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In this area discuss the following issue: Why do we need ethical theories?  How are ethical theories similar to, but different from, scientific theories? Why would informal principles such as the “golden rule” and “following one’s conscience” be inadequate for analyzing ethical issues? How does the example of the Video Privacy Protection Act (also known as the “Book bill”) illustrate the inadequacy of approaching a problem with a “band-aid fix” – i.e., from an approach that is neither comprehensive nor systematic?



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Ethical theories guide who we are as a person. It governs the laws and policies that determine right from wrong, good from bad etc. while giving us the security that if someone does action A, then they will be punished by consequence A. Ethical theories help run our lives even if we don’t know it and try to make it as safe an existence as possible. Without them we would be lost and have no laws, policies, order . . . just chaos. 

Scientific theories give us the opportunity to make a hypothesis and test it. If it works, we will get the same result every time and if not then we need to make adjustments. This is the major difference between ethical theories and scientific theories. If you test a “moral” issue this way and the outcome, even if it only happens once, comes out bad, then everyone believes its ok to do even though it produces a negative outcome. The line between right and wrong gets fuzzy at this point. 


Following the “golden rule” would not work in ethical issues because of the underlying issue of who the person is. A killer will justify killing, a stealer will justify stealing because it is who they are. Their “golden rule” will be different from ours and produce negative outcomes rather than positive ones that you and I may produce. This leaves the issue open to the persons own interpretation of the issue and names it right, which is not always the case. 

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