Ethics And Morality: Meaning, Differences And Sources

Table Of Contents

  • Definition Of Ethics And Morality
  • Differences Between Ethics And Morality
  • Sources Of Ethics

Ethics has come to refer mainly to right conduct in a profession, so we have business ethics, secretarial ethics, medical ethics and the like.

In our contemporary society, the most important problem seems to arise from the issues of morality, the standard for right or wrong action vis-a-vis societal values. There is no denying the fact that great achievements have been made in the spheres of science and technology, but not much has been realized in the areas of ethical and moral conception.

Nations and individuals therefore exist in a world in which meaninful ethical decisions are inevitable.

Definition Of Ethics And Morality

Ethics: Ethics relates to the philosophy behind a moral outcome. In order to spotlight acceptable and unacceptable behaviour within a specific situation ethical behaviour is defined: The term Ethics refers to understanding and adopting moral values within the home or workplace that should be defined. It relates to values commonly adhered to and fundamentals or meta-ethics in the immediate surroundings. Ethics are integral part of social laws and politics. In any dichotomy situation, where two choices are available, ethics step in to identify the best action-choice. Ethical action is defined and questioned within our interactions with the terminally sick, animals, aged citizens and in issues such as abortion.

Ethics seeks to answer such questions as: “What should I do?”, “What is the good life for all people?” what is good conduct?” and “How do we define a right or wrong conduct, a good or bad person, a right or wrong conduct, a good or bad person?”, These and perhaps more are the questions ethical theory deals with.

Morality: Morality refers to an adopted code of conduct within an environment and a set of agreed upon rules for what is “right” and “wrong”. Morals have formed the spine of modern society, religion and every individuals conscience. For example, ‘murder is immoral’, but on the battle field murder is permissible’. In a way, morality is sync with ethics. While one is abstract in understanding, the order is defined and in the form of written code. Morality addresses the ethical queries on the moral outcome of a specific situation. The code of conduct formulated probes prohibitions, controversial behaviour, standards of belief systems and social conformity of morally right behaviour.

Moral codes define appropriate and expected activity. Morality is better understood as an assimilation of beliefs about the essentials to lead a ‘good life’. It is not to be confused with religious or fanatic or political perception. Moral codes are based on value systems that have been tried and tested.

A good example of moral codes is the Ten commandment. It is believed that all of us, throughout our lives, act from a developing moral code.

Moral behaviour and the values from which such behaviour are often believed to be generalized across all kinds of situations and all kinds of behviour consistently finds that people apply different standards to different situations. For instance lying is wrong, yet we may and are supposed to lie if we must do so to protect someones self esteem.

Differences Between Ethics And Morality

1. Ethics define the code that a society or group of people adhere to while morality delves into right and wrong at a much deeper level, which may be both personal and spiritual.

2. Ethics are impacted upon by external factors loke the society, profession, etc and could change with a change in any of these influencing factors but Morals usually do not change.

3. Ethics are well defined and quite neatly laid down but morals are of a subliminal nature and deciding upon what constitutes morals is not that easy.

4. Morals are generally associated with a personal view of values but Ethics is concerned with how a moral person should behave.

Sources Of Ethics

There are five principal repositories of values influencing office managers; Religion, philosophical, cultural. Legal and professional. Some of the strands in these systems react back into pre-Christian antiquity. Others are of more modern origin. These system assume varying degree of authority over individual and in the same individual overtime.

1. Religion

The fundamental conception, ‘what is right and wrong’ in many cases of life is noted in Biblical morality. There are differences however, such as the morality of birth control, capital punishment and detailed matters of daily living, but deep in society’s values is the idea that moral values are of divine origin and rest on atheistic foundation. The major religions agree in emphasis on the dignity and worth of the individual, which in turn is the basis of the need to recognize the right and obligations of others. From Catholicism comes the view that a well ordered social system is necessary to achieve human dignity. Both Catholicism and Judaism emphasize in their tenets the social responsibility of men and women to act in such a way as to contribute to the welfare of the social system or, at least not to harm it in any way.

2. Cultural Experience

The life and development of a society are both based upon and produce values. Drawn from religion, for example is the dominant ethic of preserving the social system. Relationships among groups, the ethical responsibilities of large corporations and ethics of labour unions are examples of systems arising there from.

3. Philosophical System

A major stream of thought, antedating the Judeo-Christian ethic is that of philosophical views of greath thinkers. From Plato to contemporary philosophers the idea has prevailed that reasoning can produce ethical norms.

Ancient Greeks like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato had a great deal to say about ethics, although they did not produce fully articulated philosophical systems. It was aristotle, who laid down the Golden Rule: we should behave to friends as we would wish them to behave to us.

4. The Legal System

The law is a codification of customs, ideas, beliefs and ethical standards which society wishes to preserve and enforce. As social views about what is right and wrong change and crystallize, they are reflected in new laws or the abandonment or neglect of old laws. A major cause of higher ethical standards in business is the addition of laws to prevent the violations of what society considers proper ethical standards.

5. Professional Codes

This is an increasing source of ethical norms for business organizations. There are basically three types of professional codes.

1. Company creeds or philosophies, which are usually short, widely distributed and cover those basic philosophies that presumably govern the business. Most creed are written at high levels of absraction and contain the injunctions of the systems of ethical standards. The Golden Rule is found in many of them.

2. Company operational policies that set up guides to action that has an ethical contect. For example, specific policy statement concerning such matters as procedures for hiring, promoting and firing employees making decisions about dealers or handling customer complaints.

3. People are encouraged to follow codes laid down by the organizations where they belong and their own professional ethics or codes of conduct. Many industry associations have codes of ethics or codes of conduct. Professional societies such as accountants, surveyors, lawyers, etc; have codes of ethics that serve as standards of ethical conduct for members whether they are in a business or not. The engineering code is firm on such matters as adherence to high standards of ethical conduct for members whether they are in business or not.

The engineering code is firm on such matters as adherence to high standards of performance and quality.

The surveyors code is strict about high standard of professional competence while the acounting code is strict about high standard of professional competence while the accounting code is strict about honest reporting of information.

The secretarial code of ethics emphasizes on confidentiality, honesty and accurate reporting or recording of information and events. But however, officially, secretarial ethics has not been codified because secretarial occupation has not been professionalized.

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