ETHICS is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions of right and wrong. Is it wrong to lie, cheat, and steal? Why? In formulating our moral theories, do we look at the rules, the person's character, the consequences of an action, the relationships of the people involved, the person's duty, our own conscience? Or is it a combination of factors?
After ethicists work out the thorny issues of right and wrong, the next problem is determining what to do with people who choose to perform bad acts. This takes us to theories of punishment. Two competing philosophies today are retributive and utilitarian theories. The retributive theory states that a person who breaks the rules should be punished according to what is deserved. The bad act has disturbed the balance between individual rights and the good of society. Punishment, therefore, is needed to restore justice. The utilitarian theory states that punishment should be handed down according to the consequences it will have for all involved. Rather than look to the past and the bad act committed, the utilitarian looks to the future and whether the punishment will yield positive effects.
In 1989, Pete Rose was officially banished from baseball by Commissioner Bart Giamatti for betting on the Cincinnati Reds while he was managing the team. Because of his lifetime ban, he was not enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Since then, almost everyone interested in baseball has weighed in with an opinion. Harvard University even held a mock trial in the