“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is right to do.” – Potter Stewart

Sample Answer


To protect dignity, honour and autonomy of individuals, certain rights are guaranteed.


We have the right to do things which are:

  • Naturally endowed to us as human beings
  • Constitutional and legal
  • Moral – does not harm others.

However, the right things to be done are the one that:

  • Focus on one’s duty
  • Actively benefits others
  • Protects the rights of others.
  • Strengthen fundamental values like empathy, perseverance etc
  • Strengthen social ecosystem – fraternity, social cohesion etc
  • Increase the reputation and honour of one’s institution. Eg: CSR, probity, transparency etc

Our rights are to protect us. However, ‘right things to do’, protects everyone.

We have the right to use electricity the way we want to as long as we are paying the bill. However, one must consider using lesser electricity in the interest of environment and poor.

Doctors may refuse to treat accident victims without a police report. But in the interest of saving the life of the patient and reputation of the Doctor’s community, he must consider the treating him.


The right thing to do can also be judged by the “Veil of ignorance” concept of by John Rawls; Ganghiji’s talisman; Kant’s Categorical imperative etc.

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