Politics and Ethics cannot go together

Politics and Ethics cannot go together

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." – Voltaire. How truly this quote shows the massacre of ethics when it comes to politics! Ethics simply means moral principles that govern a person's behaviour in an organization or society or while conducting an activity. Ethics dictate how man’s social and political life must or ought to be organized in order to be moral. And by the look of it, one can deduce that it is incompatible with the current brand of politics. However, by not judging it by its looks, it is worth exploring the concepts of ethics in politics.

No they cannot –

1. “There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.” - Vladimir Lenin.

2. Many thinkers have commented on incompatibility of both with each other. These comments have been result of what has been observed and experienced by them. It would not be wise to ignore these observations.

3. Ethical consideration during resolution of political crisis can compound the problem. Ethics can give infinite dimensions to the problem as each individual is unique and hence it becomes much more difficult to resolve the issues.

4. Sometimes some decisions are unpopular, tough, yet have to be taken for future benefit or larger good. Political problems require political solutions. Morality, ethical considerations will be a hindrance for sure in such unpopular decisions because compromises can largely cause settling for small thing when a big benefit was possible.

5. Kautilya justifies everything that is needed to take, keep and extend political power, without any moral hindrance. This realist considers a just regime the most effective defense against foreign onslaught because subjects will fight wholeheartedly to keep a just and cherished ruler.

6. Individual ethics are often transferred directly to the political sphere. It is assumed that if leaders are honest, just, and respectful of the truth, countries will be managed honestly, justly, and with due respect for truth and democracy. Such an approach is appealing in its simplicity but is far from true. Once again, political problems require political solutions.

Yes they can –

1. "Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess." - Thomas Paine

2. Mahatma Gandhi, whose teachings are imbibed in our politics, is a perfect example of how one can have ethics even in politics. Our constitution too expects ethics in governance and in turn politics.

3. Moralism projects ideal ethical values as goals for any politics and considers them as normative, or at least inspiring. Pragmatism considers ethics as a possible added value for politics and checks case by case whether or not this is true. Thus both approaches show how we can integrate ethics in politics.

4. Laws are measured against values such as justice, solidarity, equity, responsibility. By such comparison it is possible to challenge and change laws, bringing them in conformation with the ethics and values and the evolving society. It also reminds us that ethics cannot be prescribed by law; they judge a law. Thus one cannot ignore ethics in politics.

5. Although Kautilya, Machiavelli, etc. dispute the relevance of ethical norms in politics, they may still see justice and welfare as assets in terms of political continuity, stability and sustainability. Thus even unwillingly, ethics become part of the politics and so we can say that they both can go hand in hand.

6. Ethics in politics cannot be seen easily sometimes but it is visible in the results and consequences of decisions and policies.


In all traditions, ethical responsibility in politics is constantly addressed. We swing between two extremes - ethics as a frame of reference for politics and politics delinked from any ethical accountability. However we must realize that right from beginning no tradition accepts systematic cruelty or the justification of impunity. Arbitrary rule is denounced (although often tolerated). So ethics in politics is inevitable and has to be there to give it a humane touch.
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  • RE: Politics and Ethics cannot go together -Rohit Sharma (09/26/15)
  • politics and ethics are both different thing's
    in the politics the people generally ellected by the other people do work
    and ethical person means the person's believes values
    the ethic forms due to the social effect
    family effect person's attitude behavior values believes

    I am in favour that ethics and politics can go side by side
    because if the person have good e then he can understand the other peoples are beautiful we we have a different numbers of examples where the people are ethicists and they are politicians politicians like we have the example of D Mahatma Gandhi who are the great politician and also a good ethical man for a politician he need to have a good ethics
    if the petition is not good ethical then he cannot understand the Ethics of the feelings attitudes billiards values of the other people who elect them
  • RE: Politics and Ethics cannot go together -Deepa Kaushik (09/25/15)
  • The possibility and the current scenario are two different things. Whether politics and ethics can go with each other is the topic under discussion. We can quote the example of the current scenario in support of our notion for this discussion, however we cannot conclude otherwise just based on our present political set-up.

    Politics and ethics and two different fields that can go hand-in-hand. A deserving and talented leader can definitely Govern the citizens of the country without compromising his ethics. Ethics is the good morale within an individual which he express with his actions. The ethics of the individual gets displayed unkowingly through their deeds. We need to have quality persons in the field of politics to have ethics into the politics and have a good and healthy governance.

    In the present era, it is not only the politicians but many others have lost their morale and ethics. We cannot blame politics alone for getting polluted with corrupt practice. When an individual loses his honesty, it is where corruption peeps in and the ethics gets washed away. Present day politics is full of fallacy and blame game. Everything that comes out to the limelight is manipulated and many a times created just to portray; however the truth remains just the opposite.

    It is very difficult to expect ethics in our current political system all of a sudden. We need to have a perfect leader along with a team of members who could be fully trusted for their honesty, modesty, principles, integrity to follow the ethics in politics. If we can gather such a group of people who have these characteristics along with immense courage to fight back the present generation dirty politics and the corrupt people, then we can definitely have politics and ethics going hand-in-hand; thus making the nation a peaceful heaven to live.