University of Makeni Sustainable Enterprise – 2 Leadership and environmental ethics Ethical leadership

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Ethics and religion

For many people, ethics and ethical judgements are based on a religious belief.

However religion is not a basis for arriving at consistent standards of ethics, any more than the law is.

To illustrate the point:

A particularly dangerous implication arising from mixing decision-making with religion is the one which provides the decision-maker with a sort of safety net if everything goes wrong.

"God will be my judge..."

For people who are not religious, or who have a different religious faith to decision-maker, these words are a little disturbing in the context of ethical decision-making.

Whose god? Your god? My god? Their god? All gods? The good gods? The collective gods committee?

And when? When will god be judging this decision? While the decision is being made? Before the decision is implemented? Immediately after the decision's implementation (when on Earth some serious monitoring, checking and managing needs to be happening)? Far into the future when the decision-maker has expired and gone to whatever version of heaven his (it's generally a man) particular faith promises him?

The inference is the latter of course. A bit bloody late in other words.

And by what criteria will god be judging the decision? To whose and with precisely what standards are we being asked to agree here?

And what will be the results of god's decision, especially if it's a mighty god-like thumbs down? What are god's contingencies for putting it all straight again?

It's anyone's guess.

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