Initially, I began my research on theoretical approaches to ethics by looking at the word - "ethics". I discovered that the word derives from the Greek word "ethos" meaning "character" and from the Latin word "mores" meaning "custom". Together, they combine to define how individuals choose to interact with one another.
Purely because of the contrast in ideologies, I decided to research further the ideas of the consequentialist and deonotology approaches to ethical dilemmas.
"Three British sailors were adrift in a lifeboat on the open ocean, without water and dying of thirst. One of the three was near death and his comrades killed him and drank his blood. The two survivors were later rescued and charged with murder. The reluctant cannibals were sentenced to prison instead of death due to the extraordinary circumstances of their crime. The response of some of my classmates to this nautical horror story was almost as distressing as the act of cannibalism."
"While trekking in the Andes you come across a guerrilla leader who has captured 20 local villagers. The guerrilla says if you will shoot one hostage he will let the other 19 go free. If you refuse to shoot, he will kill all 20. In the thought experiment the guerrilla leader is telling the truth and you have only two choices: to shoot, or to refuse. Choose to shoot, and you are a consequentialist, motivated by saving the 19 innocent people. Choose to refuse, and you are a deontologist, motivated by the fact that it is always wrong to kill an innocent person".
The deontologist would argue that it was the guerrilla that shot the villagers. The consequentialist would argue that this was selfish and that one person losing his life meant that 19 lived.
From researching both approaches, I really don’t know what I would do faced with this dilemma - I think I would just ask them to kill me!!!
Applying set ethical principles to my role as a dance teacher is difficult and I totally agree with Nicole Carman who in her blog on Consequentialism writes:
"If I look at the concept of Consequentialism within my profession, would I ever tell a student he/she could not be in a dance performance because she was not as technically strong as the other dancers and was letting the group and the overall vision and concept of the piece be compromised because of this. I personally could not live with the fact that although the piece would look stronger, one child would be left feeling inadequate and isolated... The complete opposite to why I think participation in dance is beneficial. I understand that utilitarianism maximises the overall happiness but at what cost?"
Applying the Deontolgist approach to my practice, the principle of an action being either right or wrong regardless of consequences, would prove difficult in some scenarios. For example, we have a Santa that comes and gives out presents to the children at the dance school Christmas party - could I tell a child that there was no such thing as Father Christmas? The Deontologist would say I was lying to the children.
I believe that you should always look at the consequences of your actions and be able to give an account for the decision you have made, both morally and ethically.
Ethics certainly has proved to be a fascinating subject, I have changed my mind so many times about my own ethics with each scenario researched.
Ethics certainly does have an important place in the dance class. I truly believe for me it will never be just black or white, butI will strive to evaluate the consequences of all of my actions within the class.