People study ethics in order to learn about morality, integrity, responsibility, conscience, dignity, respect, and honor, as well as to learn about the difference between right and wrong or good and evil. Ethics, as a field of moral philosophy, is essentially a system of moral principles and rules of behavior.
Civilizational progress and social and cultural growth and development cannot happen without the existence of ethics, as the people would mainly focus on self-growth and self-interest; this might not seem as such a bad thing, however, it's important to know if those interests are morally good or morally bad. If we focus only on ourselves and our own mindsets, we won't have the patience or the opportunity to see the points of view of other people and analyze their systems of beliefs and values in order to determine if we should praise them or criticize them. Most importantly, we won't be able to analyze or question our own personal beliefs, opinions, and choices, which in turn would make us narrow-minded at best and immoral, evil, and intolerant at worst.
Thus, it could be argued that studying ethics is inevitable; we need to have a way to determine whether or not our behavior is good or harmful, and we need to have a moral code which will guide us through life and help us make the right choices, both for ourselves and the society.
This is why ethics is so important in pretty much all social, cultural, economic, and political spheres; if the individual and/or collective mentality and system of values is "wrong" or "flawed," then we cannot move forward and live harmoniously and achieve great things, neither as individuals nor as a community.
It is important for people to study ethics so they understand what is considered right and wrong in their society and why that is. Ethics help shape people’s values and help them understand how they fit in the rest of society. They prevent people from operating solely based on their own desires or interests and show them their role in keeping society running smoothly. While principles like “murder is wrong” might seem like common sense and not something that needs to be studied, the study of ethics goes beyond that. Ethics requires scholars to reflect upon why we have such principles in society and, in doing so, ensures that people operate with an understanding of right and wrong that will help them make informed decisions.
Often, students in areas like business or science might be confused about why they have to study ethics, but it is just as important in those fields as it is in a field like philosophy. In fields like business, people are faced with difficult decisions every day, the outcomes of which may impact many human lives. Having a background in ethics can help ensure that people in business do the “right thing,” whether it be not inaccurately reporting financial statements or not participating in harassment in the workplace. Studying and applying ethics can also help companies boost their reputation and establish trustworthy partnerships.
We study "ethics" because society cannot function without a series of commonly-accepted moral codes that define boundaries of acceptable behavior. We also study ethics because there is not always a consensus on what types of behavior are acceptable.
The essence of civilization can be said to center on the emergence of a broad consensus regarding acceptable types of behavior. Accepting constraints on our freedoms for the benefit of the greater society is an essential condition of a functioning society. Often, types of conduct or actions that are perceived as threatening to the well-being of society are proscribed by law. There may be, therefore, a considerable overlap between the law and codes of ethics. Certain types of professions, however, adopt codes of ethics precisely for the purpose of clarifying and educating, for the benefit of practitioners and customers alike, the boundaries outside of which certain activities are considered immoral and damaging to the integrity of the profession and to the well-being of the customer. Physicians and nurses, for example, adhere to the Code of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association, a non-governmental professional association that establishes ethical standards guiding the medical practice. Similarly, members of the legal profession adhere to a set of standards outlined by the American Bar Association, a non-governmental organization that established a code of ethics guiding the professional conduct of lawyers. These codes of ethics proscribe activities that undermine the integrity of the profession and harm the interests of clients.
The study of ethics is essential to the stable functioning of civilization. Moral quandaries are inevitable in certain professions. Studying the origins of moral standards and the role they play in society helps to understand the lines separating acceptable from unacceptable types of behavior.