Ethics is the general term for attempts to state or determine what is good, both for the individual and for the society as a whole. It is often termed the science of morality. (Webster’s online dictionary*)
This is a term we use in place of morals: it removes us from the stricter rules of morals. Even then many do not follow the lesser. Many in business, for example, will bolster, omit or just avoid known facts while they represent a product. They do this in the name of good business, making money when and however they can. Doing so can harm their reputation with their peers and even their family. The most successful business’ abide by the rules of ethics, and will dismiss any employee who misrepresents a product. If for no other reason: to avoid law-suits and bad publicity. Law-suits are very expensive: and bad publicity, ruins repeat business. Therefore, it is imperative that people realize that ethics and morals are nearly synonymous. Our laws are governed on the principles of morality, fairness and common sense. My personal understanding of common sense dictates that: to stay out of legal problems a person should use sound ethics while dealing with others. A person may not gain as much in the beginning: but will reap larger rewards of self-esteem and the respect of others.
There have been numerous people in history that we can look at to see the contrasts, of ethical and unethical behavior. The differences are obvious to all in this simple comparison: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adolph Hitler. If people consider the difference between the two: it becomes apparent that, if they follow proper ethics in both business and in their personal dealings, they will be more successful in life, rather than vilified. The example given seems extreme, but a common-sense line needs to be drawn somewhere. I agree with Hippocrates “Do no harm.” There are times it is better to not say anything, rather than be viewed as inconsiderate to another’s ego. This would just fall into the category of common- sense. Is this a breach in our ethics, I do not believe so. There is a fine line between ethics and being rude that all should understand.
Most people today hold our morals dear and personal. This is because our morals in most cases: we relate to our religious beliefs. Ethics are not held as close, after all its just good business right? If Dalai Lama were to be told to lie to his followers in order to save his own life. He would not. This would be against all the morals that he holds dear as a religious leader. If one of us were told the same thing: I do not know about others, but my ethics here: are to stay alive. Ethics are based on attempting to do no harm to another individual or society on the whole. If something involves harm: it may not be ethical and will not be moral.
Say a salesperson is selling a cleaning product that is specifically targeted to remove unsightly rust stains. The customer tells the salesperson that they are looking for something to remove rust and lime. The salesperson responds that his product removes rust and all kinds of other stains. This is an un-ethical statement: he heard the customer’s question, and decided to omit his knowledge that it may not work on lime stains. If the salesperson had answered: This product is designed specifically for rust stains, I am not sure if it will work on lime. And the customer decides to buy the cleaning product anyway; the salesperson has acted ethically, he has harmed no one.
We have come up with a solution as to not break our morals: we fall back on our ethics. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a man of vast moral and ethical beliefs. Adolf Hitler: was a sociopathic psychotic, with neither ethics, nor morals. If Roosevelt had relied on his religious based morals that include: “Thou shall not kill” we would have never have entered WWII. Instead he relied on his ethics; if this included the loss of thousands of lives in order to save millions, then the greater good of society would be served.
Not using ethics does not only harm society: it harms the reputation and self-esteem of the person not having them as well. As I have shown here: the lack of using proper ethics by the few could harm many. The lack of ethics by many (or by a person in power) could harm millions. We do not need to be perfectly moral, this is reserved for the very few throughout history. All we need to be is ethical. *Source: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/ethics