Responding to Ethical & Legal Issues
Newspapers are full of articles about ethical and legal issues. The authors outline the numerous problems people face and explain how it is important to prepare fast responses. However, it seems that the terms “ethical” and “legal” mean equal things and are often written in the same sentences as synonyms. Though they are strongly connected, the concepts are incompatible. The terms work well together and can describe similar social situations. Nevertheless, it is necessary to determine the difference.
“Ethical” derives from the term “ethics” originated in 1588. It is related to the moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with them. “Legal” explains the concepts associated with the law and its applications. It refers to the working processes and procedures, equipment and tools, traditions and culture, and more. Actually, the “law” is the initial term of the word “legal”. In 1562, the term was used for the first time.
Complicated modern issues can be discussed from different points of view. Many of them can be both ethical and legal. The words have the same kind of relationship. The laws originally represented the ethical values of people. They demonstrated the moral principles and the understanding of what the right thing to do was and what was considered wrong and unacceptable. Therefore, the words “ethical” and “legal” are not equivalent concepts. There are some examples when the acts can be unethical, while an ethical position may be considered illegal. The point of view is subject to change, as soon as the perception of the community modifies.
The differences also occur when the concepts are applied. The ethical acts are voluntary; they may be mandatory for the part of the society and be unimportant for the rest. These acts are applied individually and play the most important role in families. Contrariwise, a legal act is applicable to every person in a community. Legal acts regulate the activities of the entire society. That is why it is hard to deal with the ethical issues; there are no regulatory institutions. Partially, the church can monitor the ethical issues and influence individuals who do not obey the ethical rules.
To summarize, the ethical and legal issues regulate human behavior and activities. Their scope and application are different. Ethical issues mainly concern individuals, but the legal issues are social problems and specially designed institutions help solve them. Both concepts are considered right or wrong based on human perception and traditions that can change over time.