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Where ethical standards come from

What are ethics?

Ethics are moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity. These are different for every person and are  affected by many factors as we grow.

Some sources that can have an affect on someone’s ethics include:

Childhood upbringing-

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Traditionally, it has been thought that much of what is deemed to be moral decision-making in young children is simply the result of imitating or “parroting” their parents or other role models. As as child grows and explores the world around them, their parents guide them and teach them valuable life lessons. Every parent is different and they themselves have developed their own ethics throughout their life meaning the lessons they teach their children will differ to all other parents. Each child will also spend time with different role models and this may also influence how their ethics and morals develop.


Most religions enforce moral behaviour through positive and negative reinforcement. For example the concept of karma and reincarnation in Hinduism, heaven and hell in Christianity, and peaceful afterlife and reincarnation in indigenous Chinese folk religions. It is found that individuals are more likely to behave in a moral or honest manner when they fear the possible consequences of their actions. However, another possible explanation for this suggests that it may have nothing to do with religious beliefs, rather the religious scriptures or rituals act as a moral reminder to act in a moral and honest manner.

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Discussions with friends, family and coworkers can influence a persons ethics. The ideas and beliefs of whom you surround yourself with can make you more open to different and new ideas and viewpoints and this may alter your ethics and morals. If you grow up with certain beliefs and ideas you will likely have the same or similar ones as that’s what you’ve grown up knowing. As for friends, if you have a group of friends that all share the same belief or ideas and they talk to you about it a lot, your own beliefs and morals may change to be similar to theirs as you start to believe it all to be true.

Can a personas ethics change later on in life?

The short answer is yes! A persons ethics can still change and adapt over time. Even though things like a persons childhood and religion have early affects on a persons ethics, things like life experiences, the people you surround yourself with, and even your work environment can have effects on your ethics even later on in life.

Ethics are constantly changing and are different for every person!

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