Difference Between Law and Ethics

Law vs Ethics

Law and ethics are two important terms associated with the science of management. Law is a set of universal rules that are framed, accepted when usually enforced. Ethics on the other hand define how individuals prefer to interact with one another.

The word ethics is derived from the Latin ‘ethos’ meaning character. The word ‘ethos’ combines with another Latin word, ‘mores’ meaning ‘customs’ to give the actual meaning.

It is important to note that the definition of law contains terms such as consistent, universal, published, accepted and enforced. A law has to be consistent because there cannot be two contradicting requirements in law since people cannot obey both. It has to be universal because the requirements must be applicable to every one.

The requirements have to be in a written form and hence a law is published. The requirements have to be obeyed too and hence a law is accepted in sense. Since the requirements are compelled to be obeyed by the members of a society, the law becomes enforced.

Ethics on the other hand cannot be compelled and hence they cannot be enforced. They need not be universal too. Ethics need not be published. On the contrary ethics totally depends on the individual and the choice of the individual in terms of his interaction with the other members of the society.

Disobeying law is liable for punishment. On the other hand when someone does not adhere to principles of ethics then he is not liable for punishment.

Ethics have altogether a different set of characteristics. Ethics consists in learning what is right and what is wrong and doing the right thing. It is interesting to note that ethical decisions have various consequences, outcomes, alternatives and personal implications. It is thus understood that both law and ethics are applicable to all walks of life and to all professions as well.