Ethics is a term used in a very broad sense. In non technical terms, ethics is defined as a set of moral rules or norms of conduct recognized to regulate actions of a particular group of people or society, culture, or professional association.
On the technical level, it is a branch of philosophy that seeks to search, advance, clarify and justify standards of conduct of how human beings ought to act in many situations in which they find themselves. It emphasizes free human conduct.
Although the idea of social ethics is relatively new, ethics is as old as human race itself. Traditional, it was confined to individuals whose behavior determines social behavior resulting into human activity that then defines human livelihood.
Ethics in moral terms has ideas to instill discipline, values also determine human conduct and activity through social responsibility to live and behave in respect to what is good or bad. Therefore human life is founded on ethics and activities of a person one dependent on ethical behavior of a particular group.
Of course determining human life that is ethical is complex and varies from society to society, however, the beginning of social organization is conditional by family behavior at birth. The family is the first entity to influence ethics of s human person and therefore a unit in defining human activity.
From the family as a human person grows, another category that influences behavior are peers. These are age groups (mates) whose ethics influence human life and activity through copying, habits either good or bad.
Past behavior also influences ethics of a human person. Such experience influences human life and activity that human being will carry out. In fact some of such experiences have negative effects on human life. For example Francis Bacon in “Novum Organum” (the new instrumentality for the acquisition of knowledge) Book 1 39-44: asserts that obstacles human beings encounter in our thinking are through what he termed as “idols of the minds" such as fixation determined how a human life look at nature and therefore has a big influence on behavior through human activity.
In real practice, general morals in the society also influence the socialization structure and individual ethics. Many times human life and activity is influenced by general behavior within the society. For instance Uganda is now considered a “corrupt country” according to transparency internationals corruption perception index. Life and activity thereof in our nation seems morally corrupt and as result many young people join public administration and due to greed become corrupt.
Of course the moral reason for existence of society is to promote the common good. The moral reason for promoting the common good is ultimately to promote social welfare of human beings. In real sense such influences human life and activities that promote such good is encouraged.
Ethics in professional associations like medical profession, teaching, engineering, or legal or even in particular groups like religion (Christian, Muslim etc) also determine the way human beings live and hence their activities. Our procurement one supposed to take guide by business by business ethical principle.
In conclusion, ethics standard or conduct of human being that indicate what is good or bad are only fundamental to human life but they are also foundation that determine which activities ought to be carried out by individuals or groups. To ignore ethics in human life and activity is to move on rectangular wheels. Indeed ethics one fundamental determinants of human life and activity.
1 . Paul Edward: The Encyclopedia of philosophy
Vol 1& 4 page 237
2. Betrand Russel: A history of western philosophy Routledge new York (1996)
3. Tusabe Gervase: the human person, ecosystem & environmental Ethics(2006)
MUK Selected notes
4. Public procurement and disposal of assets Act(2003) Republic of Uganda, Act; code of Business. Ethics : Schedule V.