moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.
“medical ethics also enter into the question”
synonyms: moral code, morals, morality, moral stand, moral principles, moral values, rights and wrongs, principles, ideals, creed, credo, ethos, rules of conduct, standards (of behaviour), virtues, dictates of conscience
“the ethics of journalism”
the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.
“neither metaphysics nor ethics is the home of religion”
It seems that never a day passes without some mention of ethics in the daily newspapers.
Just in this last week, I have seen it enter into the conversation around the US Presidential elections, in Australian politics and also as a result of some internal behaviour being conducted by specific individuals at a major global financial institution.
Now one could take a very pessimistic view and wonder where all this is taking us.
For me however, yes the true optimist, I believe a focus on the morale aspects of daily life whether that be in government or business is a good thing.
After all, I once heard it said we live in societies, not economies and how we behave and treat others accordingly, is essential for the well-being of our societies
But what are ethics and what is behaving in an ethical way?
Well I will not even attempt to answer that question as there are certainly many more people much more credentialed than me to do so.
However, one definition from Wikipedia suggests ethics as:
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that examines right and wrong moral behaviour, moral concepts (such as justice, virtue, duty) and moral language
So if we generally accept that this is the definition of ethics, I believe here lies the problem we have today and why we are constantly seeing matters which are about a lack of ethics reported in the daily news cycles.
How often have we heard the line “I did not break any laws”, or “I was within the company policy”?
You see I strongly believe ethics and an understanding of ethical principles, are at the core of societies before written and legislated laws, or in organisations, policies.
I also believe it is essential that organisations (government, non-profit, profit, small, large) need to have ethical principles and guidelines imbedded in their respective cultures.
I also believe that they need to go beyond the documents they are written on and lead to an ongoing conversation that takes place to all constituents as to why an ethical foundation is even more important than it has ever been.
I am early in my personal journey in studying ethics.
However, I have published for my own business a document which I share with my constituents (clients, employees, partners) of what I believe and how I expect myself and business to behave, in regards to ethics.
Since doing this, I have observed that the depth of conversation that is now taking place, is rich and is leading to strong relationships.
I have also seen other businesses also adopt a similar process in terms of ethical principles of policies.
Of course at the end of the day it is about behaviours. As I said, it needs to go beyond a document – but this is a start.
The first step.
As Wikipedia reports, the good, Socrates says, is like the sun. The sun gives light and life to the earth, the good gives knowledge and virtue to the intelligible world. It is the cause of goodness in people and actions, and it also is the cause of existence and knowledge. The pursuit of and love of the good itself (rather than any particular good thing) Socrates thought was the chief aim of education and (especially) of philosophy.