Difference Between Values and Ethics

Values vs Ethics


Man is a social animal and his actions and behaviors are governed by the society he lives in. Every person has values and ethics he believes in and his behavior is guided to a great extent by these values and ethics. Those who do not understand the difference between values and ethics use these words almost interchangeably. Though there is no denying the fact that there are similarities in the two concepts but there are differences also that cannot be overlooked and this article intends to highlight these differences.

What are Values?

Values are beliefs that a person holds about things and aspects of life. These are guiding principles that mould a person’s behavior all his life. Mostly the values a person holds are developed by the company he keeps and the first values he learns are from his parents. Later on he is taught more about values in school. Societies have different value systems and people living in these societies are guided by these values. For example in the US, the values of liberty and freedom hold great significance and the behavior and actions of people in the society are guided by these values. Values are guiding principles and when a person is in a dilemma as to what direction he should take at any particular moment in his life, it is these values that guide his action and behavior.

People also have their own value systems which act as the lens through which they view the world around them and make judgments based upon this value system. This makes the situation complex as when there is contradiction between what are values fo the society and personal values held by a person.

Difference Between Values and Ethics - Values Example

What are Ethics?

Ethics are codes of conduct that decide what is wrong and what is right in a particular circumstance. These are also known as morals and are a result of evolution of mankind. When these ethics were not in place, no human behavior could be categorized as good or bad which is what led to the development of these standards to guide human behavior in a society. In early phases of their development, these ethics were known as taboos that were designed to save men from dangers. Slowly and gradually these were formalized and became accepted forms of behavior. In different societies, there are different sets of ethics though there are some morals that are considered to be universal and are accepted as such in all societies. Ethics are unwritten rules that people of a nation or employees of an organization abide by.

What is the difference between Values and Ethics?

• Values are guiding principles in life and every person has his own value system that helps him in his behavior and action throughout his life. On the other hand, ethics are moral codes of conduct that decide what is wrong and what is right about the behavior of an individual or a group in a society.

• Values can be universal as well as personal and are actually beliefs a person has that help him behave in a particular manner all his life.

• Ethics are unwritten code of conduct that are to be followed by an individual or employees in an organization.

Image Courtesy:

1. Values [CC0 Public Domain] via Pixaboy