Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ethics and Morals

The English word Ethics comes from the word “ethos” meaning character. Morality comes from the Latin word “moralis” which means customs or manners. From the meanings of the words, we may interpret that ethics is related individual conduct while morality is applicable for relationships between human beings.


Morality is principles or rules of moral conduct whose broad meaning lies beyond the rules in professional code of conduct adopted by corporations and professional associations. Morality is concerned with defining what is right and what is wrong. These ideas are transmitted within cultures from generation to generation.


Morality has an objective status as a body of guidelines for individual action. Moral philosophies seek to put moral beliefs and social practices of morality into a unified and dependable package of guidelines and concepts.


Some people argue that distinction between morals and ethics is very thin. When this distinction is made, the term morals is taken to refer to generally accepted standards of right and wrong in a society and the term ethics is taken to refer to more abstract principles which might appear in a code of professional ethics or in a textbook in ethical theory. However, the terms moral philosophy or moral theory would refer to a set of abstract moral principles as appropriately as the term ethics, so it may be more practical to use the words interchangeably. Both of the terms refer to standards of right conduct and the judgments of particular actions as right or wrong by those standards.

Source: Chirag Shah, et al. “Theory and Practice of Ethics in Educational Institutions, Udyog Pragati, October-December 2000, pp. 17- 27.
According to Oxford Dictionary,  the word, ethic is an adjective and a noun. As an adjective, it has the meaning of "relating to morals", "treating of moral questions", "morally correct", and "honourable". As a noun it has the meanings of "set of principles of morals", "science of morals", "moral principles", "rules of conduct", and "whole field of moral science".
According to Oxford Dictionary, the word moral is also is an adjective and noun. As an adjective, it has the meanings of "concerned with goodness or badness of character or disposition", 'concerned with distinction between right and wrong". "dealing with regulation of conduct", "concerned with rules of morality", "virtuous in general conduct", "founded on moral law",  and "capable of moral action". As a noun it has the meanings of moral lesson and moral principle or maxim and in plural it has the meaning of moral habits.
Some people are making the distinction that ethics is the subject or discipline and morals are studied in ethics. It is like animals and Zoology. Zoology is study of animals. Ethics is study of morals.

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Original Knol - Knol Number 48

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