Ethics & Social Norms

Social means are informal unwritten standards of behavior followed by society.

Social means people, norms means standards. Social norms means people’s standards.

For social norms there should be more than one person. When there are two persons living a social norm may emerge & when there are set of people & Society is formed & society can have social norm that how people should behave, live, talk, marry etc.

When such social norms become over a period of time established standards they become tradition & custom.

Social norms are also source of guidance to human conduct. Infact they play important role in socialization.
eg. a good reception for any guest- important social norm.
Seeing him off is also a social norm.

There can be good social norms such as reception to guests or “Athithi deva bhava” philosophy in India. Dowry is also another social norm, Gender stereotyping, many other social practices also considered social evils, wrong practices etc. can come in the category of ‘bad social norms’.

Good social norms can also be ethical & therefore there will be some overlapping between Ethics & social norms.

Some ethical principles will also be based on the social norms of society. In fact, human dignity, respect, duty, love, compassion, tolerance have been largely derived from social norms.
i.e. Evolution of society in general.

Nevertheless, ethics is not only about social norms.
i.e. it’s inappropriate to define ethics as based on social norms.

Conclusion of different Relationships:

The above discussion shows that ethics is influenced by values, morality, law, religion & social norms. However, it’s much more than laws, religion, values, etc. Simply because

  1. The field of Normative science is about science.
  2. This normative science is about the science of human conduct which :
    • Finds out Right & wrong aspect of human condut.
    • Established standards of conduct.
    • deals with applied ethics & ethical issues
    • sets aims of ethical conduct.

While dealing all these thing, it’s influenced by values, morality, law & social norms.

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