Ethics > Morality

Some people interchange the words ethics and morality. Perhaps because there is a fine line between how the two mean and function. But obviously, they are different. This article will explore why.

Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, which means a society that has a foundational philosophy. It works around a concept of values in trying to understand how the world fits together. The ethos of every society and culture is a philosophical value system. Ethics are more on the imperative or the “ought-ness.”

Morality, on the other hand, comes from the word mores, which relates to the customs and habits of society. It also deals with normal forms and behavior within a culture. Morality is a descriptive science which means that it is concerned with “is-ness.” It describes what people ought to be or are doing.

While the two concepts are ever too often merged and even blended, they mean very distinctly when talking about norms. When something is considered normal because of time or other factors, it is usually considered ethical. Ultimately, ethics revolve around what is accepted based on how culture or society sees it. Morality is more concerned with what is allowed, and in the majority of cases, something allowed is deemed to be right.

Of course, many religions treat ethics and morality quite different from these meanings. Many do not judge something to be right just because everybody in the community is doing it. And they also do not accept something to be a norm based on statistics.

In the age now where people are more expressive of their identities and beliefs, the concept of ethics and morality have become ever more complex and take different forms. What is normal for one is not normal for another. What is right or moral, is something considered immoral for another group. Ethics and morality, like many concepts, just continue to evolve.

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