Reality Ethics


Course Description

E17. Reality Ethics, 3 CE hours, $21

Description: In reality ethics, right and wrong is defined by reason that is supported by an argument based on an authority.

Objectives: At the end of this course, you will have the skills to: 1) suggest ethical decisions to problems and 2) determine the basis and authority for them as ethical decisions.

Course Exam

Study this web-site for 3 hours for an approved 3-hours Continuing Education Certificate (0.3 CEUs). Click here for the self-correcting test & online payment, and 2) receive your certificate immediately online. All is online, nothing by post-mail.

“What is usually the right thing to do?”

Consider the following four opinions:

  • “We cannot afford that much help.”
  • “The more we give, the more we get”
  • “People should forgive people”
  • “We can never forgive the Nazis”

To deal with reality ethics, you need to find the answers to these questions:

  1. What action do you propose?
  2. Is this action ethical? YES, NO
  3. On what basis is it ethical? EndRight, RuleRight, CareRight?
  4. By what authority is it ethical?

1. What action do you propose?

One short way to define ethics is to call it the study of right and wrong. Ethics seeks answers to questions like “What is the right things to do in a given situation? (action)” and “What is good behavior?” (motive, consequence) and “What do I value?:, What is virtuous?” (character). For a review of the basics of ethics, see the Ethical Choices Module. Ethics is useful in fostering individual and societal development and reducing human problems, suffering and conflicts.

In ethics, right and wrong is defined by conscience or reason, while in religion right and wrong is defined by a religious authority. In ethical relativism and in etiquette, the proper or improper action is defined by society. In reality ethics, right and wrong is defined by reason that is supported by an argument based on an authority.

After reading each case below, suggest an action solution that seems ethical to you. Be specific, giving answers to who, what, when, where, why and how, if possible.

2. Is this action ethical? YES, NO

Examine your suggested action solution, divide it into a number of action steps, and determine if all parts of the action are ethical. Again give answers to who, what, when, where, why and how to each part of the action.

3. On what basis is it ethical? EndRight, RuleRight, CareRight?

Determine if your suggested action solution is on the basis of EndRight (the end justifies the means), RuleRight (act from duty by the rules), CareRight (act to help and care), or on a combination of two or three. The definitions and use of these are found in the Ethical Choices module.

4. By what authority is it ethical?

Present resources that back up your ethical solution from at least two types of authorities, such as social science research, law, policy or Bible. Explain and reason out the connection between the case and the authority statements. Some help may be found at


5. How will you deal with these 20 cases?

Some of the following cases are controversial, others are not. Deal with the major ethical issue in each case. Use each of the above four steps to deal with the following cases. Use the given Case Worksheet. The first case is given as a short example of what should be done. Do this for yourself but do not email this in.

Case Worksheet:

Case No ___
a. Suggested solution___________________________________
b. Check if the who__, what__, when___, where___, why___ and how___ of it is ethical.
c. The solution is ethical on the basis of EndRight__, RuleRight__, CareRight__. Explain_____.
d. The solution is ethical by the authority of _______________________________________ and ____________________________________________________________________________.

5.0 Case Worksheet Example

Case: Marrying a person of another race.
Petro from Nigeria and Miss Lee from Vietnam.

a. Suggested solution: People of different races may marry.
b. Who: a male and a female who are compatible. What: a legal marriage. When: if the society around them accepts/permits/supports it or they are willing to move to a society that does so. If the society around them hurts/kills them, they may choose to live somewhere else. Where: In a court of law, church or home. Why: there is no prohibition against it. How: in a normal fashion.
c. The solution is ethical on the basis of EndRight. The making of families is the way to continue society and the way to building families is marriage.
d. The solution is ethical by the authority of the civil laws of the United States and Bible teaching on marriage as found in Gen 2:24, Pr 18:22, 1Tim 3:12, 1Tim 5:14, Heb 13:4 (and forbidden inter-faith marriages as found in Ge 24:3, 28:1, Dt 7:3, Jos 23:12, Ezr 9:12, Ne 13:25.)

The Cases

5.1 Estimating mileage for mileage expense reports.
98 miles v. 97.8 miles.

5.2 Not following a law (speed-limit) that very few observe.
69 miles/hr. v. 65 miles/hr.

5.3 Exchanging a off-day for a work-day without the permission of the employer.
Working Sunday instead of Friday.

5.4 Using part of your personal church tithe to support a lay minister.
6% for church and 4% for Israel missionary.

5.5 Keeping a past infidelity from your spouse.
A sexual misconduct 3 years before marriage.

5.6 Keeping a past dishonesty on that job from your employer.
A false expense report of $22 some 5 years ago.

5.7 Getting very rich while your brother stays very poor.
$2,000,000 v. $600.

5.8 Joining a society that protects the lives of all animals.
The Animal Rights International.

5.9 Spending all savings on your church rather than children’s education.
For church $8,000, for 3 children’s education $80 in one year.

5.10 Ordained Infidelity: Roger, a minister of 20 years, had been unfaithful to his wife when he first entered the ministry and now told Rick, his best friend and fellow-minister about it. Roger’s wife knew and had decided to stay with him. Roger asked Rick to keep it quiet. Rick, as a minister, was obliged to report things like this to his church denomination. (68)

5.11 Church Office Candidate: Henry was nominated as an elder of the church at the church nominating committee. That night the pastor received a phone call from a church-member who told him that Henry had struggled with homosexuality and had been dismissed from a pastorate some 15 years ago. The pastor, without further action, asked the nominating committee to take Henry’s name off the candidate list. (90)

5.12 Bad Investment: George was treasurer of the King Outdoor Center that was building an addition. Hoping to make the funds go further, he invested, without telling anyone, $100,000 in the KML company that he was sure would return to him $300,000 within 3 months. Within 3 months, KML went bankrupt. George apologized to the King Outdoor Center for bad judgment. (112)

5.13 Stealing Dues: At the meeting of the synagogue, an offering was take for scholarships. Jean, the treasurer stole some of it and was discovered when the president placed especially marked bills into the offering. The theft was reported and Jean spent 6 month in jail. Jean said that she would never come back. (120)

5.14 Crisis Pregnancy: Wanda, age 19, who lived at home, got pregnant but refused to tell her parents. She planned to get an abortion. But she first confided in her aunt, asking her not to tell anyone. (126)

5.15 Out of Jail: Paul phoned his uncle to come and bail him out of jail. Paul promised to repay the money the next day. But he refused to tell his uncle what he was jailed for, and he refused to call his parents and seek their help. His uncle had the money and could do it. (141)

5.16 Messy Home: Sharon was 80 years old and had difficulty getting around. She could no longer keep her home orderly, but she refused to seek help. She just refused visitors and would sit with them outside. The unsatisfactory condition endangered her health. Her neighbor new about the situation but did not know what to do.

5.17 Global Village: Ester, age 40, was a single mother with 3 adopted children. She had a good job and provided well for her family. But when she learned about the poverty in India, she felt she needed to go there and help. It would be harder to provide a suitable education for her children, but she felt that living in a foreign country itself would be a great education. She new she could live there on much less. One day she came to discuss her plans with her elderly mother.

5.18 Incest Problem: Gloria, age 17, told her boyfriend that she may be pregnant by her stepfather. She asked him not to tell anyone. But her boyfriend was so troubled that he talked to his father about it. He was not directly involved, but he cared for her and knew that he may be suspected when her pregnancy became known.

5.20 Alcohol Troubles: Sylvia’s husband was an alcoholic who drank away most if his wages. He beat her and abused the children. Sylvia could take it no longer and so she left with her children. Her husband tried to have her come back but she refused. She got a divorce. Four years later she met a man whom she later married. Some of her family blame her for abandoning her husband and committing adultery.

Some of the above cases were adapted from Michael R. Milco’s Ethical Dilemmas in Church Leadership, Kregel Publications, 1997.

Further Reading

ERIC_NO: ED256076, Ethics: A Course of Study for Educational Leaders. by Kimbrough, Ralph B. 1985

ABSTRACT: This monograph provides readings in ethical thought and professional ethics in educational administration, supplemented by case studies illustrating ethical problems administrators face. Comments on the field of ethics and the importance of administrative ethics introduce the booklet, along with background information about the booklet and suggestions for its use. Three chapters present the bulk of the discussion.

First, obligations of administrators are identified, including legal obligations, “obligations of form,” commitment to professional excellence, avoiding conflict of interest, formality, justice, loyalty, prudence, and whistle-blowing; the need for a binding code of ethics is argued.

Second, traditional sources of moral values are discussed, including cynicism, hedonism, sophism, stoicism, and Machiavellianism; the idea of the “true believer” is also noted.

Third, conflicting strains of ethical thought, and their development and implications, are examined. The chapter covers the institutionalization and acceptance of moral philosophies, the exercise of pure reason, revelation as a source of ethics, naturalistic moral philosophies, ethical systems based on empirical study of society, experimentalism, logical positivism, utilitarianism, existentialism, and other moral philosophies.

Following a conclusion that summarizes the previous 3 chapters, appendixes present 18 case studies and the American Association of School Administrators’ code of ethics.

ERIC_NO: ED362249, Ethics in the Work Environment: Applied Bioethics in the Hospital for Delta’s Nursing Students. byPlackowski, Linda C., 1993

ABSTRACT: In 1979, Delta College, in Michigan, established a bioethics requirement for all nursing students. This paper describes a project to teach one of the required ethics course to local hospitals to observe students while they work and discuss ethical dilemmas as they arose.

Introductory sections discuss project rationale and procedures, indicating that the instructor accompanied students on their rounds, learned patients’ case histories, discussed ethical issues as they arose, and held discussion sessions at the end of each day.

The next section provides two case studies of student observations at the pediatric unit of a local hospital, detailing the ethical issues raised. The first describes an adolescent with cerebral palsy at the developmental level of 4 months which raised issues concerning the decision-making prerogative of nurses and whether a patient’s quality of life should be a criterion for treatment. The second addressed the question of whether a 1-month old infant decreasing in weight and head circumference was a victim of child abuse or neglect.

Next, three case studies of psychiatric patients at another hospital highlight the issue of medical staff or societal intervention, describing student interactions with a suicidal, depressed woman; a violent adolescent; and a young man with a history of substance abuse who continues to receive a substantial student grant. The final sections discuss the general success of the project in terms of student interaction and instructor enrichment.

Ethics Library

Explore your concerns in ethics at three of the following sites:


Study this web-site for 3 hours for an approved 3-hours Continuing Education Certificate (0.3 CEUs). Click here for the self-correcting test & online payment, and 2) receive your certificate immediately online. All is online, nothing by post-mail.

Recommendations for you: Visit the CARE ETHICS course at In this course you will be exposed to the ten modules dealing with ethical care, research ethics, palliative ethics, political ethics, codes of ethics, character education, golden rule ethics, conflict of interests, forgiveness and critical thinking.

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