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UPSC Mains 2022

Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is right to do.’-Potter Stewart.

General Studies Paper - 4, Topic: Important Personalities

Jan 03, 2023

3 min read

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Ethics refers to the principles and values that guide the behavior of individuals and organizations. It is about making moral decisions and acting in a way that is consistent with those values. The quote by Potter Stewart highlights the importance of considering not only what we have the right to do, but also what is right to do in a given situation.

 

One example of this concept is the issue of corporate social responsibility. Many companies have the right to maximize profits and make decisions that are solely in their own self-interest. However, they may also have a moral obligation to consider the impact of their actions on society and the environment. This might involve making decisions that may not be the most profitable in the short-term, but that are ultimately the right thing to do.

 

Another example is the issue of whistle-blowing, in which an individual has the right to remain silent and protect their own interests, but may also have a moral obligation to speak out against wrongdoing or injustice. In these cases, knowing the difference between what we have the right to do and what is right to do can be challenging, but it is an essential aspect of ethics.

 

About Potter Stewart

 

Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is right to do.’-Potter Stewart .

Image: Wikipedia

 

Potter Stewart was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1958 to 1981. He was known for his pragmatic approach to the law and his efforts to protect individual rights and freedoms. During his time on the Court, Stewart participated in many important cases, including Miranda v. Arizona, which established the right to remain silent and have an attorney present during police interrogations, and Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down a state law that banned the use of contraceptives. Stewart was also known for his ability to communicate complex legal concepts in a clear and concise manner, and he is often remembered for his famous quote, "Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is right to do."

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