What Ethics is not

Ethics is not morality

Because morality is defined as one’s own (individual, family, organisation/institution, society) standard for judging objects as right and wrong, while ethics is about universally established standards of human conduct.

Features of morality:

  1. Individual-oriented because depend upon the individual’s upbringing, conscience and psyche etc.
  2. Varies from person to person and society to society. (your values versus his values, Indian values versus Western values)
  3. Dynamic: It changes with changes in time, place and awareness of the same individual. (Change in the value of rural women regarding ghunghat)
Ground of DifferenceEthicsMorality
DefinitionSet of universal established standards of human behaviour.One’s standards of behaviour.
Dependent onOther’s perspectiveOne’s perspective
ConsistencyUniforms across the worldChanges person to person, society to society.
Religious connotationNo 
Root wordEthos = CharacterMoralis = Customs/traditions

Relation between ethics and morality 


Why one should be moral

  • Every human has a deep desire to be good/ happy/best/ Summam Bonum, and morality can help in aching his summam bonum.
  • As a human is a rational creature, that makes him aware of some logical, rational, fundamental principles that can help in achieving his summam bonum.
  • To prevent uncomfortably, remorse, depression, anxiety, dissonance, and social disapproval or boycott or sanctions.

Ethics are not values.

  • Values are standards of behaviour that may or may not be standard, which means they can vary from person to person, but in the case of ethics, there is a universally established standard of human conduct.
  • It should be noted that ethics is based on values, but every value is not ethical; for example, following caste rules may be a value for someone, but it is not ethical.
image 1

Ethics is not social norms.

  • Social norms are based on the customs and traditions of a particular society, which means they are not universal in nature. But some social norms can be ethical also, like respecting the elders.
image 2

Ethics is not religion.

  • Because religion is based on faith, where the scope of reasoning is limited more over religion is specific to the particular community, which deprives it of universality. But ethics is based on reason and universal in nature.
  • But religion precedes ethics; hence ethics draws most of the principles from religion itself.
Religion                                          Ethics draws Val     Values    .
Christianity Co      Compassion, forgiveness  
Jainism     Satya, Amhinsa, Asteya, Aprigraha  
Buddhism     The middle path, Appo deep Bhava  
Hinduism      Vasudhiav kutumkam, nishkam karma,       Satyameva jayate
Islam      Equality, brotherhood
image 3

Ethics is not the law.

  • Because the law is specific to society, but ethics is universal.
image 4

Relation between Law and Ethics

image 5
  • Generally, both law and ethics are in synch, but if there is a conflict between them, then preferences will be different for different persons; for example, a civil servant should prefer following the law because he is meant only for this more over preferring law over ethics will provide him legal protection in case of a mishap.
  • But on the other hand, a social reformer or a leader should prefer ethics over the law because it is desirable for a leader to question existing laws, systems, traditions, etc.
Online Counselling
Table of Contents
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar