Ethics? Whatever

Image thanks to Toppr

If there was ever a fascinating subject to get your head around then ethics is it. Someone’s ethics are the moral principles that govern their behaviour or the way they conduct an activity. At its simplest, ethics is about doing or being right or wrong.

People have argued about the subject for years and no doubt will continue to do so as long as we are on the face of this, or any other planet.

On the back of my interest I am helping to support the North East Initiative on Business Ethics. They are Working to make the North East an ethical place to do business, encouraging the adoption of high ethical standards through trust, honesty and transparency.

The paradox is however that ethics, like so many other things that we believe to be true, is entirely a human construct. However much we would like to believe the opposite, in nature there are no ethics. Things happen without good or evil intent. The non human world functions without ethical constraint.

Because of this, ethics is basically whatever you say it is. Good and bad, right and wrong are only questions of perspective and timing. Killing another person is wrong until they lunge at you with a knife. Stealing food is wrong until it stops a child from starving.

This may be simplistic yet it highlights the dilemma within ethical arguments. My interest in business ethics comes about as this is an area in which I think we can have some influence. Humans, as I have said many times, are social creatures. Our society is held together by rules and regulations that we have created and, in the main, believe in. These rules are there to give society a degree of fairness.

I believe that deep down all of us know the difference between right and wrong, whatever the circumstances and whatever the justification. Ethics is such a fascinating subject as it helps me to think about the kind of society I want to live in.

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