How to Make Ethical Decisions

atkins-bookshelf-culturePhilosophers have pondered and debated ethics — a set of moral principles to help answer the question: what is the right thing to do? — for centuries. Bruce Weinstein, known as Bloomberg’s “The Ethics Guy,” wanted to contribute to the ongoing discussion, eschewing the traditional, and many times complex and bewildering approaches utilized in the academe, to offer something simpler and more helpful. Inspired by psychologist Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence (1995) that focused on people’s ability to discern how others are feeling, and building on the foundation of Jeffrey Moses’s brilliant book, Oneness: Great Principles Shared by All Religions (2002) Weinstein published Ethical Intelligence: Five Simple Rules for Leading a Better Life. In his book, Weinstein presents five simple principles that form the core of “ethical intelligence” to help a person make the right choices — or at least better choices — in all areas of their lives.

The five principles of ethical intelligence are:
1. Do no harm
2. Make things better
3. Respect others
4. Be fair
5. Be loving

What makes these five principles notable, Weinstein believes, is that first, most people know these principles; and second, these principles form the bedrock of Eastern and Western religious traditions as well as secular societies. Weinstein writes: “The five principals of ethical intelligence are a framework, not a formula, for living honorably… [If] you make the five principles the foundation of your life, you’ll be able to solve the toughest problems everywhere you go.”

One can only wonder what the world would be like if powerful world and business leaders (and lobbyists that seem to influence these leaders) could put into practice at least half of these principles. It a challenge that is continuously handed down from one generation to the next — in the hope that one generation will actually succeed in maintaining a more ethical society.

Read related posts: What Do All Religions Have in Common? 
Religion vs Spirituality

For further reading: Ethical Intelligence by Bruce Weinstein, PHD, MJF Books (2011)
Oneness: Great Principles Shared by All Religions by Jeff Moses, Ballantine Books (2002)

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