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Author Topic:   The Difference Between Ethical And Moral?
Tram law
Member (Idle past 1231 days)
Posts: 283
From: Weed, California, USA
Joined: 08-15-2010


Message 1 of 30 (585714)
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


Is there a difference between being ethical and being moral?

My friend just recently said he believes the difference between an ethical man and a moral man is that an ethical man will know an action might be wrong but still might do it anyway, but a moral man will not do the action if he believes it is wrong.

Here's an example: adultery.

An ethical man would know adultery is wrong, but would go ahead and cheat on his wife anyway because there are just some things that are just too good to pass up.

A moral man would not cheat on his wife even though he might want to, because he believes it's wrong to do so.

So what do you think, is this correct? Is there really a difference between morality and ethics or are they actually one and the same?


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Adminnemooseus
Director
Posts: 3584
Joined: 09-26-2002


Message 2 of 30 (585724)
10-09-2010 1:18 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Difference Between Ethical And Moral? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
nwr
Member
Posts: 5188
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 3 of 30 (585725)
10-09-2010 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


One term comes from greek, and the other from latin.

One is more closely tied to philosophy, and the other to religion.

Apart from that, they are similar.

An ethical man would know adultery is wrong, but would go ahead and cheat on his wife anyway because there are just some things that are just too good to pass up.

That reasoning seems wrong to me.

An ethical man might choose against adultery, because his ethics cause him to respect his wife. A moral man might choose against adultery because his priest says so. However, I think even that is a bit of a simplistic distinction.


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seanfhear
Junior Member (Idle past 1119 days)
Posts: 23
From: California
Joined: 09-28-2010


Message 4 of 30 (585726)
10-09-2010 1:28 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


Ethical vs Moral
Correction. A MORAL man might know adultery is wrong. The same ETHICAL man questions the outcome of his moral or immoral behavior presumably before being engaged in the behavior. The MORAL man then behaves according to the standards set by the group or culture he associates himself with.

This suggests that the manís thoughts may be immoral or amoral but the resulting action or inaction may be consistant with the prevailing moral code.

The question is: Should you give equal weight to the manís thoughts and to his actions to determine weather he is a moral man or not? Was his reasoning ethical?

Immorality is the active opposition to morality, while amorality is variously defined as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any set of moral standards or principles.


"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."
Voltaire
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ringo
Member
Posts: 10178
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 5 of 30 (585728)
10-09-2010 1:45 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


Off the top of my head, I'd say that one difference between ethics and morality is that morality is individual while ethics tend to be collective. For example, a medical association might have a code of ethics for its members but an individual member might have moral objections to performing abortions even if it was allowed by the group ethics. An ethical code is policed by a group of people and violations may result in expulsion from the group. A personal moral code is policed only by one's conscience or (where applicable) by one's God.

Of course, that isn't the only sense in which the words are used but it's a distinction that I find useful.


"It appears that many of you turn to Hebrew to escape the English...." -- Joseppi
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 13111
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 6 of 30 (585729)
10-09-2010 1:46 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


I don't think that that's how the words are used (which is what they mean).

If your friend said to a hundred people "John Smith is ethical but not moral" would even one of them know what he meant?

Now if he said "John Smith is immoral but not amoral" then this would actually describe the position of the man who "would know adultery is wrong, but would go ahead and cheat on his wife anyway".

"Ethical" doesn't cut it. For example Collin's dictionary defines it as "in accordance with principles of conduct that are considered correct". How would that cover adultery?


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Minnemooseus
Member
Posts: 3258
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001


Message 7 of 30 (585730)
10-09-2010 1:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


Ethical vs. moral in business dealings
I'm not going to cite specifics, but consider some of the actions that led to the current economic problems.

In business, I would consider legality and ethical to be largely but certainly not absolutely equivalent. But many of the recent high finance actions, while legal and thus at least sort of ethical, were certainly acts of gross greed and disregard of the larger implications, and thus were immoral acts.

Moose

Edited by Minnemooseus, : Fix an "an" into an "and". Need to proofread more carefully when I preview. Upon further preview, also changed "lead" to "led" in first sentence


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seanfhear
Junior Member (Idle past 1119 days)
Posts: 23
From: California
Joined: 09-28-2010


Message 8 of 30 (585732)
10-09-2010 2:06 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by nwr
10-09-2010 1:27 PM


Could you use the terms interchangeably? Example: A manís ethics determines whether he makes moral decisions. A manís morality determines whether he makes ethical decisions.


"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."
Voltaire
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jar
Member
Posts: 25139
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 9 of 30 (585734)
10-09-2010 2:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


One word has seven letters and the other only five.

"I will never use the word metropolis when I get paid the same for city."

for extra points, the source of that quotation.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 13111
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 10 of 30 (585735)
10-09-2010 2:17 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
10-09-2010 12:34 PM


Further Thoughts
I have tended to use the two terms interchangeably. (In fact I was doing so just yesterday.)

The only real difference is that "morality" has slightly more of a religious connotation. But only slightly, there's not much in it.

To demonstrate this, here's some hit numbers from Google:

"Catholic morality": 45,800
"Catholic ethics": 20,900
"Humanist morality": 8,300
"Humanist ethics": 11,500

The distinction, then, is not absolute.

One thing seems certain: when Catholics or humanists write about Catholic ethics or humanist ethics respectively, they are not using the word "ethics" to mean "those principles which we acknowledge in principle but ignore in practice".


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5188
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 11 of 30 (585736)
10-09-2010 2:19 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by seanfhear
10-09-2010 2:06 PM


seanfhear writes:
Could you use the terms interchangeably? Example: A manís ethics determines whether he makes moral decisions. A manís morality determines whether he makes ethical decisions.

We don't normally talk about it that way.

If I heard that famous scientist was unethical, I would be wondering if he had fudged his data, while if I heard that he was immoral, I would wonder who he had been sleeping with.


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seanfhear
Junior Member (Idle past 1119 days)
Posts: 23
From: California
Joined: 09-28-2010


Message 12 of 30 (585737)
10-09-2010 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by jar
10-09-2010 2:14 PM


jar writes:

One word has seven letters and the other only five.
"I will never use the word metropolis when I get paid the same for city."

for extra points, the source of that quotation.

Mark Twain?


"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."
Voltaire
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jar
Member
Posts: 25139
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 13 of 30 (585738)
10-09-2010 2:32 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by seanfhear
10-09-2010 2:29 PM


Extra points


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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seanfhear
Junior Member (Idle past 1119 days)
Posts: 23
From: California
Joined: 09-28-2010


Message 14 of 30 (585740)
10-09-2010 2:34 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by nwr
10-09-2010 2:19 PM


nwr writes:

We don't normally talk about it that way.
If I heard that famous scientist was unethical, I would be wondering if he had fudged his data, while if I heard that he was immoral, I would wonder who he had been sleeping with.


Good point. Would you say usage depends on context then or is there more to it?


"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."
Voltaire
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 13111
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 15 of 30 (585743)
10-09-2010 2:54 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by nwr
10-09-2010 2:19 PM


If I heard that famous scientist was unethical, I would be wondering if he had fudged his data, while if I heard that he was immoral, I would wonder who he had been sleeping with.

True, but that's a matter of connotation.

If I told you that he was a "very ethical person" you would not take that merely as a tribute to the integrity of his data, would you? You'd take that to include not committing adultery.

But you are right, in those circumstances "unethical" is more likely to suggest a professional lapse, because the codes of conduct specific to a profession are almost always called ethics and not morals.

Professional ethics: 1,550,000 Google hits.
Professional morality: 19,300 Google hits.
Professional morals: 7,910 Google hits.

That's a big ratio.

---

We may note again that, pace Tram law's friend, a professional code of ethics does not consist of those moral strictures that that profession ignores.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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