2 a: a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values
b: plural but sing or plural in constr : the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group
c: a guiding philosophy
d: a consciousness of moral importance
3 plural : a set of moral issues or aspects (as rightness)
Ethics is a major branch of philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life. It is significantly broader than the common conception of analyzing right and wrong. A central aspect of ethics is "the good life", the life worth living or life that is satisfying, which is held by many philosophers to be more important than moral conduct.
A basic set of eight such principles has been suggested by Resnik, David B.:
Non-malificence: Do not harm yourself or other people.
Beneficence: Help yourself and other people.
Autonomy: Allow rational individuals to make free and informed choices.
Justice: Treat people fairly: treat equals equally, unequals unequally.
Utility: Maximize the ratio of benefits to harms for all people.
Fidelity: Keep your promises and agreements
Honesty: Do not lie, defraud, deceive or mislead.
Privacy: Respect personal privacy and confidentiality.
I try to follow the above said principles in my life and happy to report that in my thinking I have been quite successful in doing so. Question though is how many people believe in these in today's world. In my experience, there are two principles which are surely ignored the most, Fidelity and Honesty. In my thinking Fidelity is a form of honesty, cause if you are not keeping your promises, well, you are lying! Many people just go ahead and say whatever comes to their mind to get out of sticky situation, some times even to demonstrate love or affection. Even though many religious texts and literature is full of examples of how sometimes lies or part lies are used to achieve a noble ending, I do not believe that is correct in any ways. Lie is a lie, avoid it as much as possible. I agree, its not easy to live an honest life in this 'Kali kaal' times but try as much as possible to not bend yourself to dishonesty.
Reminds me of really old Billy Joel's number
If you search for tenderness, it isn't hard to find.
You can have the love you need to live. But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind. It always seems to be so hard to give.
Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard. And mostly what I need from you.