What Are Some Examples of Ethical Principles?

Some common ethical principles include honesty, equality, respect for rights, integrity and adherence to the law. While these are all fairly standard ethical principles, their precise applications depend on the setting. For instance, the implications and importance of ethical principles vary greatly between medical and business environments.

There is a very clear set of ethical principles to which all psychologists should aspire, as stated by the American Psychological Association. These include:

  • Beneficence and Nonmaleficence, which concerns people’s welfare and the reduction of harm, whether personal, financial, social, organizational or political
  • Fidelity and Responsibility, which stresses the importance of professional transparency and peer-review as a means of ensuring ethical standards are being met
  • Justice, or striving to provide equal access to psychology and its benefits, while eliminating discrimination and biases

Four of the most common bioethical principles likewise emphasize justice, subdividing it into:

  • Distributive justice, or fair allocation of resources
  • Rights-based justice, or consideration for people’s rights
  • Legal justice, or obeying morally justified laws

In business, ethical principles have traditionally been a little more flexible; however, Michael Josephson of the Josephson Institute argues that they are of the utmost importance for establishing trust and credibility in the marketplace. Among his 12 ethical principles for business executives are promise-keeping, loyalty, caring or compassion, accountability, leadership and commitment to excellence.