What Is Ethics?

1. Be able to define ethics and give examples of ethical decisions you make in your daily life.

2. Explain the levels of ethics and how they relate to human relations.

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3. Explain how your ethics are developed both personally and in the workplace.


What Is Ethics?

First, though, what exactly is ethics? Ethics is defined as a set of values that define right and wrong. Can

you see the challenge with this ambiguous definition? What exactly is right and wrong? That obviously

depends on the person and the individual situation, which is what makes ethics difficult to more

specifically define. Values are defined as principles or standards that a person finds desirable. So we can

say that ethics is a set of principles that a person or society finds desirable and help define right and

wrong. Often people believe that the law defines this for us. To an extent it does, but there are many

things that could be considered unethical that are not necessarily illegal. For example, take the

popularized case where a reality production crew was filming about alcoholism—a show

called Intervention. They followed one woman who got behind the wheel to drive and obviously was in no

state to do so. The television crew let her drive. People felt this was extremely unethical, but it wasn’t

illegal because they were viewed as witnesses and therefore had no legal duty to intervene. [1] This is the

difference between something ethical and illegal. Something may not necessarily be illegal, but at the

same time, it may not be the right thing to do.


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