grader. Sylvie tells Grace she is going to tell her parents that she’s staying overnight with Grace so she can go to the concert. Sylvie asks Grace to ‘cover for her'. If you were Grace, what would you do?

Going further: Crossword—ethics in action