Ethical or legal - What will be your way?

Ethical or legal - What will be your way?

Ethical or legal - What will be your way?


While the terms ethical and legal are often used together to convey the same scenario but there is a difference - a major difference that draws the line between what it the right thing to do at the moment and what is not. Laws are made to keep things under control, to ensure there is peace and stability everywhere but without ethics the laws are not apt on handling every type of matter.

Every revolutionary extremist, right from naxalites to terrorists, they are claim that they are doing what is ethically allowed and justified according to them but they break laws. It is like killing and then putting the whole blame on something that would free them. Ethics and laws are indeed best when they go together but there are instances when one has to choose.

What your ethics allow might not be right according to law. You cannot steal from rich to give it to poor and needy though that might seem ethically correct. When you are faced with a situation where you have to choose between ethical or legal approach, it is always wise to consider both first.


1. Morals above all: If your siblings cheat on you regarding property distribution, you know what could get you to win the war - a legal battle. But are you ready to take your own siblings and maybe even old parents to the court? That would hurt anyone’s morals. The ethical solution would be to seek a settlement with the interference of people close to you and your siblings. Anger wins the war but you lose the person whom you win over.

2. Depending on good and bad: Some countries have laws where abortion is illegal. But the same countries wouldn’t allow or accept child before or outside of marriage. What is one supposed to do in a situation like that? It is your body and you have to decide how you want it to be. If you feel that you are not ready to bring a child in this world, for ethical reasons that you would be banished from your social circle, it is all your to decide if you want to go above laws and choose ethics.

3. Euthanasia: It is illegal in most countries including ours but for all we know, the pain lifelong agony of the person would be begging to be ridden of the life under constant torment of disease. Ethically, the person under pain should have the right to decide if he wants to opt for euthanasia, or in some cases the family of the person whose life is constantly affected by the factors should get the right to decide. When you know that you are ethically correct in many ways, it becomes difficult to sit by and wait for the laws to change.

4. Freedom to choose: Ethics are in many ways liberating unlike legal procedures that bind you throughout with clauses and pauses. You are free to decide if you want to donate all that you have earned to a good cause at the end. It is something selfless that your ethics are nudging you to do. Maybe your morals awakened and you are touched by all the poverty and pain around you and you want to do something for those people. There are great people who dedicated their life as well as lifelong earnings for the cause of bringing solace to the poor and the needy. This is something that brings true happiness and not leaving everything you earned to your legal heirs in case you don’t have your own children.

5. Act of kindness: You catch your maid stealing money from your wallet. The legal side would be to hand her over to the police and file a complaint. Your moral instincts tell you that probably the reason she was stealing is because she had to pay for her child’s medical treatment or pay for school. It would be very unkind to get her into legal trouble for a thing like this. Ethically it would be correct to warn her sternly and then get to know the reason behind her need for money and if found honesty in it, offer to help her with what you could.


1. Law above all: When you know that law doesn’t allow it and yet your ethics tell you otherwise, there is no other option but to abide by law. You don’t want to get into legal trouble just because you felt pity for the 12 years old that came knocking to your doorstep begging for work and then hiring him for household chores. Child labor is not ending because people feel it is ethically correct to employ poor kids who would otherwise starve to death. Laws are there for a reason. They exist to stop people from doing things such as the above example.

2. Lessons have to be learnt: Sparing a thief just because he is poor and needy is like giving him the license to do whatever he could in order to earn bread. The next he robs a bank or kills someone for money, remember you are one who encouraged him in a way you wouldn’t want to accept. Unless you learn your lesson the hard way or the legal way, you are not meant to wipe off the evil thought brooding inside.

3. Respecting laws: Your ethics might not need you to cover well in public but when you are in a country that has laws that ask you to dress in an appropriate manner, you have to abide by the laws to stay out of trouble. Not only does respecting laws keep you safe but also makes you worth getting respect in return. Ethics can only be worth following when rules and laws of the state are also kept in mind.


Approach to a situation should be made depending on the necessity and requirement of that particular situation. Some cases might require legal approach instantly and there is no ignoring in those matters where ethics cannot help you overcome trouble. If situation calls for legal advice or action one must not hesitate.

Other matters of personal relations or moral values could be handled ethically and there is no good out of taking it to legal level. Ethics solve problems more easily than taking it to court of law. Ethics make us what we are when it comes to deciding what a situation demands from our side. That's the reason why ethics and law go together hand in hand.
Post your comment