To be ethical by conviction or to be ethical by responsibility – that is the question

๐—ง๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—น๐˜† – ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—พ๐˜‚๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป

As there are many discussions and drives around morals and ethics in our society, we find Max Weber’s distinction between two types of ethics, namely the โ€œethics of convictionโ€ and the โ€œethics of responsibilityโ€, quite helpful.

Persons being ‘ethical by conviction’ focus mainly on their personal moral beliefs and behaviors, being convinced that they are the right ones, the best ones, without really caring about the outcomes of their doing.

Persons being ‘ethical by responsibility’ on the other hand, focus primarily on the outcomes of their behaviors and the underlying beliefs.

Let us give an example to illustrate.

Imagine a person encountering some boys bullying a girl while some neighbors are watching the scene from a distance.

Following ‘ethics of conviction’, that person would address a reprimand to the boys in front of everyone, i.e. the girl and the neighbors, in order to display her/his higher level of morals, condemning the behavior of the boys. While that person would shine on stage in front of the neighbors, a positive outcome is not likely. In fact, the boys might bully the girl even more next time, releasing their frustration about being lectured.

Following ‘ethics of responsibility’ on the other hand, that person would take the boys aside and speak to them more privately. That person would first try to understand the motive of the boys before suggesting a better behavior. While the outcome of this approach is likely to be better, the action would go unnoticed by the crowd.

Our last thought provocation for this year: Does our society suffer from having too many people who follow ‘ethics of conviction’ rather than ‘ethics of responsibilities’?

Looking forward to your comments on LinkedIn.

With this, we are wishing you and your families a peaceful holiday season, in whichever way you celebrate, as well as a great start into a new year full of love, light, life and laughter. See you in 2023.

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ยฉ ATvisorโ„ข; Picture Source: Stockimages