Why are ethics important in a society?

Laws proscribe behaviors and prescribe behaviors. Laws verbalize and delineate.

Ethics exist as guidelines.

Morals are thought to be absolute and universal, what one would expect as common behavior.

Laws require consensus (in a democracy), but exist as decrees elsewhere.

Ethics are determined by group values, but are not always verbalized or published.

Morals simply "are".

Laws describe penalties for violation.

Ethics leave penalties behind, and require those offended to ask for recompense.

Morals have no penalties.

Truthfully, no law is beyond ethics or morality. Law should advocate for ethical and moral behavior. Some laws exist (like tax laws) where neither ethics or morality apply. Ethics are recognized standards of behavior, whether formalized in written form or not, while morals represent an arena of behavior that is respected but rarely visited.

Ethics are valued beyond laws because the values expected exceed the limited definitions of law, while the penalties for abuse are more subjective and circumstantial. Some ethical violations are barely rendered, while others may lead to catastrophe, both beyond the law. All of which discussion reverts to enforcement.

Laws specify enforcement. Ethics do not. Morality asks for neither.

Bottom line, what is not legal may be either ethical or moral or not, like some drugs, which are illegal, may be unethical in some places (u s congress) but not in others, and has a big morality question mark. What is not illegal may be corrupt and unethical, like abuse of position (see Sarah Palin). What is legal may be unethical or immoral (see abortion).

Get it?

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. ken
    Jun 05, 2009 @ 22:56:00

    but your ethics have been in question since the first time i saw you here.just give me that rock and walk away

    Reply

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