Definition of ethics


Topics Covered

Background basic knowledge on Ethics, Faming of comprehensive definition


Next topics: Human Actions, Essence of Ethics




   N. Vijay Kumar


  • Ethics is a branch of philosophy. As a philosophical discipline, ethics is the study of the values and guidelines by which we live. It also involves justification of these values and guidelines.
  • The term Ethics is derived from the greek work ethos which means custom, habit, character and disposition.
  • Ethics influence the way people make decisions which impact their lives.
  • Different professions have different ethics, like:
    • Corporate ethics
    • Managerial ethics
    • Journalistic ethics
    • Ethics for medical practitioners
    • Administrative ethics


If you type on google "what is Ethics", then you'll find numerous definitions from different websites. Few of them are:

  • Ethics is a set of guiding principles of rightness and wrongness of a deliberate human action.
  • It is a systematic study of human actions from the point of view of rightfulness and wrongfulness, as means for attainment of the ultimate happiness.
  • It is a set of standards that a society places on itself and which helps guide behaviour, choices and actions.

By combining all these definitions, one can arrive at a comprehensive definition:

'Ethics is a set of guiding principles that a society places on itself which helps decide the rightfulness and wrongfulness of a deliberate human action.'

Looking at this definition raises multiple questions:

  • What is a human action?
  • Does these guidelines are universal?
  • Is there any theory which say what is right and what is wrong? and many more...

We'll deal with these questions in our subsequent topics. For now let us look into the few basic topics related to Ethics.