ETHICS :NOTES OF Subbarao and Spectrum

Subbarao and Spectrum ethics and integrity notes for revision


1. Ethics comes from Greek word “ethos” means character, habit, culture, etc.

2. Ethics is the study of human action from the point of view of its rightfulness or wrongfulness. 

3. Ethics is the science what human ought to be. It regulates and directs human life . It gives the right orientation to one’s existence

4. As a theory ethics provides the basic fundamental principles of moral judgment. As a practice it is concerned about end to be gained and the means of attaining it.

5. Ethics deals with voluntary actions of human means the actions done by human consciously, deliberately and in view of an end.

6. Thus, ethics is to help one to find what is good and how to get it. 

Role of Ethics:

1. In human behavior, ethics role is to decide how human must behave. 
2. In political and social life, ethics decides how human’s life and institution must be organized to be moral.
3. In economic life of human, ethics deals with those activities which are the conditions of the attainment of the highest end of life.

Importance of Ethics:

1. Self – realization 

 It helps a person to critically evaluate his /her actions, choices and decisions.
  It assists a person in knowing what he/she really is and what is best for him/her.
  This way it deepens the reflection of ultimate question of life.

2. Improves thinking, perspective and judgments 
 It improves our thinking about specific moral issues.
  It helps us to decide what should be correct course of actions and what should be avoided.

3. Deep desire for good 

4. To live a better life

Nature and scope of ethics (Essence of ethics):

Essence means intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of Ethics which determine its character. 

1. Types of principles:

First principle – It is self-evident, intuitively known by all, and cannot be deleted from human heart.

Secondary Principle- It is derived from first principles. It requires reflection.

Tertiary Principle-It requires study and discursive thoughts.

 All moral Principles are derived from self –evident principle. It is believed that there must be some
rule or law which enforces values and that is natural to human person, intuitively known. This is called MORAL INTUITIONISM.

 Moral consciousness is an integral part of Human consciousness. Human consciousness is a process
of becoming moral and aware of self. The more person become conscious and aware he/she more
becomes conscious about what he/ she should be. This leads the emergence of moral precepts or values.

2. Absolute VS Relative ethics:
 In evolutionary visions of human consciousness morality can be static and also dynamic. It is static
in completely evolved society and dynamic in more or less perfectly evolved society.
 So morality can be distinguished between absolute and relative ethics.
 Absolute ethics is an ideal code of conduct formulating the behavior of the completely adapted human person in the completely evolved society.
 Relative ethics is nearest approximation to this ideal according to the more or less perfectly evolved
society in which human person happens to find him/her.
 Moral intuitions are the slowly organized. They are results of experience received by the race. In other words an induction from experience handed down from one generation to the other ends up by becoming an instinctive moral reaction.

3. Legal and moral ethics:

 It is not necessary that something legal is obviously moral. Legal means allowed by state. For example capital punishment, abortion etc.

 It is important to remember that ethics and law are not the same.

 An action may be legal but unethical or illegal but ethical.

 We can also use ethical concepts and principles to criticize, evaluate, propose, or interpret laws.

 Indeed, in the last century, many social reformers urged citizens to disobey laws in order to protest
what they regarded as immoral or unjust laws. Peaceful civil disobedience was an ethical way of
expressing political viewpoints.

4. Morality VS Ethics:

 Although the words ethics and morality are often used interchangeably, morality is more precisely
used to refer to the customs, principles of conduct and moral codes of an individual, group or society.
 Ethics, also termed moral philosophy or the science of morals, is the branch of philosophy that studies
morality through the critical examination of right and wrong in human action.
 If morality were nothing more than commonsense or intuition, then why are there so many ethical disputes and issues in our society?
One plausible explanation of these disagreements is that all people recognize some common ethical
norms but different individuals interpret, apply, and balance these norms in different ways in light of
their own values and life experiences. Determinants of ethics in human action:
Determinants mean factors which decisively affect the nature or outcome of Ethics.
Ethics in human action is determined by two things:

Individual Factors:

 It includes knowledge, values, attitude and intention.
 These are shaped by the dominant moral philosophy which in turn impacts the actual decision-making process.

 The individual evaluates the outcomes of each behavioral alternative, determining the intrinsic rightness or wrongness (deontological) of each behavior. Or, individuals will attempt to assess
the relative good and bad (teleological) that will result from such behavior.

 These evaluations link back to inform and shape their personal experiences which in turn, in combination with cultural, industry and organization norms, influence the processes of ethical
perception and evaluation which appear at the beginning of the model. 

Situational factors:

 Significant others from the decision maker’s professional and private life can also shape an ethical decision.

 Finally, the opportunity to engage in unethical behavior, which relates to codes of ethics as well as rewards and punishments for ethical or unethical behavior, will impact the ethical decision

Thus, individual factor and cultural environment determines the ethics in human action.
Organization where a person works also plays a significant role in determining ethics.

Some other factors are:
1. Nature of action
2. Childhood upbringing
3. Later life experience4. Religious belief
5. Discussions with others
6. Moral philosopher
7. “A priori” truth, i.e. Like something that we have embedded in us as “knowledge”
8. Self – oriented interest
9. Society
10. Situation
11. God

GOD as determinant of Human Ethics:

Divine Command Theory: Morally good actions are good because they are commanded by God. Means:
 The source of morality is God.
 Something is good because it is God’s will.
 If one wants to lead good life one should do what is God’s will.
Now the question is why does God command those morally good actions?
Socrates’ answer is that God commands them because they are good. But if this is so, DCT must be wrong, because then there must be an independent standard of goodness that God uses to decide which
actions are good.
Plato concluded that God desires a thing because it is good. God’s will doesn’t make a thing good – the thing would be good regardless of God.
If we will avoid the problem of independent standard for morality , it will invite three new problems:

1. The problem of arbitrariness: According to divine command theory [ DCT] there is no standard on the basis of which god is deciding his will.

2. The problem of triviality : As DCT claims, God’s will is the source of goodness, to say God
is good-willed is just to say that God’s will is as he wills it to be.

3. The problem of abhorrent commands: DCT seems to entail that God could have commanded us to rape, murder, and pillage, and then those actions would have been good. But that seems
clearly false – those actions, surely, could never have been good.

Ethics’ keywords and definitions:

1. Absolute Ethics: It is an ideal code of conduct formulating the behavior of completely adapted
human person in completely evolved society.2. Relative Ethics: It is the nearest approximation to the ideal code of conduct according to more or
less perfectly evolved society in which a happen to find him /her.

3. Human consciousness: consciousness of an individual or a social being.

4. Moral consciousness: It is integral part of human consciousness.

5. Moral relativity: It is simply the view that different people especially in different civilization and
culture have different moral belief and what is believed to be morally right at a given time and
place may be wrong at different time and place.

6. Ethical relativism: It is the philosophical theory that there is no fundamental or universal moral norm or basic moral principle but what is morally right is relative to individual or group of men.

7. Ethical skepticism: The situation in which one can’t decide and give reason what is ethically right or wrong.

8. Moral objectivism: It holds that at least some moral principles and rules are objectively knowable
on the basis of observation and human reasoning.

9. Universalism: It suggests that basic right and wrong is the same for everyone, while also allowing for some variation in individual circumstances and context.

10. Ethical absolutism: It is the view that there exists an eternal and unchanging moral law that transcends the physical world and is the same for all people at all times and places” (Holmes,1993). In this view, moral rightness and wrongness exist independent of human beings and
unrelated to human emotions and thought. There is an absolute source of truth that transcends human rationality and choice

11. Deontology (from the Greek “deon”, meaning “duty”) refers to an ethical theory based on duty or obligation. A deontological, or duty-based, theory is one in which specific moral duties or
obligations are seen as self-evident, having intrinsic value in and of themselves and needing no further justification.

12. Teleology (from the Greek telos, meaning goal or end) describes an ethical perspective that
contends the rightness or wrongness of actions is based solely on the goodness or badness of their
consequences. In a strict teleological interpretation, actions are morally neutral when considered
apart from their consequences

13. Consequentialist : Concern for outcomes

14. Non-consequentialist : Do not concern for outcomes

15. Distributive justice: This conception of justice refers to an equitable balance of benefits and burdens with particular attention to situations involving the allocation of resources.

16. Procedural justice: It requires processes that are impartial and fair. This form of justice underlies
the requirement of due process when conducting disciplinary action against an employee

17. Virtue ethics: In virtue ethics, the focus is on the role of character as the source of moral action.
Human character is shaped over time by a combination of natural inclinations and the influence of
such factors as family, culture, education, and self-reflection. This means that some people will be more likely to choose virtuous behavior than will others.

18. Utilitarianism: a moral theory that defines a moral act solely in terms of the outcome or consequences of that act. This teleological perspective is based on a single guiding principle. Theprinciple of utility also referred to as the Greatest Happiness Principle, states that actions are
right if they produce the greatest balance of happiness over unhappiness

19. Natural rights: These are generally held to be a gift of nature or God that cannot be taken away.

Modern notions of natural rights are most closely associated with the seventeenth century British
philosopher John Locke and his contention that human beings are entitled to life, liberty and property. In contemporary theory, these and other moral claims have come to be referred to as
universal human rights and form the basis for establishing and/or evaluating ethical standards within the social order.

20. Communitarian Ethics: Communitarianism refers to a theoretical perspective that seeks to lessen
the focus on individual rights and increase the focus on communal responsibilities. In this approach, ethical thought is grounded in considerations of the larger society.

Dimensions of Ethics:

 Personal Ethics
 Organizational Ethics
 Societal Ethics
 Ethics for future world i.e. Sustainability principle
 Personal ethics cannot be separated from the organizational context in which most of us are
destined to spend the majority of our lives, be it working for a multinational corporation, a
government department or agency, a not-for-profit organization or simply volunteering at the
local pre-school.

 Similarly, organizations have to be sympathetic to the values and expectations of the wider
societal context in which they are embedded.

 The fourth dimension belongs to tomorrow’s generations and consists of our ethical accountabilities to those who cannot speak for themselves. In the context of sustainability it is
used to describe the responsibility of present generations to safeguard the interests of future
generations and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines sustainability
as forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
“The social equity dimension suggests that sustainable development is an inherent moral good, and
its consequences are likely to be ethically positive as well”.
An ethical approach to sustainability suggests that society has an obligation to restrain wasteful uses of
resources among the affluent, but it also has a special obligation to foster economic development for the
poorest of the poor, all while maintaining environmental resource protection. When referring to sustainable development, one needs to define what is to be sustained, for whom, and for how long.
Sustainability is not an absolute condition, but always partial. Sustainability, like justice, occurs along a
continuum, and making progress along this is necessarily incremental. Restraint is its price.Western Religious Ethical Traditions:
Religion involves ritual, symbol, community life, institutions, doctrines, and many other factors, but
moral values are a central aspect of religious identity for both individuals and groups. Through religion,
people think about what it means to be a good person and what a good society would entail; they find resources, support, and guidance in their efforts to live up to these values and to improve their
Religious values in modern West are predominantly informed by biblical traditions:
 Most important is the biblical emphasis on social justice.
 Some important ethical guidelines include hospitality, protection of the weak from the strong,
forgiveness of debts, and prohibitions on usury.
 Individuals and societies are judged in large part based on how they treat the poor, the sick, and the outcast.
 These insist on just distributions of social goods, especially to needy groups.
 For this tradition, a good society is one in which no one falls through the cracks, well-off people take
care of those in need, and cries for help are answered promptly, generously, and without rampant self-

Roman Catholic social thought:
1. It asserts that economic decisions and institutions should be judged on whether they protect or
undermine “the dignity of the human person.”
2. This dignity, they add, “can be realized and protected only in community.” This can be fulfilled only
with widespread participation in both the economic and political processes, which must be equitable
and open.
3. Finally, the bishops assert that all members of society, and especially the most powerful, have a
special obligation to “the poor and miserable.”

Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, major Jewish and Muslim organizations:
1. Emphasize social justice and care for the poor and vulnerable as the major ethical principles that
guide their positions on concrete social problems.
2. Serious differences exist, still, major Western religious traditions largely agree on the centrality of
justice, equality, fairness, and charity as the most important principles for evaluating specific social
decisions, institutions, and processes.

Ethics in India:

1. Our Constitution as well as all our religious books is full of codes and directives on high values and ethics to be followed by the state as well as the society.
2. Mahabharat:
 Do not do unto others as you would not be done by (Atmani Pratikulani paresham na
samachary), is the principle given in ‘Mahabharat’.
 The definition of Ethics is well concretized in this maxim meaning that we should not do anything, which is deviation from our intrinsic humanness –Swabhav. Our behavior outside is a reflection of
our values within, which we radiate outwards thorough our action and deeds.
 In the Bhagavad-Gita, selfless action (niśkāma karma) is advocated. It is an action which is required to be performed without consideration of personal consequences. It is an altruistic action aimed at the well-being of others rather than for oneself.
 The concept of right and wrong is the core of the Mahābhārata which emphasizes, among others, the
values of non-violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, charity, forgiveness and self realization.
“But, there is perceptible change in the mind-set of the people towards achieving materialistic goals and
prosperity irrespective of the “means” to be adopted…….
Ironically, the society also respects material prosperity only because of visible glamour attached with it
with little regard to higher values of simplicity, honesty, hard-work, character building etc”.
“The world today is in a state of turmoil; valuable ethics are being upturned. The forces of materialistic
skepticism have turned their dissecting blades on the traditional concepts of what are considered humane
3. Historic:
 In our work situations, the organizational behavior theories of the west guide us. The western thoughts
have not been able to lead us much ahead. It is important to look into our own Indian thought and find solutions therein.

 Our leaders like Tagore and Gandhi have lived the human values like purity and holiness, non-violence and moral courage.

 The credit goes to all the saintly kings, from king Janaka to Ashoka, Akbar, Harshabardhan and the
like; who had put into practice human values ideology as given in Vedanta and the other ancient Indian thoughts.

Rig-Veda and Cosmic order: India has very ancient history of ethics. Its central concepts are represented in Rig-Veda as idea of an all-pervading cosmic order (ṛta) which stands for harmony and
balance in nature and human society.

Dharma: In Indian tradition, the concept of ṛta gave rise to the idea of dharma. The term dharma here does not mean mere religion; it stands for duty, obligation and righteousness.

 Similarly, the importance of ethics and ethical values is highlighted in epics and philosophical texts
like, Upaniṣads, Rāmāyaṇa, darśana-śāstras and dharma-śāstras. In the dharma-śāstras,
emphasis is on the social ethics.

4. The Bhakti Movement:
 It played very important part in reawakening moral consciousness in India.
 Rejecting the distinctions of caste, colour and creed, it spread the message of human equality.
 Propagated the ideals of love, compassion, justice and selfless service.

5. Sikh ethics:
 It also lays great stress on ethics in Human life.
 Its Founder Gurunanak dev said that truth is higher than anything else.
 The cardinal virtues according to Guru Granth Sahib are: compassion (daya), charity (dana)
contentment (santokh), non-enmity (nirvair) and selfless service (seva).

6. Jain ethics:
 Jainism places great emphasis on three most important things in life, called three gems (triratna).
 These are: right vision (samyaka dṛṣṭī), right knowledge (samyaka jñāna) and right conduct
(samyaka cāritra).
 Ideas of puṇya (merit) and pāpa (demerit). Pāpa is the result of evil deeds generated by vice
and puṇya is the result of good deeds generated by virtuous conduct.
 The most important thing in Jainism is practice of non-violence.
 The other cardinal virtues are: Forgiveness, humanity, simplicity, non-covetousness’, austerity,
restraint, truthfulness, purity, renunciation and celibacy.

7. Buddhist Ethics:
 Man-made moral laws and customs do not form Buddhist Ethics.
 Buddhist ethics are not arbitrary standards invented by man for his own utilitarian purpose. For
example, the styles of dress that are suitable for one climate, period or civilization may be considered
indecent in another; but this is entirely a matter of social custom and does not in any way involve
ethical considerations.
 Buddhist ethics finds its foundation not on the changing social customs but rather on the unchanging
laws of nature and the unchanging law of cause and effect (kamma).
 The simple fact that Buddhist ethics are rooted in natural law makes its principles both useful and
acceptable to the modern world.
 The Buddha advised men on the conditions which were most wholesome and conducive to long term
benefit for self and others.
 The morality found in all the precepts can be summarized in three simple principles: To avoid evil;
to do good, to purify the mind.
 In Buddhism all actions that have their roots in greed, hatred, and delusion that spring from selfishness
foster the harmful delusion of selfhood. These action are demeritorious or unskillful or bad. They are
called Akusala Kamma.
 All those actions which are rooted in the virtues of generosity, love and wisdom, are meritorious
Kusala Kamma.
 Action themselves are considered as neither good nor bad but ‘only the intention and thought makes
them so.’ Yet Buddhist ethics does not maintain that a person may commit what are conventionally regarded as ‘sins’ provided that he does so with the best of intentions.
 Buddhist ethics is based on Four Noble Truths. These are: (1) life is suffering, (2) there is a cause for suffering, (3) there is a way to remove it, and (4) it can be removed (through the eight-fold path). It advocates the path of righteousness (dhamma). In a way this is the crux of Buddhist morality.