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Chapter 12. Developing as an Ethical Rea... > Distinguishing Ethics from Other Dom...

Distinguishing Ethics from Other Domains of Thinking

In addition to understanding how to identify ethical concepts and principles relevant to ethical issues, skilled ethical reasoners must be able to distinguish between ethics and other domains of thinking such as social conventions, religion, and the law. Too often, ethics is confused with these other modes of thinking. It is not uncommon, for example, for social values and taboos to be treated as if they define ethical principles.

Thus, religious ideologies, social “rules,” and laws are often mistakenly taken to be inherently ethical in nature. If we are to accept this amalgamation of domains, by implication every practice within any religious system is necessarily ethical, every social rule is ethically obligatory, and every law is ethically justified. We could not judge, then, any religious practices—such as torturing unbelievers—as unethical.


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