Most people define "ethics" in a way that doesn't really fit into the
scheme of government ethics, which focuses on conflicts of interest.
Even the definitions
section of this website defines "ethics" as "a major branch of
philosophy that involves analysis of right conduct."
That's why I was so taken with philosophy professor and novelist
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's definition of morality, which appears in her short
essay in answer to the question, "Does moral action depend on
"Morality paradigmatically concerns our obligations toward others, and
moral struggles typically demand that we resist favoring ourselves to
the exclusion of others."
This definition applies perfectly to government ethics. Dropping the
word "paradigmatically," I think this should become the official
definition of the "ethics" part of government ethics.