Ethics and Business

Nature of Ethics

Introduction to Nature of Ethics

Nature of Ethics refers to the normative standards of behaviour pertaining to the ideal code of conduct of human beings. This is substantially different from that of our feeling.

The ethical choices get affected significantly by our feelings. Highly developed habits of some people make them feel guilty after doing something wrong while others might seem unperturbed by any form of wrongdoing.

The nature of ethics also cannot be associated with the influence of religion. Ethics is like a common rule which is applicable to everybody irrespective of his/her religion. Most religions advocate a high level of ethical standards.

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Ethics also differs subsequently from the law. Although a law enforcement system tries to incorporate ethical standards, it can deviate subsequently from the ethical guidelines.

Dictatorial regimes are infamous for corrupting the legal system in the past.

Ethics does not necessarily mean abiding by the culturally accepted norms. Unites States, for example, turned a blind eye to ethical concerns such as using atomic weapons on the civilians of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Natural and social science provides important information which assists in making better ethical choices. Science cannot dictate our path of action.

Learn more about Business Ethics here in detail

However, ethics can provide a solid explanation for human behaviour.

It becomes difficult to identify the nature of ethics because of the following two problems:

  • How to base our ethical standards?
  • How to apply these standards while facing a particular situation?

Ethicists and philosophers have tried to answer these above-mentioned questions pertaining to the nature of ethics. They have suggested these five sources of ethical standards which can assist us in our decision-making process.

Nature of Ethics

Five Sources Of Ethical Standards

  • Utilitarian Approach
  • Deontological or Rights Approach
  • Justice or Fairness Approach
  • Common Good Approach
  • Virtue Approach

Utilitarian Approach 

Ethical action has been emphasized by many ethicists as that one thing which creates the greatest balance of good in comparison to harm. Ethical corporate action inflicts the least harm to its employees, customers, shareholders, environment and supporting community.

While dealing with the ultimate consequences, the Utilitarian approach tries to reduce the harm done by increasing its positive effects.

Deontological or Rights Approach

Several philosophers and ethicists hold the view that ethical action needs to respect and protect the moral rights of affected segments.

This approach believes that all human beings have a certain amount of dignity which is derived from their ability to choose a preferred lifestyle.

Justice or Fairness Approach

Greek philosophers like Aristotle have contributed greatly to the ideal of equality among human beings. Modern day ethics, therefore, treat all human beings equally.

And if they cannot be treated equally, then they are dealt with in a fair fashion and based on some defensible standard.

Common Good Approach

Greek philosophers held the belief that community life is good in itself. They also felt that our actions should contribute to the betterment of such life.

Compassion and respect for others are the basic requirements of such reasoning.

Virtue Approach

This approach lays special emphasis on virtues like courage, honesty, compassion, tolerance, generosity, integrity, self-control, fairness, fidelity, prudence and love.

These guide us in unleashing the highest potential of our character for the development of humanity.

Questions on Nature of Ethics

  1. Law is _________ of ethics.

Ans.     Codification

  1. __________ approach seeks out the consistency of our ethical actions with certain ideal virtues for helping with the complete development of humanity.

Ans.     Virtue

  1. Greek philosophers like ­­­­­_________ have contributed to the idea of equal treatment of human beings.

Ans.     Aristotle

  1. Another name of the Rights approach is ___________.

Ans.     Deontological Approach

  1. The ________ approach suggests that interlocking societal relationships serve as the basis of ethical reasoning.

Ans.     Common Good

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