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Ethics

Introduction

Ethical, moral and legal codes refer to guidelines directing external human contact. Legality, morality and ethics are intertwined closely and they have the tendency of working together towards the achievement of a common goal which is promotion of good behavior in society. However, slight differences exist between these three terms that this paper attempts to expose.

Contrary to morality and ethics, laws of a state or institution often dictate behavior that is either illegal or legal. Thus, the legal expectations from an individual tend to be straightforward and often put down in writing in the form of a constitution. However, ethical and legal expectations are not defined clearly and generally depend on the perception of the society or individual on what is right and wrong. According to Wilkins and Williams (2008), there is another distinction between law on the one hand and ethics and morality on the other which is that the laws are often limited compared to the other two. This is attributed to the fact most legal standards tend to be prohibitive which means behaving within legal limits often involves failing to do something.

For instance, robbery is illegal; however, the law does not demand that an individual should call the police whenever they see someone being robbed. Moral and ethical standards however are more positive and they often require an individual to do something. For instance, in the case of robbery, a person will be ethically and morally compelled into calling the police though it is not their legal obligation. The law attains its intentions through disallowing behavior that is potentially harmful and encourages proper behavior in society through promising punishment to individuals who participate in behavior that is unacceptable. In most cases, lack of compliance with ethical and moral rules does not attract any form of punishment but breaking of laws attracts a penalty.

research-papers-research-papers-service-custom-research-papersEthics and morality are closely related. They involve societal larger behavior expectations apart from legal institutions. Religious institutions for instance, churches, play a crucial role in shaping the moral and ethical perceptions of an individual. Amstutz (2005) defines morality as derivative of the term Latin “mores” which means habit, way of life or custom. Morality describes what is universally right and as such, it demand universal allegiance. It defines righteousness, integrity values and virtues that are acceptable universally. Therefore morality is concerned with acceptable individual behavior accepted universally.

However, ethics is social perception of what is right and wrong which is nott necessarily universal. Poking and Stroll (1993) defined ethics as the acceptable principles code by which people live. Such set of principles differ among societies and professions. For instance, the medical professional has its set of medical ethics that differ from those of accounting. Christian ethics as they are outlined in 10 commandments differ from Islam ethics. American social ethics are also different from African social ethics. In America for instance, being gay is socially acceptable but in Africa, it is condemened. Despite these variations of ethics from one religion, profession or place to another, moral values like love, honesty and kindness are acceptable throughout. For instance, practicing honesty is expected in America, Africa and Islam as well as in American and Africa and in the accounting and medical professions.

Conclusion

Legality can be defined as what the law expects of a person, morality is the internal values of an individual and applicable everywhere while ethics is code of conduct by which an institution, profession or society chooses to live by. Morality and ethics however, must be applied with legal requirements.

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References

 

Amstutz, M. R. (2005). International Ethics: Concepts, Theories, and Cases in Global Politics (2nd Ed.) United States of America USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc. Retrieved on October 21 2013 from;

http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=qTYko_PygLYC&pg=PA8&dq=difference+between+morality+and+ethics&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MrhkUrWtCqPT0QWI5IC4CQ&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=difference%20between%20morality%20and%20ethics&f=true

Popkin, H. R., & Stroll, A. (1993). Philosophy. Burlington MA: Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved on           October 21, 2013 from;

http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=YnzRX_hEc-4C&pg=PA1&dq=ethics+definition&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JNJkUrWfD5P14QTB7oDgCA&ved=0CFwQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=ethics%20definition&f=true

Williams, L., W. (2008). Law and Ethics R. Goshman  (Ed.) Wolters Kluwer Health.

Retrieved on October 21, 2013 from;

http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=PvCnJLaUtjkC&pg=PA78&dq=difference+between+legal+and+ethical&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Qr1kUpLdCaSd0AX05oDQBw&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=difference%20between%20legal%20and%20ethical&f=true

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