Ethics vs. Morals

Ethics vs. Morals

Ethics and Morals are two commonly confused words. They each pertain to a similar subject but are used differently.

Ethics (noun) are

1. a set of moral principles

2. codes of conduct for governing a group of individuals

3. a branch of philosophy dealing with the rightness and wrongness or goodness and badness of human conduct.

Let's review some examples:

1. "The ethics of the court were seriously called into question while the witness was harassed on the witness stand." Explanation: The witness to a crime may be interviewed in court about someone's criminal act, but the ethics of law dictate that witnesses cannot be led into saying or forced into believing things that they don't know to be true.

2. "The ethics of this high school need some serious attention." Explanation: The code of conduct at this school is being called into question because too many students are breaking rules and serving detentions.

3. "Immanuel Kant's essay, "Moral Philosophy," is a philosophical study of human ethics."

Morals (noun)

1. Principles or habits pertaining to right and wrong

2. A practical lesson contained in a fable or tale; (adj.)

3. Concerning principles of good conduct

4. Capable of conforming to rules of conduct

5. Pertaining to will, feelings, or character

Let's consider the meanings of morals/moral in a few sample sentences:

1. "While growing up, my family and church taught me my morals."

2. "The moral of the story is to help those in need."

3. "Moral behavior is often its own reward."

4. "I gave my team mate some moral support as she nervously prepared to run her race."

*Hint/Tip: Ethics refer to a social code of conduct followed by a group, such as professional ethics, company ethics, business ethics, etc. Morals refer to an individual's personal values, character, or actions. [Therefore, someone's morals may or may not support a group's ethical code. *Think of a part within a whole-individual morals(a part) may support or conflict with of a governing set of ethics (the whole).]

Let's use both ethics and morals together in a sentence: "Simon's personal morals were not in line with the church ethics taught in Sunday sermons."

Circle the Correct Answer:

1. What is the moral / ethic of the Cinderella story?

2. Business ethics / morals dictate that someone can't also work for their company's competitor.

Answers: moral/ethics

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