Ethics, as a core value of Rotary, can be found in the Four-Way-Test, a guiding set of four principles by which Rotarians conduct their service to the community. These can be viewed as a unifying set of values, purpose and principles.
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Paul Rogers, a member of the Kurrajong North Richmond Rotary Club, spoke to Erina Rotarians recently on the topic of Ethics in Rotary. Paul was kind enough to provide some extra reflection on ethics as a branch of philosophy, and where ethics and morality have a role to play in our everyday lives.
According to Paul, ethics is a branch of philosophy that tries to answer the question: “What should I do?”. It’s a process of reflection in which people’s decisions are shaped by their values, principles, and purpose rather than unthinking habits, social conventions, or self-interest. Values, principles and purpose give us a sense of what is good, right and meaningful in our lives, and serve as a reference point for all the possible courses of action we might choose. Based on this definition, an ethical decision is one made based on reflection about the things we think are important and consistent with those beliefs.
Morality, suggests Paul, is helpful for people as it provides a coherent and consistent account, refined over time, that can be applied to people’s day to day lives. many people inherit their morality from family, community or culture – a process that is unconscious. But the challenge here is that if we inherit a ready-made answer to the question of how we should live, it’s possible to apply it to our lives without ever assessing whether the answer is satisfactory or not.