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Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions

Ethics:

In general perspective, ethics is a process of moral principles. These principles have significant effect on people to make decisions and lead good quality lives. Ethics is also concerned with what is 'good for individuals and society' and is also defined as moral beliefs. Ethics is stemmed from the Greek word 'ethos' which means custom, habit, character or disposition. Therefore, ethics could be said to cover the following dilemmas: how to live a good life, our rights and responsibilities, the language of right and wrong moral decisions - what is good and bad?

Ethical ideologies that seem to apply objectively to people:

Compassion; concern for the well-being of others. Non-malfeasance; avoiding inflicting suffering and hardship on others. Beneficence; preventing and alleviating others' suffering; meeting the needs of the most vulnerable; promoting others' happiness (strongest toward our family and friends). Fairness; treating people the way they deserve to be treated; as having equal rights unless merit or need justifies special treatment. Courage; in opposing injustice. Respect for individual autonomy; not manipulating rational individuals even for their own good. Respect; for the Constitution and other laws enacted by legitimate governing bodies. Honesty; not deceiving anyone who deserves to know the truth. Keeping promises; that we made freely. Integrity; upholding our obligations in spite of personal inopportuneness.

Concept of Ethics in Indian tradition:

In Indian culture, the phrase morality and ethics is 'dharma'. Dharma originates from "dhr", which means to hold together. And thus the function of dharma is to hold the human society together for its stability and growth. Precise conduct is indispensable for the existence of the human society. The dharma in Hinduism is co- extensive with morality. Dharma in the Vedas refers to the highest truth and power. People can understand the meaning of morality or through performance of Vedic sacrifices and other rituals in the Vedas and Dharmasastras. So Dharma is understood in Vedas as duty par-excellence. Dharma is also generally understood as the duties of humans according to one's own caste and stage of life (Varnasrama Dharma). And thus many Hindu philosophers stated that if person does his duty; he will achieve either heaven or a better birth in the next life or even prosperity here and now. Thus the Hindu concept of dharma has been recognized by its association with ritualistic and caste-oriented duties. And the purely moral sense of duty is outshined. Basically, the Hindu theorists supported and recommended the practice of moral virtues and moral norms, which make a man as man. These moral virtues are called Sadharana Dharma or universal duties. Hence the term dharma in Hinduism has two connotations that include performance of ritual sacrifices and duties according to one's own caste and the second is the practice of moral virtues and norms. So when discussing dharma as morality, it includes all the duties one ought to perform and all the virtues he ought to practice to attain moksa or liberation.

Ethics and morality:

The words "ethics" and "morality" evolved from Greek and Latin words respectively. Traditionally, they referred to customary values and rules of conduct (as in "cultural ethos" and "social mores"), as well as insights about human excellence and flourishing. "Ethics" and "morality" are often used interchangeably by people currently. But ethics also denotes to moral philosophy, i.e., a discipline of critical analysis of the meaning and explanation of moral beliefs. Along with law and etiquette, they prescribe human behaviour as obligatory, prohibited, or permissible. There is considerable overlap between ethics and law, and ethics and etiquette. Much of the law exemplifies ethical principles: respect for basic rights to life, property, and the right of citizens to participate in political life. It is usually unethical to violate the law. A breach of etiquette can also be immoral if it is done intentionally to offend someone simply for one's own enjoyment.

Ethics goes beyond etiquette, though, to include matters that nearly every human society considers significant. Ethics is often used in connection with the activities of organisations and with professional codes of conduct. Actions such as lying, breaking a promise or killing someone are more serious than social faux pas. Ethics also has to do with human character and motivation, which in many cases are immaterial to etiquette and law. And law and etiquette can sometimes be disapproved on moral grounds. Morality is used in connection with the ways in which individuals conduct their personal, private lives, often in relation to personal financial probity, lawful conduct and acceptable standards of interpersonal behaviour (including truthfulness, honesty, and sexual propriety).

Essence of ethics:

Basically, Ethics is elaborated as the systematic study of human actions from the perspective of their rightfulness or wrongfulness, as means for the attainment of the definitive happiness. It is the reflective understanding of good or bad in that part of human conduct for which human has some personal responsibility. In other words, Ethics is a set of principles that society places on itself and which helps guide behaviour, choices and actions. Ethics is integral to public administration. In public administration, ethics focuses on how the public administrator should question and reflect in order to be able to act sensibly.

Principles to manage ethics in the public service:

  1. Ethical standards for public service should be clear.
  2. Ethical standards should be reproduced in the legal framework.
  3. Ethical supervision should be available to public servants.
  4. Public servants should know their rights and obligations when exposing wrongdoing.
  5. Political commitment to ethics should reinforce the ethical conduct of public servants.
  6. The decision -making process should be transparent and open to scrutiny.
  7. There should be clear guidelines for interaction between the public and private sectors.
  8. Managers should demonstrate and promote ethical conduct.
  9. Management policies, procedures and practices should promote ethical conduct.
  10. Public service conditions and management of human resources should promote ethical conduct.
  11. Adequate accountability mechanisms should be in place within the public service.
  12. Appropriate procedures and sanctions should exist to deal with misconduct.

Ethics and values:

Values and ethics are represented through actions of humans in everyday life. They describe the way people strive to work with their fellow employees, partners and clients. They explain the spirit that enables us to do our jobs. As individuals, person's values have been formed by his culture in the broad sense; for example, the values have been formed from family, education or cultural experiences. As public employees, human values are moulded by the traditions of democratic government system.

Importance of ethics:

Ethics is the theoretical exposition which studies human behaviour and attempts to determine- right or wrong in human action. It is also called moral philosophy. The significance of ethics is obvious. Since prehistoric period, man has always sought to know how to lead a good life and to draw up rules of conduct. Philosopher of all cultures tried to explain in what this 'good' life consisted and, especially, why precisely it was 'good'. It is not so much that traditional moral values are questioned but more radically still, that-the very 'meaningfulness' of an unchanging and universally valid morality is brought into question.

The causes of this modem questioning are hard to pin down. Certainly the spread of education, progressions in science and technology, problems arising from modern way of living like the ever-increasing urbanization, easier communication media, faster means of travel whereby people of one culture come in closer contact with people of another culture, are some of the causes. But moral thinking is closely related with philosophical thinking in general, it might very well be that these causes are to be sought for on a deeper human level. Human being, perhaps, is not so much asking about the morality of this or that human act but, more intensely still, about himself; the meaning of his life, the direction of human history, the significance of the human world he lives in, the ambit of his knowledge and the possibility of his ever getting an answer to the questions he asks.

Ethics deals with voluntary actions. It can be distinguished between human actions and actions of human: human actions are those actions that are done by human consciously, deliberately and in view of an end. Actions of human may not be wilfully, voluntarily, consciously and deliberately done but all the same they are done by human. It is the intention which makes the difference between human action and action of human. In ethics, human actions are more important.

There are four branches of Ethics, namely-

  1. Descriptive Ethics
  2. Normative Ethics
  3. Meta-Ethics
  4. Applied Ethics

Descriptive Ethics:

Descriptive ethics is the study of people's values about morality. It involves empirical analysis. It gives a general pattern or a way of life of people in different types of communities. Descriptive ethics studies the history and development of ethics. It gives a record of certain taboos, customs or principle. Theoretical model of Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral consciousness explains descriptive Ethics.

Descriptive ethics investigates people's ethical morals or what actions are condemned in a civilization. It aims to find out people's beliefs about values, which actions are right and wrong and which characteristics of a moral agent are virtuous. Descriptive ethics seeks the explanation of actual choices made by moral agents in practice. It investigates the ethical codes applied by various groups. Descriptive Ethics is a value-free approach to ethics. It is empirical exploration of people's moral philosophy.

Normative Ethics:

Normative ethics involves attaining moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. It is the study of ethical acts. It therefore focuses explicitly on questions of 'what is the right thing to do? In a sense, it explores an ideal way of appropriate behaviour. Normative ethics is also called as prescriptive ethics. It is the study of ethical theories that recommend how people ought to act. It scrutinizes standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions. Normative ethics advocates punishment when people move away from the path of ideals. It provides good reason for punishing a person who upsets social and moral order. It tries to set up certain theories on the guidelines of some norms. Normative ethics offer the moral principles to use to resolve difficult moral decisions. The Golden Rule is a typical example of a normative principle.

In general, there are three challenging views to answer moral queries:

  1. Virtue ethics
  2. Deontological ethics
  3. Consequentialism

Virtue ethics focuses on the nature of those who are acting, while both deontological ethics and consequentialism contemplate on the status of the action, rule, or disposition itself. The latter two notions of ethics themselves come in various forms. For instance, a consequentialist may quarrel that lying is wrong because it produces the negative consequences though a consequentialist may permit that certain predictable consequences might make lying acceptable. A deontologist may conflict that lying is always wrong, in spite of any potential "good" that might come from lying. A virtue ethicist, however, would focus less on lying in any particular instance and instead consider what a decision to tell a lie or not tell a lie said about one's character and moral behaviour. As such, the morality of lying would depend on case basis, which would be based on factors such as personal benefit, group benefit, and intentions.

1.Virtue ethics: Virtue ethics supported by numerous famous philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. It focuses on the innate character of a person rather than on specific actions. Virtue ethics stress the role of one's character and the virtues that one's character embodies for determining or evaluating ethical behaviour.
The cardinal virtues are a set of four virtues derived primarily from Plato's proposal,. They consist of:

  1. Prudence: It is also explained as wisdom, the ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time.
  2. Justice: It is considered as fairness, the most extensive and most important virtue.
  3. Temperance: It is called restraint, the practice of self-control, abstention, and moderation.
  4. Courage: It is known as fortitude, forbearance, strength, endurance, and the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation.

Aristotle categorized the virtues as moral and intellectual. He recognized a few intellectual virtues, the most important of which was wisdom. Aristotle debated that each of the moral virtues was a mean between two corresponding vices, one of excess and one of deficiency.

Criticism of Virtue theory: Regarding virtues once apparently applicable to women, many would have once considered a virtuous woman to be quiet, servile, and productive. This notion of female virtue no longer holds true in many modern societies. Advocates of virtue theory argued that a central feature of a virtue is its universal applicability. It can be said that any character trait defined as a virtue must reasonably be universally regarded as a virtue for all sentient beings. This view represents that it is contradictory to claim, for example servility as a female virtue, while at the same time not proposing it as a male one.

Another criticism to virtue theory is that the school does not focus on what sorts of actions are morally permitted and which ones are not, but rather on what sort of qualities someone ought to foster in order to become a good person.

2. Deontological ethics: Deontological ethics is the normative ethical state that judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to rules. It is defined as "duty" or "obligation" or "rule" based ethics, because rules "bind you to your duty." Deontology argues that decisions should be made considering the factors of one's duties and others' rights.

Some deontological theories include:
I. Immanuel Kant's approach: Kant's construction of the moral law is the categorical crucial, which acts on all people, regardless of their interests or desires. Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, which roots morality in humanity's rational capacity and asserts certain inviolable moral laws. Kant avowed that human beings occupy a special place in conception, and morality can be summed up in an imperative or ultimate commandment of reason, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition declaring a certain action (or inaction) to be required.
Kant devised the categorical imperative in various ways:
His principle of universality requires that, for an action to be allowable, it must be possible to apply it to all people. His formulation of humanity as an ends in itself requires that it is immoral to use another person merely as a means to an end and that people must, under all circumstances, be treated as ends in themselves. In other words, it was not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives of the person who performs the action. Kant argues that to act in the morally right way, people must act from duty. Kant argues that those things that are usually thought to be good, such as intelligence, perseverance and pleasure, fail to be either intrinsically good or good without qualification. Pleasure, for example, appears not to be good without qualification, because when people take pleasure in watching someone suffering; this seems to make the situation ethically shoddier.
II. Moral absolutism: Some deontologists are moral absolutists. They believed that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong, despite of the intentions behind them as well as the consequences. Immanuel Kant argued that the only absolutely good thing is a good will, and so the single determining factor of whether an action is morally right is the will, or motive of the person doing it. If they are acting on a bad maxim then their action is wrong, even if some good consequences come of it. Non-absolutist deontologists maintained that the consequences of an action such as lying may sometimes make laying the right thing to do.
III. Divine command theory: Some deontologists believe in the 'divine command theory'. The divine command theory declared that an action is right if God has decreed that it is right. The Divine Command Theory is a form of deontology because it represents that the rightness of any action depends upon that action being performed because it is a duty, not because of any good consequences arising from that action.

3. Consequentialism (Teleology): Consequentialism is the form of normative ethical theories that indicates the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that behaviour. Consequently, from a consequentialist viewpoint, a morally right act is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence. In other words, "the ends justify the means".

Consequentialism is generally distinguished from deontological ethics (or deontology), in that deontology derives the rightness or wrongness of one's conduct from the character of the behaviour itself rather than the results of the behaviour. It is also differentiated from virtue ethics, which focuses on the character of the agent rather than on the nature or consequences of the act itself.

Some Consequentialism theories are as under:
I. State consequentialism or Mohist consequentialism: It maintains that an action is right if it leads to state welfare, through order, material wealth, and population growth.
II. Ethical egoism: Ethical egoism is consequentialist ethics in which moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. In ethical egoism, the consequences for the individual agent are taken to matter more than any other result. Thus, egoism will recommend actions that may be beneficial, detrimental, or neutral to the welfare of others.
III. Ethical altruism: Ethical altruism can be seen as a consequentialist ethics which prescribes that an individual take actions that have the best consequences for everyone except for himself.
IV. Utilitarianism: Utilitarianism is a presumption in normative ethics holding that the moral action is the one that maximizes utility. Utility is defined in different manner, including as pleasure, economic well-being and the lack of suffering. Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, which entails that the consequences of an action are of moral importance. Two most prominent contributors of Classical utilitarianism were Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.
Theorist, Bentham, who takes happiness as the measure for utility stated that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong". Bentham introduces a method of calculating the value of pleasures and pains, which has come to be known as the hedonic calculus. Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the primary or most important intrinsic good. A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure. Bentham stated that the value of a pleasure or pain, considered by itself, can be measured according to its intensity, duration, certainty/uncertainty and propinquity/remoteness. Additionally, it is necessary to consider "the tendency of any act by which it is produced". Ultimately, it is essential to consider the extent, or the number of people affected by the action. Mill was brought up as a Benthamite with the explicit intention that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism.

Meta Ethics:

Meta ethics is described by thinkers as the study of the origin and meaning of ethical concepts. The term "meta" means after or beyond, and, consequently. Meta-ethics is associated with the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes and judgments. Meta-ethics examines such themes as what moral questions mean, and on what basis people can know what is 'true' or 'false'.

In Meta ethics, there are two major issues. First are the metaphysical issues concerning whether morality exists independently of humans, and second is psychological issue concerning the underlying mental basis of our moral judgments and conduct. It can be established that Meta ethics is the study of what ethical terms and theories actually refer to. It determines the validity of theories advanced in Normative Ethics. In ethics, certain moral concepts are used such as right, wrong, good or bad to evaluate human actions. These moral concepts are used as tools in making moral judgments. Meta ethics appraises ethical concepts. It studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts. Meta ethics comprehend the nature of ethical properties and evaluations. Meta ethics deals with the enquiry such as 'What is the meaning of moral terms or judgments?', 'What is the nature of moral judgments?', 'How may moral judgments be supported or defended?'

There are theories to answer above three questions:
I. Semantic theories: These theories mainly put forward a position on the first of the three questions that include "What is the meaning of moral terms or judgements?" What is the nature of moral judgments?', 'How may moral judgments be supported or defended?" Meta-ethical theories are commonly classified as Cognitivist theories or Non-Cognitivist theories.
Cognitivist theories: Cognitivism is the meta-ethical analysis that ethical sentences express propositions and can therefore be true or false, as opposed to non-cognitivism.
1. Moral realism or Ethical Objectivism: It maintains that such propositions are not facts about any person or group's subjective opinion, but about objective features of the world, independent of human opinion.
Ethical naturalism is a form of moral realism which stated that moral characteristics of the world are reducible to some set of non-moral features. Ethical naturalism advocates that inquiry into the natural world can increase moral knowledge of people in same way it increases scientific knowledge.
Ethical non-naturalism is a non-definist form of moral realism, which explained that moral features of the world are irreducible to any set of non-moral features. Advantages of Moral Realism: Moral realism permits the ordinary rules of logic to be applied directly to moral statements. It can be said that a moral belief is false or contradictory in the same way we would about a factual belief. Another benefit of moral realism is its capacity to resolve moral disagreements. If two moral beliefs disagree with one another, realism says that they cannot both be right, and therefore everyone involved ought to be seeking out the right answer to resolve the disagreement. Disadvantages of Moral Realism: Though realism can describe how to resolve moral conflicts, it does not explain how these conflicts arose in the first place. Others also raised concern about realism because moral truths cannot be observed in the same way as material facts so it seems odd to count them in the same group.

2. Ethical subjectivism: It is type of moral anti-realism. It maintains that moral statements are made true or false by the attitudes and/or conventions of people. The most common forms of ethical subjectivism are also forms of moral relativism, with moral standards held to be relative to each culture or society, or even to every individual. Ethical subjectivism is also compatible with moral absolutism, in that the individual or society to whose attitudes moral propositions refer can hold some moral principle to apply regardless of circumstances. Ethical subjectivism stands in opposition to moral realism, which asserts that moral propositions refer to objective facts, independent of human opinion.

3. Error theory: It is type of moral anti-realism maintains that although ethical claims do express propositions, all such propositions are false. Since error theory rejects that there are moral truths, error theory entails moral nihilism (Moral nihilism is the meta-ethical view that nothing is intrinsically moral or immoral) and, thus, moral skepticism (Moral skepticism is metaethical view that no one has any moral knowledge).
Error theory is developed on three principles:

  1. There are no moral features in this world; nothing is right or wrong.
  2. Therefore no moral judgements are true; however,
  3. Our sincere moral judgements try, but always fail, to describe the moral features of things.

Non-cognitivist theories: Non-cognitivism is the meta-ethical outlook that ethical sentences do not express propositions and thus cannot be true or false. Non-cognitivism is another form of moral anti-realism. If moral statements cannot be true, and if one cannot know something that is not true, non-cognitivism entails that moral knowledge is impossible.

Criticism for non-cognitivism is that it disregards the external causes of emotional and prescriptive reactions.

  1. Emotivism: Emotivism is a meta-ethical view that claims that ethical sentences do not express propositions but emotional attitudes. It maintains that ethical sentences serve just to express emotions.
  2. Universal prescriptivism: Universal prescriptivism is the meta-ethical view which asserts that, rather than expressing propositions, ethical sentences function similarly to imperatives which are universalizable whoever makes a moral judgement is committed to the same judgement in any situation where the same relevant facts obtain.

(II). Substantial theories:

These theories answer questions: "What is the nature of moral judgements?" Amongst those who believe there to be some standard of morality, there are two divisions. Universalists, who hold that the same moral facts or principles apply to everyone everywhere; and relativists, who embrace that different moral facts or principles apply to different people or societies.

Moral universalism: It is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, pertains universally, that is to all people irrespective of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality, or other distinctive feature. The source or justification of this system may be thought to be human nature, shared vulnerability to suffering, and the demands of universal reason. Not all forms of moral universalism are value monist; many forms of universalism may be value pluralist. Value monism is the common form of universalism, which holds that all goods are commensurable on a single value scale.

Value pluralism is the thought that there are several values which may be equally correct and fundamental, and yet in disagreement with each other.

Moral relativism: It upholds that all moral judgements have their origins either in societal or in individual standards, and that no single objective standard exists by which one can consider the truth of a moral proposition.

Moral relativism is concerned with the differences in moral judgements across different people and cultures.

Meta-ethical relativists generally consider that the descriptive properties of terms such as "good", "bad", "right", and 'wrong' do not stand subject to universal truth conditions, but only to societal convention and personal preference.

III. Justification theories: These theories answer questions like, "How moral judgments be supported or defended?" or "Why should I be moral?" Moral Knowledge is gained by inference:

Most hypothesize that moral knowledge is somehow possible, as opposed to moral skepticism. Amongst them, some theories hold that moral knowledge is gained inferentially as opposed to ethical intuitionism. Empiricism is the principle that knowledge is gained primarily through observation and experience. Moral rationalism is the analysis according to which ethical truths are knowable a priori, by reason alone. It is recognized as the view that moral constraints are rational constraints (Russ Shafer-Landau, 2012). Some famous theoretical actors who have defended moral rationalism are Plato and Immanuel Kant. Others who have discarded moral rationalism are David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Applied Ethics:

Applied ethics are analysis of specific controversial moral issues such as abortion, animal rights, or euthanasia. It helps to use knowledge of moral principles to present dilemmas. There are certain issues which arise due to newly adopted life style. Applied ethics deals with the questions such as, "Is getting an abortion immoral?' "Is euthanasia immoral?" "Is affirmative action right or wrong?" "What are human rights, and how do we determine them?" "Do animals have rights as well?" and "Do individuals have the right of self-determination?" Two characteristics are necessary for an issue to be considered as an 'applied ethical issue'. First, the issue needs to be controversial in the sense that there are significant groups of people both for and against the issue at hand. The second requirement for an issue to be an applied ethical issue is that it must be a distinctly moral issue and not just a social controversy.

Specific fields of application:

1. Bioethics: Bioethics is the study of contentious ethics brought about by advancement in biology and medicine. Bioethicists are more involved with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, and philosophy. It also includes Primary care ethics which is the study of the everyday decisions that primary care clinicians make. Bioethics also deal with emerging biotechnologies that affect basic biology and future humans. These developments include cloning, gene therapy, human genetic engineering, astroethics and life in space, and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA etc. Many religious communities have their own histories of inquiry into bioethical issues and have developed rules and guidelines on how to deal with these issues from within the viewpoint of their respective faiths.

2. Business ethics: Business ethics also referred as corporate ethics is a type of applied ethics that scrutinizes ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is pertinent to the conduct of individuals and entire organizations. Business ethics also has both normative and descriptive dimensions. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is mainly normative. Academics attempting to understand business behaviour employ descriptive methods. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reveals the interaction of profit-maximizing behaviour with non-economic concerns.

3. Organizational ethics: Organizational ethics is the ethics of an organization, and the way an organization responds to an internal or external stimulus. Organizational ethics is interdependent with the organizational culture. Although, it is similar to both organizational behaviour and business ethics, organizational ethics is neither organizational behaviour nor solely business ethics. Organizational ethics articulate the values of an organization to its employees and/or other entities irrespective of governmental and/or regulatory laws.

An organization is developed when individuals with varied interests and diverse backgrounds join on a common platform and work together towards predefined goals and objectives. A code of ethics within an organization is a set of principles that is used to guide the organization in its decisions, programs, and policies.

There are at least four elements that create an ethical culture and behaviour of employees within an organization. These elements are:

  1. A written code of ethics and standards (ethical code)
  2. Ethics training for executives, managers, and employees
  3. The availability of ethical situational advice (i.e. advice lines or offices)
  4. Confidential reporting systems

4. Machine ethics: Machine Ethics is the element of the ethics of artificial intelligence concerned with the moral behaviour of artificially intelligent beings. Machine Ethics contrasts with roboethics, which is concerned with the moral behaviour of humans as they design, construct, use and treat such beings. Machine ethics should not be perplexed with computer ethics, which focuses on professional behaviour towards computers and information. The effort to actually program a machine or artificial agent to behave as though instilled with a sense of ethics requires new specificity in normative theories.

5. Military ethics: Military ethics deals with questions regarding the application of force and the ethos of the soldier and are often understood as applied professional ethics.
Military ethics involves manifold areas, including the following among others:

  1. The laws of war.
  2. Justification for the initiation of military force.
  3. Decisions about who may be targeted in warfare.
  4. Decisions on choice of weaponry, and what collateral effects such weaponry may have.
  5. Standards for handling military prisoners.
  6. Methods of dealing with violations of the laws of war.

6. Political ethics: Political ethics is concerned with making moral judgements about political action and political agents. It includes two areas. The first is the ethics of process (or the ethics of office), which deals with public officials and the methods they use. The second area, the ethics of policy (or ethics and public policy) concerns judgements about policies and laws. Some opponents argue that ethics has no place in politics. If politicians are to be effective in the real world, they cannot be bound by moral rules. They have to follow the national interest. Others argued that there is no need to pay so much attention to politicians and policies but should instead look more closely at the larger structures of society where the most serious ethical problems lie. Supporters of political ethics reply that while structural injustice should not be ignored, too much emphasis on structures neglects the human agents who are responsible for changing them.

Public sector ethics: Public sector ethics is a set of values that guide public executives in their service to their constituents, including their decision-making on behalf of their constituents.

Determinants of ethics:

This is the factors in human behaviour that determine whether it is good or bad. There are three such determinants of ethics, namely the object, the end, and the circumstances.

Object means what the free will chooses to do in thought, word, or deed or chooses not to do. Be end is meant the purpose for which the act is willed, which may be the act itself (as one of loving God) or some other purpose for which a person acts (as reading to learn). In either case, the end is the motive or the reason why an action is performed. By circumstances are meant all the elements that surround a human action and affect its morality without belonging to its essence. Some circumstances so affect the morals of an action as to change its species. Other circumstances change the extent of kindness or badness of an act. In bad acts they are called aggravating circumstances. To be ethically good, a human act must agree with the norm of morality on all three counts; in its nature, its motive, and its circumstances. Departure from any of these makes the action morally wrong.

Consequences of Ethics in human actions: The consequences are the outcomes caused by an action and the quality of these consequences depend on how much good they contain. Motives are the causes and the consequences are the effect. The consequences are explained by various theories. One is utilitarianism approach. Utilitarianism appraised consequences by how much happiness and suffering they contain. The consequence that mattered to every human is pleasure and happiness in the absence of pain and suffering. The good consequences are defined in terms of happiness and suffering. The amount of pleasure and pain created by an action is really good way of presenting that some consequences are better or worse than others.

Rousseau, another thinker is concerned to demonstrate the origins of this inequality. The changeover from the state of nature to civil life is the product of a long historical process. This process is characterised by a growth in the' consciousness of freedom' as the human individual transcends a condition of subjection to 'mechanical' forces to exert himself as a "free agent'. Rousseau affirms the capacity of human beings to perfect them through generating more complex modes of beings.

It is appraised that many theorists explained concept of ethics in human action. Benthem elucidated that ethics at large is the art of directing human action to the greatest production of the greatest possible quantities of happiness on the part of those whose interest is in this view. According Kohnson and Hellegers, ethics is the body of prescriptions and prohibitions, do's and don'ts that people consider to carry uncommon weight in their lives. The common factor is that ethic concentrates on human actions or the consequences of human actions. From the deontological perspective, ethics teaches people that they ought to perform good actions and it provides people with rules of doing so. From teleological perspective, ethics also examine human actions and their consequences by reflecting on their meaning and determining their rightness or wrongness depending on the circumstances, and intention of actors (Patrick J. Sheeran, 1993).

To summarize, ethical consciousness originates in the human experience, and is recognized by reason as crucial on the grounds of liberal self-interest. The moral imperative is the basis of human continued existence and wealth. Ethics ought to be viewed in relation to sustaining and augmenting this life experience of peoples around the globe, rather than in relation to any eschatological philosophy. Ethical values are stranded in the universal experience of humankind, not just in the principle of one particular religion. As such, ethics should be taught outside of any theological structure, and introduced early on in the educational process as a shared human venture. Philosophers categorized ethical theories as meta-ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. In brief, Meta-ethics explains the nature of moral judgement. It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles. Normative ethics is concerned with the content of moral judgements and the criteria for what is right or wrong. Applied ethics search for controversial issues such as war, animal rights and capital punishment. Ethical theories affect the way human beings behave.