(Sample Material) UPSC IAS Mains GS Online Coaching : Paper 4 - "Ethics and Human Interface"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains GS Online Coaching Programme

Subject: General Studies (Paper 4 - Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface

Ethics and Human Interface

What is ethics? Explain the Importance of Ethics.

Ethics is a set of standards that society places on itself and which help guide behaviour, choices and actions. The crux of ethical behaviour does not lie in bold words and expressions enshrined as standards, but in their adoption in action, in sanctions against their violations, in putting in place competent disciplinary bodies to investigate allegations of violations and impose sanctions quickly and in promoting a culture of integrity. Most of us would agree that it is ethics in practice that makes sense; just having it carefully drafted and redrafted in books may not serve the purpose. Of course all of us want businesses to be fair, clean and beneficial to the society. For that to happen, organizations need to abide by ethics or rule of law, engage themselves in fair practices and competition; all of which will benefit the consumer, the society and organization. Primarily it is the individual, the consumer, the employee or the human social unit of the society who benefits from ethics.

In addition ethics is important because of the following ;

1. Satisfying Basic Human Needs : Being fair, honest and ethical is one the basic human needs. Every employee desires to be such himself and to work for an organization that is fair and ethical in its practices.
2. Creating Credibility ; An organization that is believed to be driven by moral values is respected in the society even by those who may have no information about the working and the businesses or an organization. Infosys, for example is perceived as an organization for good corporate governance and social responsibility initiatives. This perception is held far and wide even by those who do not even know what business the organization is into.
3. Uniting People and Leadership : An organization driven by values is revered by its employees also. They are the common thread that brings the employees and the decision makers on a common platform. This goes a long way in aligning behaviors within the organization towards achievement of one common goal or mission.
4. Improving Decision Making : A man’s destiny is the sum total of all the decisions that he/she takes in course of his life. The same holds true for organizations. Decisions are driven by values. For example an organization that does not value competition will be fierce in its operations aiming to wipe out its competitors and establish a monopoly in the market.
5. Long Term Gains : Organizations guided by ethics and values are profitable in the long run, though in the short run they may seem to lose money. Tata group, one of the largest business conglomerates in India was seen on the verge of decline at the beginning of 1990’s, which soon turned out to be otherwise. The same company’s Tata NANO car was predicted as a failure, and failed to do well but the same is picking up fast now.
6. Securing the Society : Often ethics succeeds law in safeguarding the society. The law machinery is often found acting as a mute spectator, unable to save the society and the environment. Technology, for example is growing at such a fast pace that the by the time law comes up with a regulation we have a newer technology with new threats replacing the older one. Lawyers and public interest litigations may not help a great deal but ethics can. Ethics tries to create a sense of right and wrong in the organizations and often when the law fails, it is the ethics that may stop organizations from harming the society or environment.

Ethics is a requirement for human life. It is our means of deciding a course of action. Without it, our actions would be random and aimless There would be no way to work- towards a goal because there would be no way to pick between a limitless number of goals. Even with an ethical standard, we may be unable to pursue our goals with the possibility of success. To the degree which a rational ethical standard is taken, we are able to correctly organize our goals and actions to accomplish our most important values. Any flaw in our ethics will reduce our ability to be successful in our endeavors.



In ordinary conversation we often hear such statements as: ‘He ought not to have done this’, ‘It is a good thing to help one’s neighbours’, ‘He is a thoroughly good man’, ‘His character is bad’, ‘He was is only doing his duty’, or ‘It is always right to speak the truth.’ When such statements are made they are frequently contradicted by someone hearing them, and this by itself suggests that they are not. It simple as at first sight they appear to be. If a friend disagrees with my statement that Smith is a thoroughly good man, he may do so for one of two reasons, (a) He may know facts about Smith’s haviour which are unknown to me; and if he tells me these fact and convinces me that they are true, I shall then be ready to admit that Smith is in some respects not a good man. (b) It may be the case, however, that my friend and I both know the same facts about Smith, and yet I continue to hold that Smith is thoroughly good, while my friend considers him to be bad. Now we are using the words ‘good’ and ‘bad’ with different meanings, and, until we come to some agreement as to their meanings, we are not likely to agree in our opinion of Smith. This is just the kind of question with which ethics deals what is the true meaning of such words as ‘good’ and ‘right’ and ‘ought’ which are used so commonly in everyday conversation. When we come to an agreement as to the meaning of such words, other questions will arise. We may ask whether it is possible for us to know whether Smith is good or bad; we may ask on what grounds Smith should give up those activities which we have agreed to call bad, and should engage in those which we have agreed to call good. All these and many other similar questions are within the scope of ethics.

We may define ethics as the normative science of the conduct of human beings living in societies a science which judges this conduct to be right or wrong, to be good or bad, or in some similar way. This definition says, first of all, that ethics is a science and a science may be defined as a systematic and more or less complete body of knowledge about a particular set of related events or objects. In this account of science, the important word is systematic; scientific knowledge differs from the ordinary, haphazard knowledge of uneducated people in being arranged in a definite coherent system. A science also aims at providing as complete a knowledge of its subject-matter as it can, although, in the present state of know­ledge, no science is perfect in this respect. At the same time, the scientist may leave out details that he knows, in order to give a simpler and clearer presentation of the important connexions of the facts which he studies: It is generally agreed that a piece of know­ledge cannot be regarded as ‘scientific’ until it is accepted by those who are learned in the particular science concerned: in medicine, for example, the new cures which are so convincingly advertised cannot be regarded as scientific until they have been recognized as effective by capable doctors. Finally, the sphere of a science is limited to one set of facts or objects; no science deals with all the facts known about the universe; to deal with the universe as a whole is the work of metaphysics or philosophy, which is not a science. Each science has its own particular sphere; botany deals with plants, psychology with minds, and ethics with certain judgements that we make about human conduct.

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