The word Ethics has been derived from the Greek adjective “ethos”, which comes from “ethica”— which means custom, habits or usages.
Literally: The term ethics mean the science of customs and habits of men. It is the science of habitual conduct of man.
Ethics is science because it depends upon the observation, classification and explaination of human conduct. But it is normative science. Which means it only prescribes, what we ought to do. Doesn’t tell us the means to achieve moral life.
Ethics is the science of ideals of human life which are Truth, beauty and good.
Ethics is the science of human character expressed in right or wrong conduct.
Ethics is the science of rightness or wrongness in human actions.
Ethics is the science of higest good.
Ethics is the science of moral conduct of human being.
Ethics is the science of moral evaluation of voluntary actions.
So ethics is also called as Moral philosophy. Moral is derived from latin word “mores” – means customs or habits.
It depends on whether the usage applies to a society or to humankind.
Within a society, “ethics” refers to conduct according to the rules, which may be dictated by one person, such as the pope for the Roman Catholic believers. Popes profess precedence, but rarely constrain themselves. In other words, it’s social-ethics.
Within humankind, ethics is the journal of discovering how to constrain chaos on earth. That is to say, the record of humankind taking responsibility for peace on earth. The journal retains information about negative discovery so that the research proposal can be updated after the invention of new instruments of perception. The journal records the speculation that God controls everything yet admits that military power is mankind’s judge when chaos is tolerated. That is, government cannot usurp imagination’s domain: heaven and hell, reincarnation, and philosophy.
In other words, past imagination may have been worthy but unconfirmed with existing perceptions. For example, the earth has always hidden the sun each evening by rotating on its axis such that sunlight was directly behind the midnight location: that is, the sun does not rise each morning, as perceived nor does it traverse the sky during the day. Teaching that the sun sets and also rises is not worthy.
Wikipedia vaguely explains this in “Sunset, also known as sundown, is the daily disappearance of the Sun below the horizon due to Earth’s rotation.” By not negating the perception the sun-hiding is setting, Wikipedia limits its reliability as a journal of human-ethics. Similarly, Wikipedia has an excellent article God – Wikipedia. Yet it does not ascribe to humankind the responsibility for peace on earth through humble-integrity in appreciation of higher power. Perhaps the higher power is physics and its progeny including psychology or maybe its chaos itself. The widespread pursuit of God without the necessary specificity adds to human chaos. In other words, in dialogue, “God” is often bemusing because each party represents a different entity.
In general, ethics is about what you should or should not do. Saying that something is “unethical” basically means that it is seen as something one should not do. “Ethics” can be used more or less narrowly defined, however, so details follow.
Ethics as synonymous with morality
Ethics can often be more or less synonymous with “morality” or “morals”, in fact that is how I was taught when studying ethics in philosophy. Ethics/morality is about matters of right and wrong which are seen as being “objectively true” (not dependent on a convention). Let me explain…
There are many times we use the words “right and wrong” – such as to explain when something is right according to a set of rules in a game, right according to the law, or right according to etiquette. For instance, you could say that during a dinner at a certain place you are acting the right way if you do not burp openly. But that is a matter of etiquette, which means that the “right” behaviour can change when you change culture, time period, or just the members of the group that is gathered. Ethical/moral issues are generally considered to be about “objective” right and wrong – meaning that what is right and wrong is always so, and does not change. For instance, a common ethical/moral position is that it would be wrong to kill a person without a reason, regardless of which culture or place you are in. Or that it is unethical for companies to use child labour.
In this sense, ethics/morality is about judgments concerning what is universally/objectively (always and to all people) right and wrong. The type of right and wrong that does not depend on what authorities say – a dictator can change laws and etiquette, but cannot change what is ethical/morally right. So when a person says that something is ethically wrong/morally wrong, that person is saying that it should be ethically/morally wrong for everyone. Or at the very least, that person is expressing that they feel like it should be ethically/morally wrong for everyone, even if they are not recommending that everyone should feel the same way.
Given this meaning, when one person argues that a question is about ethics, there may be opposite views. Some see issues such as stem cell research as ethical issues because of religious beliefs, while others who do not hold these beliefs do not see the same ethical issues (but may have other issues). So even though a claim about something being ethically wrong means that the person who claims this believes this is the case, other people could have different views. This is because there are different views of what aspects count as moral/ethical aspects, with some claiming that only issues about fairness and not harming others are true, while others may claim that aspects such as following authorities or traditions are also about morality/ethics. (see psychological research on “Moral Foundations Theory” for example)
My personal experience is that the ground for claiming that one should not do something because it is unethical is usually a concern for others. Thus, ethical questions typically involve interactions between people (or other creatures/entities) and in these interactions some selfish or destructive behaviour would cause something bad to happen to somebody else. How this applies to religiously based ethics is another question.
The difference between ethics and morality
Often “ethics” is used to refer to codes of conduct or practical rules, such as talking about “business ethics”. Such use of ethics is about the practice of how people should act. Morality, on the other hand, is more about personal beliefs about how one should act and can be more abstract. The difference may vary, and some say that “morality” refer to beliefs held by individuals, while “ethics” concern practical behaviour and principles, which in turn can be based on personal moral beliefs. In practice this means that a person can be accused of being immoral, while companies are accused of acting unethically (for instance, if they cheat on taxes).
Ethics without the “objective” meaning
Some people seem to miss the difference between ethics and etiquette, and will refer to any sets of principles of how one should act as “ethical principles” even when these principles do not claim to be objective or universal in any sense. When people speak of “ethics” in this way, they should really just use expressions like “codes of conduct”, “informal rules” or “norms”.
Usages of “ethics”
“Ethics” can also refer to the philosophical study of ethics and morality.
“Business ethics” is a common usage, which often refers to commonly held principles of what kind of conduct is acceptable in a business setting and what is not.
Any group or gathering of people could potentially have a specific set of ethical principles, so that one could speak of “feminist ethics” or “work ethics.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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