Ethics is the branch of philosophy which deals with moral components of human life and usually is called philosophy of the morality. Ethics reflects understandings of the society about what is and what is not correct within the certain act as well as differences between a good and evil. If you accuse somebody of being lazy and not doing his job well, that does not mean that he has immoral behavior. From the other side, lying and robbery implicit violation of ethical norms. That is why ethics is very often described as agglomerate of principles or as codex of moral behavior.
Although different scholars and writers use the words “ethics” and “morals” in different senses, I would like to make distinctions to help avoid equivalence or these terms in ethical arguments.
Morals is best studied as psychology, sociology, or anthropology.
Different societies have different moral codes.
Moral is a descriptive science; it seeks to establish “what is true” in a society or group.
Often morals are the shared ideals of a group, irrespective of whether they are practiced.
In the sense of descriptive ethics or morals, different people, groups and societies have different moral standards. This observation is seen as true by all sides.
We would commit the fallacy of equivocation to conclude from this observation that there is no universal ethical standard.
We can only conclude by observation that there appears to be, or is, no universal moral standard.
This confusion between descriptive and prescriptive ethics occurs quite often by persons untrained in philosophical analysis. Isaac Asimov got it right when he wrote, “Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what is right.”
Ethical standards should be based on the intellect and experience, but we have another very interesting issue within it – wisdom. Very often we hear things like “he is very wise,” but what he has done might not be ethical at all. Wisdom also demands breathing room for advertisers who use “puffery” in their commercial messages, if the ads are not deceptive.
Hyperbole is the handmaiden of salesmanship, and the market place suffers little from the introduction of exaggerated commercial claims of enhanced sex appeal and social acceptance. A code based on wisdom promotes ethical behavior while avoiding excessive and unreasonable moral propriety.
The application of this criterion to a system of ethics results in flexibility, which shuns the extremes of an intransigent code at the end and moral anarchy at the other. In journalism, the proper balanced is somewhere between the sensational and the bland.
Four criteria represent the basics of any kind of ethical system. First, an ethical system must have joint values related to the ones mentioned above. Because, before bringing of ethical judgments, society must achieve agreement about the standards of moral behavior.
Second, those standards must be reposed on reason and experience and should try to harmonize rights and interests of the people with their obligations towards other people.
Third, an ethical system must search for the justice. Should not be double standards within behavior, except if there is no convincing and morally sustainable reason for discrimination.
Finally, the fourth, an ethical system should be reposed on the freedom of choice and system of ethic which is not contained of responsibility encourages freedom without responsibility and by doing that does not have moral authority to encourage honorable behavior. And we get, as said, then – moral anarchy.
In quality control – should we focus on Law or Ethics? The issue of quality is inescapable. A free and vigorous press and other organs of mass communications are agreed to be among the essential ingredients of a healthy democracy. When I mentioned “vigorous” I meant that freedom is not enough: a people could be free yet manipulated and illiterate.
What is important is that the activity that wishes to call itself professional be conducted on an ethical basis and that its practitioners be accountable for their actions.
Ethics is not just matter of codes of conducts (plus or minus sanctions), not just matter of rules to be followed. It is more to do with principles concerning the rights and wrongs of human conduct, principles which have some reasoned theoretical basis, and which therefore apply objectively and impartially within the quality way of presenting the exchange of the meanings, which will call communication.
Yes, maintaining the quality of the communication just like having a code of conduct, is the restoration of the honor of human behaving.
I would like to focus not on Metaethics (as you know, Metaethics deals with study of the characteristics or nature of ethics. It investigates the meaning of abstract concepts such as good, right, justice and honesty and try those values that represents the best moral values. This kind of ethics doesn’t deal with bringing of moral judgments) and not on Normative ethics (again, Normative ethics deals with development of general theories, rules and principles of moral behavior. Certain social bans of lying, cheating or stealing originate from our relations towards normative ethics).
Nevertheless, I would like to focus more on the applied ethics – because we have so many problems in the world currently – so, applied ethics is the branch of philosophy of the morality that deals with solving of the problems. Here you can use knowledge that are derived from meta-ethics and general principles and rules of normative ethics to solve ethical questions in concrete cases.
Ethical decisions are always made within a certain context which includes political, social and cultural climate. Although context does not determine automatically the outcome of the ethical judgment, it surely does have influence which cannot be ignored. De facto, the factors of the context, very often, are creating internal morality conflict of the stands of our conscience about what we should do and what is popular to be done.
Also, we have to question as well motives of the moral agent (moral agent are those who are making ethical decisions, regardless if they are acting independently or as representatives of some institutions, and all communicators are becoming to be moral agents when they put in conflict ethical dilemmas of their professions and when they have to take full responsibility for their acts) because good motives sometimes might be used to justify something that looks like non-ethical act.
So, finally we need and establishment of the Ethical codex / Code of Ethics as a proposal for the creation of sustainable peace and development worldwide.
Ethical codex, which might be proposed by IFSPD from here and today in Istanbul and communicated and transferred as the proposal for the world governments in each country will be based on those principles:
- Moral responsibility (depending on the understanding of morality within each country) for the responsibility of the public services in the sense that the Minister is a servant to the people and not vice versa; All of us knows that everywhere exists a saying: „Would you like to be introduced to real him/her. Give him/her a power “. Through the education and all kind of literacy today (from basic through technology up to the media) we create “morally responsible leaders” who are above all, responsible to the people who elects them and not to party group and/or party leader.
- Moral leaders – everything comes from the top and people cannot be blamed anywhere for the mistakes of politicians on power; Very often politicians hides behind a people if we say that they are corrupted hypocrites who „blames everybody else but not the one to be blamed and praise everybody else but not the one to be praised“. Should exist the equality between power and responsibility – meaning – as bigger power, bigger is responsibility.
- Ethical government – accept and takes responsibility for the actions. Again, as higher the power as higher the responsibility. Simply, to establish an independent body outside of the elected government which will, on the basis of 12 months analyze promised and done issues; tasked and executed issues of the executive power, and, within the given „table of quality“ gain or lose public trust.
- Ethics within the depth of public service – a compliance function – established within the government by independent advisory board and control. Prime-minister is nothing else on a higher position than the Main officer for ethical and legislative compliance of act of the whole government and both are elected by the Assembly elected by the people.
- Transparency in work of the government (not to wait for somebody to ask the Government to present something). The ethical government presents publicly its work and by that creates a reputation. The ethical government will pay and support the media to search for the gaps in their work and, through publishing it, help them to correct it in the nearest future. Namely, sometimes outsiders see better than insiders.
- Competitiveness of the public service – quality, ethical people and not just party listeners should be participating in the public service.
- Creation of coalition on power on the foundation of Ethics and not if this or that party is left and/or right and/or in the center. Good is good regardless is it left and/or right and/or in center.
- Ethical government and economic development of any country should be highly connected – through zero tolerance to manipulation of the information; the economy where no ethics is on power suites only a few selected firms and persons close to the Government.
- The ethical government has all preconditions to help people in one country to have the moral recovery of one society.
- Two words: „creation and innovation“ within the ethical behavior of the government will lead every people and each country towards the win/win situation and mutual benefits of all within the society as the whole.
I do hope that above mentioned will find a way around the globe to establish sustainable peace and development worldwide.
*The above article was presented by the Member of Editorial board of EURASIA REVIEW, Assoc. Prof. Dr. & Dr. Honoris Causa at the 10th Anniversary of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development (organization in special consultative status with UN Economic and Social council since 2013) that was held in Hotel Hayat Regency Atakoy on 3.3.2019 in Istanbul, Turkey. Sabahudin Hadžialić became fully fledged member during 17th Assembly of IFSPD, 2.3.-5.3.2019.