The Basics of Decency: PHL

Philosophical thinking is easiest when we are alone, but is most challenging and rewarding when we have others who are willing to discuss it with us. (My pictured above is my dear friend, Morgan Thomas–someone who is ready and willing to have those deep talks with me at any time.)

To study philosophy is to study our own existence and our knowledge of it. It’s never exact, it’s never black and white, and it’s not something that can be studied through quantitative results or actions. As a social species, we have rules. They dictate how we behave and when certain behaviors are permissible. Our rules help us survive with some sort of order. These expectation can range anywhere from international law all the way down to how one might talk to their parents. Some rules are clear and other are more taboo or just unspoken while just as clearly understood. While we strive to have this order and mutual understanding of what is acceptable or not and how to fix things that go wrong, there is conflict.

Different populations can have different ideas of what to do or not to do based on knowledge, experience, or a combination of both. From entire nations down to a small family, there can be conflicting views on what is wrong, permissible, or obligatory. The Leadership Institute claims that we are becoming ethical leaders. In order to do so, a student in this program must study this idea of ethics and a great place to start is in PHL 118, Philosophy of Moral problems. In other words, this class revolved around the branch of philosophy that focuses on the argument of morality and ethics in communication, judgement, and values. Our class didn’t agree on the extent to which certain things were right or wrong which made for powerful conversations and challenging discussions.

Questioning what is right or wrong to an individual may be easy as they know their own morals and values. Once we consider what might be right or wrong to large numbers of people, it becomes ethics. One of the final papers that we wrote in PLH 118 was to be about something that was morally or ethically debatable and take a position on it. I chose to discuss when murder was permissible in the form of justifiable homicide. If this topic sounds interesting at all to you, this is the actual paper that I turned in- PHL118 justifiable homicide paper.

As leaders, it is important that we consider view points of all sorts. Being apart of this class and the talks that ensued proved to be a great place to become more aware of what may or may not be considered ethical. Doing the right thing isn’t always an easy path and to make matters more interesting, what one might have thought to be obligatory could turn out to be hardly permissible to others. These considerations and debates prepare our cohort to be those ethical leaders that the world seems to need.


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