On your way to work, you decide to stop at a local café for a cup of coffee. After handing the cashier a $10 bill, she mistakenly gives you change as if you paid with a $20. You have no legal obligation to return the money. What do you do? Is there a moral obligation to notify the cashier or return the money?


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Answer: The egoist perspective holds that individuals have the ethical “right” to act in their own self-interest without regard for the consequences to others (Schubert, 60). Therefore, in this scenario, the egoist would believe it is “right” to keep the extra change given by the cashier in error.


What if you were not on your way to work, but on your way to look for a job, having been involuntarily unemployed for over eleven months. The extra money could definitely come in handy. Does the moral obligation (if any) change? How do we decide what is correct behavior and what is wrong behavior?



The preceding two questions can be answered differently depending on which viewpoint of morality you are using for the analysis.




When you complete this module, you should be able to:


Identify ethics as a branch of philosophy that studies morality.
Apply to egoist perspective to an ethical scenario.
Evaluate facts in a hypothetical legal scenario.
Apply case and statutory law based on ethical analysis.


Chapter II (pp. 52-88)


In this chapter, we will explore the relationship between law, the legal system, and ethics. The study of ethics concerns itself with morality; that is, what conduct is right and what conduct is wrong. Ethics is a branch of philosophy, and this chapter discusses the various schools of thought on morality.

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