How do we distinguish between ethical issues and nonethical issues? Daily living most likely does not consist of moving from one ethical decision to the next. There is much that is nonethical. The nonethical refers to our preferences as long as those preferences do no harm. McCullough, Wilson, Rhymes, and Teasdale in chapter 16 talk about Mrs. G's decision to go to a nursing home. There are a number of decisions she must make with reference to this. These include (1) whether to sell her home, (2) what personal possessions to take to the nursing home, (3) whether to ask for a single or double room, (4) what activities she will engage in while there, and (5) with whom she will form relationships. Each of these decisions is based on personal preference, and as long as one's preference does not violate the rights of others, it is not defined as a part of the ethical realm. However, we see in this case that the daughter has objections. She believes that her mother's plans are not in her mother's best interest. If disagreement ensues, then ethics comes into the picture. Therefore, ethics is not an absolute criterion that we use to sort attitudes and behaviors. It is an interpretive response to a situation as a consequence of a conflict of interest as to what is right either within the individual or between or among individuals no matter what their status. Therefore, we may expect that such conflicts will trigger the need for ethics. On the other hand, consensus precludes the need for ethical decision making. McCullough, Wilson, Rhymes, and Teasdale speak to this separation between conditions for nonethical decisions and ethical decisions in chapter 16.
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