Deontological Ethics (UPSC Notes)

Deontological Ethics (UPSC Notes)

This article deals with the topic titled ‘Deontological Ethics (UPSC Notes).’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Deontological Ethics?

Deontological Ethics
  • Deontological Ethics is also known as Kantian Ethics or Duty-Based Ethics.
  • Under Deontological Ethics, right & wrong is determined based on the MEANS  & the end result is immaterial here. 
  • Deontological ethics holds that individuals have certain moral duties and obligations, even if it produces a bad result. These duties include “do not lie,” “do not steal,” or “do not harm others.” So, for example, the philosopher Kant opined that it would be wrong to lie to save a friend from a murderer. 
  • According to Kant, the Dignity of every individual is an important value & it should be used as a criterion for judging right & wrong. He argued, “Every individual should be treated as an end in himself & shouldn’t be treated as means to some end.”  
  • The intention is also crucial in Deontological Ethics. It is seen whether an act is carried out with good or bad intentions. If good work is done with bad intentions, then actions are unethical.  
  • Instances where human beings are treated as means to some other ends are
    • Surrogacy  
    • Clinical Trials
    • Consumerism (MNCs use common people as a means to maximize their profits)  
  • Mahatma Gandhi, too, has emphasized a lot on means as an ethical aspect. According to Gandhi, means should be equally pious & moral as that of the end. 
  • The Hindu philosophy of Nishkama Karma that argues for doing one’s duties without expectation of fruit is in line with Deontological Ethics /Duty Based Ethics. 
  • Deontological or duty-based ethics motivates work, even when the result is uncertain or far away. e.g. Lord Krishna advised Arjun to fight in the war against the Kauravs.

Critiques of Deontological Ethics

  1. Lack of Consideration for Consequences: Deontological ethics neglect the importance of consequences of actions. Hence, it fails to address situations where a morally right action could lead to negative outcomes or where morally wrong actions could result in positive consequences.
  2. Conflict of Moral Rules: Deontological ethics may encounter challenges when moral rules or duties come into conflict with one another. 
  3. Lack of Flexibility: Deontological ethics is criticized for its rigid adherence to moral rules, which may not account for the complexities and nuances of real-life situations.


Immanuel Kant was a renowned German philosopher who significantly contributed to various fields, including metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

Categorical Imperative

Immanuel Kant's Ethical Theory

Kant lays down the following rules of conduct to make the moral law i. e. the Categorical Imperative more definite

  1. Act only on that principle which can be a Universal Law: Kant says that one should act in such a way as you could wish that everyone else should act in the same way. For example  
    • Breaking promises: The act is wrong because it cannot be universalized. If everyone breaks a promise, no one can make any promise. 
    • Suicide: If everyone commits suicide in despair, no one would be left to commit suicide. 
    • Theft: Theft is wrong because if everyone else resorts to such activity, it will create chaos. 
  2. Do not use any person, including yourself, as only means: This maxim holds that a person should be treated as an end in itself and not as a means to some ends. Man is essentially a rational being, and the rational nature is an end and has absolute value.  
  3. Act as a Lawmaker of the Kingdom of Ends (Autonomy of Morality): Everyone in this kingdom is sovereign (i.e. imposes moral law upon himself) and subject (i.e. he obeys the moral law imposed by himself) at the same time. 

Complete Good: Virtue & Happiness

  • Kant believes that virtue is the supreme good but not the complete good. 
  • The complete good consists of the association of virtue with happiness
  • Virtue depends upon goodwill within our control. Happiness depends upon external circumstances which are beyond our control. Virtue does not include happiness, nor does happiness include virtue. The harmony of virtue and happiness is brought about by God. 


A leader should

  • Cultivate autonomy and self-determination in themself and in followers
  • “Act as if one were a member of an ideal kingdom of ends in which one was subject and sovereign simultaneously.”

Consequential Ethics (UPSC Notes)

Last Updated: June 2023 (Consequential Ethics (UPSC Notes))

Consequential Ethics (UPSC Notes)

This article deals with the topic titled ‘Consequential Ethics (UPSC Notes).’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Consequential or Teleological Ethics?

  • Consequential Ethics focuses on the “End/Outcome/Consequences” of action to check their morality. It is also known as teleological ethics (from ancient Greek telos, “end”; logos, “reason”)
  • Under this category, the philosophy of various philosophers can be characterized. E.g., Bentham‘s Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill (1806–73), and Henry Sidgwick (1838– 1900), with its formula the “greatest happiness [pleasure] of the greatest number.”
  • Teleological ethics focuses on the idea that the ends justify the means. Hence, by using this theory, even robbing a bank can be justified if it is used for charity (hence promoting Social Banditry and Robinhood Methods).
  • Additionally, it may lead to overlooking the rights and interests of minority groups or individuals.


  • Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher known for his philosophy called Epicureanism. 
  • According to Epicurus, pleasure is the end (telos) of life. By pleasure, Epicurus meant the lack of pain.
  • But Epicurus distinguished between higher and lower pleasures (an influence on J.S. Mill), and the main emphasis was on Higher Pleasures.
    • Higher or Katastematic pleasures: pleasures of the mind
    • Lower or Kinetic Pleasures: pleasures of food, drink and sex.
  • Epicurus considered ataraxia, or tranquillity of the soul, as a central component of a happy and fulfilled life. He believed that by eliminating physical and mental disturbances and achieving a state of inner calm, individuals could experience lasting pleasure and serenity.
  • Epicurus advocated for a simple and modest lifestyle. He believed that excessive desires and material possessions create unnecessary sources of worry and unrest. 
  • Epicurus proposed a hedonistic calculus, which involves evaluating actions based on their long-term consequences. He argued that some pleasures may lead to greater pain in the long run, while some temporary discomforts may result in greater pleasure and overall well-being. The broader and long-term impact of choices should be considered.


Machiavelli was an Italian Renaissance philosopher, is known for his work “The Prince,” Machiavelli’s ethical philosophy, known as Machiavellianism, is characterized by a pragmatic and realistic approach to politics and power.

The main principles of Machiavellian Ethics include 

Machiavellian Ethics
  1. Amorality of Politics: The ends of maintaining power and stability justify the means employed by rulers, even if those means are morally questionable.
  2. Rulers should act in their own self-interest and take whatever measures are necessary to secure and consolidate their rule. 
  3. Concept of Virtù: Machiavelli introduced the concept of virtù, which he defined as the strength, skill, and capacity for action exhibited by successful rulers. Virtù involves the ability to adapt, make bold decisions, and effectively navigate the complexities of politics. It is a quality valued by Machiavelli for political leaders rather than traditional notions of moral virtue.

Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarianism

Consequential Ethics (UPSC Notes)
  • Jeremy Bentham was the propounder of the theory named Gross Hedonism. According to Bentham’s version of Utilitarianism, 
    1. Nature has placed humankind under the governance of two Sovereign Masters viz Pleasure and Pain. Anything that increases pleasure & reduces pain has utility and brings a sense of happiness.
    2. The criteria to judge righteousness and wrongness of any action is ‘Greatest Happiness of Greatest Number
  • Bentham’s happiness is more materialistic in nature. Bentham believed that all pleasures are alike. The pleasures do not have qualitative differences but only quantitative differences. Bentham argued that with the quantity of pleasure remaining the same, pushpin (a game) is as good as poetry. 
  • It is a Consequentialist approach because we will disregard what we will do to achieve that goal and look into the merits of the end goal only, and that too in terms of the number of people getting happiness out of it. E.g., A lynch mob kills a person believing he committed a crime.
    • In this, 100 people are getting pleasure, and 1 person who is killed/lynched is getting pain. 
    • According to Utilitarian thought, this action will be seen as ethical.
    • Hence, Classical Utilitarianism is also called Social Hedonism.

Merits of Bentham’s Utilitarianism

  • It is a democratic way of decision-making.  

Demerits Bentham’s Utilitarianism

  • Minority voice is not considered. It is concerned with benefits to the majority.
  • Progressive voices are crushed, and orthodox views are legitimized. E.g. According to this theory, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was doing an unethical action by championing the cause of the abolition of Sati because most of the people were in favour of the practice.
  • Utilitarianism fails to adequately account for individual rights and justice.
  • Happiness, in many cases, cannot be quantified as it is not measurable. Thus it is often challenging to apply the test of happiness.
  • Bentham’s Utilitarianism tends to prioritize short-term happiness and pleasure without giving sufficient consideration to long-term consequences or the potential for unforeseen harm.

John Stuart Mill’s Refined Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill also believed in the ‘Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number (GHGN)’, but to correct the anomalies of Bentham’s theory, he applied some conditions. 

These conditions were

John Stuart Mill's Refined Utilitarianism
  • Mill was also concerned with protecting individual rights and promoting individual liberty. The liberty of every individual is important, and liberty can’t be negotiated (if making a dam will help 1000 families, and we have to uproot 20 tribal families, this theory says that although in this case, too, GHGN is important. But the liberty of 20 families to decide whether they want to be uprooted or not is more important. Government should go for negotiation with these 20 families and give them a deal that they vacate the area on their own without coercion) 
  • Happiness differs in quality and not just in quantity.: Mill argued that not all pleasures are of equal value. He distinguished between higher pleasures, which involve the faculties of the mind (such as intellectual pursuits and moral contemplation), and lower pleasures, which are more sensory or physical in nature. The theory says, “it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.” 
  • Rule Utilitarianism: While Bentham’s Utilitarianism focused on evaluating individual actions, Mill introduced the idea of rule utilitarianism. It suggests that instead of assessing each individual action based on its specific consequences, we should follow general rules or principles that, in the long run, tend to produce the greatest overall happiness. Such rules can serve as useful heuristics for guiding ethical behaviour. For example, let’s consider the rule “Do not steal.” Rule utilitarianism would argue that this rule is generally beneficial because it promotes trust, security, and overall happiness in society. Even if there may be instances where stealing could lead to some short-term happiness, following the rule consistently brings about greater happiness in the long term.


  • Hedonism believes in maximizing one’s own pleasure/happiness.
  • According to hedonism, pleasure is the highest good, and actions should be judged based on their ability to produce pleasure or happiness. Pleasurable experiences can vary from person to person, but they generally include things like eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, engaging in enjoyable activities, and experiencing physical or emotional sensations that bring joy.
  • Charvaka School of Philosophy of Indian thought propounds it. (‘Rather a pigeon today than a peacock tomorrow’ or ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’)

Merits of Hedonism

  • Promotes consumerism: It can give a boost to the economy & can help in employment generation. 

Demerits of Hedonism

  • Hedonism justifies drug abuse because it gives pleasure.
  • Hedonism oversimplifies moral decision-making and neglects other important values, such as justice, fairness, and the well-being of others.


  • Egoism propounds maximizing one’s own self-interest (not happiness)
  • It is different from hedonism. For example, in hedonism, eating whatever gives a person maximum pleasure is acceptable. But in egoism, a person aiming to become a fashion model should follow a strict diet plan to remain in proper shape and deny the pleasure of good food.
  • Now the question arises, is maximizing one’s own self-interest bad? The answer to this is given by Ayn Rand’s Theory of Ethical Egoism.

Ayn Rand’s Philosophy

Ayn Rand's Ethical Egoism

Ethical Egoism: Selfishness is a Virtue

  • According to ethical egoism, individuals have a moral obligation to prioritize their own self-interest.
  • Rand speaks about three modes of living. They are:
    • Plant model: Plants don’t have to move to get their life-supporting elements. They get them from the soil in which they grow. 
    • Animal model: Animals and birds have to seek their food and water. Even the lion, the king of the jungle, has to seek his food. 
    • Human model: Man does not merely seek food. He has to do productive work. For that purpose, he has to choose actions. He has to think. He has to seek knowledge. He needs knowledge in order to live. 
  • Hence, she argued selfishness is a virtue. According to Rand, Selfishness means the pursuit of one’s rational self-interest. Concern with one’s own interests is not evil. ‘Selfishness’ is also not to be identified with evil.
  • At the same time, Rand was opposed to Altruistic Morality. Altruism orders man to sacrifice one’s interest for the good of others.

Voluntary Cooperation

  • While ethical egoism emphasizes the pursuit of self-interest, it acknowledges the value of voluntary cooperation with others. It recognizes that mutually beneficial interactions can contribute to individual well-being and encourages individuals to engage in relationships and interactions that are beneficial to their self-interest.

Individual Rights and Capitalism

  • Ayn Rand’s ethical egoism is closely tied to her political philosophy of laissez-faire capitalism and the protection of individual rights. She argued that individuals have a right to their own lives, liberty, and the pursuit of their own happiness. In her view, a society that respects individual rights and allows individuals to freely pursue their self-interest benefits everyone.

Critiques of Ethical Egoism

  • Lack of Consideration for Others: Critics argue that ethical egoism places excessive focus on self-interest and neglects the importance of altruism and concern for the well-being of others.
  • Inconsistency with Moral Intuitions: Ethical egoism is often seen as contradicting widely accepted moral intuitions, such as the duty to help others in need or the responsibility to contribute to the greater good
  • Conflict of Interests: Ethical egoism can create conflicts of interest when individuals pursue their own self-interest without consideration for the interests of others.

Virtue Ethics (UPSC Notes)

Last Updated: June 2023 (Virtue Ethics (UPSC Notes))

Virtue Ethics (UPSC Notes)

This article deals with the topic titled ‘Virtue Ethics (UPSC Notes).’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Virtue Ethics?

  • Virtue Ethics focuses on a person’s virtues (qualities/values) rather than his conduct or actions.  
  • It focuses more on the person than the action, assuming that if a person has good values, he will do good deeds. 
  • For Civil Servants, Virtue Ethics are very important. Civil Servants must be a man of great virtues because 
    • If a civil servant is a virtuous man, he will command the respect of people, and people will accept him easily.
    • All decisions taken by him will be influenced by his values, and values don’t change overnight. 


Virtue Ethics (UPSC Notes)
  • Socrates (469/470 BCE – 399 BCE), considered one of the founders of Western philosophy, was a Classical Greek philosopher. 
  • Socrates is famous for his Socratic method of questioning, a technique which uses a series of questions to lead to a deeper understanding of the subject. 
  • It should be noted that Socrates hasn’t written any book, and his work and philosophy are known through the writings of Xenophon and Plato, who were his students. 
  • He believed in the pursuit of knowledge and the idea that wisdom comes from understanding one’s own ignorance. According to Socrates, seeking knowledge and living a virtuous life is the ultimate goal of life. 

Sophists vs Socrates

The Sophists were a group of travelling teachers and intellectuals in ancient Greece who offered their services as educators, tutors, and consultants. They were known for their clever and persuasive arguments. But sophists were controversial figures in their time, as they were often seen as mercenary and opportunistic, and their teachings were criticized for their relativistic approach to morality and truth.

The main issue between the Sophists and Socrates was a philosophical disagreement about the nature of truth and knowledge. The Sophists believed that truth was relative and could be shaped to suit one’s needs or beliefs. On the other hand, Socrates believed in the existence of objective truth and held that the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge was the most important aspect of human life. He also criticized the Sophists’ focus on rhetoric and argumentation over truth and wisdom, which led to a strained relationship between the two groups.

Murder of Socrates

Socrates and the Greek state were in conflict due to Socrates’ beliefs and teachings. Socrates was a philosopher who believed in objective truth and virtue, and he taught his students to question authority to seek knowledge. This challenged the beliefs and values of the Greek state, which relied on tradition, religion, and the rule of law to maintain order. The Greek state viewed Socrates as a threat to the established order and charged him with impiety and corrupting the youth. He was sentenced to death. But he refused to abandon his beliefs and was executed by drinking hemlock.

This conflict between Socrates and the Greek state reflects the larger tension between the individual and the state, between reason and tradition, and between free speech and censorship.  

Socratic Method of Questioning

The Socratic method of questioning is a method of teaching and learning through a dialogue between teacher and student. This method was developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates and is based on the idea that the best way to learn is by questioning and examining one’s own beliefs and assumptions.

In the Socratic method, the teacher asks questions to help the student uncover the truth and arrive at a deeper understanding. The questions are designed to encourage critical thinking and to challenge the student’s assumptions and beliefs. The teacher does not provide answers but instead guides the students to find the answers themselves.

The Socratic method is often used in philosophy, law, and ethics classes, but it can be applied to any subject. It is a powerful tool for learning because it forces the student to think deeply about the subject matter and to understand the underlying principles and reasoning.

Virtue is Knowledge

  • Socrates believed that ignorance was the root cause of immorality or vice. In his view, if individuals possessed complete knowledge or understanding of what is morally right, they would naturally act accordingly. 
  • For Socrates, knowledge was not limited to factual information or expertise in a specific field. He focused on moral and ethical knowledge—the understanding of what is truly good and how to live a virtuous life.

Know Thyself

  • Socrates believed that self-knowledge was fundamental to leading a meaningful and virtuous life. 
  • Socrates encouraged individuals to engage in introspection and examine their own thoughts, beliefs, and actions to identify their strengths, weaknesses, biases, and limitations.
  • Socrates recognized that people often deceive themselves or remain ignorant about their own flaws and shortcomings. He said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

The Only Thing I know is that I know Nothing

Socrates advocated for intellectual humility, which involves recognizing the extent of our ignorance and being open to the possibility of being wrong. He saw intellectual arrogance and overconfidence as obstacles to genuine learning and understanding. By acknowledging that we know nothing, we adopt a mindset of humility that allows us to be receptive to new knowledge.

Importance of Socrates Teachings in Times Day

While Socrates’ teachings may not have been directly emphasized in India’s intellectual history, their universal principles resonate across cultures and have the potential to contribute to the intellectual and ethical development of individuals in present-day India. 

  • Critical Thinking: Socratic principles can encourage individuals to challenge dogmas, traditions, and societal norms, leading to personal growth and intellectual advancement.
  • Pursuit of Knowledge: Socratic principles can inspire individuals to embrace intellectual humility and a never-ending quest for knowledge.
  • Socratic Method: The Socratic method, a dialectical approach to questioning and examining ideas, is well suited for India, a country known for its diverse opinions and perspectives. The Socratic method can facilitate meaningful conversations, foster empathy, and bridge ideological divides.


  • Plato (427-347 BC), a student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, expressed his philosophical ideas through dialogues, in which he used conversations between characters to explore various philosophical concepts.
  • He wrote a book named ‘Republic.’  

Plato’s Cardinal Virtues

Plato's Cardinal Virtues

He gave four cardinal virtues of a “good man.”

  1. Wisdom: Wisdom refers to the pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and insight. It enables individuals to make sound judgments and decisions based on reason and a deep understanding of reality.
  2. Courage: Courage entails the ability to face fear, danger, or adversity with bravery and resolve. It is not mere recklessness or fearlessness but rather the strength of character to act according to one’s convictions and face challenges even when difficult or intimidating.  
  3. Temperance: Temperance refers to self-control and finding the right balance in one’s actions and desires. It involves restraining excessive behaviour and avoiding extremes, finding harmony and equilibrium in one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions.  
  4. Justice: Justice is the most central virtue in Plato’s philosophy. It involves fairness, righteousness, and the pursuit of what is just and equitable. Plato viewed justice as the fundamental virtue that governs the harmonious functioning of society and the individual. 

Four virtues are cardinal because they are fundamental virtues. Other virtues depend upon them and are, therefore, subordinate to cardinal virtues.

Division of Society into Three Classes

Plato proposed a division of society into three classes in his influential work, “The Republic.” According to Plato, this division was based on the principle of specialization and aimed to create a just and harmonious society.  

1. Guardians

  • Guardians constitute the class of Rulers.     
  • Wisdom is their principal virtue.
  • They are responsible for governing and making decisions for the entire community. They are philosophers and possess wisdom, knowledge, and a deep understanding of the forms and the nature of the good. Plato believed that only those who have undergone rigorous philosophical education and training can become competent rulers.

2. Auxiliaries

  • They support the guardians, execute the laws made by the enlightened rulers or philosopher kings and protect the society from internal disorder and external attack. 
  • Courage is their principal virtue.

3. Civilians

  • Civilians consist of producers, such as farmers, blacksmiths, fishermen, traders, carpenters, etc.  
  • Temperance is their main virtue. 
  • Plato considered them as the productive class, providing the necessary goods and services for society’s functioning. The producers were expected to be hardworking, obedient, and focused on their respective tasks.


  • Central to Plato’s ethical philosophy is the concept of Justice. In “Republic,” he presents his ideal city-state, where Justice is the harmony and balance between three distinct classes: the rulers, the guardians, and the producers. Each class has its own function, and Justice is achieved when each class fulfils its role harmoniously without encroaching upon the responsibilities of others.
  • Additionally, Justice is the highest virtue because it helps maintain societal stability. 
  • Hence, Plato’s Theory of Justice is similar to the Swadharma of Gita. It states that every man should do the job according to his natural inclination. Interference in others’ affairs is not only against the requirement of Justice but also causes chaos.  

Just Person and Tripartite Nature of the Human Soul

  • Plato discussed the tripartite nature of the human soul in his work. He identified three parts: reason (the rational part), spirit (the emotional and spirited part), and appetite (the desires and appetites). According to Plato, a just person is one in which reason rules over spirit and appetite, ensuring a harmonious and balanced soul.

Importance of Plato’s Teachings in Present Times

  • Philosopher-Kings and Good Governance: Plato’s concept of philosopher-kings, individuals who possess wisdom and virtue, has implications for governance in India. If PM and CM act like the Philosopher King of Plato, their actions can be more effective and moral.
  • Plato gave the 4 most important virtues, i.e. Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice, which can help make officers who can serve the public well. 
  • His ideas about the human soul are almost similar to the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita, which speaks about Satguna, Rajsik guna and Tamsik guna. Dr Sarvapali Radhakrishnan has called it to be the merger of Western and Indian philosophy.
  • In India, where social justice remains a significant challenge, Plato’s teachings can inspire individuals to strive for a just society, addressing issues such as caste discrimination, gender inequality, and poverty.


The main work of Aristotle is the book named Nicomachean Ethics.

Virtue and Vice

  • According to Aristotle, virtues are character traits that enable individuals to act in ways that promote their own well-being and contribute to the flourishing of the community. Examples of virtues include courage, temperance, generosity, honesty, and justice.
  • Vices, on the other hand, are the opposite of virtues and hinder the attainment of well-being.

Golden Mean is a Virtue

Aristotle's Philosophy
  • He proposed that the “Golden Mean is a virtue.” 
  • The golden mean refers to the idea that virtues lie between extremes or vices. Each virtue represents a balance between two vices—one of excess and one of deficiency. Virtue is considered the desirable midpoint between these extremes.
  • E.g., 
    1. Courage as Virtue: The excess of courage would be recklessness, while the deficiency of courage would be cowardice. Courage, as a virtue, lies between these two extremes, striking a balance between them. 
    2. Excessive indulgence is as much a vice as the excessive repression of desires. Self-control, therefore, is a virtue
  • The Buddhist philosophy of “Madhyama-pratipad” proposes the same ‘middle way’.

Meaning of the Virtue of Justice

  • Aristotle extended the meaning of the virtue of justice. He considered justice as the supreme virtue. 
  • According to Aristotle, Justice has two forms. 
    • Distributive Justice consists of the equitable distribution of wealth and honours.  
    • Remedial justice consists of fair transactions among the members of the community.

Theory of Willed Action 

Aristotle discussed where the Ethicality of Human Action could be gauged to decide whether the action was good or bad. Right and wrong can be judged only when

  • Action should be done voluntarily, i.e. no compulsion: E.g., Bribing Civil Servants at gunpoint. 
  • There must be some human knowledge of the consequences of that action. 
  • There should be a presence of different choices. 

Importance of Aristotle’s Teachings in Present Times

  • He elaborated on the ideas of Plato and Socrates, making them more pragmatic.
  • Middle Path can help in containing materialism. Middle Class needs to follow this idea to live a happy life.
  • Judges still use his Willed Action Theory to decide whether the morality of particular action can be judged.
  • Aristotle’s understanding of justice, encompassing distributive and corrective justice, is relevant to the pursuit of social equity in India. India faces challenges such as income inequality, caste discrimination, and gender disparities.

Criticism of Virtue Ethics

  • Cultural Relativism: Different people, cultures, and societies often have vastly different opinions on what constitutes a virtue. 
  • Lack of Action Guidance: Unlike consequentialist or deontological theories, which offer specific rules or principles to follow, the lack of specific guidance in virtue ethics can make it challenging to determine the right course of action in complex moral dilemmas.
  • Lack of Moral Conflicts Resolution: Virtue ethics does not provide a clear framework for resolving conflicts between virtues. In situations where virtues come into tension with each other, it may be difficult to determine which virtue should take precedence. 
  • Individual Focus: Virtue ethics primarily focuses on the moral character of individuals rather than addressing broader societal issues or systemic injustices.  
  • Limited Applicability to Non-Human Entities: Virtue ethics is often criticized for its anthropocentric nature, primarily focusing on virtues and moral character within the human context. This raises concerns about its applicability to moral considerations involving non-human entities, such as animals or the environment. 

Probity in Governance

Last Updated: June 2023 (Probity in Governance)

Probity in Governance

This article deals with a topic titled ‘ Probity in Governance .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Probity?

Probity in Governance
  • The dictionary meaning of probity is uprightness, integrity and incorruptibility. In a broader sense, probity is the superset that includes all good qualities, including integrity. 
  • It is an Ethical Value (i.e. wrt society) in contrast to integrity, which is Moral Value. Integrity is defined as doing the right thing that is correct to yourself, but probity is doing the right thing that is correct according to all, including you. Hence, to ensure probity, one should take preventive measures so that no one ever questions one’s actions. 

Importance of Probity for Civil Servants

Probity is very important for Civil Servants because 

  1. They work under the doctrine of public trust. Probity in governance helps in maintaining that trust. 
  2. Civil Servants enjoy a lot of discretion. Probity in governance can help civil servants to take their decisions objectively.
  3. Probity in governance is important to uphold the legitimacy of the system and the belief that the actions of the state will be for the welfare of the beneficiaries. 
  4. Checks and Balances: These help in checking the abuse and misuse of power by various organs 
  5. Reduced Politicization of Bureaucracy: It helps address nepotism, favouritism, political partisanship etc.

Philosophical basis of Probity

1. Western Philosophy on Probity

1.1 Virtue Ethics

  • Virtue ethics emphasizes cultivating moral virtues as the foundation of ethical behaviour. According to virtue ethics, individuals should strive to develop and exhibit probity in their personal and professional lives.

1.2 Deontological Ethics

  • Deontological ethics, often associated with the philosopher Immanuel Kant, focuses on moral duties and principles. Deontological ethics emphasizes that individuals have a moral obligation to act with probity, regardless of the consequences.

1.3 Utilitarianism

  • Utilitarianism, developed by philosophers like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, advocates for actions that maximize overall happiness or utility. From a utilitarian perspective, probity can be seen as promoting the greater good by fostering trust, fairness, and accountability in personal and societal interactions.  

1.4 Social Contract Theory

  • Social contract theory, developed by philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, proposes that individuals enter into a social contract, implicitly or explicitly, to establish a just and orderly society. Probity can be seen as a fundamental principle within the social contract, as it involves individuals fulfilling their moral obligations and adhering to agreed-upon norms for the collective benefit of society.

2. Indian Philosophy on Probity

2.1 Dharma

  • Dharma is a fundamental concept in Indian philosophy, which emphasizes the idea of righteousness, honesty, and integrity in all actions. In the context of probity, adherence to dharma requires individuals in public life to act ethically, transparently, and with a sense of moral duty towards the public they serve.

2.2 Satyagraha

  • Satyagraha, meaning “truth-force” or “soul-force,” is a philosophy propagated by Mahatma Gandhi. It emphasizes the power of truth and nonviolent resistance and encourages people to uphold uprightness, integrity and incorruptibility even in adversity.

2.3 Ethics of Public Service

  • The concept of seva or public service emphasizes the idea of selfless service to others and calls for people in power to act with integrity, honesty, and dedication.

How to enhance Probity in Governance?

  • Strong Legal and Regulatory Framework: Establishing robust laws and regulations that promote probity in governance, like anti-corruption legislation, whistleblower protection laws etc., creates deterrence for unethical behaviour and provides a foundation for probity.
  • Promoting Transparency and Accountability: Governments should adopt measures such as mandatory disclosure of information, open data initiatives etc., to ensure transparency in decision-making processes.  
  • Ethical Leadership and Institutional Culture: Promoting ethical leadership and fostering an institutional culture that values integrity is crucial for enhancing probity. 
  • Strengthening Public Financial Management: Emphasizing accountability in the management of public funds helps prevent corruption and ensures the efficient use of resources.
  • Encouraging Citizen Participation and Engagement: Engaging citizens in governance processes promote probity. This involvement creates a sense of citizen ownership and oversight, making the governance process more transparent and accountable.
  • Strengthening Anti-Corruption Measures: Corruption is a significant impediment to probity. Governments should establish and strengthen anti-corruption laws and bodies.
  • Enhancing Ethics Education and Training: Incorporating ethics education and training programs for public officials can help foster a culture of probity in governance.
  • International Cooperation and Exchange of Best Practices: Collaborating with international organizations and other countries can provide valuable insights and best practices for enhancing probity in governance.  
  • Other Measures
    • Effective external and internal complaint and redressal procedures should be in place.
    • Government should undertake measures like a social audit.
    • Public Servants should avoid Conflict of Interest. 
    • Ethics audits should be conducted regularly to identify risks to integrity.  

Steps taken by the Government to ensure Probity in Governance

Prevention of Corruption Act

  • The Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 is a comprehensive legislation that defines and punishes various forms of corruption. 

Right to Information Act

  • RTI enables the citizens to ensure probity in governance through citizen activism. 

Whistleblowers (Protection) Act

  • It protects whistleblowers against reprisal who expose corruption and wrongdoing in the government. This act encourages individuals to come forward and report corruption, contributing to probity in governance.

Central Vigilance Commission

  • It advises the government in matters related to maintaining integrity in administration.

Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013

  • It envisages an institution of ombudsmen responsible for receiving complaints of corruption against public officials, conducting investigations, and prosecuting offenders.

Digital Governance Initiatives

  • The Indian government has introduced various digital governance initiatives like Digital India, e-Procurement, and Direct Benefit Transfer to minimize corruption and enhance transparency.  

GST Regime

  • GST replaced multiple indirect taxes with a unified tax structure, reducing opportunities for tax evasion and corruption.  

Grievance Redressal Mechanisms

  • The government has established grievance redressal mechanisms like the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) to address citizen complaints and grievances. 

Citizen’s Charter – Concept, Benefits and Shortfalls

Last Updated: June 2023 (Citizen’s Charter – Concept, Benefits and Shortfalls)

Citizen’s Charter – Concept, Benefits and Shortfalls

This article deals with ‘Citizen’s Charter – Concept, Benefits and Shortfalls.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ as well as ‘Ethics’ . For more articles , you can click here.


  • Citizen Charter is a document of an organization which contains different services hosted by the organization and the information related to the standard of services along with the cost and time required to deliver such service. 
  • In other words, it is a set of commitments made by an organization regarding the standards of service which it delivers.
  • Citizens’ Charter scheme in its present form was first launched in 1991 in the UK. The aim was to ensure that public services are made responsive to the citizens they serve.
Citizen's Charter - Concept, Benefits and Shortfalls

Components of Citizen’s Charter

Every Citizen’s Charter has several essential components to make it meaningful

Vision & Mission Statement

  • Vision = Long-Term Objectives of the Organization
  • Mission = Specific Goals to be achieved in the stipulated time 


  • Which services will be provided 
  • Time frame in which they will be provided 
  • Standard and Quality of Service to be provided 
  • Price at which it will be provided

Grievance Redressal Mechanism

  • Remedy in case the above expectations aren’t fulfilled.
  • These promises are not enforceable in a court of law. Still, each organization should ensure that promises are kept and, in case of default, a suitable compensatory/remedial mechanism should be provided. 

Expectations from Client

It includes

  • Responsibilities of the citizens 
  • Qualification criteria 
  • Logistic & paper-oriented issues 

It is an Indian innovation. This wasn’t there in the UK Model. 

Gandhi's view on  Citizen's Charter

The 6 principles of the Citizen’s Charter movement, as framed initially, were: 

  1. Quality: Improving the quality of services
  2. Choice: Provide choice wherever possible 
  3. Standards: It should tell what to expect and redressal if standards are not met. 
  4. Value: For the taxpayers’ money 
  5. Accountability: Of Individuals and Organizations 
  6. Transparency: Of Rules, Procedures, Schemes and Grievances

Benefits of the Citizen’s Charter

  • Improved Service Delivery: Citizen Charter has led to improved service delivery, reduced bureaucracy, and enhanced citizen satisfaction. For example, the Ministry of Railways introduced the Passenger’s Charter, which outlines the rights and responsibilities of railway passengers. It includes commitments such as providing clean coaches, on-time departures, and prompt grievance redressal. This initiative has improved the overall passenger experience.
  • Increased Accountability: Citizen Charter has helped increase accountability as it establishes performance standards, service commitments, and timelines for service delivery, making government officials accountable for their actions.  
  • Better Grievance Redressal: It has ensured better service quality and grievance redressal systems for the aggrieved citizens. E.g., the Citizen’s Charter of Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board has incorporated the provision of payment of compensation as a token of commitment to its customers in the event of failure to provide services.
  • Trust and Public Confidence: When government agencies publicly commit to service standards and demonstrate their adherence to them, it instils citizens’ confidence.
  • Continuous Improvement: By monitoring performance against service standards and seeking feedback from citizens, government agencies can identify gaps, address shortcomings, and make necessary improvements.
  • Incorporating Citizen Feedback in Policymaking: Citizen Charter helps incorporate the feedback from the service users to improve the quality of service delivery. 
  • Decrease in Corrupt Practices: Citizens Charter helps reduce corruption due to increased transparency and reduced discretionary powers.

Reasons for failure

Lack of Public Awareness

  •  Only a small percentage of end-users are aware of the commitments made in the Citizens’ Charter. For example, despite the existence of Citizen’s Charters in various government departments, a significant portion of the population in rural areas is unaware of their rights and the standards of services they should expect. 

Setting Lofty Goals 

  • Most of the time, lofty promises were made without giving attention to the capacity of the organization to deliver promises.
  • For example, A government hospital may have a Citizen’s Charter promising timely medical services and access to essential medicines. However, if the hospital lacks sufficient infrastructure, medical equipment, or qualified healthcare professionals, it becomes challenging to fulfil the commitments made in the Charter.

Poor Design & Content 

  • Critical information that end-users need to hold agencies accountable is simply missing from a large number of charters. 

Charters are rarely updated

  • Charters are rarely updated, and the Charter of some agencies dates back nearly a decade when the Citizens’ Charter program was started. 
  • Few Charters indicate the date of release.  

End users & NGOs not consulted 

  • Since a Citizens’ Charter’s primary purpose is to make public service delivery more citizen-centric, agencies must consult ordinary citizens and civil society organizations while formulating Citizen’s Charter. 

Faulty Grievance Redressal 

  • Grievance Redressal Mechanisms, in most cases, are defunct and inactive. 

No Legislative/Statutory Backing

  • Citizen Charters are toothless since they have no legal backing.
  • Lack of legal enforceability allows officials to disregard the commitments mentioned therein without facing any repercussions. 

Resistance to Change 

  • The new practices demand significant changes in the behaviour and attitude of the agency and its staff towards citizens. At times, vested interests work to stall the Citizens’ Charter altogether or in making it toothless. 
  • Employees of the organization are not trained in tune with Citizen Charter.

ARC II recommendations on Citizen Charter

7 Steps have been suggested by ARC for effective implementation of the Citizen Charter

Internal restructuring should precede Charter formulation

  • Merely announcing the Charter will not change the way the Organization functions. It is important to create conducive conditions through interaction and training of employees. 

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

  • Formulation of Citizens’ Charters should be a decentralized activity, with the head office providing broad guidelines.

Wide Consultation Process

  • Charter must be framed not only by senior experts but by interaction with the cutting edge staff who will finally implement it and with the user.

Firm Commitments to be made

  • Citizens’ Charters must make firm commitments in quantifiable terms.  

Redressal mechanism in case of default

  • Citizens’ Charter should clearly lay down the relief which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery. 

Periodic reviewing of Citizens’ Charters

  • Obtain feedback and review the Charter at least every six months, as the Citizens’ Charter is a dynamic document. 

Include Civil Society in the Process

  • Encourage collaboration between government departments, civil society organizations, and citizens in formulating, implementing, and monitoring Citizen’s Charters. 

Sevottam Model

Sevottam = Seva + Uttam

  • Seva = Service
  • Uttam = Excellence

Hence, Sevottam = Excellence in delivery of Public Service

Sevottam Model is an evaluatory model, i.e. Government Services as hosted by different Departments and Ministries are evaluated against the Sevottam Model. Based upon performance and evaluation, Grades are given in terms of Standards of Excellence achieved

There are three pillars of the Sevottam Model against which evaluation is done.

Sevottam Model

First Pillar – Citizen Charter / Standard of Service Delivery

  • The Sevottam Model emphasizes the importance of delivering services to citizens promptly, transparently, and effectively. It promotes the concept of Service Standards, which are the commitments made by government departments regarding the quality and timeline of service delivery. For instance, a passport office may commit to issuing a passport within 15 working days from the date of application.

Second Pillar – Grievance Redressal Mechanism 

  • The Sevottam Model recognizes the importance of addressing citizen grievances promptly and effectively. It emphasizes establishing grievance redressal mechanisms to handle complaints and ensure timely resolution. For example, if a citizen faces a delay in receiving their passport even after the committed timeframe. In this case, the Sevottam Model expects the passport office to have a well-defined grievance redressal system in place. 

Third Pillar – Drive for Excellence 

  • The Sevottam Model emphasizes the importance of providing excellent customer service to citizens. For example, in the context of the passport office, the Sevottam Model expects the staff to be courteous, professional, and responsive to citizen queries and concerns. The office should have well-trained staff members who are equipped to handle various situations efficiently. 

Concept of Accountability (UPSC Notes)

Last Updated: May 2023 (Concept of Accountability (UPSC Notes))

Concept of Accountability (UPSC Notes)

This article deals with the topic titled ‘ Concept of Accountability (UPSC Notes) .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Accountability?

Concept of Accountability (UPSC Notes)
  • Accountability has three aspects 
    1. Answerability of the officials for their decisions and actions
    2. Enforceability of rules and laws to punish the officials if they fail to effectively discharge their duty
    3. Grievance redressal mechanism for the ordinary people who suffer due to the absence of accountability.
  • Accountability is required in the case of Public Servants because they have a lot of discretion.

Benefits of Accountability 

  • Checks Abuse of power: It prevents the public services from turning into tyrants as they are held answerable for their deeds and misdeeds. 
  • Checks corruption and fraud
  • Lack of accountability decreases the legitimacy of the government
  • Makes the system more responsive: Owing accountability for their actions motivates public servants to discharge their duty with honesty, integrity and efficiency.
  • Stops arbitrary and unauthorized exercise of authority 
  • Ensures better service delivery

Points against Accountability 

  • Officers spend their time maintaining records or answering RTIs.
  • It makes them status-quoist in their conduct in fear of public scrutiny.

Accountability vs. Responsibility

Quite often, Accountability is misunderstood as Responsibility.

  • Responsibility is an inner concept like your responsibility to do some work. 
  • Accountability is an outer concept like your accountability for some work you have done.

Types of Accountability

There can be two types of Accountability in Governance

#1 Vertical Accountability

Accountability of the government to persons outside the government is ensured by

  1. Elections 
  2. RTI
  3. Media & Social Media
  4. Citizens Charter 
  5. NGO & Pressure Groups

#2 Horizontal Accountability

Accountability of Public Institutions/ Servants to the Government

It can be further of two types

External Accountability of Public Servants outside his wing 
1. Accountability of Minister (Executive) to Parliament (Legislature)
2. Judiciary 
3. CAG
4. CVC
5. NHRC  
Internal Accountability of Public Servant inside his wing/department
1. Accountability to Superiors
2. Internal Audit 
3. Grievance Redressal Mechanisms

Whenever we have to answer how to increase Accountability, we must cover all these angles.

Steps to make Accountability more effective in India 

  • Strengthening RTI Act 
  • Protection of Whistleblowers through legislation. 
  • Strong Lokpal Act 
  • Social Audits by local communities and NGOs can enhance accountability in public service delivery, for instance, in MGNREGA.
  • Using Information and Technology: Like maintaining digital records to increase transparency
  • Citizen’s initiative: e.g. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) (MKSS, founded in 1990 in Rajasthan, is a social organization working towards increasing accountability in India. MKSS began demanding access to government records in 1994, which led to the creation of the RTI Act in 2005.) 
  • Promoting competition and discouraging monopolistic attitudes among public service sectors. 
  • Need to lay down a statutory Code of Ethics for Civil Services (British Civil Services Code can act as a model.)

Side Topic: Various Examples of Social Accountability

Participatory budgeting In Participatory Budgeting, the citizens directly participate in budget (especially at the local government) formulation and monitoring the execution. Gujarat (Local Governance)
Participatory Planning Beneficiaries of government programs are involved in the planning and design of program components to determine local problems, priorities and solutions. Kerala, Brazil and Bangladesh
Citizen Report Card Participatory surveys that provide quantitative feedback to service providers on the satisfaction levels amongst citizens on the quality of public services Bangalore, Maharashtra (Ukraine and Philippines)
Social Audit Process whereby a government program is audited with the active participation of the program’s intended beneficiaries.  

Success Stories

  1.  People’s Campaign for Decentralized Planning in Kerala: Its success has been attributed to significant financial and functional devolution and the institutional incentives for participation which led to increased representation of hitherto marginalized voices like SCs, STs and women. 
  2. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) – a Rajasthan-based grassroots organization, employed ‘social audits’ which break the state’s monopoly over official oversight and legitimize citizen inclusion into hitherto exclusive affairs of the state

Various Challenges to Accountability in India

  • Special Expertise: Public administrators are experts in their specific areas. Hence, it is difficult for outside agencies to surpass them in their areas of specialization & question them.  
  • Massive Expansion of Bureaucracy: It is difficult for the political executive to effectively control the bureaucracy due to the massive expansion of bureaucracy.
  • Lack of Coordination:  The number of agencies has also increased – for example, CBI, CVC, Lokayuktas, SVC etc. without effective coordination. Due to their overlapping jurisdiction and lack of coordination, they cannot hold the public servants accountable.
  • Excessive Constitutional Security offered to Public Servants: Article 311 of the Indian Constitution makes it almost impossible to remove a civil servant.
  • Employees’ Unions: The tendency of employees’ unions to resist managerial action against their members even when they have blatantly violated ethical norms reduces the accountability of employees.
  • Disruption by powerful vested interests: Threats and coercion can make communities hesitant to participate directly and speak up in Social Accountability initiatives. 

Applied Ethics

Applied Ethics

 Applied Ethics is part of ethics which attempts to analyze the ethicality of real-life controversial situations such as war, animal rights, capital punishment, euthanasia, whistle-blowing, media ethics, International Ethics etc.

We will deal with some of the issues of applied ethics in this article to equip you to handle any such case in the examination.

Environmental Ethics

  • Environment Ethics says that the environment should also be a criterion to judge the righteousness and wrongness of an action (earlier decision-makers were not using it as a criterion).
  • Ecological values are part of Indian tradition, where nature is revered for its services to humanity. Environmentalists like Baba Amte have also spread awareness about ecological balance and wildlife preservation. They believed that humans must live in harmony with nature and not by exploiting it.

Environmental Values include

Applied Ethics
  1. Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development is the development that meets the present generation’s needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their respective needs. It calls for judicious use of resources)
  2. Conservation 
  3. Co-existence 
  4. Holistic approach  

The need for sustainable development could be summarized by what Gandhi said, ‘Earth has sufficient resources for the need of man but not the greed of man.’ Thus greed will lead to the mindless exploitation of resources and compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

(2014 UPSC) Nowadays, there is an increasing thrust on economic development all around the globe. At the same time, there is also an increasing concern about environmental degradation caused by development. Many a time, we face a direct conflict between developmental activity and environmental quality. It is neither feasible to stop or curtail the development process nor is it advisable to keep degrading the environment, as it threatens our very survival.

Discuss some feasible strategies which could be adopted to eliminate this conflict and which could lead to sustainable development. (250 words)

Today, Policymakers have to look for Sustainable Development so that equilibrium can be maintained between development and conservation of the environment. To achieve high economic growth, we can’t allow the environment to degrade to such an extent that our cities become unlivable and the Earth face an existential crisis. Nor can we afford not to develop at all because the country needs to develop to eliminate poverty. Hence, the need of the hour is to grow in a way which causes minimum harm to nature.

  1. Green GDP: Growth should take into account the depletion of resources done to achieve that growth 
  2. Use the Polluter Pays Principle 
  3. Use of Green Codes 
  4. Increase the energy efficiency of appliances 
  5. Use Renewable Resources of Energy like Solar, Wind Energy etc. which are abundant and don’t cause any pollution. 
  6. Environment Impact Assessment should be done strictly, and projects should be designed in a way to make minimum impact on the environment.
  7. Go towards Organic Farming and the use of micro irrigation. 


The term “bioethics” refers to the broad terrain of the moral problems of the life sciences, ordinarily taken to encompass medicine, biology, and some important aspects of the environmental, population and social sciences.

Some of the general issues in bioethics include

  1. Clinical ethics regarding the day-to-day moral decisions confronted in caring for patients.
  2. Use of foetal tissue in Stem Cell research
  3. Euthanasia
  4. Cloning
  5. Human trials in the development of medicine

Broader theories to answer the questions in the field -of bioethics include.

  1. Utilitarian Approach: It looks at the consequences of a choice or action. Furthermore, the utilitarian view would look for the collective social benefit rather than advantages to individuals. E.g., the Utilitarian Approach would argue that human trials are good as it leads to the development of drugs that save millions of lives. ‘
  2. Deontological Approach: This approach would argue that “good consequences may have to be set aside to respect inalienable human rights”. An example would be subjecting individuals to medical research that may harm that individual while providing the potential to help others.
  3. Primum non-nocere: It is the doctors’ obligation not to inflict harm on others. Harm is to be avoided or minimized.  
  4. Justice: Distribution of healthcare and limited supplies fairly and equitably.  

Business Ethics

  • Business ethics is the system of morals and ethics followed by the business organization and individuals associated with the organization that guides their decision and behaviour. 
  • Ethical issues faced by corporations differ with the type of business operations. 

Business Ethics for various corporations

  • An e-commerce company like Amazon, Flipkart etc., involved in online operations of goods and services, must be prepared for ethical issues like the protection of data, customers’ privacy and security.
  •  A pharmaceutical company engaged in developing and manufacturing life-saving drugs would require the organization should not indulge in unethical actions like improper clinical trials, misleading advertisements, patent claims for non-innovations etc.  

Benefits of corporations following Business Ethics

  • Business ethics not only helps an organization tackle ethical issues, but it is also crucial in today’s world as it helps:
  • Builds trust among people: Ethical standards of operations followed by the company help in building a positive reputation. E.g., Tata group.
  • Provides stability to the company: Running a business in an ethical manner from top to bottom builds a stronger bond between employees and the management.
  • Improves performance of organization: A high standard of business ethics in all facets of operations makes people in an organization perform their job duties at a higher level and stay loyal to that organization.
  • Increase formal investment in the economy: A company with a foundation of ethical behaviour increases its potential to attract more investors and shareholders.  

Marketing Ethics

In a competitive environment in every product range, companies spend huge on marketing to get a competitive edge over their rivals. It is perfectly fine in an open economy. But the problem arises when they indulge in unethical practices like

  • Misappropriation of facts to misguide the people
  • Stereotyping of gender: For example, roles like dishwashing, kitchen work etc., done by female actors
  • Objectification of women: Some beauty cream and soap ads indulge in these practices
  • Use of brand ambassadors: Ambassadors endorse products which they don’t use or whose authenticity they don’t cross-check, making profits out of the public’s reverence of a person
  • Paid News: Some companies pay media houses to show their product in a positive light and swing public opinion. These are not an ad but paid news. E.g., Monsanto is frequently alleged to be paying media houses to make public opinion in favour of GMOs. 
  • Negative advertising techniques: the advertiser highlights the disadvantages of competitor products rather than their own advantages.  
  • Surrogate advertisement: It is an advertising technique to promote banned products in the disguise of another product. For example, advertising soda under the brand name of alcohol producing company for its promotion. E.g. ​o Liquor companies advertising Music CDs or pan masala ​brands advertising cardamom with celebrities.

Steps taken

  • Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, have been released to “protect the consumers” and “to ensure that consumers are not being fooled with unsubstantiated claims, exaggerated promises, misinformation and false claims”. These guidelines focus on misleading ads and ads shown during programming for children. Surrogate ads, meanwhile, have been banned completely.
  • Regulating Bodies: Advertisement Standard Council of India (ASCI) has been constituted to check on misappropriation of facts. 

Contemporary Issues in Marketing

  • Issue of legal liability of Celebrities wrt advertisements. The government is trying to bring it within the ambit of the law. 
  • Patanjali Case (2016): Uttarakhand High Court fined Patanjali ₹ 11 lakhs for misappropriation of facts in advertisements. 


  • Word ‘Euthanasia’ originated in Greece, meaning mercy killing.
  • Applied Ethics considers that death can never be good. But in the following conditions, Euthanasia shouldn’t be regarded as unethical. 
    • When a person is suffering from an untreatable disease 
    • The person is suffering from unending unbearable pain.
    • The person himself wants death. 
    • Relatives, too, consider that treatment is impossible.
    • reputed hospital should have certified that the disease is untreatable. 

Types of Euthanasia

There are two types

  • Active Euthanasia: Life-ending medication is administered to the patient by a third party, usually a doctor  
  • Passive Euthanasia: Life support is withdrawn  

Arguments against Euthanasia

  • Constitution of India: According to the Supreme Court judgement in Gian Kaur Case,1996, the Right to Life doesn’t include the Right to die.
  • Neglect of Healthcare by State: Legalized Euthanasia has led to a severe decline in the quality of care for terminally-ill patients in Holland.  
  • Malafide intention: Misusing Euthanasia by family members or relatives for inheriting the patient’s property. It was held in Aruna Shanbaug Case too. 

Arguments in favour of Euthanasia

  • Common Cause Case (2018) held that the Right to Life includes the Right to refuse treatment and Die with Dignity and allowed Passive Euthanasia and living wills.
  • Hospitals are already overcrowded. Hospitals should devote resources to those patients who can be cured.
  • Caregiver’s Burden: The caregiver’s burden is huge. Many families have gone bankrupt to ensure medical care for a terminally ill person or to keep up the treatment for an incurable disease.
  • It will help in saving the lives of other patients by encouraging organ transplantation.
  • Law Commission, in various reports, has spoken in favour of Passive Euthanasia. 

Aruna Shanbaug Judgement

The Supreme Court didn’t allow Active Euthanasia but allowed ‘Passive Euthanasia in the rarest of rare cases subject to safeguards like approval of the High Court Bench, based on consultation with a panel of medical experts. Additionally, only a hospital can make such a request.

Gender Inequality

Arguments of Applied Ethics w.r.t. Gender Inequality

  • Male and females have the same spirit. Hence, inequality is wrong.
  • The main reason for inequality is the physical power of man. But if Physical Power should be considered the main reason for the establishment of authority, then tigers should get precedence over Humans who are more powerful than Humans. 
  • If we compare males and females on mental abilities, females are more creative and have more reasoning abilities and rationality.
  • Men have outlined the social roles of females, which is morally wrong. 

Values, Ethics, Morals and Attitude

Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude

This article deals with the topic titled ‘ Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What are Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude?

What are  Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude

The whole of the syllabus and paper revolves around four-terms i.e.

  1. Ethics
  2. Values 
  3. Attitude 
  4. Morals 

First, we will define the terms Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude.

Why is it important to learn about these four topics? The simple answer is that attitudes, values, ethics and Morals are mental constructs that guide our behaviour. They are responsible for influencing our choices, guiding our decision making and directing our behaviour. 

How are EVMA interrelated?

Relationship between Values, Morals, Ethics and Attitude

1. Value

  • Value is the worth & importance we (as individuals or society) allocate to something.
  • They are general determinants of behaviour (i.e. they are not specific determinants of behaviour). In simple words, the value of a person doesn’t guarantee their behaviour. 
  • However, values are not tied to any specific object (e.g. value of peace isn’t tied to any object and is intangible).
  • Values help in determining the preference in life.
  • They form the basis for ethics and morality.

2. Attitude

  • When Values are objectified (i.e. tied to an object), they become Attitudes. In other words, Attitudes are values applied to specific objects.
  • It refers to a positive or negative reaction to an object/event/people or ideas. 
  • Attitudes are specific predictors of behaviour. (ExplanationIf we have a choice between knowing an individual’s values and attitude, which will we prefer to know to predict an individual’s behaviour? The answer is attitude. E.g. Sham Values peace but has Anti -Pakistan Attitude. In this case, he will not mind war against Pakistan.)
  • It determines the readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way.

3. Morals

  • Morals are values held by an individual which help him in distinguishing between right and wrong.
  • They determine the character of individuals.
  • There are two things in it.
    • They are held by an individual.
    • They help a person distinguish between right and wrong.
  • Note – all values don’t help in determining right and wrong. For example,
    • Beauty as value: If some person is not beautiful, it willn’t be considered right or wrong. Hence, the concept of morality doesn’t apply here.
    • Honesty as value: If someone is not honest, it will be considered wrong. Hence, the concept of morality applies here.
  • The fundamental force driving morals is conscience & ego-ideal.

Note: Conscience is our inner voice about ‘don’ts’. Inner voices about ‘do’s’ are called Ego-ideal.

  • Conscience: Inner voice that guides our actions and prevents us from wrongdoings.
  • Ego-ideal: Goals that are cherished and, therefore, should be pursued.

4. Ethics

  • Ethics are values held by society as a whole and help distinguish between right and wrong.
  • They determine the norms of the society.
  • What is not ethics?
    • Ethics is not religion, as many people are atheists, but ethics applies to everybody.
    • Ethics is not following the law. Law may have difficulty in designing or ​enforcing standards in some important areas and may be slow to address new problems. For ​example, marital rape is not illegal. However, it is considered unethical.
  • Something that started as moral can become ethical.
    • Example of Raja Ram Mohan Roy – His personal belief was that Sati represented a crime against women. However, the practice of Sati at that time was Ethical and societal norm. Hence, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was guided by his morals at that time. He made efforts and convinced the whole society to accept that value. Society gradually changed and accepted that Sati was wrong, making it unethical. 
  • Something Ethical can become Moral too.
    • Suppose I am a government doctor and have a moral position that I will not treat those male patients who commit atrocities against women. But ethics say that doctors must treat all persons who come to them for treatment. Hence, if I refuse to treat them, there will be complaints against me and a threat of suspension if I continue with this behaviour. Under pressure, I would start treating male patients with moral guilt each time I treated them. But gradually, I will either alter my morality or quit the job because a person can’t continue living with such moral guilt. 

However, one should not equate being ethical to whatever society accepts. An exception can occur when society or its influential section becomes ethically corrupt. For example, Nazi Germany, where the genocide of Jews was not considered wrong. Similarly, the caste system in India has continued through millennia because of the approval of influential members of society.

Comparison: Ethics vs Morals

Parameters Ethics Morals
What is it? Ethics are values held by society as a whole and help distinguish between right and wrong. Morals are values held by an individual which help him in distinguishing between right and wrong.
Sources External (i.e. Societal Norms) Internal (i.e. Internal Values)
Why do we follow? Because society says that it is the right thing to do. Because we believe in something being right or wrong.
What if we deviate? This might lead to social ostracization. This might lead to a feeling of guilt or remorse.
Flexibility Since it is a collective proposition, it is generally objective. Morals are highly subjective as they vary from person to person.

Note: Value and Judgement


The value will always have an element of judgement in it, but that judgement may not always be in the form of right and wrong. For example,

  1. Truth: In this judgement regarding right and wrong can be made. 
  2. Art: A person can judge whether art is more soothing or less soothing to the senses. But we can’t make a judgement about whether art is right or wrong. (MF Hussain made the same point that morality and ethics don’t come in the judgement of art because, in art, we can’t say this is right or wrong. While we can say I don’t like that art, but can’t say it is wrong art). 

Other Concepts

1. Beliefs

  • Beliefs are the ideas & viewpoints held by a particular individual or group.
  • They consist of true and verifiable facts as well as fables, myths, folklore and superstition. 
  • They are important because they give us hope. 
  • Beliefs lay the foundation of a cultural group. They are often invisible to the group that holds them.  
  • However, beliefs can be challenged, and peripheral beliefs can also be changed.

2. Norms

  • Norms are social expectations that guide behaviour.
  • Non-conforming to norms attracts punishment. Punishment may be in the form of being looked down upon, derision, boycott, imposing penance, etc. Hence, norms are a form of social control or social pressure on an individual to conform, induce uniformity and check deviant behaviour. 
  • In the later stage, when society decides to codify these norms, they become law.

Determinants of Ethics

Ethics and Morals are not universal. They vary according to region, time etc. Major determinants of Ethics are

  • Religion: Religious textbooks deal with questions about how an individual should behave and society should be. E.g., In Jainism, Non-Veg is unethical, while in Islam, there is no such restriction.
  • Culture: Values vary with cultures. Eg: Western cultures = Individualistic | Indian = Universalism and Multiplicity 
  • Law & Constitution: The law and constitution often incorporate ethical standards to which most citizens subscribe. 
  • Leadership: The leadership of a society or an organization, or a nation also helps to determine the conduct of its followers or admirers. For example, democratic, liberal, secular, and tolerant tradition has been the gift makers of modern Indian society. 
  • Philosophies: Various philosophers and thinkers subscribe to different sets of ethics. 
  • Geography: Brahmins of West Bengal eat fish (a non-veg diet) as geography dictates them to eat fish to survive
  • Economic Factors: profiteering is considered unethical in communist societies, while profit is considered ethical in capitalist societies.

Dimensions of Ethics

It should be seen from two aspects

1. Indian

  • Ashrama Dharma: According to this philosophy, life is divided into 4 Ashramas, and the conduct and behaviour of a person should be according to those Ashramas. These 4 Ashramas are 
    • Brahmacharya Ashrama: A person should focus on learning in this phase
    • Grihastha Ashrama (Family Phase): A person should focus on fulfilling familial obligations. 
    • Vanaprastha Ashrama: A person renunciates his worldly occupations. 
    • Sanyasa Ashrama: A person gives up his worldly possessions and devotes himself to spiritual matters.

Behaviours in line with this ashrama corresponding to the age of the person are considered Ethical.

  • Varna Dharma
    • The Varna Dharma states that people belonging to different Varnas should follow their prescribed duties.
    • But it doesn’t conform to the modern principles of equality and freedom. 

2. Western

  • Normative Ethics / Prescriptive Ethics: It concerns ‘what we ought to do’ and provides criteria and principles for deciding right and wrong. It is of two types. 
    • Teleological / Consequentialist: It looks at the end (consequences) for deciding right or wrong. E.g.: Utilitarianism / Hedonism 
    • Deontological: It looks at means instead of end while deciding right or wrong Eg: Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Gita’s Nishkama Karma etc.
  • Descriptive / Comparative Ethics: The study of the moral beliefs and practices of different peoples and cultures in various places and times.
  • Meta-Ethics: It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles. Metaethics does not answer the questions of right or wrong. E.g., Integrity is Ethical Principle. Meta-Ethics will look into what it means to be a person with integrity. 
  • Virtue Ethics: It is person rather than action based. According to this approach, a virtuous person always does the right thing. It guides the sort of characteristics a reasonable person should seek to achieve. These characteristics include justice, fortitude etc.
  • Applied Ethics: It is part of ethics which attempts to analyze the ethicality of real-life controversial situations such as war, animal rights, capital punishment, euthanasia, whistle-blowing, media ethics, International Ethics etc

Aligning Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude with each other and Behaviour

The main thing to note is 

  • Our Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude should align with each other.
  • Our Behaviour should be in line with each one of them. 

Why should Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitudes be in line with each other?

  • It is required that Ethics, Morals, Values and Attitude are aligned with each other. If they are not aligned, it will leave a person with immense confusion and emotional turmoil, and he willn’t be able to make decisions easily. Hence, the more aligned they are, the more peace and tranquillity a person will have. 

Side Topic: Behaviour

  • Behaviour is anything which a person does and can be observed.
  • All the behaviours are the product of heredity and the environment (in which he lives)

 B= Heredity X Environment 

Some behaviours are more hereditary and less environmental, and vice-versa.

Why should the behaviour be in line with Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude?

  If both are not aligned, it will result in 
If a person’s values are not in line with behavior  Conflict
If a person’s attitude is not in line with behavior Dissonance
If a person’s morals are not in line with behavior  Guilt
If a person’s ethics are not in line with behavior Social Isolation & Social Ostracization

All of them have one thing in common: they are Aversive States (a state which you dislike). Therefore, the effort is not to have inconsistency. 

But often, inconsistency happens if we have justification for our behaviour. If we have justification, the aversion caused by inconsistencies will minimize, and a person will continue with those behaviours. 

Explanation for Inconsistency

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Humans take their actions based on the Cost-Benefit Analysis. A person shows behaviour if its benefit exceeds the costs involved. In ordinary conditions, the costs involved in showing deviant behaviour are emotional and mental, which generally overpower physical costs. Hence, a person goes with behaviour aligned with their Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude. But when the physical costs are more than the emotional and social costs, a person shows inconsistency in their behaviour. 
  • Justification for behaviour: If somebody has justification for his behaviour, the person will show that behaviour even if it doesn’t align with his ethics, values, morals and attitude. For example, kings used to marry many women, which was immoral & unethical, but they still did. The reason was that they had justification for their behaviour, i.e. king had to marry many women to protect their subjects’ interests.

When to look for ethicality or morality in Action

  • If we want to look into the ethicality and morality of any action, it must first be Human Action.  
  • For any action to be Human Action, three essential conditions must be met. 

1. There must be some human knowledge of the consequences of that action.

  • E.g., If a child dips a mobile in water, one can’t check the ethicality of action because the Child had no knowledge about the consequences of his action.

2. Action should be done voluntarily, i.e. without compulsion.

  • If work is done under some compulsion, then ethics and morality don’t come into the scene. 
  • E.g., If somebody places a gun on your forehead and asks you to do something. In such a scenario, we shouldn’t judge the ethicality of action. 

3. There should be a presence of different choices 

  • There should be several choices to choose from. 

Hence, Freedom of Will should be present in such acts.

Questions on Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitudes

1. Are they static or dynamic?

  • These are neither static nor dynamic but RELATIVELY PERMANENT
  • Explanation: Dynamic and Static represent extremes. Dynamic means fastly changing, and Static means they hardly change. These things can change, but change comes very slowly.

Why are they Relatively Permanent?

  • Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitudes are the source of one’s identity (i.e. who one is). Individuals want them to be a stable identity. Hence, the idea of rapid change in these four things is out of the question. 
  • A person develops Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) with a massive investment of time, cost and energy & to change them, one needs time, cost and energy as well. When these investments are required, people don’t change these things easily. 
  • There is guilt whenever there is a departure from the built-in ethics, values, morals and attitudes. 

Question: The environment changes very rapidly at times, but still, we find that Ethics, Morals, Values and Attitudes don’t change so rapidly. If Ethics and Morals are instruments that ensure our equilibrium with the environment, then how can we hold the belief that EVMA are Relatively Permanent, but the environment is changing?

  • Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) are the basis of our identity. But we must keep in mind that a spectrum of behaviours can be conferment to a single EVMA. This fact helps the person adjust to the rapidly changing environment as one can decide which behaviour to display in a particular environment. 
  • Depending upon the environment, we can decide which behaviour we will display. E.g., Patriotism. Patriotism as a value can be defined as a collection of behaviours directed towards nation-building. 

Each one has the value of patriotism, but they show them in different behaviours permissible under the value of patriotism. 

In the context of defence services, patriotism demands readiness to lay down one’s life to protect the nation. According to you, what does patriotism implies in everyday civil life? Explain with examples. (Upsc ) (10 marks)

2. Are they Absolute or Relative?

  • Absolute: Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) are context and situation-independent. They are always valid and apply to anyone, anywhere and anytime. E.g., honesty, integrity, justice, accountability etc.
  • Relative: Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) depend on context and situation. They change with time, place and circumstances. 
Time With time, patriarchal values are losing their sheen in Indian culture.
Place If a person migrates to the US from India, they must adopt certain American values to integrate into society.
Circumstances For example, even those who are against capital punishment can support hanging in certain heinous cases. E.g., Nirbhaya Case when people across the spectrum supported the hanging of those who committed the heinous crime.
  • There is no exact answer to the above question. Some scholars believe in absoluteness, and others believe in relativeness. But the way human beings generally are, they operate in relative terms.
  • Moreover, the absolute school overlooks the need to respect diversity and the view that the consequence of an act is also a factor in deciding the ethicality of that act. Telling a lie is unethical, but in cases where ordinary Germans lied to the Nazi officials to save the life of Jews can’t be considered unethical or immoral.  
  • But relativism school can also be challenged because, in this school, there is no common framework for resolving moral disputes or for reaching an agreement on ethical matters among members of different societies.

3. Whether they are culture-specific or universal?

  • They are both culture-specific as well as universal.
  • Some EVMA are universal, e.g. love, integrity, commitment etc. People of every culture would have these.
  • But some of them are culture-specific too. E.g., Some EVMA unique to Indian culture are 
    • Familial Obedience
    • Collectivism (western cultures value Individualism) 

4. Are they Subjective or Objective?

There are contrasting viewpoints wrt the values being objective or subjective. For example,

  1. According to Plato, values lie outside the individual and are not dependent on their perception or beliefs. Take the example of beauty. According to Plato, a beautiful person will look beautiful to everyone. 
  2. On the contrary, Protagoras believes in the subjectivity of values. According to Protagoras, all values depend upon the human observer. He refuted Plato’s claims by arguing that ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.’

Conclusion: Mostly, the values are subjective as individual differences occur wrt perception, understanding and judgement. Amidst the subjectivity of the values, there have to be some objective values which bind the individuals in society and avoid chaos in the society. These include values such as integrity, compassion etc.

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance

Last Updated: June 2023 (Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance)

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance

This article deals with ‘Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Conscience?

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance
  • Conscience is the intrinsic intuitive capacity to discriminate between right and wrong. 
  • The common metaphors for conscience include the “voice within“.  
  • In contrast to the law, which is an external source of ethical guidance, conscience is the internal source of ethical guidance. Conscience comes into play when the mind passes a judgement on the rightness and wrongness of a particular act.
  • Conscience is also essential as a tool of ethical conduct where the law is silent or where a person has to exercise their discretion, whether in public or private life. Additionally, when laws become outdated and require renewal, conscience helps recognize the need to initiate the process and progress toward the most suitable form. In other words, conscience comes into play when compliance and cognitive ethics fail.
  • It supplements the role of law and rules in providing for ethical governance. In the absence of conscience, one may adhere to the letter of the law but may violate its spirit with impunity. 

Limitations of Conscience

  • Conscience is not necessarily a product of a rational deduction but is something that can be influenced by the indoctrination of one’s parentage, social class, religion or culture. Hence, it is subjective and not objective.
  • Conscience often promotes social dogmas. E.g. somebody’s conscience may not allow him to allow Dalits to eat in his shop if his family values are like that. 
  • It leads to multiplicity and inconsistency. Unlike the law that is consistent and equally applied to all in similar conditions, every person’s conscience can give him a different answer when faced with the same situation.

When should we go with our Conscience?

To avoid the above limitations, Conscience can be divided into different types

True Conscience Which is in line with rational morality
False Conscience Which isn’t in line with rational morality 

We should go with our conscience only when we know it is ‘True Conscience’. Although it is advisable that whenever you hear an “inner voice”, you must hear it. But because of inherent deficiencies, you must not blindly follow that inner voice. Think about it and evaluate it rationally. If the answer is yes, you must follow your conscience and act according to that. 

Crisis of Conscience

  • When conscience fails to guide an individual in any specific situation due to a particular experience, it can be called a Crisis of Conscience. Individuals lose the ability to determine right and wrong.
  • It happens in a situation which is ambiguous in terms of the values involved and their consequences. As a result, an individual cannot resolve an ethical dilemma using his moral sense.
  • For instance, an IPS officer is given the duty to regulate the peaceful protest by farmers against corporations. Things were under control, and nobody indulged in violence. But, suddenly, the officer is asked to resort to strict measures, including firing at the protestors. The officer in such a situation can face a crisis of conscience as the situation is ambiguous.

Public Service Values

Public Service Values

This article deals with the topic titled ‘Public Service Values’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.


We have already seen Core Foundational Values. Those were the uppermost hierarchy of values. Apart from them, there are many other values (secondary values)

In these values, the question asked are 

  • Define that particular value.
  • How can you form this value in yourself?
  • If you are the head of some institution, how can you form these values in your organisation )Common Answer – Give space to juniors, open to them, set an example by having that quality in yourself, use Emotional Intelligence etc.) 

Public Trust

  • Public Trust is the measure of public confidence and faith commanded by an officer or an institution. 
  • Public Trust in the civil servant enables him to take bold steps.
  • Public trust in civil services can be achieved through transparency and efficient and consistent service delivery.
  • Example: Election Commission of India enjoys high trust, which has helped it implement the Model Code of Conduct even without the Legislature‘s backing. 


  • Diligence is the quality of showing perseverance in carrying out the work.

How to teach this among civil servants?

  • By role modelling: There have been various public personalities who showed exemplary diligence in their general conduct. Authorities should try to make such personalities the role model for civil servants. e.g. M. Shreedharan, T.N. Sheshan, J.Lyngdoh.
  • Social recognition & awarding performing civil servants.
  • Giving adequate autonomy to the civil servant: freedom from political pressure will allow the civil servant to engage in his work actively.


  • It is the quality of continuing to try to achieve a particular aim despite difficulties.  
  • It is seen in people like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi etc., as they were never disappointed because of hardships or failures.
  • The single-minded focus of researchers that keep on repeating experiments for several years is an excellent example of perseverance.
  • For civil services, perseverance is a key value. The changes that policies bring, e.g. removing open defecation or improving the sex ratio in a district, are goals that cannot be achieved overnight. Many people oppose the schemes because they did not show results in one year or two years. Civil servants have to persevere if they honestly believe that the current policy/scheme is the best way to achieve desired goals. However, there may not be an immediately visible impact.


  • The act of binding oneself with a particular cause intellectually or emotionally is called commitment.  
  • Examples include : 
    • Abraham Lincoln was committed to ending slavery. 
    • Gandhi was Commitment to Non-Violence.

Courage (Fortitude)

  • Courage or fortitude means showing strong will even in the face of danger.
  • It is another feature of gutsy bureaucrats because they can take transformational steps only if they dare to accept the responsibility of failure, if there is any.
  • Civil servants work in a dynamic environment where they may be subjected to various external pulls and pressures. They must demonstrate steadfastness and commitment to values that they adhere to.
  • As Nelson Mandela put it, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it”

Courage enables people to face harsh consequences for their acts. For instance, whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden often pay a heavy price for disclosures.

  • Without courage, it is challenging to display qualities like leadership which entails laying out roadmaps for the future amidst uncertainty. For example, it is “courage” that enabled Mahatma Gandhi to demonstrate the virtue of nonviolence against the oppressive colonial regime.
  • It encourages people to take firm decisions and attempt things that they have not tried before. For instance, it takes courage to invest in novel & seemingly impractical/commercially unviable ideas like SpaceX.

Innovativeness and Creativity

  • With the rapid advancement of ICT, civil servants have to be innovative and creative to make their administrative work faster, smoother and more efficient using such technology.
  • Moreover, the administration should be ecology-based. When there are fast pace changes in ecology, the civil servants must be creative enough to match the changing environment to fulfil their duties innovatively.


Holders of the public office should act in the public interest. He shouldn’t work to gain financial or any other benefits for himself, his family, or friends. 


  • It is the ability to restrain & self-control.
  • Emotionally Intelligent Persons show Temperance as well.


  • Humility is not denying the qualities you have but not demanding special treatment and higher importance because you have specific attributes. 
  • Humility is the mother of all virtues. Being humble is essential for civil servants. They can turn arrogant because of power and authority. Civil servants should not think of themselves so big that other people look small.  
  • Humility is essential when there is extreme asymmetry of power (like civil servants and ordinary people).


  • It is a feeling of being grateful and thankful


  • It is the ability to change in order to deal successfully with new situations. 


  • It is a quality of being kind, generous and forgiving, especially toward an enemy or a rival.

This marks the end of the article ‘Public Service Values’. For the entire series on ‘Ethics’, CLICK HERE.