“In law, a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics, he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so. ” – Immanuel Kant Law is a “consistent set of universal rules that are widely published, generally accepted, and usually enforced. ” These set of rules are required by the people in that society to follow. If these rules are violated, a higher authority has the right to enforce these laws and punish the violator. Ethics is defined by doing “what is good for the individual and for society and establishing the nature of duties that people owe themselves and one another.
” A person’s behavior is defined by the moral principles that he or she governs. Law and ethics intertwine with one another and the World has set a common standard for the two. Law is stricter than ethics because the law has been established by published rules, and if they are disregarded, that person can be punished. Ethics, on the other hand, are based primarily on a person’s morals and what they believe is the right thing to do. Although that person will not be punished for doing something wrong, it could have severe consequences on that person later on and possibly many people around them.
Law and ethics overlap in purpose and/or form. Legal principles and ethical conduct are usually closely related to one another. What usually is constituted as illegal, will also be seen as unethical by the majority of people. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ADA, states the following: “No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
” In 1990, the ADA was passed in order to protect Americans with disabilities in the work environment. Under this law, employers are not allowed to make a decision for employment based on that individual being disabled. Violating this law will be illegal and also be seen as unethical to the majority of Americans. Most Americans will agree that everyone should have an equal right to apply for a job, despite a disability. However, law and ethics don’t always coincide with one another.
For instance, it is illegal to allow another human being to use your prescription asthma inhaler, however, it may be the ethical thing to do in order to save that person’s life. A reversed example is that it is legal for a seller to persuade and convince a buyer into purchasing a product that in reality is not that great, but it is considered unethical to many people. The law is much more complex and can lead to legal consequences, whereas ethics is based on an individual’s morals and the punishments are usually personal.
Law is ethically neutral. The U. S. Constitution states that “ensuring domestic tranquility is an objective of government”, which is an ethically neutral statement. The law does not have to mandate an act because of the act’s moral or ethical value, but for a reasoning of it’s own. Many times, ethical issues can’t be settled in courts because the law does not have the privilege of enforcing ethical conduct and resolving these conflicts.
For instance, many times social workers believe that actions the law permits would violate ethical standards in social work, or actions that would violate the law are necessary to comply with ethical standards in the profession. There are many cases that forces an individual to act with good morals in order to serve a greater purpose, and the law is ethically neutral. The law may actually be unethical because the law is developed through compromise. There are many laws that have been passed that are unethical, however, are compromised in order to serve a purpose.
For instance, murder is seen as fallacious throughout the world, however, the government has passed laws that require its citizens to participate in armies where murdering the opponent is an obligation. While some may believe that having a law like this is necessary, many still see this is as unethical. Unethical advocates would argue that a person should not fight fire with fire, but should fight with peace. Another major issue is antiabortion laws. Sometimes, the only solution is getting an abortion, such as when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy.
Although many people may see this as unethical, the law is not absolute, and certain circumstances do arise. In conclusion, there is a strong relationship between law and ethics, which together have formed a common standard. The law is stricter than ethics due to the law being published and enforceable, whereas ethics is based primarily on the individual’s morals. Although many times law and ethics coincide with one another, one must not mistake that they are the same thing, however, together, form a better World.