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Chapter 12. Developing as an Ethical Rea... > The Fundamentals of Ethical Reasonin...

The Fundamentals of Ethical Reasoning

To become skilled in any domain of reasoning, we must understand the principles that define that domain. To be skilled in mathematical reasoning, we must understand fundamental mathematical principles. To be skilled in scientific reasoning, we must understand fundamental scientific principles (principles of physics, of chemistry, of astronomy, and so on). In like manner, to be skilled in ethical reasoning, we must understand fundamental ethical principles. Good-heartedness is not enough. We must be well-grounded in fundamental ethical concepts and principles. Principles are at the heart of ethical reasoning.

People thinking through an ethical issue must be able to identify the ethical principles relevant to the specific ethical situation. They must also muster the intellectual skills required to apply those principles fairly to the relevant case or situation. Ethical principles alone, however, do not settle ethical questions. For example, ethical principles sometimes can be applied differently in cases that are ethically complex.


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