Ethics, Laws and Society – UPSC Ethics

“Ethics evolve naturally, and we trample upon them with laws created by reason and experience.” Comment. (150 Words)

Ethics as a ‘collective sense’ of right and wrong in a society evolve over time and any efforts to force such a sense by laws and rules is sure to be seen as an intrusion in societal affairs. The framers of the Indian Constitution were well aware of the fact and thus gave place to the ‘non-enforceable’ duties of state and citizens in the Constitution. Also, the Universal Civil Code was thus deferred and was made a part of the DPSP.
At times however well formulated and implemented laws catalyse the process of evolution of ethics in a society, laws formulated for ‘abolition of Sati’ is a case in point.
Sometimes, the very slow nature of the evolution of ethics also forces the state to take immediate action, for the ‘Rights of an Individual/ minority’ are as important as the “Collective Rights of Society” – the recent Judicial efforts for entry of women in temples is an example.
However, ‘enforced ethics/morality’ via laws survives the time only when efforts are made to reconcile the laws and social norms through ‘positive and negative nudges’- The failure of Nirmal Bharat Scheme and the limited success of the Swatchh Bharat scheme is a case in point.
Both laws and ethics are imperative for the progress of a society and the nation as a whole, thus efforts should be made for their ‘reconciliation’.



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