Ethics in Theory and Practice

At the end of the module we will know:

  • Why is ethics so important in human society?
  • What are the theories for making value/ ethical judgements?
  • How to apply these theories of ethics?
  • How to be sensitive about the ethical value/s of an action?

Human Values:

  • Values satisfy a human need or desire.
  • Values that are essential for human existence.
  • Values:1. Means of Goodness; 2. Good in themselves.

Value of anything is determined by the desire it satisfies or need it fulfils.​

Human values_Functions:

  • Personal: Better decision making; Lesser regrets
  • Social: Better inter-personal communication; Enhance harmony in society​
  • Global/Cosmological: Sustenance of world order; Inclusive Growth and Justice​

Example: Human Value: TRUST

Trust is the basic foundation of human transactions. If we don’t have trust on fellow human beings or non-human entities like gadgets or software applications, it will be very difficult to carry out any transaction.

Einstein on Human Values:

Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist for our fellow-men– in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.

(Guiding human values for E: Truth; Goodness and Beauty)

Einstein, The world as I see it. <;

Dalai Lama on Human Values: Secular Ethics and Human Values

Values that are essential for human existence

  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Tolerance
  • Contentment
  • Self-discipline
HH Dalai Lama on Human Values and Secular Ethics

David Foster Wallace: Default Setting Vs. Personal Human Values

Default Setting:

Consumerism (wealth accumulation and consumption)​

Self-centredness (accumulation of power)​


Living mindfully and meaningfully​

David Foster Wallace: This is Water

What is ethics?

  • The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematising, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour.
  • The study of ethics helps us make value judgment about deeds of human beings living in a society.
  • Ethical judgments have their roots in the cultural context.

The term “Ethics” is derived from the Greek word “ethos” which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition.

Means and Ends based Ethics (Hedonism, Egoism, Utilitarianism, Deontology) – click to continue…


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