Ethical means 'of or relating to conduct considered as relating to good or evil'; moral is a synonym. Integrity is the degree to which one acts in accordance with ethical principles
How does one distinguish between an ethical and an unethical act? This can be done by applying ethical rules such as the Ten Commandments, by use of some features of the 'law of the land' or by logic. In the past, religious laws had an important effect on ethical behaviour but they are now much less powerful. Main issues are the effect of actions on society and on the environment.
Social ethics - ethics in relation to humans. Our social structure has a hierarchy of communities: family, friends, neighbourhood, district, city, county, country, continent, etc. Ethical decisions need to take account of all communities.
Ethics in relation to the natural environment. It is very important to protect the ecosystem of the planet. When making decisions that affect the natural environment it is important to take account of the ethical issues.
Professional ethics. Members of a professional body are required to adhere to a code of ethics. High levels of professional integrity are of great importance in civilised society. It is particularly important that those who hold leading positions in society work to the highest levels of professional integrity. The Statement of Ethical Principles published by the Institution of Engineers in Scotland is here.
Duty of Care is the legal responsibility of a person or organization to avoid circumstances that could reasonably be foreseen to cause harm to others.
Ethical principles Include:
- Tell the truth
- Honour agreements
- Do not use power to gain undeserved advantage
- Do not take bribes. If one takes a bribe then the quality of the resulting outcome is compromised; you have been bought and have lost control.
- Do not disclose confidential information.
- Give credit to those who deserve it.
- Do not accept a commission for which the requirements are unsatisfactory.
- Do not accept a commission if you do not have the necessary competence.
- Seek to avoid commercial pressures from over-ruling considerations that relate to duty of care in society.
Maintaining an ethical stance in all activities is crucial for a fair society.