Drishti IAS Ethics ( नीतिशास्त्र ) Notes Download PDF
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Ethics ( नीतिशास्त्र ) Notes Download PDF
Solved Questions with Answers
6. (c) “Falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good.” – Tirukkural (2018)
Tirukkural, the classic Tamil text deals with everyday virtues of an individual. This couplet implies that lie could be classed with truth if it blesses someone with good.
Even falsehood has the nature of truth, if it confers a benefit that is free from fault. In other words, a falsehood such as a lie, has the same respect as a truth if it has benign goals resulting in unblemished common good.
In the present context, it could mean that some actions may appear bad manifestly but they could be latently good if they are fully beneficial for the public.
It could be analyzed in the light of heroes in films or everyday life breaking some rule to get the right done for some social good. Such a falsehood or illegality is equal to truth because it brings flawless (unblemished) common good. A help given to exploited labourers may appear illegal given that they are legally tied to the zamindar or the money lender but such an action is actually truthful because it brings untarnished common good.
A ‘free from fault’ or ‘free from blemish’ action gives even a falsehood the nature of truth because it actually results in blessings. The overriding goal is the common good.
6. (c). “Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.” — A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
A.P.J Abdul Kalam had highlighted the importance of quality of righteousness through this quote and had given a beautiful connectivity between heart, character, nation and the world.
- Righteousness is the quality of being morally right and justifiable which forms the basis for any peaceful and prosperous society. Every religion focuses on the quality of righteousness as a means to an end.
- For example: In Hindu mythologies and texts, the path of righteousness i.e dharma is regarded as the ideal path or ultimate duty of every human being.
- By the above quote, he lays down the path for enabling peace in a society. By focusing on individual rejuvenation as the locus of all activity, he aims to reform and integrate the whole society.
- For example: In the 3rd century BC, Ashoka promoted the code of Dhamma in his empire, which was the set ideal social behaviour for promoting peace and enabling prosperity in the kingdom.
- The contemporary society has been seen digressing from the path of righteous behaviour and has shown more inclination toward the materialistic way of life, which has led to the eruption of several social and societal problems.
- If individuals follow the righteous path, they are more likely to spread happiness to others and succeed in their personal endeavours and will contribute to the upliftment of their household status, which indirectly will contribute to the happiness and upliftment of whole society, and then many social problems like crime, corruption, mob lynching etc can be eliminated from the society.
- Similarly, the more prosperous society will contribute to a more prosperous nation.
- For example: Terrorism has beacame a severe menace in many West Asian countries and threatening the safety and security of whole world. Focus on enabling the order of righteous path in these nations will contribute to maintaining peace in the whole world.
Righteousness in multiple dimensions in the society with the indomitable spirit is essential for realizing the vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.
6. (b) “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” – Mahatma Gandhi. (2018)
Anger and intolerance are antithetical to reasons and correct understanding. They cloud our judgment and affect peace of mind. It is not possible to think clearly and make the right decisions if one is angry or intolerant.
Anger makes a person lose calmness and forces them to take hasty decisions which may not be correct. Anger makes a person to lose patience which drives him towards intolerance. Angry person is a constantly stressed person; such a person cannot think with clarity.
Balanced decision making, social progress and development is made possible through leaders who have a cool head on their shoulders and not by people who are easily irritated or who are not tolerant of others, conflicting viewpoints, ways of living and thinking or world views.
Today, it is common to find people and leaders losing steadiness of mind when faced with stress. Angry and intolerant people are often bad decision makers. The World Wars and other wars in history were often fomented by people who easily grew angry and intolerant (such as Hitler who is responsible for millions of murders).
Correct understanding of a situation requires mental composure and equanimity. Angry and intolerant people cannot differentiate between correct and incorrect understanding.
6. (b). “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.” — M.K. Gandhi
Actions of a person are largely determined by her thought process. One’s thoughts are the first engagement points with the society. Thoughts impact behaviour as well as the attitude, while moulding the actions. It therefore, becomes very important for the thoughts to be fixated to a compass of morality and conscience. Ethical behaviour and regulation of actions emerge from ethical thought process.
Thoughts or reflections on experiences open up possibilities for the choices of action to be taken. An understanding and awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings, or emotional intelligence can help in regulating her actions accordingly. For example, while thoughts of kindness and compassion can create more empathetic individuals, thoughts of violence and anger can contribute to the making of criminals in society.
Technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence and Big data invoke new questions around ethics in the present day society. Individuals’ thinking has become more self centred under the impact of increasing individualism and consumerism, this has further led to the individuals’ detachment from the community and society. There has also been an increased desire from the market and the state for the control over people’s thoughts, behaviours and actions. This is not only in violation of a person’s right to speech and expression but also reduces the individual’s tendency to question and to think critically.
It is in these times that people’s ability to think freely in a society should be nurtured. Societies need to emphasise more on the education as inculcation of critical ethical thinking can produce individuals who act ethically, thereby impacting society, nation and the world at large.
6. What do each of the following quotations means to you in the present context?
(a) “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of government policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.” – Abraham Lincoln. (2018)
Lincoln’s statement (1848) is relevant for present-day world. The world is not just black and white; there are shades of grey, thus public policies and decision-making have to be accordingly adjusted. Nothing is completely evil or totally good. One has to apply mind and find out if something has more bad (evil) in it or good in it. Most things have both bad and good in them and a good administrator must continuously examine them.
Government policy is neither wholly good nor wholly bad. In that it could be good for many and bad for some and so on. Policy makers must analyze it, to find out what dominates. If the evil content is more than the good then such a policy course should be rejected; but if the good dominates, then it could be adopted or embraced.
Lincoln’s statement could be seen in the light of dams and hydro-electric power projects in India. On one hand, they displace the tribals and uproot forests but on the other hand they bring electricity, infrastructure, employment and development. If the damages are more and cannot be offset by the possible good development then it is likely a bad course of action. Most public policy decisions could be analyzed in this light.
6. What do each of the following quotations mean to you?
(a) “An unexamined life is not worth living” — Socrates
An unexamined human life, is deprived of the meaning and purpose of existence. The ability to introspect removes the individualistic absurdity by invoking a commitment to moral integrity and social solidarity.
Just like a seed needs soil, sunlight and water for its germination, human life needs introspection and examination for its growth. An understanding of the experiences gained in the life at any particular time, enriches one’s engagement with self and the universe.
Mahatma Gandhi’s examination of self through his autobiography ‘My experiments with truth’ highlights the significance of reflection on life. Mahatma Gandhi was not only able to map his weaknesses and vulnerabilities through the examination, but was also able to question his prejudices and understand his strength as a human being.
This very ability to reflect on life adds more depth to the character of ‘Arjun’ in Mahabharat than most of the other characters like Bheeshm, Yudhishthir or the Kauravs. Instead of following the norms and fighting with his clan, Arjun questions the meaninglessness of the war and the purpose of his life.
The fast changing societies and consumerist culture in the contemporary world leave less time for human beings to examine and think about the changes. Adaptation to changes have become automatic and unquestionable.
The quotation has strong relevance in the present times where human beings are burdened with the histories of war, colonisation, nationalisation, erosion of morality in the scientific and technological advancements and the sense of spiritual uprootedness.
It is in these times that one needs to delve deeper into the conscience to find the purpose of existence and engage in a more meaningful manner with the society.
5. (b) Explain the process of resolving ethical dilemmas in Public Administration. (2018)
Some of the most common ethical dilemmas with which public servants are confronted revolve around aspects such as administrative discretion, corruption, nepotism, administrative secrecy, information leaks, public accountability and policy dilemmas.
Dilemmas could be overcome through an ethical decision–making process. It is characterized as the course of the action of choosing from alternatives which are based on civil services values, moral responsibility and personal accountability of public administrators towards the society. The decisions have to reflect the respect for professional values, principles and norms.
A bureaucrat should answer the following questions: Which are the main factors influencing the decision? What are its consequences? Who does the action benefit? Would the action embarrass the department or the society at large? Is the problem really what it appears to be? Is the action fully legal and ethical? These guidelines help to clarify whether the action is socially responsible. Though sometimes there is no clear answer to all questions.
All ethical and moral issues along with the public policies, laws, rules and regulations are to be kept in mind while resolving a dilemma.
Final decision and action after evaluation should be in consonance with laws and ethics.
Anthony Makrydemetres sets out the ALIR model of imperatives of ethical reasoning – a set of basic principles that integrate and rearrange the process of dealing with ethical dilemmas. The four functionally related imperatives are: (a) the principle of democratic legitimacy and accountability of public bureaucracy and administration; (b) the rule of law and the principle of legality whereby law and only law should govern the administration; (c) the principle of meritocracy, professional integrity, autonomy and capacity of the administrative apparatus of the state; and (d) the principle of responsiveness and responsibility of administration to civil society.
5. (a) Suppose the Government of India is thinking of constructing a dam in a mountain valley bound by forests and inhabited by ethnic communities. What rational policy should it resort to in dealing with unforeseen contingencies? (2018)
Constructing a dam in a mountain valley entails many challenges. A comprehensive rehabilitation policy would ensure that unforeseen contingencies which bug many development projects are avoided. The following points of action should constitute the rational policy in dealing with contingencies.
Transparent Rehabilitation, Resettlement: Government must implement resettlement packages making the ethnic communities/tribals materially better off to counter the narrative that development and modernization is disastrous for tribals, who cannot cope with the change. Land distribution, compensation for loss of houses, forest produce and grazing land and other such resettlement measures should be implemented thoroughly without prejudice.
Maintain transparency, ensure economic welfare: The oustees must be provided complete information regarding the dam, submergence and subsequent displacement due to them. Project authorities and state government must rehabilitate the oustees with sustainable non-land based livelihoods where needed. The various problems associated with displacement are compounded several times over for oustees who are also otherwise specially vulnerable, variously by class, caste, gender or age. Such vulnerabilities should factor in rehabilitation packages.
Public Hearing: From the inception of planning of dam, through various stages of displacement and resettlement, it is to be expected that those likely to be negatively affected by the projects would be consulted and kept informed in such a way (public hearing, social audit) as to enable them to best rebuild their lives. Bureaucratic lassitude and insensitivity should not be tolerated.
Ensure Tribal welfare: The Forest department must proactively involve the people in the forest villages about possible submergence and displacement. Tribal people share the problems of other rural people but they are even more dependent on forests and common property resources, their documented legal rights on cultivable lands are even more tenuous, their skills for diversified livelihood not based on forests or land are even more rudimentary, and their ability to negotiate with state officials and courts even more weaker.
4. (b) With regard to morality of actions, one view is that means are of paramount importance and the other view is that the ends justify the means. Which view do you think is more appropriate? Justify your answer. (2018)
The means-ends debate is a paramount ethical dilemma. ‘Ends justify the means’ (Machiavelli) refers to a situation in which the final aim is considered so important that any way of achieving it is acceptable. Whereas, people like Gandhi firmly rejected the rigid dichotomy between ends and means to the extent that they believed that means and not the ends provide the standard of reference. Gandhi wrote, “The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree.”
The answer to the question depends on what the ends or goals are and what means are being used to achieve them. If the goals are good and noble, and the means we use to achieve them are also good and noble, then yes, the ends do justify the means. But that is not what most people often mean when they use the expression. Most use it as an excuse to achieve their goals through any means necessary, no matter how immoral, illegal or unpleasant the means may be. Even Hitler believed that his means (holocaust) were justified for the ends of racial purity in Germany. The ‘ends justifying the means’ usually involves doing something wrong to achieve a positive end and justifying the wrong doing by pointing to a good outcome. There are certain things to consider in such a situation: the morality of the action, the morality of the outcome, and the morality of the person performing the action.
If someone is looking for a justification to their acts, it is often because they are doing something unethical. The ‘means are of paramount importance’, view is clearly more appropriate, ethical and desirabl
4. (a) “In doing a good thing, everything is permitted which is not prohibited expressly or by clear implication.” Examine the statement with suitable examples in the context of a public servant discharging his/her duties. (2018)
Things that are not expressly forbidden by law or by clear implication are allowed in public administration. If the action promotes good and is not proscribed by any law or is not covered potentially by possible implication of conflict of interest, then it is permitted.
For public servants discharging their duties, the above statement provides a code of conduct for carrying out their responsibilities. ‘Everything which is not forbidden is allowed’ is also a constitutional principle of English law defining the essential freedom of citizens.
The conduct of a civil servant should be free of bias and prejudice. The overriding motive should be ‘public interest’ and conflict of interest should be avoided. As such, doing a good thing is allowed if there is no law against it and if there is no potential or perceived conflict of interest
For example, a public servant such as a District Magistrate endowed with the spirit of service may arrange for refreshment of senior citizens visiting the office for various services. Such a good gesture is not forbidden by law and does not appear to be influenced by any prejudice. Similarly, treating flood-affected victims with more kindness, empathy and understanding and going out of one’s way to help them as long as it does not violate any law is another case of an act within the ambit of the spirit of the statement.
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