Definition of ethical in English:



  • 1Relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these.

    ‘ethical issues in nursing’
    ‘ethical standards’
    • ‘Reliable scientific knowledge has no ethical content, it is the way the world is.’
    • ‘There is a general difficulty in inferring the underlying values or ethical principles that support social practices.’
    • ‘One may occasionally hear the claim that human use of animals raises no ethical issues whatsoever.’
    • ‘In legal terms you might argue that they should be treated differently but in moral and ethical terms I see no difference.’
    • ‘In order to raise ethical questions, the story and characters have to involve readers.’
    • ‘It is the ethical codes of the professional groups that prevent notification.’
    • ‘Consequently, the Authority's discretion on issues of ethical principle is difficult to challenge.’
    • ‘Surely humans have the ability to intervene in any number of moral and ethical issues purely by virtue of their sentience?’
    • ‘Perhaps fewer of us are sensitive to what we might call the moral or ethical environment.’
    • ‘Not long ago researchers examining ethical issues in medicine and health care had a different focus.’
    • ‘In this case, the mother was not arguing a religious, moral or ethical principle.’
    • ‘But even more conclusive evidence exists that doctors need help with ethical problems.’
    • ‘The underlying ethical principle here is that all people are of equal moral value and that it is wrong to treat them otherwise.’
    • ‘The way scientific knowledge is used raises ethical issues for everyone involved, not just scientists.’
    • ‘However, this case does raise the moral and ethical issues in a peculiarly sharp form.’
    • ‘The ethical problems facing doctors and vets obviously differ in some ways.’
    • ‘Those moral and ethical issues have been under-discussed, at least as far as cybernetics is concerned.’
    • ‘It does, in fact, cover many moral and ethical issues and the submissions reflected this.’
    • ‘Theories based on natural rights were to be the principal vehicles for the discussion of ethical issues for the rest of the century.’
    • ‘Respectable ad agencies, of course, will insist that their own ethical standards are unimpeachable.’
    1. 1.1Morally good or correct.
      ‘can a profitable business ever be ethical?’
      • ‘How ethical is it to test drugs for AIDS in countries that cannot afford these treatments?’
      • ‘Reaffirmation of values and morality can lead to a return to an ethical profession.’
      • ‘Do you say that it's also a legitimate, appropriate, ethical business as well?’
      • ‘Does an organization need ethical leadership in order to be effective and successful?’
      • ‘What the world really needs right now is moral, ethical, and honest leaders whose words and actions we can trust.’
      • ‘The information is in the public domain and it is ethical to republish it in the BMJ.’
      • ‘Mr Bradley's quietly principled and wholly ethical stance is to be commended.’
      • ‘As healthcare providers, we often wonder whether it is ethical to use a control group or not.’
      • ‘He was convinced that the lower classes must fear God in order to be ethical.’
      • ‘Was it medically ethical for a doctor to go to these extremes to test a patient's grasp on reality?’
      • ‘Besides, the average oilman is too ethical and morally upstanding to work in such places only for profit.’
      morally correct, right-minded, right-thinking, principled, irreproachable, unimpeachable, blameless, guiltless
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Avoiding activities or organizations that do harm to people or the environment.
      ‘an expert on ethical investment’
      ‘switching to more ethical products’
      ‘adopt ethical shopping habits’
      ‘ethical holidays’
      • ‘Increasingly, boards are expected as well to monitor human resources and social assets and to conduct social and ethical audits.’
      • ‘To me, there are few things as beautiful as an ethical, profitable, customer-centered, well-run company.’
      • ‘Approximately 60 %, however, believed that ethical dilemmas are an avoidable consequence of doing business.’
      • ‘You often see ethical funds arguing that they achieve better performance.’
      • ‘Increasingly, more insurers are partaking in agreements and codes of conduct which bind us to the correct ethical position for the long-term future.’
      • ‘Mack is also pulling the plug on ventures that could blur ethical lines.’
      • ‘Then there are the so-called ' light green ' funds, somewhat like a Diet Coke in the world of ethical investing.’
      • ‘Broadly speaking, there are two types of ethical fund.’
      • ‘Data within the October edition of Money Management supports the view that ethical investing is generally no better than blindly holding an index tracker.’
      • ‘The chapter discusses both the ethical implications of social psychological research findings and the ethical decisions implicit in how social influence research is conducted.’
      • ‘Ethical investment funds are committed to the principle that investors must accept some responsibility for the actions of the companies from which they profit.’
      • ‘Without mandated standards, many corporate managers are left with some thorny ethical dilemmas.’
      • ‘Many involve the ethical use of biotechnology.’
      • ‘Legal (and ethical) barriers deterred people from engaging in insider trading and punished people who cross the line.’
      • ‘The MBA programs on my campus start with a retreat where students get an in-depth immersion in ethics and ethical decision-making.’
      • ‘You have said that you want CSFB to be an "ethical" investment bank.’
      • ‘Within the next few months I think the Medical Council will change its ethical guidelines to allow abortion in the case of suicide risk.’
      • ‘The Body Shop brand was associated the world over with honour, integrity and all things ethical.’
      • ‘Therefore the ethical question concerning productivity increases is important to consider.’
      • ‘We want to be known as an ethical firm on Wall Street, and we want to be trusted.’
  • 2[attributive] (of a medicine) legally available only on a doctor's prescription and usually not advertised to the general public.

    ‘all types of drugs, including ethical drugs and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals’
    • ‘Early returns from a survey now going on in San Francisco indicate that use of ethical drugs is indeed more common in better educated and higher income groups.’
    • ‘The new opportunities that this offers to the pharmaceutical industry mean that, if they are to be fully realized, companies' future strategies will need to be orientated not only around the key area of ethical drugs but also around the potential long-term role of over-the-counter sales.’