Ethics is a system of moral principles… They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives.
Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society, and is also described as moral philosophy.



Required reading

People often talk about ethical or moral behaviour, both in terms of someone’s character and/or personal conduct, and in terms of their professional behaviour. If you search for the words ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’ on the Internet, some resources consider these words interchangeable, while others suggest that ‘moral’ is linked more to someone’s internal values, and ‘ethical’ is more outward-facing.

So how do ethics apply in a business context?

  1. Read Business Law and the Legal Environment: “Chapter 2, Section 1: What Is Ethics?”. This text gives a concise introduction to ethics and some of the important issues relating to business. It looks at how both individuals and institutions can be viewed as ethical. It also covers how ethics and the law differ, and why an ethical reputation can be more important than compliance with the law.
  2. Read New World Encyclopedia: “Business Ethics”. This webpage provides an overview of the way in which ethics apply to businesses. Don’t worry too much about the different theories of ethics that are mentioned – we are more interested in your understanding of how and why ethics are applied in the business world.


Ethics Quiz

  • Ethics is the study of:
    • how people comply with the law.
      • Incorrect. Ethics and the law are different. Try again.
    • morality in everyday life, business, and society.
      • Correct. Yes, ethics is a system of moral principles.
    • codes of behaviour for professionals.
      • Incorrect. Although we hope that professionals are ethical, ethics is not a code of behaviour for professionals. Try again.
    • applying religion to personal and business life.
      • Incorrect. You do not need to be religious to be ethical. Try again.
  • That which is legal …
    • is ethical.
      • Incorrect. Application of the law may sometimes be unethical. Try again.
    • is moral.
      • Incorrect. Application of the law may sometimes immoral. Try again.
    • may not be ethical.
      • Correct. Well done.

Quiz items proudly reused from Saylor “BUS205: Business Law and Ethics” licensed under CC-BY 3.0



In your learning journal blog:

  • Make notes on what you understand as the main differences between ethics and the law.
  • If you are comfortable with doing so, include an example from your own experience and/or your own region in which a business has acted legally but not ethically. What about ethically but not legally?
  • Remember to tag or label your post using the course code: IENT102 (This is needed to harvest a link to your blog post in the course feed.)
  • Look in the course feed to see what others have written.