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1. Ethics and Human Interface

UPSC Syllabus
Ethics and Human Interface:
2_Determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions;
3_Dimensions of ethics;
4_Ethics – in private and public relationships.
5_Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators;
6_Role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

Ethics is an understanding of right and wrong, good or bad and find the reasons for the same. It is a normative (establishing a norm/standard) discipline, which tries to set a standard for right behaviour. It forms an integral part of public administration and defines set of standard for responsible public life.
Ethics emerged as one of the branch of philosophy.
Ethics is derived from the word ethos meaning character. Based on a value system, wecreate an ideal situation which ethics tries to achieve.

Real and Ideal self e1565413225308
Real self should approximate the ideal self to be truly ethical.

Ethics deals with voluntary human actions. There are ‘human actions’ and ‘actions of human’. While human actions are voluntary, conscious and are done with certain motive, with end in the vision, ‘actions of humans may or may not fit this description’. e.g. Sleeping, Heartbeat etc.

Ethics vs Morality
Morality is individual set of commitments and values one holds sacred. Such values and commitments may or may not be accepted by society. Ethics demands acquiescence (acceptance from others) while morality does not.
It is reflective study of what is good or bad in that part of human conduct for which human has some personal responsibility. It deals with voluntary actions.

“One can be moral alone, but not ethical alone.”

Ethics and Religion
Ethics is not religion either. Religion is enforced by faith, fear of punishment or sense of duty or sometimes by some material desire. Ethics is enforced by conscience. Religion may not apply to everyone but ethics applies to everyone. And there can even be contradictions between ethics and religion also e.g. Certain sect may give preference to certain ritual over equality of gender. While ethics advises us to give preference to equality of gender.

Ethics and Law
Ethics is not just following law. In law man is guilty when he violates the rights of others while in ethics he is guilty even if he thinks of doing so. (Immanuel Kant). Law is often based on ethics, sometimes it can deviate from ethics because of its rigid nature. Law may be silent in some situations while ethics addresses all domains. Laws are legally binding whereas ethics is morally binding.
When they are not in sync, laws are repealed or reformed. e.g. Abolition of Sec 377, 497 of IPC.

Ethics and Customs
They’re not same. Ethics is based on reason while custom is based on tradition. Customs are enforced by social sanctions while ethics is enforced by conscience.
Customs may or may not be ethical. e.g. Jallikattu festival in TN – it is injurious to both animals and humans.
Stone pelting festival in certain village in India. It doesn’t fit ethics. Slavery was normal in ancient Greece, Caste system in India etc.
Customs are static and non-evolving. While ethics is a dynamic, evolving concept.

Ethics and Science
Ethics is often said to be fruit of all sciences. It puts everything in proper order. Other sciences equip us with power, ethics guides use of such power for welfare of mankind. Power or ability to something in itself not sufficient. Rather if it is not directed in right direction, it can cause greater harm.
Ethics gives us reason as to why be ethical.

Socio-Political evolution of ethics
Ethics is as old as humanity. In ancient times, codes of ethical behaviour were passed down from elders to next generations orally. Socrates is known as father of ethics. As a Greek philosopher, in 5th BC he asked his students to question and evaluate all their beliefs and practices. Ethics is also affected by religion to large degree and it is not uncommon to see religious teachers preaching ethical codes of conduct also.

Branches of Ethics.

Prescriptive / Normative ethics.
It is about arriving at moral standards that regulate right/wrong. It establishes moral norms and gives justification for same. It can also prescribe punishment for unethical conduct and give reason for it. Aristotle’s virtue ethics, Bhagwat Geeta’s Nishkama Karmayoga are examples of it.
e.g. Golden rule is ‘We should do to others what we would want others to do to us.’

Descriptive ethics.
It studies history and evolution of ethics. It gives record of customs, traditions, taboos etc. It aims to find out people’s beliefs. It is an value-free approach to ethics. An empirical investigation of people’s moral beliefs.

Meta Ethics
It is more philosophical in nature. It deals with origin and meaning of ethical concepts. ‘Meta’ literally means beyond. It determines validity of ethical theories advanced.
Two issues are prominent in meta ethics –
1. Metaphysical issues – Whether morality exist independent of humanity and in which form it exists? 
2. Psychological issues which deal with understanding of human mind and ethics in enforced by human conscience

Applied Ethics
Applied ethics talks about the application of ethics in real life and day to day scenarios to specific issues. It helps us use knowledge of ethics to solve real life problems. Necessary pre-condition for issue to be considered under applied ethics is that it should be a moral issue with significant group of people on both sides of it.
e.g. Bio-ethics: Abortion, Stem cell production, Cloning, Euthanasia, Suicide, Clinical trials etc.
Environmental ethics: Anthropocentrism (Human centered ethics) vs Ecocentrism (Nature centered approach). Biocentrism: Biodiversity is focal point.
Climate ethics: Climate justice, Ecological justice
/ Try using these terms in answers.

Issues in Ethics

1] Abortion
Abortion is willful removal of foetus from mother’s womb by artificial womb. Issue involved is when does the life of such foetus begin and if it begins at fertilization, how ethical it is to kill a helpless baby in its undeveloped stage?
It involves the issue of ‘Rights of unborn child’. UN convention on rights of child maintains that ‘child needs special safeguard due to its immature physical and mental capacities.’
Conservatives are against abortion. It is often misused in country like India as a tool for sex discrimination…

2] Stem Cell Research
It is about generating a human organ and tissues to replace diseased organs in individual. In theory entire cardiac system could be generated through stem cells.

3] Human Cloning and Designer Babies
Designer baby – whose genetic make up has been artificially decided and selected by genetic engineering. It is done via in vitro fertilization.
What effects it will have on society?
Is it ethical to go against order of nature?
Will we end up creating ‘Frankenstein monster?’

4] Euthanasia
It is a practice of intentionally end one’s life to relive her of pain or suffering. It can be passive (natural death, with removing artificial life support for patients in permanent vegetative state.) or active (Injecting chemical/medicine that will terminate one’s life.)
In India passive euthanasia is allowed with ‘living will’ or advanced directives by a person.
Right to life – to die also?
In Switzerland and Belgium – its allowed.

5] Suicide
Act of intentionally ending one’s life. Often as a result of despair, mental pressure etc.
Opponents include Immanuel Kant…. against order of nature..
Supporters – no one should be forced to live against his own will…
In India it was illegal under Sec 309 of IPC but it has been repealed in 2014.

6] Medical research involving humans
There are cases where humans were used to check efficacy of certain medicines. During medication period patients are to follow certain code. And failure to follow have led to death.
It is required to enhance medical research and to save humanity at large but cannot be done at the cost of human life.
Public Registry of such willing people’s should be made.
Consent of family should be made compulsory since family members are dependent on him.
Person should be informed of possible consequences.
If there are chances of death, such research cannot be encouraged.
They should be under vigilance during such period. If they happen to take some other medicine that will also affect outcomes of research.

Ethics in public and private relationships
Ethics in public relationship mainly concerns the ethics which govern the formal relationships of a person with society. It includes relationship a elected representative or a civil servant has with public in general or the CEO of company with other employees.
Private relationship mainly concern with blood relationships or informal
relations like friend etc.
The codes of ethics in these two are slight different. In public relationship, a person is not on his own, he is representative of some organization like govt, or private firm. However in private relationship there are no such restrictions.
In reality it is impossible to maintain a clear and precise distinction between the two and are often mixed.

These are individual principles or qualities that guide judgement and behaviour of a person and effect decision making.
Values inculcate character which is essential for moral development.
Values determine our actions even when no one is looking.
They instill a moral worth to our acts.

“Values are like an anchor in a ship, when storm comes, a ship is not swept away and remains anchored to the shore. Similarly a person with strong values sticks to his principles and is not swept or pressurized easily.”

Types of Values
1_Intrinsic values: These are ends in itself  e.g. Truth, Goodness etc.
2_Extrinsic values: They are means to an end. e.g. Wealth, Fitness etc.

Value Pluralism
The preference of values and varies from person to person. Someone values honesty, while for somebody success is a greater value and so on.

Factors in inculcating values
/ Questions have been asked on this topic

1_Family: It is the first social institution of exposure to a child. He or she closely observes and imbibes the value system.
Parents inculcate certain values by rewards and punishment. Therefore family creates an everlasting impact which helps in the moral development of a child. Hereafter the child just confirms whether the virtues or values adopted by him are appropriate or not.

2_Society: While family is primary exposure / 1st social institution, society is secondary exposure and 2nd social institution.
Society includes peers, media, neighbours and other citizens. And they all play a important role in ‘value shaping’ of an individual.

3_Experiences and observational learning: If there are more good or positive experiences, then faith in positive values is strengthened. Else a dissonance is created. These good or bad experiences also help in shaping our value system.

4_Educational Institutions: Educational institutions also play a major role in creation of a strong value system.

Examples from the life of great people: // you can write.

E.g. Vinoba Bhave recalls that when he was small, his mother through the act of sharing homegrown fruits with neighbours taught him “To share is divine, while to keep is demoniac.” Same Vinoba Bhave later played an important role in Bhudan movement in requesting people to donate their extra land to poor. His speech could impact people because strong value he held about to donate is divine.

E.g. Pandit Nehru recalls that once while protesting against Britishers, ruthless conduct of British officials enraged him very much and he was about to take to violent means along with mob that had gathered, but suddenly he recalled teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and could control himself. Since he cherished the value of non-violence preached by Mahatma Gandhi, it affected his behaviour.

Moral/ Amoral /Immoral/Non moral
Morality is ethics at individual level. The value system of an individual determines the basis of morality.
Immoral acts are applicable in areas where moral categories do apply. They are wrong, sinful and contradictory to a certain code of ethics and principles. Such acts are usually done knowingly with the understanding of right and wrong.
Non moral acts: They do not fall into moral categories as no moral value or decision is based on it. e.g. Which fruit to eat, what to wear etc.
Amoral acts: There is no idea of right or wrong and good or bad. The individual is completely unaware about the concept of ethics or morality. e.g. A young child, sociopath, mentally ill person etc.

Basis of ethics
Consequence: Actions are value neutral. It is the outcome which gives it a moral worth. Good or bad is based on the consequence generated.
Intention: As per Deontology or motive based approach, the moral worth of an act is decided by the intention and not the outcome.
Actions / Acts: Some acts are always right and some are always wrong irrespective of the outcome they generate. e.g. Charity is always ethical and slavery will always be unethical.

Why be moral/ethical?
1_Morality is enforced by our conscience. If our conduct is not in sync with morality, it creates a feeling of guilt called as moral dissonance(?). It reduces enthusiasm of people.
2_’Man is a social animal’. To live peacefully in society, one needs ethical conduct. History is witness to the fact that only in stable societies higher dimensions of human life can be explored. e.g. Art, Music, Religion, etc.
3_Acting morally, although tough in the beginning itself is a fulfilling experience. It enables person to use his talents to their fullest.
4_It provides common platform on which agreements can be made. If things are left just for human reason and interpretation it can lead to chaos. As said by Hobbes ‘In state of nature, life of man was solitary, poor, brutish, nasty and short’.
As defined by J S Mill happiness is qualitative. Ethical conduct gives higher happiness to humans.5_

Answer framework
/ Have a standard approach for answer. And it can be changed little bit acc to answer.
1_Define, quote.
3_Thought/thinker/philosophy which is similar to our answer.
4_Some examples from the life of great people.
5_/If time, space and demand of question – Flowchart / diagram.Conclusion/Quote.
6_/ For quote based question, in case of famous personality, we can glorify that person in initial 2-3 lines. Its very touchy.