Relation between Political Science and Ethics

Just as Political Science is closely related to Sociology, History and Economics, so Ethics is closely related to Political Science.

Political Science is the science of political order and it deals with the State and the Government, whereas Ethics is the science of moral order and it deals with our conduct.

It is the science of morality which deals with the rightness or wrongness of our conduct and of the ideals towards which man is working.

Since each man lives in a state, “both rightness or wrongness of our conduct and of moral ideals is bound to be concerned with the State.

We cannot think of a perfect state with wrong moral ideals. If the wrong moral ideals prevail in a state, it cannot be a perfect state. The science of Ethics, believes. Professor Gilchrist, “is, therefore, prior to Political Science.”

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“Ethics, says Professor Gilchrest “is a Study of human motives, an analysis of intentions, of desires and of the moral end and this moral end is the ultimate justification of Political Science. Both the sciences are teleological and in their ideals they must be in agreement, but the main body of material is distinct.”

The relationship between Political Science and Ethics is very close. They are very intimate to each other. Both Ethics and Political Science are social sciences and the aims of both the sciences are the same. Both of them aim at doing good to man and promoting the common welfare. The state was organised for maintaining law, order and peace and for promoting the welfare of the people. Ethics deals with the laws of morality and recommends the code of Conduct.

“The political ideal,” says Professor Gilchrist, “cannot be divorced from ethical ideal. We cannot conceive of a perfect state where wrong ethical principles prevail. The ethical and political ideals in this case coincide.” It is the task of ethics to help us “realise more clearly than we do now what are the nature and content of our moral consciousness.”


The intimate affinity between Political Science and Ethics cannot be denied because besides its social, historical and economic aspects the State has its moral aspect also. This moral aspect of the State brings Political Science very near to Ethics – the science of morals.

The ancient Greek writers, like Plato and Aristotle, held that the moral side of the State is of greater importance than social, economic and legal side. They considered the study of Ethics highly essential for the study of Political Science.

So close has been intimacy between these two social sciences that the Greek philosopher like Plato and Aristotle could hardly make any distinction between Political Science and Ethics. Plato’s “Republic” is as much a study in Ethics as in Political Science. To the Greek philosophers Politics was nothing but Ethics writ large.

Both Plato and Aristotle were of the opinion that only a perfect state could produce perfect citizens. Plato conceived the State as “a community of souls rationally and necessarily united for the pursuit of moral end.” While Aristotle said, “State came into existence for the sake of mere life but now it continues to exist for the sake of good life”.


It means that the ultimate end of the State is to do good to man. And only that state can make progress, the citizens of which lead an ideal life. This makes it very clear that though Aristotle regarded Political Science and Ethics as distinct social sciences, yet he discovered a close relationship between them. Besides Plato and Aristotle, there were may other ancient writers who regarded the State as a moral-cum-political institution which aims at the welfare of the people.

Modern writers also establish a close affinity between Ethics and Political Science. In our country Gandhiji discovered a close relationship between both the sciences. According to him Politics divorced from religion was valueless. He tried to combine political principles with moral values and laid stress on the fact that the end cannot justify the means. He emphatically affirmed that both ends and means should always be good.

He firmly believed that in order to attain the good end, good means should be adopted. He lived and died for the principles of love, truth and non-violence. Fox has also asserted, “What is morally wrong can never be politically right.” Professor Ivor Brown has gone to the extent of saying. “Politics is but Ethics writ large.”

Ethical theory is incomplete without Political theory because man is an associated creature and cannot live fully in isolation, political theory is idle without ethical theory because its study and its results depend fundamentally on our scheme of moral values, conception of right and wrong.” Lord Acton has also asserted that “the great question is to discover not what governments prescribe but what they ought to prescribe.”

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