Ethics Notes



The quality that we call “humanity” can be achieved only through social living, for man cannot live without society— the complex network of social relationships, which interconnects human beings with one another. Our society gives content, direction and meaning to our lives, we in turn, in countless ways reshape the society that we leave for the next generation.

Social life, however, is not peculiar to humans and can also be found in animals — such as ants, bees, geese, elephants etc. But human society differs from animal’s society, for the former is created by human beings themselves and is learned and modified by each new generation, where as the later is based primarily on unlearned, instinctive patterns of behavior. More explicitly speaking, animal’s societies are bio-social or hereditary in nature, human society , on the other hand is/are so cio-cultural i.e. fulfils its needs through social interaction. However both societies are not just a chaotic collection of randomly interacting constituents.

Social structure

The pattern of relationships among the basic components in a social system is an essential factor of not only the human social living but also of the animals. The components provide the framework for all societies, although the precise, character of the components and the relationships among them vary from one society to another. Important components of a social structure are statuses, roles, groups and institutions. Let’s analyze their rote in social living.….


A status is a socially defined position in society. Every member of a society occupies a number of statuses—such as a student, a professor, an engineer, administer, son, father, mother and so on. A person’s status indicates where that individual “fits” in the society and how he/she should relate to other people. Broadly, a person can have two types of statuses. One, ascribed status — that is attached to people on grounds over which they have no control, for instance being young, old, male female etc. Two, achieved status — that depends to some extent on characteristics over which the individual has some control, for example, a university graduate, a professional etc.


A role is a set of expected behavior patterns and obligations attached to a particular social status. The distinction between status and role is a simple one: an individual occupies a status, and plays a role. A university professor, for instance, is a social status. Attached to this status is a professional role, defined by social norms prescribing how the occupier of the status should behave. The status of a professor is a fixed position in a society, but a role is more flexible, for different occupants of the status actually play their roles in somewhat different ways. The status of a university professor includes one role as a teacher, one as colleague to other professors, one role as a researcher, and perhaps other roles such as writer of scholarly articles. The roles we play in life thus depend on the statuses we happen to occupy at a given lime, and the two simultaneously determine our behavior. If you are talking to your professor us a student, you will behave differently than you might when years later, you return to visit the campus as a professional.

Similarly we respond to people according to the roles they play for us. Roles enable us to structure our own behavior along socially expected lines. We can anticipate the behavior of others in most situations and we can fashion our own actions accordingly.


Most social behavior takes place within and among groups, which are constantly being formed and reformed. A group is a number of persons whose  roles are interrelated. The distinctive characteristics of any society depend largely on the nature and activities of the groups that it contains.

Groups like statuses can be classified into two main types:

  1. Primary Group: A primary group consists of a small number of people, who interact over a relatively long period. The members know one another personally and interact in a manner that is informal and has at least some emotional depth, for instance, family, friends, close neighbors etc.
  2. Secondary Group: On the contrary the secondary group consists of a number of people who interact on a relatively temporary, anonymous and impersonal basis. The members either do not know one another personally, or at best know one another only in terns of particular formal roles. Moreover, they are established to serve some specific purpose and people are generally less emotionally committed than they are to their primary groups. Examples of secondary groups are formal organizations such as corporations, political parties, or class fellows etc.


Every society must meet certain basic social needs, if it is to survive and provide a satisfying life for its members. For example, children must be raised and cared for important social values must be shared and upheld social order must be maintained, and so on. Each society, in order to meet these basic needs, creates patterns of thought and action that provide an appropriate solution for these recurrent challenges. These patterns of behavior are what we call institutions.

Put another way, an institution is a stable cluster of values, norms, statuses, roles, and groups that develops around a basic social need. Thus the family institution provides for the care of children. The educational institution transmits cultural knowledge to the young. The political institution allocates power and maintains order. Within very broad limits, “human nature” is what we make of it, and what we make of it depends largely on the culture in which we live. Unlike animals, we human beings are not born with rigid, complex, behavior patterns that enable us to survive in specific habitats, we in fact learn and invent means of adopting physical and social environment. This learned and shared behavior is what we call culture.

More explicitly speaking, Culture is the social heritage i.e. our modes of lining, our thinking, our interaction, literature, religion, recreation, values, habits etc that we acquire through learning.

The term Civilization on the other hand refers to the utilitarian order of things. In other words, civilization is the materials culture i.e. the external achievements of man. While Culture is the realm of values, of styles, of emotional attachment, all things pertaining to non-material phenomena. It is a whole, the round of life in its entire sweep that comprises both the non-material and material objects of human living.

We create our culture, but culture in turn creates us. We make our own social environment, inventing, and sharing the rules and patterns of behavior that shape our lives, and we use our learned knowledge to modify the natural environment. Our shared culture is what makes social life possible. Culture frees us from reliance on the slow, random, accidental process of physical evolution, by offering us a flexible and efficient means of adopting to changing conditions.

Culture also provides a system of social control — a set of means of ensuring that people generally behave in expected and approved ways. It is a social process by which the individual is made group responsive, and by which social organization is built and maintained. Social control comprises two types of patterns of control, i.e. formal and informal.

  1. 1. Formal control: This type of technique is exercised formally over the individual’s behavior through government agencies such as the police etc.
  2. Informal control: The informal sources of social control are values and social norms.



Values are socially shared ideas about what is good, right and desirable. They are abstract general concepts, which originate in the social structure and culture. People while living in society, experience various facts in life. On the basis of collective living they develop customs, rituals and conventions. This customary behavior provides experiences of good things and ideas to the people. It is these collective experiences of good that we call- values. Social norms on the other hand, are shared rules or guidelines that prescribe the behavior appropriate in a given situation. They define how people ought to behave under particular circumstances in a particular society.

Values influence the content of norms, where as norms safeguards values. For instance, if a society values education highly, its norms will make provisions for mass schooling. The norms that require a student to be more polite to his/her teacher than to his/her fellow students expresses the value that society places on respect for age (experience) and learning. Values are hard customs of society, a part of the routine behavior and hence the core of culture. However both values and social norms vary from society to society and culture to culture.

Speaking of the human society as a whole, human conscious does upheld certain values as uniform and universal — such as justice, honesty, truthfulness, compassion etc.

Values and social norms ensure that social life proceeds smoothly, as they give us guidelines for our own behavior and reliable expectations for the behavior of others. That is why they are called shared expectations of the group members. Norms are classified into two types, folkways and mores


Folkways are the recognized ways of behavior and acting in society, which arise spontaneously within a group to meet the problems of social living. They are unconscious and uncoordinated adjustments and ordinary conventions of everyday life. For instance the rules of eating and drinking, meeting and departing, types of dressing, ceremonies and rituals for different situations and the manners and etiquettes of institutional situations such as family, school, market masque etc. As they are ordinary conventions of everyday life their violation and the punishment on them is unwritten. They in fact unconsciously appear and disappear in society.




Mores are strong norms that are regarded as morally significant, and their violation unlike folkways is considered a serious matter. Their origin like folkways, however, is social interaction. Mores determines that item in society holds such position and holds such value. The difference between folkways and mores vary only in their degree of intensity. Wearing cloths for instance are mores and the cloths of different styles are folkways. Although informal, their violation creates a serious threat to social order. For instance, entering one’s house without permission, misuse of religious symbols, desecration of the national flag etc. all brings a strong social reaction. Some norms particularly mores are encoded in law.


A rule that has been formally implemented by a political authority and backed by the power of the state. Law is the formal source of social control. It is also a custom but refined according to the social situation. Law is the guardian of the highest values (life, honor, properly) of society.

The purpose of all the different means of social control is a social process by which (lie individual is made group responsive, and by which social organization is built and maintained.

Most social control, however, does not have to be exercised through the direct influence of other people. We exercise it ourselves, internally. Growing up in society involves the internalization of norms — the unconscious process of absorbing cultural norms. We think and act in ways that are to great extent shaped by the society we live in.


The social inter dependencies, organized kinship, neighborhood and other forms of affiliations provide ties on which individuals count for goods, services and emotionally significant symbols of permanence, particularly at times of crises and deprivation. This is what we call society or social living. This kind of support provides a minimal sense of long-term security, which most individuals need. The social structure publicly defines virtue and vice establishes a predictable moral environment and provides unambiguous conditions for interpersonal trust and positive self-regard. Tin’s order gives the individual both the satisfaction of living a good life according to community standards and the comfort of being able to trust others in the community.

Relationships define the purpose of adult activities, motivating individuals to direct their efforts towards the benefits of others (their family), towards the approval; of those whom they respect (elders), and toward recognition within groups they value (their community). It benefits the individual by setting personal achievements in a collective context that gives it additional meanings. Thus personal security, community trusts, positive self-regard and group morale are all benefits possible from social linkages, through the support, structure and motivation they provide for individuals of a given society. Their importance can be assessed by imagining life without them.


PEC Code Of Conduct

Code of Conduct:
(SRO 1463 (1) / 78)

Article 1

1.        This Code of Conduct may be called the Pakistan Engineering Council Code of Conduct.

2.        This shall come into force at once.

3.        This shall apply to all members of the Pakistan Engineering Council.

Article 2

To maintain, uphold and advance the honor and dignity of the engineering professional in accordance with this Code, a member shall-

1.                  uphold the ideology of Pakistan;

2.        be honest, impartial and serve the country, his employer, clients and the public at large with devotion;

3.        strive to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession;

4.        use his knowledge and skill for the advancement and welfare of mankind;

5.        promote and ensure the maximum utilization of human and material resources of Pakistan for achieving self-reliance;

6.        and not sacrifice the national interest for any personal gain.

Article 3

1.                  A member shall be guided in all professional matters by the highest standards of integrity and act as a faithful agent or a trustee for each of his client and employer.

2.        A member shall-

a.        be realistic and honest in all estimates, reports, statements and testimony and shall carry out his professional duties without fear or favor;

b.        admit and accept his own errors when proved and shall refrain form distorting or altering the facts justifying his decision or action;

c.        advise his client or employer honestly about the viability of the project entrusted to him;

d.        not accept any other employment to the detriment of his regular work or interest without the consent of his employer;

e.        not attempt to attract an engineer from another employer by false or misleading pretenses;

f.        not restrain an employee from obtaining a better position with another employer; and

g.        not endeavor to promote his personal interest at the expense of the dignity and integrity of the profession.

Article 4

A member shall have utmost regard for the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of his professional duties and for that purpose he shall

1. regard his duty to the public welfare as paramount;

2.        seek opportunities to be of service in civic affairs and work for the advancement of the safety, health and well-being of the community;

3.        not undertake, prepare, sign, approve or authenticate any plan, design or specifications which are not safe for the safety, health, welfare of a person or persons, or are not in conformity with the accepted engineering standards and if any client or an employer insists on such unprofessional conduct, he shall notify the authorities concerned and withdraw form further service on the project; and

4.        point out the consequences to his client or the employer if his engineering judgment is over-ruled by any non-technical person.

Article 5

1. A member shall avoid all acts or practices likely to discredit the dignity or honor of the profession and for that purpose he shall not advertise his professional services in a manner derogatory to the dignity of the profession. He may, however, utilize the following means of identification.

a.        professional cards and listing in recognized and dignified publications and classified section of the telephone directories,

b.        sign boards at the site of his office or projects for which he renders services; and

c.        brochures, business cards, letter-heads and other factual representations of experience, facilities, personnel and capacity to render services.

2.        A member may write articles for recognized publications but such articles should be dignified, free form ostentations or laudatory implications, based on factual conclusions and should not imply other than his direct participation in the work described unless credit is given to others for their share of the work.

3.        A member shall not allow himself to be listed for employment using exaggerated statements of his qualifications.

Article 6

1.        A member shall endeavor to extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering profession, propagate the achievements of the profession and protect it from misrepresentation and misunderstanding.

Article 7

1.        A member shall express an opinion of an engineering subject only when founded on adequate knowledge, experience and honest conviction.

Article 8

1.        A member shall undertake engineering assignments only when he possesses adequate qualifications, training and experience. He shall engage or advise for engaging of the experts and specialists whenever the client’s or employers’ interest are best served by such service.

2.        A member shall not discourage the necessity of other appropriate engineering services, designs, plans or specifications or limit-free competition by specifying materials of particular make or model.

Article 9

1.        A member shall not disclose confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer without his consent.

Article 10

1.        A member shall uphold the principles of appropriate and adequate compensation for those engaged in engineering work and for that purpose he shall not-

a.        undertake or agree to perform any engineering service free except for civic, charitable, religious, or non-profit organizations or institutions;

b.        undertake professional engineering work at a remuneration below the accepted standards of the profession in the discipline;

c.        and accept remuneration from either an employee or employment agency for giving employment.

A member shall offer remuneration commensuration with the qualifications and experience of an engineer employed by him.

A member working in any sales section or department shall not offer or give engineering consultation, or designs, or advice other than specifically applying to the equipment being sold in that section or department.

Article 11

1.        A member shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for the same service, or for services pertaining to the same work unless all interested parties give their consent to such compensation.

2.        A member shall not accept:-

a.        financial or other considerations, including free engineering design, from material or equipment suppliers for specifying their products; and

b.        commissions or allowances, directly or indirectly, from contractors or other parties dealing with his clients or employer in connection with work for which he is professionally responsible.

Article 12

1.        A member shall not compete unfairly with another member or engineer by attempting to obtain employment, professional engagements or personal gains by taking advantage of his superior position or by criticizing other engineers or by any other improper means or methods.

2.        An engineer shell not attempt to supplant another engineer in a particular employment after becoming aware that definite steps have been taken towards other’s employment.

3.        A members shall not accept part-time engineering work at a fee or remuneration less than that of the recognized standard for a similar work and without the consent of his employer if he is already in another employment.

4.        A member shall not utilize equipment, supplies, laboratory or office facilities of his employer or client for the purpose of private practice without his consent.

Article 13

1.                  A member shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practices or employment of another engineer or member.

2.        A member engaged in private practice shall not review the work of another engineer for the same client, except with knowledge of such engineer or, unless the connection of such engineer with work has been terminated;

3.        provided that a member shall be entitled to review and evaluate the work of other engineers when so required by his employment duties.

4.        A member employed in any sales or industrial concern shall be entitled to make engineering comparisons of his products with products of other suppliers.

Article 14

1.                  A member shall not associate with or allow the use of his name by an enterprise of questionable character nor will he become professionally associated with engineers who do not conform to ethical practices or with persons not legally qualified to tender the professional service for which the association is intended.

2.        A member shall strictly comply with the bye-laws, orders and instructions issued by the Pakistan Engineering Council from time to time in professional practice and shall not use the association with a non-engineering corporation, or partnership as a cloak for any unethical act or acts.

Article 15

1.                  A member shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, recognize the proprietary interests of others and disclose the name of a person or persons who may be responsible for his designs, inventions, specifications, writings, or other accomplishments.

2.        When a member uses designs, plans, specifications, data and notes supplied to him by a client or an employer or are prepared by him in reference to such client or the employer’s work such designs, plans, specifications, data and notes shall remain the property of the client and shall not be duplicated by a member for any use without the express permission of the client.

3.        Before undertaking any work on behalf of a person or persons for making improvements, plans, designs, inventions or specifications which may justify copyright or patent, a member shall get ownership of such improvements, plans, designs, inventions or specifications determined for the prupose of registration under the relevant copyright and patent laws.

Article 16

1.                  A member shall disseminate professional knowledge by interchanging information and experience with other members or engineers and students to provide them opportunity for the professional development and advancement of engineers under his supervision.

2.        A member shall encourage his engineering employees to improve their knowledge, attend and present papers at professional meetings and provide a prospective engineering employee with complete information on working conditions and his proposed status of employment and after employment keep him informed of any change in such conditions.


Article 17

1.                  A member employed abroad shall order his conduct according to this Code, so far as this is applicable, and the laws and regulations of the country of his employment.

Article 18

1.                  A member shall report unethical professional practices of an engineer or a member with substantiating data to the Pakistan Engineering Council and appear as a witness, if required.

What is the difference between Deontology and Utilitarianism?

The primary difference between deontology and utilitarianism, two competing systems of ethics, is that the former system is concerned with whether an act is intrinsically right or wrong, while the latter system believes that only the consequences of an act are important. Deontology deals with intentions and motives. Utilitarianism focuses only on results.

Advocates of utilitarianism believe that all actions must seek to produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. This applies even if an act harms an innocent person. For example, if a surgeon has the chance to save three lives by harvesting the organs of a healthy person, utilitarian theory suggests that harming the healthy person is acceptable to save a greater number of lives.

By contrast, deontology focuses on the moral aspects of any action, not its consequences. This philosophy believes that some acts are always wrong, regardless of the consequences. Deontologists find lying to be unacceptable, for example, even when someone lies in order to bring about a desirable result.

Both of these systems have weaknesses. For instance, critics charge that utilitarianism justifies enslaving a small group of people in order to help a larger group. Critics of deontology point out that its rigidity does not allow for exceptional cases where a morally dubious action avoids causing harm to others.

What are rights-based ethics?

Rights-based ethics is centered around the idea that people possess certain rights merely by virtue of being born human. Examples of rights-based ethics at work include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United States’ Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Natural rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence include the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Other examples of natural rights include the right to a trial by due process of law, the right to work, the right to bear children and the right to freely travel. Some natural rights are violated because they run counter to the interests of another individual or group, such as the right to free education, the right of innocence until proven guilty, the right of an individual to express opinion or share written information freely, the right to be free from torture and the right to be free from slavery.

The opposite of rights-based ethics is utilitarian ethics. Utilitarian ethics is based on creating the most positive outcomes with as few negative outcomes as possible. One example of a utilitarian ethic is utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s maxim, “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

What is the difference between Morality and Ethics?

Morality is understanding the distinction between right and wrong and living according to that understanding, and ethics is the philosophy of how that morality guides individual and group behavior. The two are closely related, with morality being the foundation of ethics.

Morality is defined as having and living according to a moral code, or principles of right and wrong. Basic morality condemns murder, adultery, lying and stealing. However, morality evolves with the evolution of society, differing noticeably in different cultures. For instance, whereas one culture finds a man with several wives to be perfectly moral, another culture sees this as immoral and wrong. Time also noticeably affects the idea of morality. Once, women were considered the property of men, which is now considered outdated and immoral.

The philosophy of morality is ethics, which explores the idea of morality and its place in society and addresses questions about morality. Both Kant and Aristotle were famous for their approach to ethics. Kant believed ethics were based on duty and obligation, while Aristotle based his ideas on virtue. Ethics are now a large part of life. Businesses have certain ethical lines they must toe, schools require students to keep to codes of conduct and people in society are expected to abide by both moral and legal laws.

Duty VS Virtue?


The word ‘duty’ means what is due, i.e., what one is bound to do, or under an obligation to do. In other words, a duty means what one ought to perform as a moral being.

The term ‘duty’ is sometimes used in a narrower sense to mean simply what is legally binding or obligatory upon an individual, and an individual is said to do more than his duty if he does more than what he is legally bound to do. In Ethics, however, the word ‘duty’ is taken in a wider and higher sense to signify every right act which one ought to perform, whether determinate or indeterminate, whether legally obligatory or not. Hence, from strictly moral or ethical point of view, an individual can never be said to do more than his duty.

Duty comes to an individual with a claim; it is a thing laid upon an individual to do whether he likes it or not. A duty may thus be defined as the obligation of an individual to satisfy a claim made upon him by the community, or some other individual member or members of that community, in the name of common good.


The English word ‘virtue’ is derived from Latin Vir, a man or hero. It corresponds to Latin Virtus and Sanskrit Virya, meaning manliness, bravery, power, energy or excellence. Though the word virtue was used for excellence of any kind, generally the excellence referred to is an excellence belonging to man (man includes woman as well), so that the virtues may be described as the forms of human excellence. In ethics, ‘virtue’ is used with two different meanings –

(a) A virtue is a quality of character, a general disposition or inclination of the self, to adapt its action to moral law. Virtue refers to the inner character and its excellence.

(b) A virtue is also a habit of action corresponding to the quality of character or disposition.

Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics :

Whereas Allah enjoineth upon His men faithfully observe their trusts and their convenience; that the practice and profession of engineering is a sacred trust entrusted to those whom Nature is its magnificent bounty has endowed with this skill and knowledge;that every member of the profession shall appreciate and shall hassve knowledge as to what constitutes this trust and covenant and;that a set of dynamic principles derived from the Holy Quran shall guide his conduct in applying his knowledge for the benefit of society.

Now, therefore, the following Code of Ethics is promulgated. It shall be incumbent upon the members of the Pakistan Engineering Council to subscribe to it individually and collectively to uphold the honour and dignity of the engineering profession:

“Allah commands you to render back your trust to those to whom they are, and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice. Allah admonishes you with what is excellent.”

“Give full measure and weight justly and defraud not men of their things, and act not corruptly in the land, making mischief.”

“And let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably, Be just; that is nearer to observance of duty.”

“Fulfill the obligations”

“And swallow not up your property among yourselves by false means, nor seek to gain access thereby to the judges, so that you may swallow up a part of the property of men wrongfully while you know.”

“And speak straight words.”

“Avoid most of suspicion for surely suspicion in some cases is sin; and spy not nor let some of you backbite others.”

“And follow not that of which thou hast no knowledge. Surely the hearing and sight and heart, of all these it will be asked.”

“And help one another in righteousness and piety, and help not one another in sin and aggression, and keep your duty to God.”

“And whose affairs are decided by counsel among themselves.”

Professional Ethics Course Notes

Ethical and Legal - businessman confused Standing at the crossro
Ethical and Legal – businessman confused Standing at the crossroad

The course is Included in our Professional Engineering Degree, Professional Ethics enlightens the idea of morality and aware us to judge things on basis to morality either they are good or bad. there are Actions or practices that maybe legal but still unethical, we will into that conversation in later part of the course.


Download the following Notes:

  1. Introduction To Ethics
  2. Ethics
  3. Codes-Of-Ethics-Of-Engineering
  4. Duty-vs-Virtue
  5. Social-Living
  6. Social-Cognition-And-Moral-Development
  7. Major-Ethical-Theories
  8. Abstract-To-Professional-Ethics
  9. Rights
  10. Codes-Of-Engineer-ethics
  11. Codes-Of-Ethics-For-Engineers
  12. Contract


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