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Dr K K Aggarwal

Values, Morals and Ethics

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Values

  1. Values are our fundamental beliefs. They are the principles we use to define that which is right, good and just.
  2. Values provide guidance to determine the right versus the wrong and the good versus the bad.
  3. They are our standards.
  4. When we evaluate anything we compare it to a standard.
  5. Typical values include honesty, integrity, compassion, courage, honor, responsibility, patriotism, respect and fairness.
  6. Ethics are universal.

Morals

  1. Morals are values which we attribute to a system of beliefs, typically a religious system, but it could be a political system of some other set of beliefs.
  2. These values get their authority from outside the individual– a higher being or higher authority (e.g. society).
  3. Right as defined by a higher authority.
  4. By that definition one could categorize the values listed above (honesty, integrity, compassion …) as “moral values” – values derived from a higher authority.

Ethics

  1. Ethics is about our actions and decisions.
  2. When one acts in ways that are consistent with our beliefs (whether secular or derived from a moral authority) we characterize that as acting ethically.
  3. When one’s actions are not congruent with our values – our sense of right, good and just – we view that as acting unethically.
  4. The ethics of our decisions and actions is defined socially, not individually.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Values, Morals and Ethics

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Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , , , | | Comments Off on Values, Morals and Ethics

1. Values are our fundamental beliefs.

a. They are the principles we use to define that which is right, good and just.

b. Values provide guidance to determine the right versus the wrong, the good versus the bad.

c. They are our standards.

d. When we evaluate anything we compare it to a standard.

e. Typical values include: honesty, integrity, compassion, courage, honor, responsibility, patriotism, respect and fairness.

f. Ethics are universal

2. Morals

a. Morals are values which we attribute to a system of beliefs, typically a religious system, but it could be a political system of some other set of beliefs.

b. These values get their authority from outside the individual- a higher being or higher authority (e.g. society).

c. Right as defined by a higher authority.

d. By that definition one could categorize the values listed above (honesty, integrity, compassion …) as “moral values” – values derived from a higher authority.

3. Ethics

a. Ethics is about our actions and decisions.

b. When one acts in ways which are consistent with our beliefs (whether secular or derived from a moral authority) we will characterize that as acting ethically.

c. When one’s actions are not congruent with our values – our sense of right, good and just – we will view that as acting unethically.

d. The ethics of our decisions and actions is defined socially, not individually.

I recently participated in a seminar on Christian-Jain collaboration organized by World Fellowships of Religions, The pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, the Catholic Bishop’s conference of India and Delhi Catholic Archdiocese.  I was asked to speak on common codes of conduct between two dharma.

It was not an easy subject being I said that two dharma can be united and only a doctor can do that as he is the only one who can be a Christiana and a Jain at the same time.

First let us look at the Jainism. The five Great Vows (Mahavratas) of Jainism talks about right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct as the main three essentials for attaining liberation. In order to acquire these, one must observe the five great vows namely Nonviolence (Ahimsa); Truth (Satya); Non Stealing (Achaurya or Asteya); Self Control (Bramhacharya) and Non Attachment/Non Possession (Aparigraha).

A doctor has to be a Jaini in his conduct. While treating and handling patients he has to follow the path of non violence and truthfulness in his actions, speech and thoughts. He has to be a person with extreme self control else he will lose control in emergent conditions. He has to observe Asteya though transparency in his charges. Finally the doctor must believe in aparigraha which means he must learn to practice detached attachment. It also means not keeping things more than required and it applies to both drugs and devises as keeping drugs and devises after expiry date may be harmful to the patients. Another principle of Jainism is ‘Anekant‘ which means multi-sided views.  A doctor cannot be a good doctor unless he believes in this philosophy and respect the views of other colleagues.

When it comes to Christianity the religion gives emphasis on love, service, compassion and confession etc. All are part of medical ethics and characteristics of a good doctor.

If we look at some of the Ten Commandments, they are equally applicable to medical profession under their code or ethics. They are Thou shall not kill (one should not harm the patients); Thou shall not commit adultery ( having sexual relations with patients is ethical); Thou shall not steal (a doctor should not over bill any patient); Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour or Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house or Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s (here neighbour can be equated to patient and also to your professional colleague).