Ethics is a branch of philosophy that defines the concepts of right and wrong within society. The ethics defined by various societies are more or less the same. The concept is simple however since each human being is different from the other hence it can be a cause of conflict at times. Ethics and aesthetics both are the sub-branches of the branch of philosophy called Axiology. The concept of ethics is largely based on the culture and religion of a society.
Short and Long Essay on Ethics
Essay 1 (300 words)
The term ethics has been derived from the Ancient Greek word Ethos that means habit, custom or character. This is what ethics are in real sense. A person’s habits and character speak volumes about the ethical values he/she possesses. In other words, a person’s ethical values define his character. We are all told as to what is good and what is bad based on the ethical norms set by society.
The Philosophy of Ethics
The philosophy of ethics is deeper than it appears on the surface level. It is divided into three areas. These are normative ethics, applied ethics, and meta-ethics. Here is a brief look at these three categories:
Normative Ethics: It deals with the content of moral judgment. It analyses the questions that spring up while considering how to act in different situations.
Applied Ethics: This category analyses the norms set about the way a person is supposed to or rather allowed to behave in a given situation. It deals with controversial topics such as animal rights and nuclear weapons.
Meta-Ethics: This field of ethics questions how we understand the concept of right and wrong and what all we know about it. It basically looks at the origin and fundamental meaning of the ethical principles.
While the ethical realists believe that individuals realize ethical truths that already exist, ethical non-realists, on the other hand, are of the opinion that individuals explore and invent ethical truths on their own. Both have their own arguments to back their opinions.
Most people blindly follow the ethics defined by society. They stick to habits that are considered good as per the ethical norms and refrain from indulging in those that are considered to break these norms. However, there are some who question these values and go by what they think is right or wrong.
Essay 2 (400 words)
Ethics are defined as moral principles that describe the norms of good and bad and right and wrong. As per French Author, Albert Camus, “A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world”.
Types of Ethics
Ethics has broadly been classified into four different categories. Here is a brief look at these:
Duty Ethics: This category associates ethics with religious beliefs. Also known as deontological ethics, these ethics categorize behaviors and act as being right or wrong. People are expected to act as per them to fulfill their duty. These ethics are taught to us from the very beginning.
Virtue Ethics: This category relates ethics to a person’s personal behavior. It focuses on a person’s moral values, the way he thinks and the kind of character he bears. Virtue ethics are also embedded in us since our childhood. We are taught what is right and wrong even though there is no logic behind it in many cases.
Relativistic Ethics: As per this, everything is equal. Each individual has the right to analyze the situation and form his own version of right and wrong. The advocates of this theory strongly believe that what may be right for one person may not be correct for the other. Also what is correct in certain situations may not be appropriate in the other.
Consequential Ethics: During the Age of Enlightenment, there was a quest for rationalism. This category of ethics is associated with that quest. As per this ethical theory, the outcome of an individual’s behavior determines the wrongness or rightness of his behavior.
Ethics Differ in Different Cultures
As per some, ethics are the values that must be taught since childhood and that one must strictly abide by them. A person who defines these are considered to be ethically wrong. Some people are quite rigid about following the ethical codes. They constantly judge others based on their behavior. On the other hand, there are people who are flexible about the same and believe that these can be altered to some extent based on the situation.
Now, the basic code of conduct and ethics expected from individuals is almost the same across nations. However, there may be certain ethical behaviors that may be right as per certain cultures but not accepted in others. For instance, in Western countries, women have the freedom to wear any kind of dress they want but in many of the eastern countries wearing short dresses is considered ethically wrong.
There are various schools of thought that have their own versions of ethics. Many people go by the norms of right and wrong others make their own version.
Essay 3 (500 words)
Ethics defines the way a person should behave in any given situation. They are embedded in us from our childhood and almost every decision we make in our life is largely influenced by our ethical values. A person is considered good or bad based on his/ her ethical conduct.
Ethics hold immense importance in both our personal and professional life. A person who holds high ethical values truly believes in them and follows them would be much more sorted as compared to those who follow the set ethical norms but do not really believe in the same. Then, there is yet another category of people - those who do not believe in the ethical norms and thus do not follow them. These may be a cause of disruption of peace in the society.
Importance of Ethics in Our Personal Life
The minds of the people are conditioned as per the accepted moral and ethical values existent in the society they are brought up in. The importance of ethics cannot be undermined. A child needs to be taught what behavior is accepted in society and what is not from the very beginning in order for him to live in harmony with society. This system has basically been put in place so that people know how to act right and maintain peace and harmony in society.
Taking decisions becomes easier for people as the right and wrong have already been defined. Imagine if the right doings and wrongdoings were not defined, everyone would act as per their will based on their own versions of right and wrong. This would make things chaotic and give rise to crime.
Importance of Ethics in Our Professional Life
Maintaining ethical conduct is extremely important in the workplace. Besides the basic ethics and values defined by the society, every organization determines its set of ethical values. Every individual working in that organization must follow them to maintain the code of conduct. Some examples of common ethical codes set by organizations can be to treat employees fairly, deal with honesty, never leak the company’s inside information, respect your co-workers and if something appears wrong with the company’s management or some employee it must be addressed politely and directly rather than creating unnecessary issue about the same.
Setting these workplace ethics helps in the smooth functioning of the organization. Any employee seen violating the ethical code is issued warning letter or penalized in different ways based on the severity of the issue.
In case of the absence of the set ethical codes in an organization, things are likely to become chaotic and unmanageable. It is thus essential for every organization to set these norms. Ethical codes in an organization do not only help in ensuring a good work environment but also teach the employees how to deal with the clients in different situations.
A company’s ethical code basically echoes its core values and responsibilities.
Setting an ethical code for the society as well as at workplaces and other institutions is essential. It helps people recognize what is right and what is wrong and encourages them to behave the right way.
Essay 4 (600 words)
Ethics is defined as a system that determines what is right or wrong. This system has been built to ensure the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. A person possessing high ethical values is the one who conforms to the ethical norms set by society without questioning them.
Ethics Vs Morals
Ethics and moral values are usually used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two. While ethics are the standards set by the culture one follows, the society one dwells in and the organization one works in to ensure that a person behaves righteously, moral values, on the other hand, are embedded in a person’s behavior and define his character.
Ethics are based on external factors. For instance, women in the Middle-Eastern culture are required to cover themselves from head to toe. In certain middle-eastern countries, they are not allowed to work or even go out without being accompanied by a man. If a woman tries to challenge this norm, she is considered to be ethically wrong. Ethical behavior is also set based on a person’s profession. For instance, doctors, policemen, and teachers are expected to behave in a certain manner to fulfill their professional duty. They cannot go against the ethical code set for them.
The moral values of a person are mainly influenced by his culture and the family atmosphere. These are the principles he creates for himself. These principles define his character and he takes his personal decisions based on these. While the ethical code one is expected to follow may vary based on the organization he works with and the society he lives in, the moral values of a person remain the same throughout. However, certain events in a person’s life may change his beliefs and he may imbibe different values based on the same.
How Are Ethics and Moral Values Related to Each Other?
As mentioned above, ethics are imposed on us by society and moral values are our own understanding of what is right and what is wrong. These are closely related to each other. An individual whose moral values match the ethical standards set by society is considered to have high moral values. For instance, a man who respects his parents and obeys everything they say visits the temple daily gets back home on time and spends time with his family is said to have good moral values.
On the other hand, an individual who may not be religiously inclined, may question what his parents say based on logic, hang out with friends and return late from the office may be considered to be one with low moral values as he does not conform to the ethical code set by the society. Even if this person is not harming anyone or is not doing anything wrong he would still be considered one with low morals. While this may not be so in every culture but in India people are judged based on such behavior.
The conflict between Moral Values and Ethics
At times, people are caught between their moral values and the defined ethical code. While their moral values may stop them from doing something, the ethical code set by their profession might require them to do so. For instance, the corporate culture these days is such that you may be required to have a drink or two to build PR during the official parties. While it is alright as per the ethical code of the organization and may even be required at times to maintain relations with the clients, a person’s moral values may suggest him to do otherwise.
Ethical codes are set to ensure peace and harmony in society. However, these must not be blindly passed on from generation to generation. This is because what may be right during one age or culture might not be appropriate when applied to another.