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CMaz's avatar

Wouldn't ethical and moral be the same thing?

Asked by CMaz (26148 points ) May 21st, 2009

If they are both a standard of value that you place on something, someone or the environment around you. What would be the key difference?

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13 Answers

brettvdb's avatar

There is no clear cut answer to this. Different thinkers have slightly different perspectives on the similarities and differences between the two terms. In general, I see “morality” as being akin to matters-of-fact, and it is generally used in this sense. For instance “the sky is blue” and “murder is wrong” are similar types of statements.

Ethics on the other hand are the applications of these ‘morals’. They tend to be rules and guidelines associated with maintaining ‘morals’. For me ethics are about how we OUGHT to act, while morals are the absolute metrics that guide these ethics and tell us what we’re working towards.

PupnTaco's avatar

Moral implies a religious-based definition of right vs. wrong. Ethical implies a broader, more societal definition.

Loried2008's avatar

I took Ethics and society in college last semester (Great class)
Morals are a society’s set standards (you know like when some one has a religion for example) but morals can also be based on tradition or they can be arbitrary.

Ethical would be able to pass logical reasoning and have empathy for a person or persons or creature’s well being. (Anyone could have a feeling about it, not tied to a society’s standards)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It depends on the person and culture I suppose. In my head, one should be ethical but morals are relative.

wildpotato's avatar

I have the impression that it is a grammatical difference – “moral” is used more to refer to actual instances of value judgment, and “ethics” or “the ethical” to the discipline of study that look into issues of morality.

SeventhSense's avatar

A moral is a lesson learned from an example or story say Aesop’s Fables. Wikipedia uses the example of the Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise through his humble determination actually wins out over the more capable but arrogant Hare.
Lesson- The race does not always go to advantaged and it’s best to be humble. And pride goes before a fall.

Morality then can be a collection of such lessons such as the Bible- Joseph and his Coat-conceit, Jonah and the whale-disobedience, rebellion, David and Bathsheba-lust, murder etc.

Ethics most often refer to guiding principles of moral behavior in a certain arena such as law-

Lawyers have an ethical responsibility to defend their client to the utmost of their ability regardless of the client’s morality jibing with their own. If they are unable to do so they have a responsibility to remove themselves as counsel. The standards of law requires equal objective representation for all.

LostInParadise's avatar

Ethics is related to fairness. The Golden Rule applies to ethics. Morality encompasses ethics but can also include rules of a more religious nature. So called victimless crimes, which may involve drugs or supposedly deviant sexual behavior fall under morality.

AstroChuck's avatar

I think @PupnTaco defined it perfectly. Morals seem to invoke religion. Ethics are all encompassing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@AstroChuck to me, morals seem to invoke difference, like controversy between different groups

oratio's avatar

@Loried2008 In a way I think it feels like debating the difference between Freedom and Liberty but I like your answer, which seem very rational. I see a difference.

Loried2008's avatar

@oratio Thank you I’m no professor lol. I like to put things into simpler form.

SeventhSense's avatar

@AstroChuck
“The moral of the story is…”
Is this necessarily a religious statement?

CMaz's avatar

I want to say thank you. Lot’s of good stuff here!

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