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Day 17 – Q 1.Can one’s ethical standards be different for public and private life? Critically comment.

1. Can one’s ethical standards be different for public and private life? Critically comment.  

क्या सार्वजनिक और निजी जीवन के लिए अलग-अलग नैतिक मानक हो सकते हैं? समालोचनात्मक टिप्पणी करें।


Ethics are moral principles that govern one’s behaviour. Ethical standards are principles that when followed, promote values such as trust, good behaviour, fairness, and/or kindness. There is not one consistent set of standards that all follow, but each organisation has the right to develop the standards that are meaningful for them.


Ethical standards are often found to be different:

  • In private life, ambitions and goals, constraints and difficulties, of an individual sometimes result in a compromise of values.
  • Freedom of choice enables the individual to make quick choices suited for them, sometimes even foregoing ethical values, just to achieve the end result in a faster pace.
  • Public relationships are more instrumental such as organizational colleagues, politicians, strangers, and others outside of one’s relatively narrow circle of intimacy. It is the action of getting along with people we constantly come in touch with whereas private life is almost completely based on what the individual thinks is right.
  • Choosing private interests: When it comes to private interests, individuals tend to act with personal motive and are ignorant of its effects on the public as a whole.
  • Openness and transparency: Private lives are influenced by closed choices, secretive decisions and emphasize privacy whereas public lives delve on openness and transparency and hence render more accountability to one another.
  • Example: Kesab Chandra Sen opposed child marriage but married his own underage daughter to Maharaja of Cooch Bihar. Consequently, his followers abandoned him and founded Sadharan Brahmo Samaj (1878). Thus, if there is inconsistency in the public life and private life of a person, it leads to disastrous outcomes.

However, certain ethical standards that should be similar in both private and public life are:

  • Integrity– In both private and public spheres of life one should have highest sense of integrity and not be influenced by any outside individual or organization which might affect their performance.
  • Honesty– Both have to have utmost honesty and sincerity in their actions and both have to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that affects their respective private and public lives.
  • Morally responsible– In both the spaces, an individual should have a sense of moral obligation in the interest of overall welfare of everyone around, and not resort to extreme actions which destroy the harmonious fabric.
  • Virtues of compassion, cordialness, basic civic sense etc. are important in any sphere of life, and help one’s wholesome growth as both a private individual and a peer in general.
  • Example: Following fundamental duties by an individual like respecting national flag, not destroying public property, protect environment, wildlife etc. should be done irrespective of private or public space.


Moral relativism as a bar for comparing ethical standards in private and public life will not be the right judgement of the same. Some ethical values should be followed in both spheres of an individual irrespective of the consequences, and some are based on their matter of influence over the individual’s life. Nevertheless, any action by an individual must be logical and work on self-betterment and contribute to the larger welfare of the public life he/she is involved in.

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