Ethics is built on individual perceptions

Can the defacing, stealing of information or vandalising others’ websites, which can only spread hatred, be ethical? There are even institutes to teach ethical hacking.

Indians hacking a Pakistani website may be considered ethical by an Indian but may turn out to be a bad nightmare for a Pakistani. By prefixing the term ‘ethical’ we tend to make it more acceptable. It is like coining a term like ‘ethical rowdyism’.

Now what is ethics? It can be defined by the rules set by society, expecting that individuals adhere to them. But ethics cannot be generalised or enforced like laws. The ethics of one person can turn out to be villainous, funny and insubstantial for another.

Rules set by society can be fragile. Individuals try to justify their actions by interpreting the rules set by society according to their mindset and convenience. They see a direct connection and consequence for the action of rules set by society. This raises the need for numerous lawyers and  advocates who thrive to justify the actions of their clients by interpreting the rules set by society.

Ethics is built on the essence of an individual’s perception of events in society and the effect of these on the individual consciousness. Various events that impact an individual in his lifetime have an effect on the ethics set and adhered to by the person. Now ethics can be redefined as rules that one tries to adhere to, sometimes very strongly and most of the times changing according to the situation he faces.

The rules or the principles followed by the individual will be stronger than those set by the society. A person tries to adhere to rules set by him to make him more acceptable in the society he lives. Here comes the concept of self-motivation. A self-motivated person will try to stick to the rules set by himself come what may. Self-motivation is a very important concept in personal ethics.

Ethics is dynamic, fluid and volatile. Ethics can change due to various factors, such as religion, peers and societal perceptions. Ethics of the individual can also be affected by other factors like:
Legacy or heredity, societal influence, expectations, workplace happenings or family pressure.

Influencing factors
The following factors try to increase the moral outlook of a person and thereby increase the level of moral ethics he tries to adhere to: Parental guidance; religious attachments; external events and genetic influence on behaviour.

Similarly, some other factors also decrease the level of moral ethics: Desire for materialistic possessions, lack of proper guidance,  desire for fame and importance or bad events.

Personal ethics have to be sometimes flexible depending on the situation. Like that of Yudhistira while killing Drona, to prevent the Pandavas from losing the war to the Kauravas. And also, as in the case of Krishna, when confronted by Bhishma in the warfront. But for the interference of Arjuna, Krishna would have deviated from his self-set promise ie ethics. Strong ethics with a little flexibility depending on the situation make a person happy and contended.

Now when we try to analyse the term ‘ethical hacking’, attacking the accepted enemy from all fronts is an important strategy of war. Attacking or being alert with the enemy to ensure that he does not do any harm to us is a good form of defence also. But identifying the enemy may be important because a thief cannot say that a policeman is his enemy.

Here comes the greatest and the time tested set of rules or should we say ‘ethics’ presented by India to humanity: The Bhagavadgita. Following the principles set by God himself in the form of Krishna, who says that a clear conscience is very important for an ethical and happy person. Being stoical, but not necessarily reclusive by adhering to the principles of the Gita, a person can live a better and more ethical life.

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