What is the difference between ethics and morals?

Morality refers to the set of rules and principles that are based on the culture and customs of a particular social group. Ethics is the study and reflection on morality, which tells us how to live in society.

An easy way to remember the difference between morality and ethics is that morality applies to a group, while ethics can be questioned by an individual.

ethic Moral
Definition Ethics is the study and reflection on the principles of morals, rules of conduct applied to any organization or society. Morality refers to the rules of conduct that are applied to a certain group, in a given culture.
Where it comes from Individual. Social system.
Why we follow Because we believe that something is right or wrong. Because society tells us it is right.
Flexibility Ethics are usually consistent, although they can change if an individual’s beliefs change or depending on a particular situation. Morality tends to be consistent within a given context, being applied in the same way to everyone. However, it can vary according to each culture or group.
Exceptions A person may go against his ethics to adjust to a certain moral principle, such as the code of conduct for his profession. A person who strictly follows the moral principles of a society may have no ethics. Likewise, to maintain its ethical integrity, it can violate moral principles within a given system of rules.
Meaning Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos which means “conduct”, “way of being”. It comes from the Latin word moralis , which means “custom”.
Source Universal. Cultural.
Time Permanent. Temporal.
Use Theoretical. Practical.
Example João had an unethical attitude when cutting the bank line. In Brazil it is immoral to have more than one wife, while in some countries, such as Nigeria, it is morally accepted.

What is ethics?

Ethics refers to the set of values ​​and principles that guide a particular group or culture. Thus, it guides the character of people and how they will behave in the social environment.

Despite this, ethics should not be confused with the law, as people do not suffer state sanctions or penalties for not complying with ethical standards.

The concept of ethics can also mean knowledge extracted from the investigation of human behavior when trying to explain moral rules in a rational way. Therefore, ethics can reflect and question moral values.

Ethics is responsible for defining certain conduct in our daily lives. This is the case with codes of professional ethics, which indicate how an individual should behave in the context of his profession.

Example of using ethics

The concept of ethics is used when we reflect on the accepted morality in a given society, being able to accept or question it.

João was unethical because he did not get up so that the elderly could take his place on the bus.

What is moral?

Moral is the set of rules that guide the behavior of the individual within a society. It can be acquired through culture, education, tradition and daily life.

Such rules guide the judgments of each individual on how to act. This is in line with what was previously accepted as the norm in a given group. When we speak of morals, the definitions of what is right or wrong depend on where the person is, tradition and culture.

Example of the use of morals

Morality refers to certain norms and conduct. These are created and accepted in a specific social group, and may vary according to the place or time. As in the case:

In the past, it was immoral for women to wear pants, but today it is morally accepted.

Where do moral and ethical principles come from?

Morality is an external standard that can be provided by institutions, groups or culture to which an individual belongs. It can also be considered a social system or a framework for acceptable behavior.

Ethics, despite being influenced by culture and society, are personal principles created and sustained by the individuals themselves. Because of this, the individual can rely on ethical principles to question current morals.

Consistency and flexibility

Morality is very consistent within a given context, but it can vary between cultures or times. For example, something morally accepted in today’s society could be immoral in the 1970s.

Ethics is how the individual reflects on a certain morality. Thus, it is possible for certain events to radically modify an individual’s personal beliefs and values.

Origin of the concept of ethics and morals

Much of the confusion between these two words comes from their origins. The word “ethics” comes from the Old French etique , from the Latin ethics and from the Greek ethos and refers to the behavior, the way of being. The word “moral” comes from the Latin moralis , which refers to customs.

So, originally, the two have very similar meanings.

The individual’s morals and ethics have been studied philosophically for over a thousand years. However, the idea of ​​ethics as principles that are defined and applied to a group is relatively new, dating back to 1600.


by Abdullah Sam
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