Exploring Ethics

As anyone who has seen the recent hit show “The Good Place” knows, there are many schools of thought on the issues of ethics and morality. As Chidi explains to Eleanor, one famous question in ethics is the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem is a thought experiment that requires the sacrifice of some people in order to save others. This is a dilemma in which there is not necessarily a correct answer. In fact, MIT has created the “Moral Machine” to help users test out just that exact problem. Participants must choose the lesser of two evils when instructing which path a driverless car should take. Along the way, users can test their best judgment in such scenarios as “a baby with a grandma vs a doctor with a dog” and “criminal with a skinny woman and a homeless man vs 3 children with a cat”. At the end, participants can see how their choices stack up against others, and maybe even help identify some unconscious internal biases.

Of course, there are many other areas of ethics that don’t involve having to kill off any imaginary characters. In fact, morality is an issue that can arise in our day-to-day lives much more frequently than one might imagine. Ethical issues in the workplace, home, or regular social activities may pop up at any point in time. These issues are often less black and white than they may seem at first glance. Perhaps everyone would agree that it is wrong to steal from your place of employment. Embezzlement? No way! But would everyone experience the same visceral reaction to taking home a paperclip for personal use? While these examples are at the extremes, some scenarios in the middle ground may seem a lot less clearly black and white, and a fuzzier gray.

It can be argued that no one needs to go quite as deep into the exploration of ethics as Chidi from “The Good Place”. However, for anyone who is curious about exploring the subject a bit further, here are some great titles in the Bellevue University collection that deal with ethics and morality.

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-facts, and Fake news by Kevin Young
Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood by Melissa Wagner.
Fire the Pretty Girl: Awkward Adventures in Business by John Morton
God and Cosmos: Moral Truth and Human Meaning by David Baggett
Honor Bound: How a Cultural Ideal Has Shaped the American Psyche by Ryan P. Brown

For a full list of titles on morality and ethics, click here, or check out the BJ section in the library!

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