Nature of Public Ethics The Nature of Ethics A. The Meaning of Ethics Ethics is used to signify: 1.

A general pattern or way of life – refers to Buddhist, Judeo-Christian Ethics or Islamic Ethics. 2. A set of rules of conduct or moral code – refers to the concept of a code. 3. Inquiry about ways of life and rules of conduct – refers to a branch of Philosophy or a field of study. Ethics may be defined in two ways: 1. As a field of study. Ethics is “that branch of Philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct with respect to rightness or wrongness of certain actions and the goodness or badness of the motives and end of such actions.” Three categories of ethics in terms of its scope: a. Metaethics – is primarily concerned on the role and analysis of values. It may also be defined as the study of the origin and meaning of ethical concepts. b. General ethics – is a branch of philosophy dealing with values that are of general application. c. Special ethics – cover the study of values that are of specific application; subdivided into four categories: 1. Individual or personal ethics – relate to the rightness or wrongness of an individual’s behaviour as a person. 2. Social ethics – pertain to the study of norms and values concerning the relationship of the members of a group. 3. Professional ethics – is primarily concerned on the study of the norms of conduct of different professions such as medical profession and teaching. 4. Public ethics – is a branch of ethics which focuses on contemporary rules of standards that governs the conduct, action, decision and the manner by which decision are made by public officials and employees. 2. As an art. Ethics refer to “contemporary standards at certain point in time in terms of which men evaluate their conduct and that of men about them.” In this respect, ethics are commonly understood as norms or code of conduct, which guide the behaviour of individuals in a society at a particular point in time. Values as the Foundation of Ethics Psychologists define values as cognitive meanings attached to something – an object, an action, a policy or decision, which are by product of the individual’s personality, his perception of the world and his environment. B. Distinction between Ethics and Morals Morals refer to absolute standards that exist beyond time, standards of the good and the true. It is the ultimate guide in judging the rightness or wrongness of a behaviour at any point in time. On the other hand, ethics point to standards or codes of behaviour expected by the group to which the individual belongs.

good and bad. 4. 2. 2. Empirical theory – it asserts that “ethics are derived through human experience and are conceived by general agreement. Personal values – pertain to personal concept of individuals as to what is right and wrong and what is beneficial and what is harmful to his welfare. but an ethical behaviour may not be necessarily moral. . which is defined as whatever strengthens or protects the agency in the service of its mission is justified by the ends assigned to it as part of the national interest. but. ethical theory maybe divided into five schools of thought. that human beings naturally and automatically posses an understanding of what is right and wrong.Nature of Public Ethics Accordingly. Organizational norms – refer to the written or unwritten norms of conduct in an organization. It focuses on the motives behind and means used in doing the action or in making the decision. 5. General categories of ethical theory in terms of the method of analysis: 1.” 3. Consequential or theory of means and ends – it “involves the question of reason of state. quantifiable. God prescribes what is right and wrong. Law of God – the ultimate source of moral values deriving from the varying types of Holy book of such religions. 5. 3. moral behaviour is necessarily ethical. Critical theory – examines the “why aspects” of ethical statements. Source of Public Ethics Sources of public ethics in general: 1. Intuitive theory – it views ethics as “not necessarily derived from experience or logic.” This theory is following the concept of reason of agency. Customs and traditions – refer to the customs and traditions forming the foundation of cultural value system. 2. Revelation theory (“Natural Law Tradition”) – it asserts that the determination of right and wrong comes from an authority above human beings.” It is based on the observable. Rational theory – it stipulates that “people determine what is good or bad through reasons. namely: 1. Normative theory – prescribes which ethical statements are valid or true. which are binding upon the members. In terms of content. and measurable information of what is right or wrong. Societal norms – pertain to norms and values upheld in a particular type of society. what is good and bad. Ethical Theory Ethical theory is defined as “a body of reflection or intended to answer certain questions about ethical statements (statements about what is desirable or morally obligatory). It examines the action or decision itself and compares it with the predetermined ethical conducts. 4.