In this new era of quick life and ever changing technology, the question of morality and ethics is something that comes across in every field. The paper deals with the relevance of ethics, morals and values that exist in this modern society. Development achieved at the cost of sacrificing them is development but not growth. Ethics deal with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions. The conflicts between personal and individual ethics are faced by every individual in the society but in this competitive environment, professional attitude precedes over personal morals and values. The paper lays special focus on the role of lawyers whose duty is to safeguard the interest of the society. The fundamental objective is to secure a spirit of friendly co-operation amongst the people. It is a profession of great honour, created not for private gain but for public good. The society today, even though requires strong and strict laws, it also requires an individual to be aware of his responsibilities. The paper primers on the importance of Intellectual Property with the development of law.
Ethics is a topic which many people or groups of people tend to disregard. The decisions taken by business firm or individuals can be influenced by number of reasons. Many a times money or any monetary gains can influence a person to do unethical things either on work place or in everyday life. At each stage of life, every individual faces questions with negative or positive consequences. Is it right to cheat in a class test or bribe a police officer or cheat in a tax return? The questions are endless. Capital punishment like hanging a person may be right, but is it ethical?
Ethics guide the decision making process and actions of individuals on a broader prospective. The society is subjected to the implications of rules, legal restrictions, customs that determine what is right and wrong in the eyes of the society. Thus these rules upheld the rigid ideas of morals and ethics. For example thousands of years ago, the ‘10 commandments’ were created in order to teach the common man the difference between right and wrong. But the question that arises out of the entire argument is who determines what is ethical or unethical?
The professional organizations have widely adopted the “basic” code for many companies, universities and professional institutions. While the professional codes of ethics have slight differences in emphasis, they are in agreement on general principles. Every profession faces some challenges where his personal values contradict his professional needs.
Ethics is something that has been defined in every possible manner but none of them are complete or conclusive. Ethics are nothing but the values which are cultivated in every individual to facilitate harmonious and smooth functioning of the society. Thus, it helps the people to decide what is right and what is wrong for their society.
What are ethics? They are nothing but rules of right and wrong behavior. Webster defines ethics ‘the principles of conduct governing an individual or groups’. Ethics is that branch of philosophy that deals with morality. It is concerned with distinguishing between good and evil in the world, between right and wrong human actions and between virtuous and non-virtuous characteristics of people. Ethics entail doing what is right is face of powerful selfish desires. Society with a strong code of ethics and moral values leads to a developed society. In today’s world when everybody is striving for success, very little place is given to one’s ethics and morals. At times when the right and wrong are challenged, what is the basis to decide the correct path? One man’s justice may be other man’s pain.
Today the society has become so competitive that we require people who can push the bar higher and touch new peaks of success. At such times, a lot of decisions and actions are questioned. The decision of an entity may be correct but not ethical. What is to be done when ethics hamper success? Does man require new innovations at the cost of what is right? Our customs and traditions teach us to follow the path of righteousness. But does righteousness come before money or success?
Thus morals, values and ethics are inextricably tied to each other. Therefore the need of the hour is not only progress of mankind but also upholding the morals that have been passed to man from generations. Succumbing to pressure and situations and sacrificing the good, will only lead to a society which is developed from the outside but hollow from the inside.
Depending on the situations faced and mode of environment, ethics are classified into two major types. Those being:
1. Personal ethics
2. Professional ethics
Earlier a man only had to worry about his family and their livelihood. Today every decision taken by man is influenced by money, ambition and career. We will see what personal and professional ethics are and also see how everyday they are at conflict with each other.
One important type of ethics is the ‘personal ethics’. Personal ethics is that category of philosophy which determines what an individual believes about morality and right and wrong. It is completely outside the domain of community, government and organizations. Personal ethics can affect all areas of one’s life, including family, friends, finances and relationships. Expressing one’s personal grasp of ethics may not be understood immediately in the world at large or even in the household. This is usually because every man has a different set of rules and principles for himself.
Today what may be right for one person may not be right for the other person. Personal ethics may overlap with business ethics and vice versa. What is the algorithm to be followed when one’s principles are being challenged?
Personal ethics may vary from person to person. Every child is taught to not cheat, share things, speak the truth, work diligently and many other things. The real test arises when the child grows up, skips a traffic light and has to bribe the police officer. No rule in India or any country in the world has made following the code of ethics a law. But the sidelining of morals and principles is the real reason for the world to be in this state of war and violence.
How can a person’s conscience allow him to commit a crime and sleep peacefully? It is because he sacrificed his morals and principles for something else. Today, when the country needs strong citizens, it is important for people to not forget what they had learnt. It is important that the greater good is not always given preference but individual good and collective good are given privilege.
Man should not strive for his success, power and progress by squashing somebody else’s rights. But this is what has been happening. We cannot have laws to uphold morality but we can have a strong conscience achieve our goal.
The other type of ethics is ‘professional ethics’. Professional ethics are codes of conduct or certain standards that people set in a specific profession. A code of ethics is expected in every profession in the society today.
Respect and honesty are the two main components of professional ethics. All employees in a company are expected to represent a business in such a way that the goodwill of the company is maintained.
Again like personal ethics, the professional ethics may be different for different persons and their company. What may be considered ‘justified’ by one organization may not be right for the other one. Professional ethics generally talk about the collective good of the company or organization.
The competitive world has given rise to many power hungry individuals who have made innumerable profits. How far has their success been ‘ethical’ is a vital question. Every employee has to be loyal to his company, he is expected to be truthful and work diligently. Today the society tends to question professional ethics because it often comes in the way of personal ethics. But everything needs to change with the changing trends in the society. Acceptance to strict professional conduct is one of them. An employee is expected to not question his company’s policies. An employee is also expected to keep complete secrecy and maintain the company’s privacy.
How far does following professional ethics help the society is a vital question. If professional conduct fails to acknowledge personal morals then the downfall of people’s character is inevitable. Thus it is important that a company protects its rights and at the same time the rights of its employees and society.
PERSONAL VS PROFESSIONAL ETHICS:
After having discussed what personal and professional ethics are, we come to the most talked about argument in the society today- the conflict between personal and professional ethics. Man in his everyday life often comes across situations where he has to either choose his personal morals or make professional decisions which go against these morals. The professional decisions are taken either to achieve some ambitious gain or to keep his job ahead of his personal life.
Many a times when we face a conflict of personal and professional morals, we tend to succumb to pressure and take professional decisions without thinking about our principles. Many companies want their employees to take up professional decisions without stopping to consider their personal morals. When a mega company has to set up a factory which emits hazardous waste in the environment, thus affecting the local people, the project head doesn’t stop the project. The greater good of the company and its profits are of prime importance then and not the lives of innumerable people.
Very few individuals in the society can work with a clear conscience and still manage to achieve professional success. What is required today is a steady balance of one’s morals with one’s decisions. Progress achieved at the cost of sacrificing one’s principles will be progress but only at its face value. If millions give up their ethics in the name of development, the developed world will be left with a pool of shallow people.
The companies and organizations are adopting and adapting today to keep their records clear and corruption free. They are adopting ideas and techniques that ensure growth through the path that is right. Why does one have to choose between a personal or professional ethic? Why is there a conflict between these two ethics? What is right should prevail and what is wrong should be changed.
It is time that all organizations, companies and groups safeguard the personal ethics of its employees while making professional decisions. The need of the hour is a system which does not compromise what is right and yet manage to touch new heights of success. We want people to not worry about having to keep their principles at home. At the end of the day what is right for the society and man should prevail.
In the words of Chief Justice Marshall- “The fundamental aim of legal ethics is to maintain honor and dignity of the Law profession, to secure a spirit of friendly cooperation between the Bench and the Bar in the promotion of higher standards of justice, to establish honorable and fair dealings with the counsel, with his clients, opponent and witnesses”. This suggests that lawyers play a very vital role in the society to safeguard the interest of the common man.
Ethics are a code of conduct written or unwritten for regulating the behavior of a practicing lawyer towards himself, client and the Court. It is said that legal ethics is the body of rules and practice which determine the conduct of the members of the Bar. The importance of ethics in legal profession is to maintain honor and dignity of the profession and friendly relation with people.
Legal profession is not a business but a profession which is created for the public good. The essence of the profession is stated in three things:-
· Organization of its members for the performance of their function
· Maintenance of certain standards, intellectual and ethical for the dignity of the profession
· Subordination of pecuniary gains to efficient service
The lawyers are not puppets compelled to obey the dictate of their client, where matters of good faith and honorable conduct are concerned. They are responsible for the honest and fair conduct of the case. They play a very important role in the maintenance of peace and order in the society. Law is not only a money making profession but the branch of administration of justice. Thus, it is the duty of every legal professional to safeguard the interest of the society and to work for the public good. It is also the duty of a lawyer to maintain friendly and cooperative relations with clients, Court and the people of the society. The society today, even though requires strong and strict laws, it also requires an individual to be aware of his responsibilities.
The concept of intellectual property can be defined as the vital feature of the property which the proprietor or owner may use his property and has lawful possession over his property, which cannot be used without his authorization. In a broader sense it includes all rights resulting from some intellectual activity in various fields such as industrial, literary, artistic etc.
The term intellectual property is derived from the term industrial property logos, trademarks, designations, service marks, designs, including different sources and origin and discouraging unfair practices. The Paris convention provides protection to only industrial property but World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) believes in extending protection to other fields such as scientific, literary, artistic etc also.
The main objective of intellectual property is to recognize the commercial world to protect the interest of mercantile community. Thus, create monopolies to maximize his returns but there is a need to extent the benefits of the property not only to the inventor but to the whole society. Rather than subjecting the property to immense restriction and controlling its accessibility, it must be open for modification and alteration to improvise and enhance the property.
It could be argued that intellectual property rights are unethical- it is immoral to excessively use the copyright or the patent laws, these were created to protect the rights of inventor’s and artists from unfair use of their creations by others. In response to it the role of morality is to determine the level of fairness and determining the harm caused. It is a zero sum game where the interest of the creator is compromised for the interest of the society or the interest of the society is compromised for the interest of creator, in a situation when no one gets harmed then there is no question of morality. There is an immediate need to regulate IP laws to acknowledge any new change that has led to the betterment of the said property with proper code of conduct giving due credit to the inventor of the property. Hence, Intellectual property rights will give greater opportunities to everyone.
Summarizing all that is discussed in the given paper, ethics be it any, personal or professional, are of importance. But achieving one at the cost of another is wrong for the individuals and society in general. This competitive and power hungry society needs people who uphold their principles. We need citizens who enjoy their rights while recognizing their duties. What is right should ultimately be the law. Legal entities should also be moral and ethical.
We need people, groups, companies and organizations to keep in mind the principles taught to man since early ages. Customs should not be forced but not discarded outright. A steady balance between the constantly conflicting personal morals and professional ethics is the need of the hour. A nation developing at the cost of its citizens’ character and morals is developing but not progressing.
The laws relating to Intellectual Property or any field for that matter, framed by a country should acknowledge the owner’s innovation but at the same time leave ample scope for moderation and development.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org