Ethical considerations or Economic progress - Which one would you go with?

Ethical considerations or Economic progress – Which one would you go with?

Human beings should be treated as 'ends' and not as 'means'.?’ - Immanuel Kant. We are familiar with this quote. And how true it is! This explains that things are for the human beings. Whatever progress and achievements we boast of, are for the humans themselves. So, one must make sure that they are at the centre of all the development. And ethics play an important role in keeping humans at the centre of everything. However, many could also say that while achieving economic progress, one needs to take harsh decisions, which might be beneficial but may not go down very well with people; just like bitter medicine. So who is correct - ethics or economic development?

Ethical Viewpoint –

1. One should never compromise on ethics. It is the most valuable thing.

2. No amount of money and development can reverse the damage done due to unethical behavior.

3. We are the beneficiaries of progress. And only ethics and morality keep people together and makes us humans. There won’t be good people to enjoy the benefits of progress, if ethics are damaged.

4. No amount of economic development, without regard for human values, is acceptable and possible. The reason is simple i.e. this development is achieved by humans themselves.

5. Ethics lead to sustainable development with participation from all quarters of society.

6. Progress without ethical considerations, can lead to resentment among those are wronged; and create an opposing or even hostile environment, where no one can enjoy the benefits of the progress. For e.g. the Narmada Bachao Andolan has led to stopping of increasing of dam height. Due to this crushing of ethical concerns, a major project and its benefits are in a suspended state benefiting no one.

Economic Development –

1. Some very good economical decisions may not be ethically correct. They may trample upon variety of moral and ethical norms; however they are to be taken for stable economics.

2. Many a times, economic development crosses with the environmental concerns. It is an ethical consideration to care about the environment. However the infrastructure needed may cross paths with the environment. If there is no other effective way, then economic progress must get preference.

3. Economic progress should get preference as it addresses poverty, unemployment, etc. Sometimes bending rules might get the work done for the public benefit.

4. Right from birth, each one thinks for himself and tries to maximize one’s benefits. But one needs to follow some rules while playing at a larger level. However, what to do when others are not following the rules? In this competitive world, we must not disregard ethics completely, but we must focus more on our progress.

5. Adam Smith, founder of modern economics was a moral philosopher who believed sympathy for others (empathy) was the basis for ethics. But he too believed that acting on this empathy could be counter-productive and people would seem better off when they put their empathy aside, and interacted in a self-interested way. That gets job done (the job on which millions are dependent). Thus economic progress needs to be prioritized with less of ethics; not complete removal of ethics, but giving less priority to them.


One needs to understand that it is impossible to keep all happy. So only the concept of larger public good is useful while taking decisions. With so many differing views, it is difficult to satisfy all. So we must take a general majority view to go ahead with our decisions. An effective institutional framework to encourage and manage ethical behaviour is a crucial aspect of good governance. Balancing economic progress with ethical considerations is what we call good governance. And it is only good governance that can usher a welfare state. We cannot neglect ethics as it the foundation of our society. We have seen nations and areas suffering even if they economically developed, as they showed utter disregard for the ethics; be it environmental ones, disparity of income ones or other human values. Good economics always has a human touch to it.
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  • RE: Ethical considerations or Economic progress – Which one would you go with? -Deepa Kaushik (10/01/15)
  • Ethical considerations are an important part of the personality of any individual. The ethics are like the supporting pillars of the human structure which gives life to the human body. A dead person can be regarded better over the unethical and immoral organisms. Morality andhuman values are the differentiating fators which categorizes human from others.

    On the other hand, we cannot leave economic development altogether. We need to sustain life in this world and for that we should be vigilant foe our footprints which should match the pace of the world. we are living ina technical era where the economic development is going on a geometric progression. And every country is after its economic growth to attain the dignity over the globe.

    Life is not either black or white. We need to have an equilibrium in life to have a healthy living. Ethics and economy should go hand-in-hand. Where we need togive spaceto economy, we have to compromise a littleon our ethics. But compromising ethics does not mean entering an unfair play. More ethics into economic development would give a better economy and a secure living. Unethical measures in the development might give a frequent high rise, but the fall following that would be very hard to bear.

    Hence, it would be always ethics outweighing when compared with any other means. Ethics into any project would give a sustained growth and a better and secure stage to perform.

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