What is an Ethical Agreement?

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The study of ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is the study of what is right, what is wrong, and why that should be so. An ethical agreement is a practical application of ethics, called normative ethics, whereby two or more parties agree to work within and avoid breaching a set ethical standard.


An ethical agreement is usually set to moral guidelines for conduct within an organization, at an event, or during a transaction. A person is usually presented with the agreement before they are allowed to join or continue with the transaction. Organizations often publish their ethical agreements and standards as means of promoting trust and a declaration of intent.

Legal Implications

Ethical agreements are not usually legally binding and are often more a matter of honor. However, most legally binding contracts do have ethical dimensions written within them.

Public Ethics

Although breach of ethical agreements is not usually punishable by law, those who are generally held by society to a higher ethical standard, such as politicians or doctors, can be held to account for breach of an ethical agreement by an ethics committee. These committees are often formed by peers – members of the same organization that wrote the ethical agreement.


About the Author

Carl Mathie began working as a translator, editor and writer in 2004 at two independent literary publishers in London. His work has been published in the "Financial Times" and online at Readysteadybook and Vulpes Libris. He has translated for several important international publishers including Grupo Planeta and Oxygen Books. He has a Bachelor of Arts in comparative American studies from the University of Warwick.

Photo Credits

  • Thinker in Vienna image by nata_rass from Fotolia.com