Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for Civil Services Examination

By Awdhesh Singh​

Fifth Edition, Paperback – 17 December, 2023

Covers the Complete Syllabus of ‘Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude’ (GS-4) for UPSC Civil Services. 125+ Solved Case Studies; Fully Solved Papers 2014-2023; PYQs in Chapters for Easy Understanding; Sample Papers 2024.

Best Ethics Book for UPSC : Highlights

  • All concepts explained in simple language for easy understanding.
  • Practical tips for answer writing.
  • Tips to solve case studies following simple steps.
  • Identification of common mistakes and resolution.
  • Numerous case studies for clearing concepts.
  • Exercise after each chapter to practice answers.

Reviews From Amazon

Best Book for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

This is definitely the best Book for Ethics for UPSC CSE. Topics have a logical flow and have been written in a lucid language, supplemented with real life examples to make logical connections. Sir’s experience as an IRS officer for 20+ years and a teacher for Ethics and Essay writing, makes this book even more rich. Go for it!

Aniruddha Bose

Complete solution for GS paper 4

This book is a gem that gives you an edge over the competitors who are busy reading other options in the market- which are either too detailed or have too little relevant information. Add this to your UPSC Book list and you are done with 1/4th of your GS syllabus- this is a complete solution for GS paper 4, including tips for solving case studies and solved papers for previous years! The language is such that it feels as if Sir himself is teaching, sitting next to us! Go for it without second thought- no need of any other source for Ethics paper.


Comprehensive coverage of the syllabus

Book is in simple language along with comprehensive coverage of the syllabus unlike other books for ethics in the market which are very bulky this book is very precise and to the point you can choose it over lexicon and subbarao.

Malleswara Rao Koppala

One stop solution for ethics

This is the best book for ethics. The book contains previous year papers with solution and even more case study and life lessons.

Anand Parmar

Not just an ethics book but it’s a book of life lessons

I have been following Awdhesh sir on unacademy and his lectures are quite realistic (for case studies), in simple language so easy to understand for theory part of GS-4 syllabus. This book is a treasure trove for all those who are looking for a one stop solution to cover the syllabus of GS-4 for UPSC CSE preparation and also for those who want to be a good and responsible citizen.

Akash Agarwal

Subscribe Now to Get Regular Updates

About the latest book releases, upcoming events, videos and articles.

1.4 Determinants of Ethics

‘Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.’ — isaac asimov

Ethics is the study of moral principles. Ethics attempts to explain questions like ‘what is good and evil’ or ‘what is virtue and vice’. It is easy to see that many people today don’t follow ethical life and lead immoral lives. However, ignorance of ethics does not save a person from the consequences of being unethical just as ignorance of the law of gravitation does not save a person’s life if he jumps from a high-rise building.

Ethics seeks to provide a path that is good for individuals and also for society. If a person is only concerned about his own personal interest without any consideration towards society, he is unlikely to follow the moral path. However, it is not easy to find a single path that can be called ethical for every individual in every situation because an ethical action is determined based on several factors.

Determinants of Ethics

Determinants are the factors in human behaviour that determine whether an action is ethical or not. There are three such determinants of ethics, namely—

  1. Object
  2. End
  3. Circumstances

Determinants of ethics

Figure 6: Determinants of Ethics

1. Object

When we have to take any decision, we usually have multiple options before us. We are free to choose what we consider best for us. It is a fact that different people when facing a similar situation will choose differently because they have different objectives in life. An object is thus what we choose to do in thought, word, or deed of our own free will and also choose not to do something.

2. End

All actions done by us seek to achieve some end. End thus means the purpose for which the act or action is willed. Sometimes one likes the work itself and does everything for the sake of it. For example, one may pray because he loves praying to God. However, sometimes, we take action to achieve other ends. For example, some people pray to God to achieve success, glory, wealth, peace of mind, etc. Thus, our end is usually the motive or the reason for an action to be performed.

3. Circumstances

Circumstances are the elements and environment that surround a human action and affect it. We can’t decide the ethical value of action without knowing the circumstances under which the action was taken. For example, it may be unethical in a normal situation to speak a lie. However, if we lie to save a life, protect our country, or help a depressed person, it can’t be said to be wrong.

In order to ascertain if an action is ethical or not, we have to take into account all these three factors viz. object, end and circumstances. In other words, an ethical action must satisfy all three determinants.

Factors of Ethics

The factors that determine the ethical conduct of a person are shown in Figure 7.

Determining Factors of Ethics

Figure 8: Determining Factors of Ethics

1. Person

Every human being is unique and possesses different types of attributes. He lives in the same world as others, but he absorbs different types of values according to his experience in and with the world. In the same family, two siblings may possess different types of ethical values though they have been brought up by the same parents, had gone to the same school etc. Some traits acquired by a human being are inborn while others are acquired during his upbringing.

The children of ethical parents are more likely to be ethical in comparison to the children of unethical, criminal or corrupt parents. Children observe their parents closely and tend to imitate their behaviour as they grow up. However, sometimes the children may develop an aversion to the unethical conduct of their parents and become ethical.
We also develop ethical values while in schools and colleges. Children learn from their teachers and often change their conduct under peer pressure. Many bad habits like smoking, drinking and making physical relationships are the result of peer pressure in schools. If a child is in good company, he may acquire good ethical values and become moral.

2. Place

Ethical values are also determined by the culture, tradition and values of the society or country in which a person is brought up or lives. For example, corruption is quite common in India but not in many developed countries like Singapore or Australia. Hence, a child born in a country which accepts corruption as a part of life may not find many problems with corruption. Similarly, adultery, extramarital and premarital relationships are quite common in the Western world; hence, a person may not find them as immoral as it is considered in India, where it is less prevalent.

(CSE 2016, 6) Our attitudes towards life, work, other people and society are generally shaped unconsciously by the family and the social surroundings in which we grow up. Some of these unconsciously acquired attitudes and values are often undesirable in the citizens of a modern democratic and egalitarian society.
a) Discuss such undesirable values prevalent in today’s educated Indians.
b) How can such undesirable attitudes be changed and socio-ethical values considered necessary in public services be cultivated in the aspiring and serving civil servants?


There are many undesirable values in India like casteism, communalism, unnecessary rituals, selfishness, indifference to underprivileged members of the society, distrust for other communities and regionalism. These values are passed from one generation to another through family and social surroundings. Many people are inspired to make illegal money through corruption because society does not condemn such activities. Gender-based discrimination is also an undesirable trait that most people develop from their families.

Aspiring civil servants must learn public service from our great social and political leaders. They must draw inspiration from our freedom fighters who had given their lives for the sake of our country. Parents and teachers have a great responsibility to impart moral values to children at a young age so that they continue to imbibe ethical values even when they grow up. There should be regular training of civil servants to provide them with the right attitude and socio-ethical values. There should also be incentives for civil servants if they follow the ethical path and punishment for behaving unethically.

3. Law

The legal structure of any nation plays an extremely important role in shaping the ethical values of society. The government of a state makes laws which prohibit certain actions and allows others. Laws provide the concept of right and wrong to the citizen of a country and also guide them to follow the right path and avoid the actions prohibited by the law. In the past, laws like the prohibition of Sati Pratha (Custom of Sati) played an important role in stopping the evil practice of burning the wife along with the dead husband on his pyre. Similarly, laws made relating to inter-caste and inter-religion marriage, prohibition of dowry, divorce provision, etc. had also transformed the ethical values of the society.

Sometimes, laws are also laid down by the courts. For example, recently the Supreme Court (SC) declared Section 377 of the IPC unconstitutional, which gave a boost to LGBTQ rights. Similarly, the SC judgments in the case of ‘Triple Talaq’ and ‘Sabarimala’ are likely to transform the values of the society in future and empower the women in India.

4. Organisation

Every organisation has a culture of its own and the people who work in it tend to develop the ethical values of the organisation. For example, the ethical values of the police department may be quite different from the ethical values of a retail store. People try to adjust to the environment of an organisation and adopt the ethical values that they uphold, gradually.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Philip George Zimbardo, a psychologist and professor Emeritus at Stanford University, conducted a unique experiment in 1971 called ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ to understand how our roles in real life affect our thoughts. He picked twenty-four male students to participate in a psychological study of the prison life. The experiment was conducted in a makeshift prison located in the basement of the Stanford Psychology Department and each participant was paid $15 per day. Half of them were randomly assigned the role of ‘prisoners’ and the remaining half were to act as ‘prison guards’. The experimenter tried to expose the participants to real-life conditions of prisoners, including fake arrest at the participant’s home.

Initially, the prisoners did not take the guards seriously. Soon the guards began to impose their authority. They blew whistles to force the prisoners to wake up at 2.30 in the morning; when the prisoners refused to obey, the guards used power against them. The next day, the prisoners rebelled. They ripped their uniform and locked themselves in the prison. The guards forcibly opened the prison doors, stripped the inmates naked, tore apart the beds and put the rebels in solitary confinement, forced them to do press-ups and subjected them to public humiliation. They separated the ‘good’ prisoners who did not rebel and rewarded them by giving them permission to lie in bed, wash themselves, brush their teeth and eat, while those who had started the riot were not allowed to do so.

Within a few days, the students who were merely ‘acting’ as guards began to behave like real prison guards and became sadistic. The students playing the role of prisoners became extremely stressed and developed symptoms of acute depression. The experiment was originally planned for two weeks but had to be called off within six days due to its extreme effects on the participants.

This experiment revealed the power of organisations in transforming the ethical and moral values of people.

5. Religion

Most people in the world are religious and believe in God according to their scriptures. All religions prescribe dos and don’ts to their followers. Often religions have Commandments, which must be followed scrupulously by the members of the faith. Hence, religion is one of the most important determinants of ethical values. For example, alcohol is prohibited in Islam while permitted in Christianity. Similarly, divorce is not allowed in Hinduism, but permitted in Christianity and Islam. While some religions allow only one marriage, others allow polygamy. Some religions like Jainism prohibit the killing of animals, even insects, while religions like Islam and Judaism have made killing animals a part of their religious ceremony.
Hence, the ethical value of a person is influenced deeply by the religion he/she belongs to.

6. Time

Ethical values keep changing with time. What was ethical in the ancient or medieval period is not considered ethical in the modern period. For example, it was ethical to conduct war in ancient and medieval times for whatever reason, but it is considered immoral in modern times. It was immoral to be gay in ancient times, but it is permissible in modern times. In ancient times, if a man or woman married against the wishes of their parents, it was considered unethical as children were necessarily expected to obey their parents. However, today, individuals are considered free to make their own decisions and it would be wrong to force your children to marry against their wishes.

Practice Questions

1. In order to ascertain if an action is ethical or not, we have to take into account three factors viz. object, end and circumstances. Explain. (150 words)
2. What are the factors that determine the ethical conduct of a person? (150 words)
3. What has been the learning from ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’? Why was it abandoned early? (150 words)

Buy Book On :



Powered by