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What Is the Connection between Critical Thinking and Ethics?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Critical thinking is a concept that is derived from the application of the cognition toward the separation of the most likely when one is presented with a set of possibilities, while ethics is used in reference to the perception of what is right or wrong in a defined situation. While ethical considerations have some areas of universal or global overlap, ethical practices and solutions to all problems are hardly universal, which is where the considerations of the connection between critical thinking and ethics are drawn. The application of critical thinking to a defined situation will enable an individual to make the right decisions as to the right ethical choices or principles to apply to a particular situation.

The connection between critical thinking and ethics is that there are no general hard and fast rules regarding the application of ethics in various situations, which is especially pertinent considering the fact that what may be ethical in one situation may be considered unethical in another context. Location and culture of the people involved also play a very important role in the determination of the exact ethical consideration to apply to a situation, a process that can be greatly enhanced by the application of critical thinking. An example of this can be seen in the practice of ethics in the business world where something that may be accepted in one culture may backfire in another.

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One example is the issue of the ethical recognition of the equality of women and men in the workplace, which is a practice that may not be particularly welcome in a society where women are culturally relegated to the background. In this situation, the application of critical thinking will allow the individual to weight the situation in order to come up with the best method for approaching such an ethical consideration in that context in relation to the manner in which the same individual would behave in an entirely different context.

A connection between critical thinking and ethics can be seen in the sense that the individual will have to think of several methods for approaching the issue of ethics, eliminating the most likely approach until he or she settles on that which will be the most acceptable for the situation. Another way of viewing the issue of the link between critical thinking and ethics is by considering the manner in which an individual can differentiate between his or her own personal ethical concepts and that of the organization. That is to say that people have their own ethical foundations that they must be able to categorize in a separate compartment from that of the organization.

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ZipLine
Post 3

I think critical thinking is most important when a decision about ethics has to be made and there isn't much time. People who have good critical thinking skills can analyze a situation and its consequences within a short time frame.

bear78
Post 2

@SteamLouis-- I don't entirely agree with you.

When there are two options where one option is clearly wrong and the other clearly right, it's easy to figure out what is ethical. But when all of the options are wrong or when all of the options are right, it becomes more difficult. The most difficult decision is choosing the lesser of two evils or the greater of two goods.

I agree with you that critical thinking and ethics go hand in hand. But I don't agree that ethics is always universal or always easy to determine.

SteamLouis
Post 1

I actually think that ethics is a fairly universal concept. I think that ethics varies from culture to culture only because people don't find what is ethical convenient sometimes. So they may do things that are unethical and argue that they are in fact ethical.

I personally believe that anyone with sound judgment and logically can think about an issue critically and discover what is the ethical thing to do in that situation. Unfortunately, some people prefer not to think and simply follow what others tell them.

I think that critical thinking and ethics are inseparable. Everyone ought to understand what is ethical and what is unethical after careful thinking on their part.

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