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Values, Ethics, Morality


Values refer to the important and enduring beliefs or principles, based on which an individual makes judgement in life. Values do not attach judgement of right and wrong to a personal domain. Values refers to something that one consider to have worth in one’s life. For example – being a vegetarian, choosing materialism over spiritualism etc.

Types Intrinsic (Primary) Values which are an end in itself – education for wisdom
Instrumental (Secondary) Values which are means to an end – education for job, Gym for toned body



Universal Which do not change with context or time and remain same always – Love, truth, care, respect, peace
Evolving Change with time – Polygamy, Satipratha, LGBT, Parda system,
Change with place – Abortion, Food Preference, Collectivism vs individualism
Subjective (Relativist) Values which change with the context or situation – Killing vs Euthanasia vs killing in self defence vs capital punishment – Values which can be justified in a particular situation
Objective (Absolutist) Absolutists are the people according to whom values do not change with respect to time or context – Killing is killing no matter what

Conflicting values in contemporary times

In contemporary times all the conflicts in this world are due to non-acknowledgment of values of others. People keeping their values above of others, and not respecting the values of others become the cause for widespread differences, mistrust & intolerance in society as well as international sphere.

  • Materialism vs spiritualism
  • Hierarchy vs egalitarianism
  • Capitalism vs socialism
  • Globalization vs localization
  • Theocratic vs secular state
  • Individualism vs collectivism
Fundamentalist When one becomes colorblind that other’s values should not exist (Only his value is right) – ISIS
Global conflicts Due to conflict of values – Rising intolerance i.e. not acknowledging others values – USA vs Russia
Moral Polishing Value conflicts – Bajrang dal on valentine’s day, Cow killing vs cow vigilantes

Ethics & Morality

  • Attaching judgment to values
  • Determine right & wrong aspects of human action
Ethics Collective set of values prescribed by a group  – organization, religion, society, culture, profession – They are externally sourced by a common set of principles a group or society believes in
Morality Individual set of principles, determining right & wrong for oneself – They are internally sourced means what an individual believes in irrespective of society
E vs M They are mostly complementary to each other but in some cases are antagonistic – Inter caste marriages, Doctor treating a rapist, lawyer fighting a case for a terrorist, Khap panchayat vs individual thinking, RRM Roy vs orthodox rituals
  • Ethical values become moral on socialization; whereas consensus based codification of moral values become ethics
  • Law – Emerges out of larger consensus + Objective in nature + Codified + Binding & Enforceable

Determinants of Values / Ethics / Morality

Individual level Family Formative stage, 1st informal stage of socialization, emotive component, collectivism & helping attitude of joint family vs economic aspirations & alienation of nuclear family
School 1st formal stage of socialization, learns Discipline, Equality (EWS & Riches), Intermixing of cultures, Study of all religions
Religions Refers to selfless duty – Niskamkarma, Jakat, Lunger versus exploitation of religion – Fatwa, ISIS, Saffron vigilante
Peer Group Peer group pressure to sail with the flow or become an odd man out
Leaders Which aspire us to be like them – Raghuram Rajan, Vinod Rai, Durga Shakti Nagpal, Abraham Lincoln
Media(Print & Electronics) – Awareness vs Sensitization; Cinema – Social equality vs commodification of women
Professional Minimum standard & behaviour required in a profession – Doctor, lawyer
National level Which binds us in a common thread – Constitution, Common History, Common Enemy pre independence & post-independence

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