Ethics and Morality for Beginners

aanya khandelwal
3 min readJun 11, 2021


Where to begin? Well, the question may as well shift to where not to begin from?

The words ethics and morality to some people may instinctively mean the basic every day conscience that must be ingrained in people while running through every day tasks. Whether it be appreciating your friend’s horrible trial at attempting to cook pasta to questioning whether using people for personal gain is justified.

Ethics aren’t as simple as they seem. Ethics branch out from your beliefs about life. Whether you believe in cynicism (all actions with the aim of personal gain) or utilitarianism (all actions with the aim of the greater good), it varies from person to person. That is why the very conversation about ethics become a tough one to approach onto.

Why should I care if what I do is called “good” or “bad”?

Is one of the most common question ringing in the heads of people and to be quite clear, there are a plethora of sides to explore to regarding this statement.

You might say that good and bad are beliefs that society has created. That nothing can be good or bad and that it is only classified as good or bad on the basis of whether it brings other people ‘pain’ or ‘joy’.

While that may be true, the flip side to such a statement is that as a species, living together in harmony along with reciprocal altruism is a great thing. It often is we before me when team work and cooperation is necessary for success.

I really don’t care about the ethics. Until people realize what I’m doing, I’m alright. As long as they don’t catch me, I’m fine and I really don’t want to bother with this ethics crap. And I’m sure they won’t catch me.

As abrupt, rude and oddly framed as this may seem, it is quite the truth in many people’s lives. They believe they’re innocent until caught red-handed.

You might dig into the question of why this is the case. Borrowing an idea from cynicism, they believe in living in accord with nature and opposing conventions. Namely, they find breaking norms of good and bad deeds as an act that is much required. They also suggest that it is basic human instinct to be selfish. This argument in the realm of ethics is not only a common one, but one that is seen time and time again, proven to be logically sound.

Yet a person believing in utilitarianism may suggest that the mean or net happiness produced amongst people based off your actions is what matters. Here you see the great divide in the fundamental beliefs.

The question then boils down to:
Do other people’s opinions or emotions have enough importance to be able to be a metric in decision making?

Finally embarking on my own opinion on the entire case of ethics as a whole.

I find myself adrift in a world of utilitarianism, wherein I care much more about the gain of the people around me, than myself.

One may question why this is the case. This revolves around the instinctive joy one feels by making people around them happier. In all cases, if changes in your life do not result in positives, trying to find joy in other’s gain’s can be fulfilling, although this may not be the case for everyone.

Ethics. Morality. Big words, deeper meanings. Yet whether you come across the word or not, they’re principles you’re in contact with every living moment, with every single conscious decision you make.

So, what’s your take on the world of ethics?

The opinions mentioned in this article are my own opinions. This article in no way shape or form tries to enforce such opinions onto others.