Ethics Demystified

Understanding the ethical lens inventory™

Mention that you are interested in learning how people become ethically mature and people will give you lots of advice… often not useful. Many believe that they learned everything that they need about ethics and morals as kids, so they don’t need any more training. However, just like learning addition doesn’t give us enough math to function in an adult world, the beginning truths of “don’t hit your sister” and “don’t lie” don’t provide us with enough guidance to know what to do in complex situations. Many will say that they “just know” what to do. Unfortunately, our gut is not very good at helping us explain to others why a particular course of action is better than another. Self-knowledge and thoughtful reflection help us find the right words to explain our positions and influence a course of action. Many will say that every problem has only one right answer — and we should know that answer. If that were so, we would not have so many laws and over 5,000 years of conversation about how one should act in community. If all the answers were self evident, few would make terrible and often unintentional errors of judgment that call their ethics into question. And, finally, every person knows they are ethical — just ask. Yet, as we look around, ethics scandals abound. With a cocked eyebrow we judge each other’s ethics but not our own. We often find that the other person is ethically deficient and we are just fine. And we have this niggling question: why, when so many say they are ethical, do we have so many problems? Is the problem due to human nature — no one can claim to be ethical and there is no hope? Or is there a more basic problem, one of definition? What do we mean by ethics? And exactly how do we determine what actions are — or are not — ethical? The Ethical Lens Inventory (ELI) is a tool to help you answer those questions and to help you become more aware about your own values. As you understand...