What is the Relationship between Ethics and Sociology?

Ethics and sociology have a close relation. Ethics is the science which discusses the good or bad of human conduct and conduct is not possible without society which is studied by sociology.

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There being relation between the individual and society, ethics and sociology become related. Man cannot even be imagined outside society. He acquires his thoughts of good and bad, duty or non-duty, virtue, vice and convention from society.

Thus, the mental and ethical development of the individual depends very much upon society.


Hays writes that man does not do good acts because God wants such acts or that they are essential for living in society but rather because society accepts them as good and the ethical thoughts related to such conduct are inherent in social institutions.

Corne Jo maintains that what is good is decided by mass experience. Anybody is good in comparison with others. Therefore, goodness is a social attention.

On the other hand the evolution of society is dependent on the ethics of the people because, ultimately, society is only a web of relationships among the people. Great men have affected many improvements in society.

Thus, the relation between man and society is very intimate. Due to this reason again, ethics and sociology are inter-related. Ethics is concerned with ethical ideal, the right and wrong of actions, the development of conduct and the character of the individual.


Sociology is the study of the nature of human society, its origin and development. It makes a study of the development and convention’s of the different groups.

In the words of T. Abel, Sociology is the scientific study of the social relationship, their variety, their forms, whatever affects them and whatever they affect.

Ethics is dependent upon Sociology:

Ethics is dependent upon sociology for the description of ultimate good in relation with society.


In Sidgwiek’s words, “We only know the individual man as a member of some society, what we call his virtues are chiefly exhibited in his dealings with his fellows and his most prominent pleasures are derived from inter course with them, thus it is a paradox to maintain that man’s highest good is independent of his social relations or of the constitution and condition of the community of which he forms a part.

In this way, the ultimate good of the individual is based on the ultimate good of society, as he is an inseparable part of society. The aim of ethics is to synthesize individual and social good, selfishness and altruism.

Ethics is concerned with the conduct of the individual. Social science studies the social habits, conventions and those institutions which impress man. Thus ethics depends upon sociology.

On the other hand, sociology also depends upon ethics. It studies the habits, conventions and institutions of groups and communities but leaves their evolution to ethics.

Ethics and Sociology are mutually complementary:

In fact ethics and sociology are mutually complementary sciences. Ethics presents those ideals in the light of which social facts are evaluated. Sociology studies ethical ideals in the form of facts and describes the conditions of society is to be understood.

In the words of Mac Iver, “Society without values cannot be understood.” In this way sociology seeks the help of ethics. But sociology also helps ethics because the values studied by ethics ‘are determined very much by the prevalent thought in the society and these forms the subject matter of sociology.

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