What’s morals …….What’s Ethics

The difference between ethics and morals is multidimensional. This makes it difficult to understand and introduces situations difficult to analyze and cause bewilderment. Let us sum up the confusion regarding ethics and morals.
Ethics originates from (Greek tà ēthiká, ) and morals from (Latin morālis ) but are exactly the same in English. ethics according to Dictionary is “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture” .Morals on the other hand means “founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom: moral obligations.”. The difference is coming in the word legal. Bad Morals is wrong in all situations to all people. But with ethics involves legal implications and social implications of society and interpreted differently according to jurisprudence and the societies stated objectives. For example in earlier times Freedom was less important than rights of possession of wealth as compared to present times. Hence even changes with time.
The Greek word “Ethos,” meaning character or personal disposition while the word moral is derived from the Latin “Mos,” meaning custom. Therefore it should be argued that ethics are the individual’s ability to determine between right and wrong while morals are the societal values collectively. Morals define personal character, while ethics stress a social system in which those rules are applied.
So ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs. This could be national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics, or even family ethics. So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethics he or she practices can be other-dependent.
Morality based on things such as the 10 Commandments, whereas ethics are based on fairness, and acting justly– basically the same thing but in effect Clearly the violation of ethics cause minimal damage to the society but violation of morals cause a huge damage to the humanity itself. The difference in these word will be seen from the effect. If a powerful person is unethical then the damage could be heavy. Say a minister being corrupt etc. But at the same time when a powerful person is immoral then the damage to the society could be immense and irreparable for long time.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. m.k.subramanian
    May 14, 2011 @ 12:03:55

    Morals and Ethics: My understanding of the difference slightly differs.

    ‘Morals’ enable learning lessons for application in one’s life. Hence many stories and fables end with ‘Moral of the Story’. Initially the plays staged in the church were called ‘Moralities’. For e.g. ‘Good’, ‘Bad’, ‘Cruel’ would be the characters in the play personifying the respective trait predominantly. End of play would reveal the lessons to be learnt from the play.
    Ethics, on the other hand, are the collective values observed and respected by a community/society for a period of time. Collective judgement is pronounced on individuals behavior and actions based on this. Members of the jury voice their views in a criminal matters based on the contemporary ethical values of the society.


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