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It is worth mentioning the fact that individuals choose the diversity of ethical approaches, which define decisions being taken by individuals. In fact, different ethical approaches suggest different solutions to ethical problems and dilemmas. The solution of ethical problems depends on the ethical framework, within which individuals operate and which define their moral values and norms. In such a way, the choice of the ethical approach defines the mechanism of the solution of ethical problems.
Among the variety of ethical approaches, it is possibleу to distinguish the utilitarian approach as one of the most popular ethical approach that is widely-applied in the contemporary society. In fact, the utilitarian approach stands on the ground of the priority of the good of the majority over personal benefits. However, this approach is not always effective because the majority is not always right. In such a way, the majority’s good is not always moral and ethically acceptable for individuals. What is meant here is the fact that the choice of the majority may contradict to personal moral norms and beliefs. For instance, the Christian majority can offend the Muslim minority and Muslims may suffer from the violation of their moral values and norms based on Koran but not the Bible.
Another approach to the solution of ethical problems is the rights approach. This approach stresses the importance of basic human rights and liberties as fundamental for taking moral and ethically correct decisions. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that the rights and liberties are traditionally important but they do not always coincide depending on the socio-cultural environment and society individuals live in. What is meant here is the fact that human rights and liberties develop on the ground of socio-cultural traditions. In fact, even one and the same society may have different rights and liberties in the course of their historical development. To put in simple words, current rights and liberties could be different from rights and liberties that existed in the past. For instance, the US society took slavery as the norm in the past, whereas, today, slavery and limitation of personal freedom is one of the most severe forms of the violation of human rights and liberties. This approach suggests the solution of ethical problems on the ground of human rights and liberties. Therefore, individuals should respect human rights and liberties of each other because this is the basis for ethically correct behavior and taking ethical decisions.
Furthermore, it is possible to distinguish the fairness or justice approach. This approach grounds on the principle of fairness and justice, which define the morality of actions or certain concepts on the ground of their fairness or justice respectively to existing social norms. In such a way, the fairness and justice approach seems to be quite effective but it is worth mentioning the fact that the fairness and justice are abstract concepts, which may vary consistently depending to the socio-cultural environment. As a result, the fairness or justice approach cannot be applied universally but this approach has to take into consideration socio-cultural specificities of individuals’ environment.
Another approach, the common-good approach or the virtue approach, is also quite effective but similarly to the previously discussed approaches, this approach can hardly be applied universally. To put it more precisely, the common-good approach focuses on the developing of common principles of the good or virtues. This means that individuals should match the existing moral norms, which are considered by the society as virtuous. At this point, it is possible to refer to sacred books, such as Bible, Koran or Talmud, which contain basic recommendations concerning the virtuous lifestyle. These books defined clearly what is good and what is wrong. Therefore, individuals are supposed to match standards of the virtuous life and actions that meet the requirement of virtuousness are considered moral and ethically correct. In such a situation, individuals are supposed to follow virtuous norms and standards defined by the society in different forms, including sacred books, such as Bible, Koran, or Talmud. However, the development of this approach is not really effective because this approach still fails to meet socio-cultural background of absolutely all individuals.
Therefore, while developing ethically correct model of behavior and decision making process, individuals should take into consideration the cultural relativism. What is meant here is the fact that cultural differences can affect consistently the development of moral norms and values because the dominant socio-cultural norms and values may contradict to the development of effective socio-cultural norms. In such a way, socio-cultural norms are effective to define actual moral and ethical norms and values but the dominant values may contradict to individual values, if individuals originate from different socio-cultural environment. As a result, individuals representing minority face the gap between their cultural identity and the dominant socio-cultural norms and views, which define the dominant moral and ethical norms and values.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that ethical and moral values and norms may vary consistently. In this regard, it is necessary to take several factors contributing to the formation of moral norms and values. To put it more precisely, existing social norms and values can affect consistently the set of moral values of individuals. In addition, existing religious norms defined in such sacred books as Bible, Koran and Talmud can affect consistently the set of moral values of the society or certain individuals. However, today, individuals do not follow strictly religious moral norms and views. Instead, they use different approaches to the solution of ethical problems, including the utilitarian approach, the rights approach, the common-good approach, and others. All these approaches provide different moral norms and values and approaches to solution of ethical problems. However, individuals should take into consideration the cultural background, in which they take moral or ethical decisions and solve ethical problems.