Christian Ethics Session 1
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Christian Ethics Session 1

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Introduction to Christian Ethics - course taught at LTCi Siliguri

Introduction to Christian Ethics - course taught at LTCi Siliguri

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Christian Ethics Session 1 Christian Ethics Session 1 Presentation Transcript

  • Christian Ethics LTCi course number 303
  • Is it ever permissible for a Christian to lie?
  • Norman Geisler in Christian Ethics suggests that there are 6 major ethical systems (ways of looking at ethics decision making.) This is his example on the subject of lying… 1. Lying is neither right or wrong: there are no laws, we decide on personal pragmatic grounds - Antinomianism
  • 2. Lying is generally wrong: there are no universal laws but if the result is good then lying would be ok - Generalism 3. Lying is sometimes right: love is the absolute moral law and lying might be the loving thing to do - Situationism
  • 2. Lying is generally wrong: there are no universal laws but if the result is good then lying would be ok - Generalism 3. Lying is sometimes right: love is the absolute moral law and lying might be the loving thing to do - Situationism
  • 4. Lying is always wrong: absolute moral laws exist and should not be broken - Unqualified absolutism 5. Lying is forgivable: we lie to save a life and then ask for forgiveness Conflicting absolutism
  • 6. Lying is sometimes right - there are absolutes but some are higher than others, where conflict occurs we always follow the higher moral law Graded absolutism
  • http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/04/15/global-morality/country/india/
  • Can Christians drink alcohol?
  • Can Christians drink alcohol? How did you reach your conclusion?
  • Can Christians drink alcohol? How did you reach your conclusion? Later we shall look at a model from Scott Rae which is designed to help in ethical decision making
  • Christian Ethics LTCi course number 303
  • Course Description This course will provide the student with a basic understanding and overview of ethics. It will focus primarily on ethics as a practical, lived-out discipline not simply an academic exercise. To demonstrate this we shall address a number of areas of interest / concern to the modern Christian believers and attempt to help the student to formulate their own ideas and practices in regard to those issues. The course is 3 credit hours.
  • Course Objectives As a result of this course the student should be able to: 1. Define ethics and morality and basic terms within the field of ethics. 2. Using examples show why Christian ethics differ from those of people holding to other worldviews 3. Argue a basic standpoint for a variety of issues which affect modern Christian believers. 4. Be able to apply their understanding to given ethical dilemmas or scenarios
  • Outline of Course Content 1. Introducing ethics and morality - what are they and why do they matter? What is the foundation for a Christian ethical system? 2. God is the God of peace - War and Peace, which is right for a Christian? 3. God calls us to be stewards of creation - caring for the world 4. Go forth and multiply - abortion, reproductive technologies.
  • 5. The right to end life - euthanasia, capital punishment 6. What does it mean to be human - the use of genetic technology in extending and changing life 7. God made them male and female - sexual identity, what of homosexuality, can you be a gay Christian? 8. Christians and politics - should all Christians vote for the same party or agenda?
  • Scott Rae Moral Choices
  • John S. Feinberg, Paul D. Feinberg Ethics for a Brave New World, 2nd Edition
  • Introduction: What is ethics and why study it?
  • The assistant at the store forgot to charge you for one of the CDs you purchased. You realize this as you are walking out of the store. You look back to the register, there is already a long queue. You think: - this wasn't your mistake - maybe something like this will teach the clerk to be more careful. - you think about how hungry you are and that the money just "saved" could feed you nicely. What will you do?
  • On a Sunday night you realise that you forgot to do your ethics assignment which is due to be handed in the next day. The assignment is not long, but is hard and requires good thought and preparation. You start to do the assignment. A friend offers you their completed assignment to copy/ adapt before class. What will you do?
  • What are ethics? What are morals? Is there a difference between morals and ethics?
  • One person suggested this way of distinguishing morals and ethics: Morals are the rules that we obey (created by ourselves, the Bible etc.) Ethics are about the reasons for the rules, our understanding of the principles underlying the rules, and from which the rules are created
  • Being simplistic about it we might say that, “Morals are about what you do and ethics are about why you do things”
  • It is worth remembering that… “Terms like ethics and morals / morality are often used synonymously” People use them to mean the same thing - so be careful you know what the person you are reading means by them!
  • Ethics is… “the process of determining right and wrong,” Scott Rae, Moral Choices This definition could be used by an unbeliever as well as a Christian. To be a little more advanced…
  • Is this is a better definition for Christians? Ethics is… “theology, viewed as a means of determining which human persons, acts, and attitudes receive God’s blessing and which do not.” John Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life Based upon the covenant of God’s grace; the believer has been brought into relationship with God, a relationship that brings about obligations to love God and to keep his commandments.
  • Morality is… “the end result of ethical deliberation, the substance of right and wrong,” Scott Rae, Moral Choices A satisfactory definition, but there is nothing distinctively Christian about it.
  • Again this might be a better definition… “Morality is the end result of the process of “determining which human persons, acts and attitudes receive God’s blessing and which do not.” John Frame
  • Can Christians drink alcohol?
  • Can Christians drink alcohol? How did you reach your conclusion?
  • Can Christians drink alcohol? How did you reach your conclusion? Scott Rae suggests the following model for making ethical decisions.
  • 1. Gather the facts - what do we know, what do we need to know in order to make an intelligent decision? 2. What are the ethical issues? For example are the actions right or wrong, good or bad - what affect will actions have on other people?
  • 3. What principles are involved - often for us this means, what does the Bible say? It might also include what do the laws of the country say? It may include values you have/hold. And then you must decide which are most important.
  • 4. What are the alternatives - what actions can be taken? Be creative in your thinking (even though some will immediately be rejected) 5. How do the alternatives and principles match up? Often certain principles are imptortant and therefore exclude some alternatives
  • 6. Are there important consequences? These will be +ve and -ve, and some might be thought of as more important than others. 7. Make a decision - often a decision has to be made even with some difficulties or -ve consequences
  • Possible Options for Christians: 1. Moderation: You can drink, just don’t get drunk.
  • Possible Options for Christians: 1. Moderation: You can drink, just don’t get drunk. 2. Abstaining: You are allowed to drink, but it is best that you decide not to.
  • Possible Options for Christians: 1. Moderation: You can drink, just don’t get drunk. 2. Abstaining: You are allowed to drink, but it is best that you decide not to. 3. Prohibited: Drinking alcohol is a sin and must therefore be avoided.
  • Applying Rae’s model: A case study This has been adapted from Rae’s original. It is about medical ethics.! - 67 year old Indian woman diagnosed with a form of cancer which is usually treated by chemotherapy.! - at admission she is fully competent and able to make her own decisions! - she knows something is wrong with her and appears fearful and anxious about what getting well might involve.
  • - she lives with her son! - the family appear happy! - the son has taken responsibility for her as her husband has died! - the son translates for her! - the son wants her to know the minimum about the treatment as he fears she will give up on life and resign herself to dying! - the son is strongly motivated by cultural and family values
  • - The patient does not know her full diagnosis or the full effects of the chemotherapy! - she knows she is sick and treatment will make her feel sick as well as losing her hair! ! You are the doctor - what would you do? ! - Follow the family’s wishes (based on their culture)?! - Decide the patient needs to know what is happening - tell her even if it increases her fear (and alienates you from the family)
  • 1. Gather the facts - go back over the information given and write down all the facts.
  • 2. Determine ethical issues ! Balancing patient autonomy and giving consent for treatment versus what a caring family think is best for the patient.! In such a situation nurses are bound by what the doctor decides - yet they balance obedience to the doctor / the patients integrity / giving informed consent.
  • 3. Determine what values / principles have a bearing on the case! - the right of the patient to give informed consent; chemotherapy is very invasive, they have a legal right to know and control what happens to their body.! - the obligation of the medical team to act in the patients best interest; do good for the patient and act with compassion
  • - respect for the family’s wishes and culture. Does the doctor simply act as if they know best?! The family may think they are taking some of the burden for their mother by making the decisions and not telling her everything.! The law regarding informed consent must be applied, and nursing staffs obedience to doctors
  • 4. List the alternatives! - try to convince the family of the seriousness of the treatment and why she needs to know! - call an ethics committee conference to discus the case and try to convince the family to tell her! These two options should be discussed prior to any further treatment.! - override the family’s wishes and tell the patient of her condition and the treatment
  • - continue to follow the family’s wishes, the son continues to translate and she knows no more! - wait for the patient to ask questions about treatment and then encourage her to ask very direct questions of her family and doctor! - bring in another translator and ask the woman if she wants to know the details of all that is happening
  • 5. Compare the alternatives with the virtues / principles! - initially try to pursue all possibilities of talking with the family and the doctors trying to get them to disclose the information themselves! - if above is unsuccessful you can either withhold or disclose information to the patient! - use another translator and tell the patient / ask if she wants to know full details of what is going
  • - she can make it clear at this time she wants her son to make the decisions for her! - if she chooses to know then it is her who is challenging the culture, yet she retains her dignity and has full information! - if nurses are unhappy with what is happening the most viable option is probably for them to request to be removed from the case
  • 6. Consider the consequences! If you disclose the information directly possible consequences include;! - family feel alienated, cultural values have been violated! - family may take patient to another hospital! - patient may “give up”! - patient might be happy they are finally being told the truth
  • If you continue withholding information possible consequences include;! - patient continues to be fearful and anxious about the treatment! - patient finds out somehow and trust is compromised! - family are happy cultural values are being respected
  • If you ask the patient if she wants to know through another translator, possible consequences include;! - family are unhappy at disrespect for their cultural values! - patient gets to speak for herself and make own decisions! - she can choose to let her son continue making the decisions, both law and culture are satisfied here! - patient will be relieved as she knows her wishes have been respected
  • 7. Make a decision! - how far should we go in respecting culture, is it in the patients best interest, is she respected as an individual?! Rae suggests, “Here it seems the alternative that involves asking the patient if she wants to know the details of her situation satisfies most of the virtues and values at stake and produces the best balance of consequences too.”
  • Review questions 1. How are ethics important in business, politics and medicine? 2. How would you distinguish between ethics and morality? 3.What are descriptive, normative, metaethics and aretaic ethics? 4.When a moral assessment is made what should be considered? 5. How would you describe the relationship of morality and the law?
  • Review questions 1. How are ethics important in business, politics and medicine? 2. How would you distinguish between ethics and morality? 3.What are descriptive, normative, metaethics and aretaic ethics? 4.When a moral assessment is made what should be considered? 5. How would you describe the relationship of morality and the law?