Human Values – Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

Allport defined values as a belief according to which human set their priorities. Hill refers values to individual beliefs which are considered important by them, helping them in setting a pattern to their life.

Radhakamal Mukherjee considered values as socially approved desires which were in-built in us influenced by factors like upbringing, conditions, social life, and learning.

Value can be said to be a principle, promoting well-being and removing harm. Humans define their identity on their own, and choose values according to their beliefs. Values help an individual guide or direct a particular type of behaviour.

Some values might be more important that other values. Humans have different need. While security is important, survival is a higher priority for us.

For example, self esteem can only be fulfilled, if social acceptance is addressed.

Self-actualization can only be pursued when self-esteem is satisfied.

Features of Values

  • Value motivates a person to act in the most desirable way. It is an emotional attitude.
  • Values form the core of personality and affect behaviour.
  • Values brings peace, joy and satisfaction.
  • Values give meaning to life
  • Values help regulate and guide human behavior
  • Values involve knowing and understanding feelings.
  • Values built civilizations.
  • Values also help built organizational behaviour.
  • Humans inherit values starting from birth.
  • Values might change over time and be different across societies.
  • Some values remain stable and one’s behavior can be predicted by his upheld values.

Importance of Human Values in Public and Private Life

Ethics in Public Relationships

Public relationships exist by virtue of profession. Further, the position on holds in his professional life also defines public relationship. Ethics in Public relationship influences decision-making, actions, and behavior. It thus becomes important to have integrity in profession.

Example, Ethical Code of Conduct helps codify adhering rule of law of civil servants, helping maintain integrity of the civil services.

Public relationship – Ethical Principles

  • Rule of law – An Ethical code of conduct, the rule of law helps maintain integrity of the civil services. It acts as a codified set of rules, which the civil servants need to adhere to. Thus, the decisions of the civil servants can be more consistent and predictable. Example, the civil servants are expected to honor due process of law, with respect to investigation, arrest and enquiry in criminal cases. Encounter killings should thus be discouraged.
  • Fairness & Justice – Justice and Fairness are important constitutional demands. It helps politicians and civil servants frame public policies, and accommodate each and every section of the society. Its ethos lies in following the Principle of Equity. Example – Article 19 provides freedom of expression to all.
  • Transparency and Accountability – Public relationships ought to have transparency and accountability to ensure fair public dealings. It helps increase the confidence of public in the administration. Example – Social audit of schemes like MGNREGA helps ensure transparency in implementation of welfare schemes and makes the public servants accountable of their actions.
  • Honesty, integrity and Probity – These values help direct the public servants to act with high standards of moral behavior while they engage with the public. Example – Civil Servants should not only be emphasizing on a non-corrupt behavior, rather should be working on fighting and exposing corruption.
  • Impartiality and Non-Partisanship – Indian Constitution, under Article 14, provides for the Right to Equality, dependent on the principle of non-partisanship and impartiality. It helps the civil servants not use personal biases, and avoiding potential conflict of interest situations. Example – Any individual can take benefits of subsidized medical services in public hospitals.
  • Minimum level of Courtesy – It induces a sense of belongingness among the public. Civil Servants need to be easily accessible to the common masses, so that the people gain faith in the administration.
  • Spirit of service – Civil servants should be going beyond their call of duty to serve public interest.

Nolan Committee – Ethics in Public Life

Types of Values

  • Personal Values: Personal values are the principles, beliefs, and standards that individuals hold dear to themselves. They guide decision-making and actions of an individual in their personal life. Examples of personal values include honesty, integrity, kindness, courage, and perseverance.
  • Family Values: Family values are the shared beliefs and principles that define how a family functions and interacts with one another. These values are often passed down from one generation to the next and can include loyalty, respect, compassion, responsibility, and love.
  • Social Values: Social values refer to the shared beliefs and norms that guide interactions and relationships within a society. These values are often influenced by cultural, historical, and economic factors and can include equality, justice, freedom, democracy, and human rights.
  • Moral Values: Moral values are the principles and beliefs that individuals and society use to distinguish between right and wrong behavior. Examples of moral values include honesty, fairness, compassion, respect for others, and responsibility.
  • Ethical Values: Ethical values refer to the principles and standards that guide behavior in professional settings. These values often include honesty, integrity, confidentiality, fairness, and responsibility.
  • Spiritual Values: Spiritual values refer to the beliefs and principles that guide an individual’s spiritual or religious beliefs. These values can include compassion, love, forgiveness, empathy, and reverence for life.
  • Cultural Values: Cultural values refer to the beliefs and practices that are shared by a particular group of people. These values can include respect for tradition, family, community, and the environment.
  • Trans-cultural Values: Trans-cultural values refer to the shared beliefs and practices that transcend cultural boundaries. These values can include universal human rights, respect for diversity, and a commitment to social justice.
  • Intrinsic Values: Intrinsic values refer to the inherent worth of something, independent of its utility or usefulness. Examples of intrinsic values include beauty, love, friendship, and knowledge.
  • Instrumental Values: Instrumental values refer to the worth of something based on its usefulness or utility. Examples of instrumental values include wealth, power, success, and health.
  • Aesthetic Values: Aesthetic values refer to the appreciation of beauty and art. These values can include the love of music, literature, painting, sculpture, and other creative expressions.
  • Democratic Values: Democratic values refer to the principles and beliefs that underpin democratic societies. These values can include freedom, equality, justice, fairness, and the rule of law.
  • Dis-value: A dis-value is the opposite of a value, representing something that is considered negative or undesirable. Examples of dis-values include dishonesty, cruelty, greed, and prejudice.

Sources of Values

  1. Family and Cultural Background: Values are often passed down from one generation to another through family traditions, customs, and cultural beliefs. The values that are instilled in us during our childhood often shape our beliefs and behavior in adulthood.
  2. Education and Personal Experiences: Education and personal experiences can also shape our values. Our educational background and exposure to different cultures, people, and ideas can influence our values and perspectives.
  3. Religion and Spirituality: Religious and spiritual beliefs can be a significant source of values for many individuals. Religious teachings often emphasize moral values such as honesty, compassion, and respect.
  4. Media and Entertainment: Media and entertainment can also shape our values. The values that are portrayed in movies, television shows, and other forms of media can influence our perceptions of what is right or wrong.
  5. Society and Community: Social norms and values can influence our personal values. The values that are shared and accepted by our society and community can shape our beliefs and behavior.
  6. Role Models: Role models such as parents, teachers, and public figures can also influence our values. We often look up to these individuals and emulate their behavior, which can shape our values and beliefs.

Values across Culture

Values across culture refer to the shared beliefs, principles, and standards that are held by people from different cultural backgrounds. While there may be some differences in values between different cultures, there are also many commonalities. Here are some examples:

  1. Respect: Respect for elders, authority, and cultural traditions is a common value across many cultures. In some cultures, such as Japan, respect is considered one of the most important values.
  2. Family: Family is often a central value across many cultures. In some cultures, such as in India, family values are highly emphasized and family relationships are seen as sacred.
  3. Education: Education is often highly valued in many cultures, as it is seen as a pathway to success and upward mobility. In some cultures, such as in China, education is considered the foundation of society.
  4. Community: Community values, such as social responsibility, solidarity, and cooperation, are often highly valued in many cultures. In some cultures, such as in Africa, the well-being of the community is considered more important than individual success.
  5. Honesty: Honesty and integrity are often highly valued in many cultures. In some cultures, such as in Germany, honesty and directness are highly valued in communication.
  6. Religious and Spiritual Values: Many cultures place a high value on religious and spiritual beliefs. In some cultures, such as in India, spirituality is deeply embedded in everyday life.
  7. Work Ethic: Work ethic is often highly valued in many cultures. In some cultures, such as in the United States, hard work and dedication are considered the keys to success.

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory

Power Distance, Individualism vs. Collectivism, Masculinity vs. Femininity, Long term vs. Short term orientation, and Indulgence vs. Restraint are the five dimensions of cultural values identified by Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory.

  • Power Distance: This dimension refers to the degree to which a culture accepts and values unequal distribution of power in society and institutions. In high power distance cultures, individuals accept and expect that power is distributed unequally, and that authority figures are entitled to more privileges and respect. In low power distance cultures, individuals prefer more egalitarian and democratic systems where power is distributed more equally.
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism: This dimension refers to the degree to which a culture values individual goals over group goals, or vice versa. In individualistic cultures, individuals are more focused on their own personal goals, achievements, and autonomy. In collectivistic cultures, individuals are more focused on group goals, social harmony, and interdependence.
  • Masculinity vs. Femininity: This dimension refers to the degree to which a culture values traditional masculine traits, such as competition, assertiveness, and achievement, over traditional feminine traits, such as caring, cooperation, and quality of life.
  • Long term vs. Short term orientation: This dimension refers to the degree to which a culture values long-term planning, thrift, and perseverance, or short-term gains, immediate gratification, and tradition.
  • Indulgence vs. Restraint: This dimension refers to the degree to which a culture values self-gratification, enjoyment of life, and personal freedom, or self-control, suppression of gratification, and strict adherence to social norms.

These dimensions of cultural values help to understand the differences and similarities among cultures, and how they influence the behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of individuals within those cultures.


Virtue refers to a positive moral quality or trait that is considered to be morally good and desirable. Virtues are qualities or characteristics that are cultivated through intentional effort and practice, and are often associated with ethical or moral behavior. Some common examples of virtues include honesty, integrity, compassion, courage, kindness, and wisdom.

  • Virtue ethics is a philosophical approach that emphasizes the importance of developing virtuous character traits rather than following a set of moral rules or principles.
  • According to this approach, the ultimate goal of human life is to achieve eudaimonia, a Greek term that refers to a state of flourishing or well-being that is attained through the development of virtuous character.
  • Virtues can be developed through intentional practice, such as reflecting on one’s behavior and actions, seeking guidance from moral or ethical teachings, and striving to act in accordance with one’s values and principles.
  • Virtuous behavior is often associated with a sense of inner satisfaction, fulfillment, and meaning, as well as positive outcomes and benefits for oneself and others.

Civic virtues refer to the moral duties and rights of citizens in a society or environment. These can include activities like voting, volunteering, and organizing community groups. Examples of civic duties include paying taxes on time and exercising one’s right to vote in elections. George Washington emphasized the importance of civic virtues for a self-governing society, which can be classified into the following categories:

  • Civic Knowledge: citizens should understand the Constitution and the government’s functions, as well as their own responsibilities and rights as citizens.
  • Self-Restraint: citizens must be able to control themselves to live in a free society with limited government, or else a police state would be necessary for maintaining order.
  • Self-Assertion: citizens should be proud of their rights and be willing to defend them publicly if necessary, as governments may sometimes violate the rights they were created to protect.
  • Self-Reliance: citizens who are self-reliant do not need a large government to meet their basic needs and are free in the sense that they are not dependent on others. A strong self-reliant citizenry is necessary for a truly free society.

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