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Moral Thinkers & Philosophers from India & World


To prepare for ETHICS for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Moral Thinkers & Philosophers from India & World. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Economy syllabus (GS-IV.). Moral Thinkers & Philosophers from India & World terms are important from Ethical perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.


This Chapter on Thinkers is very much important in linking both theoretical and practical aspects of ethics. One should integrate into other areas applications. It will provide a valid ground to prove your stand or opinion in answering Ethics questions and case studies. Some of the Tips to write a good answer to quote based questions are:

  • Reading question multiple times to understand basic essence of the quote and identify key words from the quote and try to attach synonyms to that particular key word
  • Write same quote in our own words.
  • Example: Q. (2018): “Falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good” can rewritten as Even a lie could be considered as a truth, if that lie is harmless and brings unquestionable benefits.
  • Structure of the answer should be: 1) Introduction, 2) Why? with recent illustrations, 3) Applications in daily life and administration, 4) Conclusion


  • Philosophy as a word derived from the Greek work “philosophia” which means love of wisdom. Therefore, philosophy which answers to some of the most fundamental questions about life, human existence, rationality, god, religion etc.
  • Man as a social animal desire to seek cause-effect relationships and motivates him to question the society where he lives. This kind of questioning and seeking answer ultimately derives truth and knowledge. Philosopher who is a knowledge seeker. Philosophy can be applied to physical world existing around us and also applied intangible objects and imaginary like god, cosmology.


· Indian philosophy

· Kautilya

· Tiruvalluvar

· Swami Vivekananda

· Gandhiji

· Jawaharlal Nehru

· Socrates

· Plato

· Aristotle

· Epicurus

· Machaivalli

· Thomas Aquinas

· Thomas Hobbes

· Rousseau

· John Locke

· JS Mill

· Immanuel Kant



Indian system of philosophy consists of six schools of philosophy called as “Shad Darshan”. They are ancient texts of Indian philosophy.


Philosophy Author Main theme
Samkya Philosophy Kapila Eliminate physical and mental pains and receive liberations.
Yoga Philosophy Patanjali Practise of meditation and samadhi for renunciation
Nyaya Philosophy Gautama Logical quest for god and phases of creation
Vaisheshika Philosophy Kanada Rishi Science of logic and futility of maya
Mimansa Philosophy Jaimini Vedas are eternal and divine
Uttara Mimansa Philosophy (Vedanta Philosophy) Badrayana Explains the divine nature of soul, maya and creation.


  • Samkhya, (In Sanskrit, “Enumeration” or “Number”) also spelled as Sankhya.
  • Samkhya adopts a consistent dualism of matter (prakriti) and the eternal spirit (purusha).
  • The two are originally separate, but in the course of evolution purushamistakenly identifies itself with aspects of prakriti.
  • Right knowledge consists of the ability of purushato distinguish itself from prakriti.
  • The Samkhya school assumes the existence of two bodies, a temporal body and a body of “subtle” matter that persists after biological death.
  • When the former body has perished, the latter migrates to another temporal body.
  • The body of subtle matter consists of the higher functions of buddhi(“consciousness”), ahamkara (“I-consciousness”), manas (“mind as coordinator of sense impressions”), and prana (“breath,” the principle of vitality).
  • Three primal qualities of matter that are called Gunas (“qualities”). They make up the prakritibut are further important principally as physio psychological factors.
    1. The first is Tamas (“darkness”), which is obscurity, ignorance, and inertia
    2. The second is Rajas (“passion”), which is energy, emotion, and expansiveness
    3. The highest is Sattva (“goodness”), which is illumination, enlightening knowledge, and lightness.
  • To these correspond personality types:
    1. Tamas, that of the ignorant and lazy person
    2. Rajas, that of the impulsive and passionate person
    3. Sattva, that of the enlightened and serene person.


  • Yoga, in Sanskrit: “Yoking” or “Union”
  • The practical aspects of Yoga play a more important part than does its intellectual content, which is largely based on the philosophy of Samkhya, with the exception that Yoga assumes the existence of god, who is the model for the aspirant who seeks spiritual release.
  • Yoga holds with Samkhya that the achievement of spiritual liberation (moksha) occurs when the spirit (purusha) is freed from the bondage of matter (prakriti) that has resulted from ignorance and illusion.
  • An aspirant who has learned to control and suppress the obscuring activities of the mind and has succeeded in ending attachment to material objects will be able to enter samadhi —i.e., a state of deep concentration that results in a blissful ecstatic union with the ultimate reality.
  • Generally, the Yoga process is described in Eight stages (Ashtanga-yoga, “Eight-membered Yoga”).
  • The first two stages are Ethical preparations. They are:
    1. Yama (Restraint), which denotes abstinence from injury (ahimsa), falsehood, stealing, lust, and avarice and
    2. Niyama (“discipline”), which denotes cleanliness of body, contentment, austerity, study, and devotion to God.
  • The next two stages are physical preparations:
    1. Asana (“seat”), a series of exercises in physical posture, is intended to condition the aspirant’s body and make it supple, flexible, and healthy.
    2. Pranayama (“breath control”) is a series of exercises intended to stabilize the rhythm of breathing in order to encourage complete respiratory relaxation.
  • The fifth stage, (5) Pratyahara (“withdrawal of the senses”), involves control of the senses, or the ability to withdraw the attention of the senses from outward objects.
  • The above five stages are external aids to Yoga, the remaining three are purely mental or internal aids.
  • (6) Dharana(“holding on”) is the ability to hold and confine awareness of externals to one object for a long period of time (a common exercise is fixing the mind on an object of Meditation, such as the tip of the nose or an image of the deity).
  • (7) Dhyana (“concentrated meditation”) is the uninterrupted contemplation of the object of meditation, beyond any memory of ego.
  • Samadhi (“total self-collectedness”) is the final stage and is a precondition of attaining release from samsara, or the cycle of rebirth. In this stage the meditator perceives or experiences the object of his meditation and himself as one.


  • Nyaya, (Sanskrit: “Rule” or “Method”)
  • It important for its analysis of logic and epistemology.
  • The major contribution of the Nyaya system is its working out in profound detail the means of knowledge known as inference.
  • Like the other systems, Nyaya is both philosophical and religious.
  • Its ultimate concern is to bring an end to human suffering, which results from ignorance of reality. Liberation is brought about through right knowledge. Nyaya is thus concerned with the means of right knowledge.


  • Vaisheshika, (Sanskrit: “Particular”)
  • It is significant for its naturalism, a feature that is not characteristic of most Indian thought.
  • The Vaisheshika school attempts to identify, inventory, and classify the entities and their relations that present themselves to human perceptions.


  • Mimamsa, (Sanskrit: “Reflection” or “Critical Investigation”)
  • Mimamsa, probably the earliest of the six, is fundamental to Vedanta, another of the six systems, and has deeply influenced the formulation of Hindu law
  • The aim of Mimamsa is to give rules for the interpretation of the Vedas, the earliest scriptures of Hinduism, and to provide a philosophical justification for the observance of Vedic ritual.
  • Because Mimamsa is concerned with the earlier parts of the Vedas, it is also referred to as Purva-Mimamsa (“Prior Study”) or Karma-Mimamsa (“Study of Actions”).
  • Vedanta, which deals with the later portion of Vedic literature called the upanishads, is called Uttara-Mimamsa (“Posterior Study”) or Jnana-Mimamsa (“Study of Knowledge”).


  • The term Vedanta means in Sanskrit the “conclusion” (anta) of the Vedas.
  • Vedantais the ‘Rationale of all religions’ and without Vedanta, every religion becomes superstition. All history of Indian life is the struggle for the realisation of the ideal of the Vedanta through good or bad fortune.
  • Vedanta applies to the Upanishads, which were elaborations of the Vedas, and to the school that arose out of the study (Mimamsa) of the Upanishads. Thus, Vedanta is also referred to as Vedanta Mimamsa (“Reflection on Vedanta”), Uttara Mimamsa (“Reflection on the Latter Part of the Vedas”), and Brahma Mimamsa (“Reflection on Brahman”).


  • The three fundamental Vedanta texts are:
    1. Upanishads– Elaborations of the Vedas
    2. Brahma-sutras (also called Vedanta-sutras), which are very brief, even one-word interpretations of the doctrine of the Upanishads
    3. Bhagavad-Gita(“Song of the Lord”), which, because of its immense popularity, was drawn upon for support of the doctrines found in the Upanishads.
  • Several schools of Vedanta developed, differentiated by their conceptions of the nature of the relationship, and the degree of identity, between the eternal core of the individual self (atman) and the absolute (Brahman).
  • Those conceptions range from the:
    1. Non-dualism (Advita) of the 8th-century philosopher Shankara
    2. Vishishtadvita literally, “Qualified Non-dualism” of the 11th–12th-century thinker Ramanuja
    3. Dualism (Dvaita) of the 13th-century thinker Madhva.


The Vedanta schools believes that:


· The transmigration of the self (samsara)

· The desirability of release from the cycle of rebirths

· The authority of the Veda on the means of release – that brahman is both the material and the instrumental cause of the world

· The self (atman) is the agent of its own acts (Karma) and therefore the recipient of the fruits, or consequences, of action.

· All the Vedanta schools unanimously reject both the non-Vedic, “nay-saying” philosophies of Buddhism and Jainism and the conclusions of the other Vedic, “yea-saying” schools (Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkya, Yoga, and, to some extent, the Purva Mimamsa).


Ramayana & Mahabharat, they are not just religious texts but they reflect Ethical issues and Ethical dilemmas in our life. We can find answers from these texts to many questions surrounding in our life. They teach us how to live a life and how not to live a life and what is good and what is bad. Let’s look at the characters from them and will see what to learn from their characters.


Character Role What to learn?
Ram · Governance

· Friendship

· Marriage

· Respect to elders

· Courage of conviction

· Law Vs Morality

· Governance – Public as prime importance over family. Commitment to his people’s welfare. Ideal model of Governance.

· Friendship – Treated Hanuman as his friend than his subordinate

· Marriage – Remain loyal to his wife


· Self- Respect and Marriage Loyal to her Husband and self-respect when Lord Ram suspicion her pureness
Dasharatha & Kaikeyi · Bad social influence · Never make promises when you are Happy

· Bad influence results in bad actions which yields bad results only


· Greediness Though he was very intellectual but when his hungriness for power and other women, result in his intelligence overshadowed by his madness and ignorance led him to destruction.



· Dharma · Though he has the ability to occupy the throne, but he stayed away from Throne and power just because he given word to his father.

· Don’t get too much attached

· Learn to Forgive

· Dharma Comes first

· Be compassionate

Sri Krishna & Arjuna Relationship Teacher – Student relationship Krishna led arjuna to fight with Kauravas’s. Dharma wins always over Evil
Dharmaraj Values Lifelong he sticks to his Moral values what he believed in


Gita packs an intense analysis of life, emotions and ambitions




Great Pleasure at Work

“Don’t let the fruit be the purpose of your actions,

and therefore, you won’t be attached to not doing your duty”

· This is very much applicable to in the lives of Bureaucracy. After getting into service they work for promotions, rewards and salary hike etc.

· But they failed to committed to the public which are intended to work for. Enjoying the pleasure of journey that is duty will yield fruits automatically. Duty with commitment is more important than the destination.





“The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results”


· Life is all about managing emotions. Panic and emotional attack can be a real killer.

· If we can’t manage them, they will be led us into path of unhappiness and unsatisfied life.



Goals & Ambitions

“We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal”

· Getting distracted by social media, love, momentary pleasures etc. will deviates us not to achieve our goal. With stuck by our confusion, we give up our dreams and goals.

· We should focus on our inner happiness and calmness to achieve any goal.



“He alone sees truly who sees god in every creature he does not harm himself or others”

· Treat everyone equally


“A gift is a pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return”.
Never run away from your duty “You might like another duty, and dislike yours. But still, do your own duty, and not another’s, even if you can do another’s duty very well”.

Truth alone triumphs

“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of truth, I advent myself time to time”.


· There is always bigger power watches everything and truth never be hidden. It will come out some day and that bigger power punish those who lied.


Kautilya, who was the author of Arthasastra, wrote his book in 300BCE that book concentrated more on the Political Economy. Kautilya, was the chief Minister of Chandra Gupta Maurya, who ruled a North Indian State about 300 BCE wrote the book Arthasastra, which literally means Artha = wealth and Sastra = knowledge, “Science of wealth”. In short, a first literary source on political economy where he explained the concept of good governance.


Kautilya’s Thoughts:

  • King, in the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare. Anything considers as good only when it’s good to his subjects and shall not consider it as good anything which causes harm to his subjects
  • King always accessible and available to his citizens
  • He emphasized on code of conduct to the king and his council of ministers. They should not own assets of the people
  • Progressive taxation
  • In favour of welfare state
  • Behavioural aspects of King




He talked about corruption in the administration while it comparing it fish, how we can’t prevent a fish from drinking water in the ocean similarly, we can’t prevent a public official to not get corrupt while he deals with public money. However, he didn’t give moral aspects of corruption whether it is good or bad. But he discussed elaborately how to stop corruption. As we are all human beings its natural as being selfish so corruption can happen, it can’t be prevented. Here are the four ways we can prevent from being corruption being happen.


Saam-Niti Teaching and awaking public and public officials about ethical values in the administration, code of conduct, code of ethics etc.

Incentivising hard working officials, recognising the honest people and better salary structures, better working conditions and best service conditions. There should be a grievance redressal mechanism for both public and public officials.

Those who indulge in corrupt activities should get punishment. Punishments acts as deterrents and creates fear among the officials which results corruption becomes high risk activity but in India corruption is a low risk activity and high gain activity.

Vigilance and Intelligence and spy system on those who going against rules, taking bribes, unaccounted money etc to be reported.


  • Though Kautilya, who was the author of Arthasastra, wrote his book in 300BCE that book concentrated more on the Political Economy, while his book Thirukkural concentrated more on Political governance, wisdom and Love/sex.
  • Thiruvalluvar has given many concepts in Thirukkural regarding king and kingdom which can be correlated with the contemporary concepts of political science like state, government etc.
  • Qualities of King: Courage, Liberal hand, Wisdom & energy, Knowledge, Taking strong decisions.
  • What a kingdom should and should not have? Complete cultivation, Excessive starvation, Virtuous person, Irremediable epidemics, Merchants with inexhaustible wealth, Destructive foes.
  • Components of Kingdom: People, Army, Resources, Ministry, Friendship, Fort.
  • Duties of King: Identifying resources, collecting revenue, Protecting revenue, Distribution of revenue.





· The core theme of it is about how to be a rational and practical person

· Truthfulness: “Even a lie could be considered as a truth, if that lie is harmless and brings unquestionable benefits”

· God & Religion: “Even if god and fate doesn’t will it, your true efforts will bear the fruits”

· Forgiveness: “Retaliation will bring joy only for a day. Patience and forgiveness will bring joy for life”.

· Character: “Great is the joy of the mother when a child is born to her; but greater is the joy when she hears his unblemished character and scholarliness from others”

· Talk with caution: “Even the most powerful person in the world will get into serious trouble with a loose tongue”. “Even fire burns will heal easily but burns from loose words will never be”.

· Grace/Charity: “Grace is the child born out of the mother called love. However, grace is always raised as the stepchild of wealth”.

· Righteousness: “Nothing will protect you as much as righteousness. Nothing will destroy you as much as the lack of righteousness”.

· Nation/State: “A Nation should have 5 key elements – Good health, Good economy, Harvest, Happiness and Strong defence “

· Wealth: “Wealth is like a lamp taken into a dark room. It can eliminate the despair of darkness and poverty”.

· Win or lose: “Better to lose fighting an elephant than to feel elated winning a rabbit”.


  • Swami Vivekananda, disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, was a pioneer of rationalist movement in India.
  • Follower of Vedanta Philosophy. His version of Vedanta called as “Practical Vedanta” based on Adi Shankar’s Advita Philosophy.
  • He tried to find scientific account of practical Vedanta. Vivekananda deeply impressed with western materialism and scientific discoveries. He desired Indian spiritualism plus western materialism for a happier life of a man.

His Contributions:


· Education and Social service through RK Mission: To awaken the people of India through education, to develop sense of patriotism through discipline and to serve the society he established the Ramakrishna Mission and Ramakrishna Math.

· Brotherhood: Through speech at World parliament of religions and later initiatives developed sense of brotherhood among the people of India and people of globe

· Rationality and Scientific temper: He condemned blind superstitious beliefs and searched for rationality and scientific meaning to every aspect of religion. He says that if superstition enters into brain, man becomes ignorant and path of degradation of life.

· Materialism & Spiritualism: The West appeared to him as the land of material civilization. The spirit of that civilization to him was essential for Indian progress. Therefore, he declared “From the great dynamo of Europe, the electric flow of that tremendous power vivifying the whole world, we want that energy, that love of independence, that spirit of self-reliance, that immovable fortitude, that dexterity in action, that bond of unity of purpose that thirst for improvement”.

· Religion: He distinguishes institutional religion from personal religion. According to him true religion is one who follow their conscience and personal religion. Religion is the highest form of expressing love and devotion.

· Empowerment: His birth anniversary celebrated as National Youth Day. He believed that Youth energy can change the shape of the country.


  • In the first half of the 20th century, Gandhiji led our nation to a successful fight against the then mightiest power with unique tools of love, truth and non-violence.
  • However, during the same period, the world faced two World Wars, and the Mahatma himself faced assassin’s bullets. After his death, global society faced many anxious moments – from the Cold War to the 9/11 at the turn of the century and the creation of many flashpoints across the world. At national and international levels there were instances of injustices, apathies, distrusts and disparities despite Gandhi’s message.
  • However, his thoughts still relevant even today. Many world leaders quoted him several times how they got inspiration from his ideology such as Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King JR, Barak Obama etc.
  • So, the struggle persists, but the hope that ‘truth shall prevail’ also persists. If we believe in continuance of life on this planet, there is no option but to sustain this hope. And this is, perhaps, the essence of Gandhiji’s relevance. Gandhiji’s message is not political alone.
  • It is manifested in a holistic manner for the wholesome development of humankind. The politics, sociology, economics and ethics of Satyagraha, Constructive Programme, Trusteeship, Swadeshi and Khadi, basic education, Truth and Nonviolence, eleven vows, peace and sustainability of human society – all contribute to a Gandhian dream of a sane, just and empathetic society.



  • Gandhiji was not a political philosopher. For all his sayings were pouring from his deep feelings and sincere realization of the truth. Without going into disputes, it can be agreed that he was not committed to any exclusive school of thought. His speech and pen had generally come from responses from particular situation. Thus, Gandhi had revised his opinions from time to time though his conceptual framework remained the same. He had not altered from his basics.
  • Gandhi’s political thought stems from different traditions, Eastern and Western. Though he had inherited many traditions he had not agreed in to with any one of them. He had picked up many traditional concepts from his immediate predecessors as well as from ancient texts.
  • Gandhi did never claimed to be an original thinker. But when we look into all his sayings, we find a conceptual framework, common to a philosopher. Moreover, when we find that his theoretical formulations and practical pursuits are identical, we have every reason to accept him as a philosopher in the Indian sense. But unlike other philosophers and political scientists of both the East and the West, only he could emerge not only as the man of destiny of the nation but also as the man of the millennium.
  • For him, politics had encircled him like the coil of a snake. He must wrestle with the snake, there is no respite. He could have thought of avoiding politics, if without politics food and work could be provided to the hungry unemployed people of India. He strongly felt that without involving himself in politics, it is not possible to remove socio-economic exploitation and political subjugation and thereby moral degradation of the people of Indian unless he involved himself in politics.
  • In this perspective, we have to understand Gandhi’s confrontation with the coil of a snake. No matter how much tough, the task might be, we have to come out from it by wrestling with the snake. This can be successfully performed if we can alleviate the present state of politics to Dharmic politics. By Dharmic, Gandhi meant that it should be remove from corrupting influences and sectarianism. This politics should be the privilege of all. Gandhi was not prepared to accept any fixed dogma or mechanical way for either of politics or religion.
  • To understand Gandhi’s politics, it is also necessary to understand Gandhi’s concern for the cleavage between state and civil society. Gandhi’s political philosophy integrates the ethical, the moral, and the spiritual into a political way of being that is best suited for India’s transition from colony to independent nation. He believed in Swaraj, self-rule to Indian country men.



  • Swaraj to the poor – Awakening and upliftment of poor
  • No majority rule
  • Freedom of expression
  • Means to achieve swaraj through patience, perseverance, ceaseless toil, courage and intelligent appreciation of the environment.
  • Basis in self-sacrifice
  • Through Truth and Non violence
  • Genius of our civilisation – If Swaraj was not meant to civilize us, and to purify and stabilize our civilization, it would be nothing worth. The very essence of our civilization is that we give a paramount place to morality in all our affairs, public or private.



Gandhi’s Economic philosophy based on SARVODAYA, Universal upliftment of all or Progress for all. This is the 21st century which is globalisation era. New Economic policy making the world as a global village. New challenges and problems coming before the state and humanity like Extremism, Environmental issues, social dichotomy etc. What is happening today, Gandhiji predicted long back in his writings in Hind Swaraj, 1908. Gandhiji put forward four main goals before humanity to resolve the contemporary issues. They are,

  • Sarvodaya
  • Non-Violence
  • Swaraj
  • Swadeshi


Objectives & Principles of Sarvodaya:


· Objectives of Sarvodaya is to know Gandhian philosophy of Sarvodaya for changing attitude of youth & aware youth for their rights & duties.

· Self-supported Village network where agriculture produce enough to consume by everyone in that village

· Family relationships go well beyond blood relationships where society divided based on race, caste, region etc.

· Strengthening of village councils, which determines needs of the village through consensus by village members themselves.

· Village industries based on cottage basis

· Politics will not be instrument of power but agency of service

· Society will be functioned based on spirit of love, fraternity, non-violence, truthful.

· Everyone has equally represented; liberty and equality should be respected. There is no room for discrimination and exploitation.

· The Sarvodaya society is socialist in the true sense of the term. All calling will be the same moral, social and economic values. The individual personality has the fullest scope for development.

· The gain to the individual would be small. The development of each quality depends upon every other. If all the qualities are improved a little, then the individual would gain more.


Sarvodaya aims for Service for Common Welfare. It lays great emphasis on moral and spiritual values. It seeks to create new social and economical values. The concept of possession yields place to the concept of trusteeship. People will work for the good of all and family feeling will animate the entire community. There will be fullest scope for freedom, fellowship and equality.


Though, Sarvodaya ideals are Nobles and sacred but they are not work practically as per present political atmosphere is concerned. Politics mainly focus on winning elections than progress of community, Economic values mostly oriented on profit making and crony capitalism, society more and more polarising. As human beings mostly selfish, it’s very difficult to bring change among them. For example, as part of Sarvodaya campaign “Bhoodhan movement”, people donated useless land to landless poor. So, need of the present era for youth is ‘Think Globally and Act Locally’.


Gandhiji’s 11 Vows


1. Swadeshi or Use locally made goods

2. Remove Untouchability

3. Bread labour

4. Non-Violence

5. Truth

6. Non-Stealing

7. Self-discipline

8. Non-Possession

9. Control of the palate

10. Fearlessness

11. Equality of all religions



Gandhiji in his weekly “Young India” publication mentioned Seven types of sins which destroys us. They are:


Politics without principles.

· Present day politics and Ethical principles must go hand in hand. Main aim of politics is to win the elections.

· In Ethics ends and means both are important and they should be ethically and morally correct. But in Politics ends are more important than means.

· People choses leaders who pleases them rather than simply good governance. People forces politicians to do what they desire rather than what is good for them. For example, consumption of alcohol and tobacco is injurious to health and mainly vulnerable to the poor. But still political parties never campaign about banning them just to please men and women who consume them and revenue loss to the govt.

· If political parties never fulfil unethical demands from the people, they never get votes. If they stick to ethical values, they hardly get votes who are in minority.

· But politics and ethics must go together otherwise politics without principles merely struggle for power. Politics and Elections should be fought on cognitions where people vote based on progress on political party and govt progress. Election system should be accountable to the people. Then only politics and ethics go together.



Wealth without work

· This is the practice of getting something for doing nothing. Today there are Individuals, govt officials, professions, Businesses where you don’t have to work but getting wealth with corrupt activities, taking bribe, black money, manipulating markets, escaping paying taxes, getting govt benefits though we are not fit into eligibility criteria with fake identity and without assuming any kind of social moral responsibility.

· This principle very much applicable to present day corporate debt culture where banking sector facing heavy NPA problem. Corporates or organisations, those are in financial troubles moving away from natural laws and started borrowing pubic money again and again leading to finally bankruptcy. Such assumption of wealth considered as sin.

· Following Moral values and Ethical principles by respecting rules and regulations prevents this kind of sin.



Pleasure without conscience

· Industrialised societies moved away from natural laws. Industrial revolution made this world a materialistic society. People became self-centred and selfish in nature and looking for material comforts for short term momentary pleasures.

· Such pleasure without conscience resulting in a consequence of sexual exploitation, environmental plundering, drink and drive and kill people. To overcome this sin, Integrity therapy required at every level.





Knowledge without character

· As dangerous as a little knowledge is, even more dangerous is much knowledge without a strong, principled character. A knowledge without values is useless and at values without knowledge too useless.

· Today’s education system mostly centred around results oriented than value-based education. Education started defining Success in terms of good salary structure but failed to inculcate good values among the students. So, most of the students failed to mould their character since their childhood.

· Therefore, our education system gives equal importance to both Knowledge development without compromising on values like respecting elders, protecting environment, honesty and integrity. Knowledge should be transformed into wisdom, ability to use such knowledge for right purposes.




Commerce without morality

· This is called Business ethics and also ethics of management. Business without morality creates Crony capitalism, Economic exploitation, Environmental degradation where corporates breaks natural laws for pure profit motives and there is no Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

· According to Adam smith, every economic transaction should be Moral. Business runs on rule of fairness and benevolence which are underpinnings for Capitalism. Commerce or Business or trade with morality follows ethical capitalism which progress the country.



Science without humanity

· Science and Technology are necessary to advance the Human race but they are not the only solution for overall development.

· Humans can’t become slaves to technology but day by day technological advancements in mobile industry, health, internet, entertainment making humans merely just spectators.

· It’s very difficult to survive present day youth without mobile. Rival nations racing against each other for acquiring and developing advanced weapons. In Biotechnology sector humans started doing research on editing human genes by violating natural laws. Some of the severe ethical violations happening across the world in the name technological advancements.

· Therefore, science and technology can be used for only where it is necessity which reduces human burden but it can’t be replaces humans at all.


Worship without sacrifice

· Here sacrifice refers to sacrificing of our own stereotypes, prejudices, wrong mindset against other individuals and other communities.

· Such kind of worship is sacred. Helping to humanity which indirectly worshipping the god, “Manava Seve=Madhava Seva”.


Nehru moulded his ideology mostly from western liberal values like democracy, scientific temper, rationality and Leftist ideologies like Socialism, Marxism.



Political Philosophy:

· His Political philosophy based on Democracy. He had a strong faith in democracy.

· He believed in autonomy of the democratic institutions. He followed strong ethical and moral values in politics.

· Never resorted to misuse of his power. When there is a situation criticism against govt, he never steps back to point out his own govt mistakes and praises opposition members.




Economic Philosophy:

· In his Congress annual session at Avadi happened in 1955 he reiterated that, “To establish socialistic pattern of society”.

· Till liberalisation of Indian economy in 1990’s India followed his economic principles where state owns resources of the country but he encouraged private sector too that is Mixed Economy.

· He gave importance to centralisation of planning. Land reforms undertaken to distribute land to landless poor.




· Religion has nothing to do with state. He believed in state not to interfere in religious matters.

· Present secular credentials of India attributed to his strong values in Secularism. He emphasised on Scientific temper and rationality over pseudo-science.




International Ethics:

· He raised his voice against super powers dominance and colonial rule. Played a key role in getting independence to many African countries. Frontrunner in establishing NAM (Non-Aligning Movement). Even today in International relations his “Panchsheel” follows:

1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

2. Mutual non-aggression.

3. Mutual non-interference.

4. Equality and mutual benefit.

5. Peaceful co-existence.


Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia. At the age of eighteen she left her parental home and joined an Irish community of nuns with missions in India.


Her Contributions

  • From 1931 to 1948, Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta, she glimpsed suffering and poverty outside the convent walls which made deep impression on her. In 1948, she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.
  • Although she had no funds, she depended on Divine Providence, and started an open-air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and financial support was also forthcoming. This made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work.
  • She was the founder of “The Missionaries of Charity”, whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after.
  • She known for her selfless service, will power, compassion towards with people suffering with various kinds of issues.
  • Her compassion towards leprosy patients, AIDS/HIV people commendable.
  • For her service she was awarded with Nobel Peace prize.
  • Holy Catholic Church of Vatican recognised her with sainthood.


  • Amartya Sen, an economist who was awarded the noble prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory and for his interest in the problems of society’s poorest members.
  • Sen was best known for his work on the causes of famine, which led to the development of practical solutions for preventing or limiting the effects of real or perceived shortages of food.







Capability Approach

· The Capability Approach is defined by its choice of focus upon the moral significance of individuals’ capability of achieving the kind of lives they have reason to value.

· This distinguishes it from more established approaches to ethical evaluation, such as utilitarianism or resourcism, which focus exclusively on subjective well-being or the availability of means to the good life, respectively.

· A person’s capability to live a good life is defined in terms of the set of valuable ‘beings and doings’ like being in good health or having loving relationships with others to which they have real access.


Basic Welfare Economics

· Seeks to evaluate economic policies in terms of their effects on the well-being of the community.

· His influential monograph “Collective Choice and Social Welfare”—which addressed problems such as individual rights, majority rule, and the availability of information about individual conditions.




Sex Ratio

· Sen devised methods of measuring poverty that yielded useful information for improving economic conditions for the poor.

· For instance, his theoretical work on inequality provided an explanation for why there are fewer women than men in some poor countries in spite of the fact that more women than men are born and infant mortality is higher among males.

· Sen claimed that this skewed ratio results from the better health treatment and childhood opportunities afforded to boys in those countries.




Poverty and Famines

· Sen’s interest in famine stemmed from personal experience. As a nine-year-old boy, he witnessed the Bengal famine of 1943, in which three million people perished.

· He believed that there was an adequate food supply in India at the time but that its distribution was hindered because particular groups of people—in this case rural labourers—lost their jobs and therefore their ability to purchase the food. In his book “Poverty and famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation”, Sen revealed that in many cases of famine, food supplies were not significantly reduced.

· Instead, a number of social and economic factors – such as declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and poor food-distribution systems – led to starvation among certain groups in society.


Economic Growth

· In order for economic growth to be achieved, he argued, social reforms such as improvements in education and public health must precede economic reform.

Human Development

· Along with Pakistani economist Mahbub-ul-Haq, he proposed UNDP’s Human Development Index to measure the economic development. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.




  • Socrates was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought.
  • He grew up during the golden age of Pericles’ Athens, served with distinction as a soldier, but became best known as a questioner of everything and everyone.
  • His style of teaching – Famously known as the Socratic method – involved not conveying knowledge, but rather asking question after clarifying question until his students arrived at their own understanding. He wrote nothing himself, so all that is known about him is filtered through the writings of a few contemporaries and followers, most notably his student Plato.
  • Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and sentenced to death. Choosing not to flee, he spent his final days in the company of his friends before drinking the executioner’s cup of poisonous hemlock.


Virtue bases approach – Most important virtue for human being as per Socrates is knowledge. [Jainism – Right faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct]




  • Virtue ethics primarily concerned with helping one person become a better person through self-improvement. Virtue ethics requires us to understand how to be transform ourselves into better people. That means we have to understand what ismoral, how to be motivated to be moral, and how to actually behave morally.
  • Socrates thought that knowledge is virtue, and virtue leads to happiness. It makes sense to think that moral people know what morality is. If you know right from wrong, then you might be able to choose to do what you know to be right.
  • It also makes some sense to suspect that our beliefs about right and wrong influence our decisions. If we believe it’s right to help a drowning child, then it would be fairly shocking to decide not to do so—and it would less surprising when we decide to help the child.
  • Virtue always leads to happiness. Criminals commit crimes that hurt others. However, helping others can make us happy, so doing the right thing might be more fulfilling than committing crimes.
  • Socrates proposed “unity of the virtues” – if you have one virtue, then you have them all. Courage requires wisdom, wisdom requires moderation (e.g. appropriate eating habits), and moderation requires courage. Socrates argued that all virtues are a sort of wisdom, but it isn’t clear that one sort of wisdom would require all sorts of wisdom.
  • Example, I don’t know nothing about programming computers, but that doesn’t seem to make me less virtuous. However, Socrates might have envisioned a person with an ideal virtue (such as ideal courage) that would require us to possess all other virtues assuming that there will be at least one situation when one virtue requires another.
  • Example, Courage to feel the pain of someone’s withdrawal symptoms after become addicted to cigarettes.




Virtue as Happiness

· He believed that life of virtue was always in a person’s best interests. Socrates believed that only people with self-knowledge could find true happiness.

· According to Socrates, Happiness flows not from physical or external conditions, such as bodily pleasures or wealth and power, but from living a life that’s right for your soul, your deepest good.




Virtue as Knowledge

· Self-knowledge is a sufficient condition to the good life. Socrates identifies knowledge with virtue. If knowledge can be learned, so can virtue. Thus, Socrates states virtue can be taught.

· He believes “the unexamined life is not worth living.” One must seek knowledge and wisdom before private interests. In this manner, knowledge is sought as a means to ethical action.

· What one truly knows is the dictates of one’s conscience or soul.


Socrates pre-supposes reason is essential for the good life.

  • One’s true happiness is promoted by doing what is right.
  • When your true utility is served (by tending your soul), you are achieving happiness. Happiness is evident only in terms of a long-term effect on the soul.
  • Human action aims toward the good in accordance with purpose in nature.


Socrates states no one chooses evil; no one chooses to act in ignorance.

  • We seek the good, but fail to achieve it by ignorance or lack of knowledge as to how to obtain what is good.
  • He believes, no one would intentionally harm themselves. When harm comes to us, although we thought we were seeking the good, the good is not obtained in such a case since we lacked knowledge as to how best to achieve the good.


To summarise Socrates ethics, he offers three argument in favour of the just life over the unjust life:

  1. The just man is wise and good, and the unjust man is ignorant and bad
  2. Injustice produces internal disharmony which prevents effective actions
  3. Virtue is excellence at a thing’s function and the just person lives a happier life than the unjust person, since he performs the various functions of the human soul well




· The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

· Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.

· Contentment is natural wealth; luxury is an artificial poverty.

· Understanding a question is half an answer

· The hottest love has the coldest end.

· To be is to do

· He is not only idle who does nothing, but he is idle who might be better employed.

· Be true to thine own self

· True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.


  • Plato was born in 427/428 BCE and belonged to an aristocratic family in Athens, a Greek City State. He was a disciple of Socrates who was one of the foremost philosophers of Greece.
  • During his time there was great chaos in the political life of Athens. This resulted in the Athenian government condemning Socrates to death because of his teachings. This greatly affected Plato’s views on politics especially in Athens.
  • In about 387 BCE Plato founded his ‘Academy’. The name ‘Academy’ comes from the name of a famous Athenian hero called ‘Akademos’. Here Plato taught Political Philosophy which contained politics, ethics, mathematics and sociology.
  • The three most important works of Plato are ‘The Republic’, ‘The Statesman’ and ‘The Laws’. Apart from these works, he has written a number of other smaller books.



Plato identifies four cardinal virtues that are necessary for a happy individual and a good society. He also believed that an ideal state should have people with these virtues.

  1. Prudence – prudence is right reason in action. It plays vital role in terms of guiding and regulating all other virtues.
  2. Temperance – is a strength that protects against excess and consists self-regulation and obedience to authority. It suggests harmony among conflicting elements.
  3. Courage – courage is bravery to do justice. It removes obstacles that come in the path of justice.
  4. Justice – Different philosophers have different idea of justice



Ideal State · According to him, in an Ideal State should be made up of three classes namely Ruling Class, Military Class and Economic Class.




Ideal Justice

· He believed that justice resided both in one single human being as well as the State. He said every human being is endowed with three qualities though in different proportions. He said these qualities are Reason, which resides in a person’s head, Spirit which resides in a person’s heart and Appetite which resides in a person’s stomach. He said these are the three parts of the human soul.

· Firstly, he said true justice is that, these three parts should do their rightful business in order to make a human being whole.

· Secondly, these three parts existing in every individual, should be faithfully reflected in the State which is a collective of human beings as a whole through the formation of the three classes namely, Ruling Class, Military Class and Economic Class by which his Ideal State is formed.





· Plato designs an education system based on various stages suited to the age of the students from childhood to adulthood. He also devices methods of eliminations as higher stages of education are reached by human beings depending on the proportion of the three parts of their souls namely reason, spirit and appetite.

· Persons who are found suited to fulfil economic duties of the State are separated from the ones suited for Ruling and Military services. In the second process of elimination the persons suited for ruling are given special training to become what Plato calls ‘Philosopher Kings’ to rule his ‘Ideal State’.



· In his work ‘The Republic’, Plato had practically condemned Democracy. He had developed the idea that all were not fit to rule and that only the philosophers who had been specially trained for the purpose should rule.

· He said this because it was Athenian Democracy which condemned his teacher Socrates to death.


· According to Plato, children were national possession and as such it was obligatory on the part of the State to bring them up according to their attitudes.





· Plato thought that we have three major parts: The intellect, the emotions, and the appetites. We have the intellect to reason and learn, emotions to be motivated, and the appetites to know when we are in need of something (food, water, etc.).

· Wise people use their emotions to motivate them to do what the intellect finds valuable, but the unwise use their emotions to motivate them to overindulge the appetites. To over-indulge the appetites is to be immoderate and addictive, but the intellect should learn to value fulfilling our appetites in a healthy way.

· Plato helps us understand why some people do what they know to be wrong—because our emotions can side with our appetites—but he does not make it entirely clear why some people are (relatively) wise and are able to passionately value the right things, but others are unwise and passionately value superficial things.



  • Plato in his book “THE REPUBLIC” explained about how a just life more pleasurable than the unjust life commentary by Socrates.
  • Socrates argues that the just life is more pleasurable than the unjust life. The view is not that pleasure is the good and that the just life is happier because it has more pleasure. It is that the just life is happier and that it also has more pleasure than the unjust life.
  • Socrates gives two proofs of this conclusion. The first is that there is pleasure for inside and that the praise of the wisdom shows that that the life of reason is the “sweetest“. Another proof that he describes as the “greatest and most decisive overthrow” for the just man against the unjust man.
  • In this proof of the conclusion that the just life is more pleasurable, a part of the inner consciousness get its “truest” pleasures when the objects of its desires are “most proper” to it, that when reason rules, all three parts get their “truest” pleasures because the knowledge in the part with reason directs action, and that when either the appetitive or spirited part rules, the three parts do not get their “truest” pleasures.
  • Therefore, to make just life happier, three parts: Reason, spirit and appetite should be in perfect synchronisation and balanced.
  • The just life, then, not only is first in “happiness” it is also more pleasurable than the unjust life. So, in both ways the just life is better than the unjust life.
  • Plato, though by no means the first philosopher, undoubtedly is one of the earliest to leave us a significant body of work. He spent most of his time asking and providing answers to questions that have always troubled people. Even centuries after his death, if we think of politics and the problems of living together, the issues that confront us again and again very often involve the sorts of questions that Plato’s Republic can help us think about in a more focused and sophisticated way. Hence, Plato is considered the most influential political philosopher of all times.




· States are as the men, they grow out of human characters

· Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty

· Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity

· Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous

· An empty vessel makes the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers

· Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety.


Aristotle was student of Plato studied at Plato’s Academy in Athens. He considered as an encyclopaedia of Political philosophy. After Plato’s death Aristotle started his own teaching program. Alexander is one of his disciples. Unlike Plato who proposed “Ideal State” but Aristotle proposed “Best Practicable State”.






· All human beings seek happiness. So he first recognizes that happiness is the ultimate good, since all other goods are intermediate while happiness is final. We pursue other goods to achieve happiness, but happiness is valuable in itself. According to Aristotle highest form of happiness is a life of intellectual contemplation.

· Since reason is what separates humanity from animals, its exercise leads man to the highest virtue. Aristotle believed that happiness was the most important thing in life. He taught that one should not waste one’s time in the pursuits of pleasure, but should seek happiness instead. According to him, true happiness lay not in material things, but in understanding one’s true nature, and regaling one’s full potential. In short, happiness depends upon ourselves, and not on the outside world.

· Full potential or perfection is possible through virtue that is golden mean between two extremes.





Virtue Ethics


· Aristotle defined virtue as a golden mean between two extremes. He believed every situation has two extremes of action, one extreme (vice) of defect or vice of minimal and a vice of excess. The ethical action or the virtue ethic was the mean of the two extremes. For example, the vice defect of confidence would be cowardice, or too little confidence, while the vice excess of confidence would be rashness or too much confidence. The ethical virtue between the two would be courage, the mean between cowardice and rashness.

· Aristotle further believed that the identification of the Golden Mean is based on a person’s character, or virtue, which is engrained by habitual action. For example, an honest person will not lie because telling the truth is a personal value and a personal habit. The key to virtue ethics is that the ethical action is based on the individual.

· Vice of Minimal, having a belief that god will take care everything.

· Vice of Excess, Be greedy in nature.

· How to obtain Virtues?

1. Habit

2. Happiness

3. Intellectual virtues like Wisdom, knowledge, Prudence etc

4. Moral Virtues like courage, temperance, liberty etc






State & Citizen

· According to him state as a natural entity. Authority of the State is moral and the State is natural. Since the family could not satisfy the ever-increasing needs of the people, they had to come out of their limited circle and thought of creating the State. The families combined together to make the State and made it a perfect association.

· According to Aristotle, the foremost function of the State is to promote good life and create essential conditions for mental, moral and physical development of the people.

· He classified states into three types based on qualitative and quantitative aspects.

· The State should also function in such a way that good habits of individuals are converted into good actions and promote good, happy and honourable life. If a man wants a good life, he can achieve that by becoming a good citizen of that state by actively involving decision making process of the state.



· Aristotle believes that the family is a natural institution and in fact it existed prior to the State.

· It is natural as individuals become members from their very birth. It is the starting point of moral life and the nucleus of the State.




· According to Aristotle, the slave is the first of the animate property of a Master, i.e., the slave is first among all living property of the household of which the master is the head. He says those who are not virtuous are slaves.

· The slave is an instrument of action and not that of production. Because as soon as he starts performing productive functions, he loses his character as a slave and becomes virtuous.


Thus, Aristotle is still considered one of the greatest thinkers in politics, psychology and ethics. His intellectual range was vast covering most of the sciences and many of the arts. His works have laid the foundation of centuries of philosophy. Even after the intellectual revolution of the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment, Aristotelian concepts remain embedded in world philosophy. Therefore, he is undoubtedly one of the most influential philosophers of all time.




· At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.

· He who is to be a good ruler must have first been ruled.

· Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.

· Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.

· Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved.

· The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.

· All men by nature desire knowledge.

· We make war that we may live in peace.

· Man is by nature a political animal.

· It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.

· Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.


Karl Marx is one of the few people who changed the way we see the world. For Marx, any theory should not only support in understanding the world around, but be a step towards transforming the world. His works – Communist Manifesto, Materialistic Conception of History and Das Capital, are a culmination of various economic ideas, channelled towards the single goal of self- emancipation of working class. He touched upon capitalism, socialism and communalism.


Some of his works and his thoughts:


Karl Marx’s works Theme Thoughts

The Communist Manifesto

Social change through Revolution To raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class and to win the battle of democracy

Communist should aim to replace private property with public control of all properties.

Das Capital

Bible of the working class It deals with the process of production of capital, process of circulation of capital and the totality of the process of capitalist production.


Dialectical Materialism

Philosophical approach to reality derived from the teachings of Karl Marx


Materialism principally dealt with social world. The material world has always been in constant motion, contradictions and change. Marx believes that friction caused by constant motion in the society leads to contradictions within the society, which eventually leads to change in the society. Dialectical Materialism relates to the process of change in the society.

Theory of Surplus Value

Surplus Labour value The Capitalists gets surplus value for the extra labour that has been put in by the labourer. The capitalist pays his workers less than the value their labour, and in most occasions usually only enough to maintain the worker at a subsistence level.




Concept of State

(UPSC 2020 Prelims)

· Gandhiji and Marx both wanted to establish a stateless and classless society but for their means for achieving the aim is different.

· Means – Non-Violence

· End – Stateless and Classless society

· Means – Class Struggle and Violence

· End – Stateless society





· Both are not having faith in Capitalism and its exploiting but they differ in means

· Gandhiji wanted to remove capitalism by creating Capitalist Trustees by Economic Decentralisation and Cooperative societies & Cottage industries

· He wanted to uproot Capitalism through Revolution



· He had firm faith in Democracy but he felt western democracy was incomplete so he wanted to decentralise powers by giving more powers to Panchayats. · Dictatorship of working class
Rights& Liberty · Staunch supporter of Individual Liberty and rights · Collective rights than Individual rights





· Gandhiji believes in god and led a spiritual life. · Marx believes in Materialistic life and no faith in god. He considered religion as opium for the workers, because in his view religion made man a fatalist and it did not allow discontentment to arise in the workers against capitalism. The result was that they lacked organisation and enthusiasm needed for a revolution.
Economy& Industries · Local economy needs to be strengthened.

· “Not Mass Production but Production by Masses”

· Industrial Economy and Working-class dominance
Ends & Means · Non-Violence · Violence


  • There is a limited amount of power in society, which can only be held by one person or group at a time.
  • The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle
  • Democracy is the road to socialism


Marx argues that the nature of that class struggle varies according to the nature of production. Hence in feudal societies, where the main form of production was agriculture, the class struggle was between those who owned the land and those who worked on it. In a modern industry, the struggle is between the bourgeoisie (factory or business owners) and the proletariat (workers in the factory). In reality the society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other – bourgeoisie and proletariat. It is in this premise that Marx said that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle”.


Marx summarized his contributions into three major sections:

  1. Classes (proletariat and bourgeoisie) are not a permanent feature of a society
  2. Class struggle leads to ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, resulting in workers taking control of production
  3. Dictatorship of the proletariat’ would lead to classless society and with the differences vanishing from the society, the state eventually withers away.


Marxism is like a religion. The impact that Marxism had on humanity can only be compared to the influence religion had on mankind. Nearly half of the world population was influenced by Marxist ideology. While, Marx himself would have not followed everything he wrote, his writings did influence leaders like Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others who used Marxist theories in order to bring about change in countries like Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc. In the present era, most of the erstwhile communist countries have become democratic in nature. However, the society continues to witness class differences and it is increasing every year. Hence, so long there are capitalists and exploitation in the society, Marx’s ideas can never be ignored or forgotten.



  • Utilitarianism means “Greatest good to the greatest number of people”. Human actions based on maximising his/her utility in a given situation so that human can survive. It’s purely based on cost benefit analysis.
  • Two moral philosophical thinkers Jeremy Bentham and JS Mill, who’s theories framed on utilitarian principle.

How it works?

· Humans are most of the time concerned about self-interest than societal interest

· Such self-interest behaviour tries to draw maximum utility

· Utility based on benefit greater than cost occurred to it


Application of Utilitarian Principle

· Individual level – Self motives (Ego satisfaction)

· Societal level – Greater good to greater number of people

· Governance – Same principle, more benefit to the people in schemes, govt benefits, in administration etc.


  • J S Mill was a most influential English Philosopher. He was Naturalist, Utilitarian and Respects liberal values.



  • Mill’s general picture of mind and world is established by appealing to what we are warranted in believing about the nature of those objects, human beings are wholly part of nature. Philosophical basis of environmental ethics derived from his Naturalism. This earth belongs to everyone and every species has a right to live on this planet. Just because human greed can’t harm to the other species.



  • He believes that Human actions should not only bring happiness to individuals but also to the society.
  • It will benefit more than losses. Greatest happiness to the greatest number of people through human actions. This is also called Social utilitarianism.
  • So, good for an individual good for society too. A good act was one that would increase the general prevalence of pleasure over pain in the whole of society. It could thus be construed as a form of Ethical altruism.



  • Mill’s “On Liberty“, predicted that among all his works, this was destined to survive the longest and is has. The transformation of society from aristocratic to democratic forms of organization brought with it both advantages and disadvantages. It meant rule by social masses that would be more powerful, uniform and omnipresent than the rulers of previous eras.
  • Mill expressed that such powers could have the capacity of stifling conformism in thought, character and action.
  • Mill’s principle on liberty states that “the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection”
  • Thus, the practical philosophy of this argument by Mill is primarily utilitarian. In his ‘On Liberty’ Mill puts forward different strategies to argue for freedom of thought and discussion, character, and action. On the one hand Mill argues for freedom of space for individuals which individuals should have to develop their own character while on the other, he maintains that it is best for society too.
  • “Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing”
  • Mill was of the opinion that mass society is self-repressive in nature which would lead to the sapping of human energy and potential. It is important for society to create conditions where individuals can develop their own ways of living. This will enable variety and diversity of character and culture which will become the engine of productive tension that will drive a nation forward. Mill’s insistence throughout On Liberty, sought to preserve the individual’s freedom against the possibility of legislative or state coercion and also from the deceptive forms of social coercion.

John Stuart Mill occupies a very important place in the history of political thought and Naturalism which was widespread in the nineteenth century. His works emphasized the importance of human nature for the proper study and understanding of the state. He developed his own philosophy of franchise.


Mill states that casting one’s vote is as necessary for the political animal as is the air that he or she breathes. No other political thinker has been as emphatic as Mill in the conception of voting. The influences that utilitarianism had on Mill also were important in the formulation of his ideas on the principle of economy and that of representative government where the freedom of the individual to develop his capabilities should be never interfered with. On each of these subjects Mill was often provocative that no student of the discipline can afford to ignore.


  • Bentham also a Utilitarian who defined Happiness from the perspective of Society. Individuals fulfils their pleasures for benefit of society which is called as Ethical Egoism. Because, Individuals satisfy their ego needs which brings more pleasures than pain which is considered as Ethical.
  • According to him, People should be given individual liberty to satisfy their ego needs. Once Individual pleasures satisfies it benefits the society by self-development.
  • Any action considered as good which maximises the society benefits.



  • According to Bentham, pleasure and pain govern not only how human beings act, but also how human beings ought to act. Such acts based on the principle of utility or the principle of utilitarianism: “Greatest happiness (pleasure) for the greatest number of persons (the community)”.
  • For Bentham, motives can only be considered good or bad based on their results of being productive of happiness or unhappiness.


  • Immanuel Kant was one of the central Enlightenment thinkers. Kant’s comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics have made him one of the most influential figures in modern Western philosophy.
  • He belongs to Deontological school of ethics where means and ends both are important.
  • For him:



  • It’s a way of evaluating motivations for our actions. Kant defined it as supreme principle of morality that is rationality.
  • He characterised it as an objective, rationally necessary and unconditional principle that we must always follow despite any natural desires or inclinations we may have to the contrary. Any human action can be justified through this principle.
  • Any immoral action can be called as immoral because it violates this principle. This rationality can be discoverable by through practical reason.
  • This rationality can also be considered as autonomous or free. The fundamental principle of morality, Categorical imperative is none other than the law of an autonomous will.



  • Kant states that act to treat humanity, whether yourself or another, as an end-in-itself and never as a means and we are never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but we are to treat others as an end in themselves.
  • People are not to be used unjustifiably in order to obtain your goals or seek an edge or unfair advantage. People have rights which would supersede, for example, the tyranny of the majority in utilitarianism.



  • The good will is the only good without qualification, i.e. the only intrinsic good. Kant describes the good will as a will that acts from duty as a “good-in-itself.”
  • According to Kant, important considerations about duty are emphasized as:
  • The class of actions in accordance with duty must be distinguished from the class of actions performed from duty.
  • Kant believes only actions performed from duty have moral worth.
  • For Kant, all moral actions are actions in accordance with practical reason.
  • The purpose of the action is not the duty itself, per se, but instead the intention or motivation of acting ethically. For example, saving a stranger in distress is the aim of an action done from the intention of doing one’s duty.
  • Performing one’s duty, then, is not the purpose or goal of the morally worthy action—the purpose is to help the stranger is distress.
  • This principle very much applicable to civil services when they are in ethical dilemma regarding Duty. A duty with moral worth always treated as Good will.



  • Duty-based ethics are concerned with what people do, not with the consequences of their actions.
  • Do the right thing.
  • Do it because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Don’t do wrong things.
  • Avoid them because they are wrong.
  • Kantian duty-based ethics says that some things should never be done, no matter what good consequences they produce. This seems to reflect the way some human beings think. People have a duty to do the right thing, even if it produces a bad result.
  • Kant thought that it would be wrong to tell a lie in order to save a friend from a murderer. Its universalisation of Ethics. Sometimes we may have to lie with good intentions, that is “Moral Absolutism”, in that case Kant’s universal duty ethics can’t work. Different situations demand different approaches, universalization can’t work every time and everywhere.


Though Kant criticised for his Moral absolutism. However, his deontological approach relevant in present day context in developing scientific temper, rationality with reason and duty ethics in work etc.



  • Justice was interpreted in many ways since ancient history. In ancient civilisations maintain Dharma was a justice. For king, Justice to his people was punishing the wrong doers.
  • Socrates and Plato interpreted justice as lies equally in both state and humans, ideal justice which questions the authority. The idea that justice involves giving each person his due continuous to be an important part of our present day understanding of justice.
  • Today, our understanding of justice is according to Kant, All human beings’ possess human dignity. If all persons are granted dignity, they have the opportunity to develop their talents and pursue their chosen goals. Justice requires that we give due and equal consideration to all individuals.




Principles of Justice:

· Equal treatment for equals

· Proportionate justice

· Recognition of special needs

· Just distribution

· State intervention in doing justice



  • In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls provides a Contract Theory of the principles of social justice in terms of the ‘basic structure of society, or the way in which the major social institutions distribute fundamental rights and duties to determine the division of advantages from social cooperation’.
  • The distributive justice (Social and Economic justice) proposed by Rawls is underpinned by two fundamental principles:
  1. The first principle, is the idea that people’s liberties should be preserved in distribution.
  2. The second principle, is the idea that any inequality that is permitted should only be permitted on the basis that it benefits the least favoured in society.
  • John Rawls argues that, the only way we can arrive at a fair and just rule is if we imagine ourselves to be in situation in which we have to make decisions about how society should be organised although we don’t know which position, we would ourselves occupy in that society.
  • We don’t know what kind of family we would born in rich or poor and what caste we would belong to upper caste or lower caste. We will be likely to support a decision about the rules and organisation of that future society which would be fair for all the members.



  • Rawls tried to put such thing under this principle. A situation of complete ignorance about our possible position and status in society, each person would decide in the way they generally do in terms of their own interests.
  • The advantage of veil of ignorance is that, it expects people to just be rational. But veil of ignorance is the first step in arriving a system of fair laws and policies. A rational being looks society as a whole instead of self-interest.
  • Since we don’t know what will be future position in the society, each will seek rules that protect them in case they happen to be in worst off situation. Things go hand in hand. At the same chosen policies does not make better off sections gets weaker. Therefore, it would be interest of society as a whole should benefit from the rules and regulations. Such fairness would be outcome of rational action, not benevolence or generosity.
  • Therefore, Rawls argues that its rationality and not morality could lead us to fair and just society and decides how to distribute the benefits and burdens.





  • Four levels of Laws: According to him source for laws comes from God/religion.
    1. Eternal Law
    2. Divine Law
    3. Natural Laws which is moral law
    4. Human Law
  • If there is conflict between natural law and human law, it should be always natural law should be preferred which is ethical and moral in nature.



Environmental Ethics, Human rights, Ethical dilemma regarding morality vs legality



  • In Hobbes’ words human beings are driven by their passions and use their intellectual capacity simply as a means to determine what will bring them the greatest pleasure or the least pain. human nature as utterly self-interested and self-regarding. Hence innately anti-social.
  • The state is the result of a contract between human beings in which the scope and extent of the powers of the government are to be determined by an analysis of the terms of the contract. The state is created by mutual agreement or the consent of its members. As a result, government is legitimate if it corresponds to what people have consented to.
  • According to Hobbes, Law can be:
  • Moral: Fundamental rights, DPSP
  • Immoral: Capital punishment
  • Amoral: Neither moral nor immoral – AFSPA


“To do unto others before they do unto you”



  • Human Nature and Conflict between Law Vs Ethics



  • Reason as the factor which shapes a rational human being. He is also particular in reflecting the utilitarian trait of humans. Humans seek to strike a balance of pleasure over pain. It is this notion of pleasure or utility which forms the basis of his covenant.
  • State of nature is a state of peace, goodwill, mutual assistance and preservation. Natural law is considered to be the source of both rights and duties
  • Locke identifies the three fundamental demerits which threatened the balance of state of nature.
  1. The absence of a legal framework.
  2. The lack of a “known and impartial judge
  3. The requirement of an executive agency for the enforcement of decisions



  • Human Nature



Real happiness possible only through peace of mind when they overcome sense of fear.



Courage of conviction and Happiness



  • According to him, it is not a practical policy for the prince to follow the principles of religion and ethics in his statecraft. Politics is governed by its own independent standards; hence it cannot be bound by the conventional ethical standards. According to him the ruler should be honest, righteous and true to his word, but in reality, nobody can have all these qualities and these qualities will not enable a ruler to rule over vicious people. So, the Prince should focus on the preservation of the State without being bound by moral obligations.
  • Machiavelli does not contend that ‘ends justify the means’ but he claims that a ruler’s success will be judged by popular verdict, and that he will be excused for using dubious means if he is successful in the end



  • Separation of Morals from Politics


  • Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.



  • Ethical nature of the state

Previous Year Questions:

Theme Question Year
Teachings of Socrates “An unexamined life is not worth living”. – Socrates 2019
Mahatma Gandhi – 7 sins Discuss Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of seven sins. 2016
Mahatma Gandhi – Sarvodaya


The good of an individual is contained in the good of all. What do you understand by this statement? How can this principle be implemented in public life? 2013
Theory of Justice Analyse John Rawls’s concept of social justice in the Indian context. 2016
Kant’s categorical Imperative


Human beings should always be treated as ‘ends’ in themselves and never as merely `means’. Explain the meaning and significance of this statement, giving its implications in the modern techno-economic society. 2014
Moral absolutism Vs Moral Relativism


What does this quotations mean to you in the present context: “Falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good.”- Tirukkural. 2018


Moral absolutism Vs Moral Relativism


What does this quotations mean to you in the present context: “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgement of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. ” Abraham Lincoln. 2018
Means Vs end


With regard to the morality of actions, one view is that means is of paramount importance and the other view is that the ends justify the means. Which view do you think is more appropriate? Justify your answer. (150 words) 2018


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 Career Development Program 2023 Result PDF     Download UPSC Mains 2023 Question Papers PDF  Free Initiative links -1) Download Prahaar 3.0 for Mains Current Affairs PDF both in English and Hindi 2) Daily Main Answer Writing  , 3) Daily Current Affairs , Editorial Analysis and quiz ,  4) PDF Downloads  UPSC 2022 Final Result🔥5 out of Top 10 from PW OnlyIAS Community. UPSC Prelims 2023 Trend Analysis cut-off and answer key