Morals vs Ethics – The Series (Part One)

Preface

 

After some careful consideration and a suggestion by a fellow blogger I have decided to split up “Morals vs Ethics” into a mini series. I believe this is the best way to get what I want to say laid out in a fashion that is enjoyable to read and gets the point across. As of right now I’m looking at least three posts in the series;  for such a broad topic and a hotly contested one at that it should be an interesting ride.

Without further ado I present you with part one of “Morals vs Ethics”

 

Introduction

 

I would like to start off this series by going over the basics of morals and ethics, they are very closely related in terms of concept but share some stark contrasts. They end up battling it out in society in strange and puzzling ways to those who are not well versed in the differences between them; the duality of these conflicts is the reason why I chose to pick this topic.

A debate on Facebook with a friend several months back also contributed to this pursuit. I wanted to make sure that they understood that even though they are related they are different concepts.

 

What Are Morals?

 

In the most layman terms morals are the concept of “right and wrong” in terms of the individual. They vary drastically from one person to another as they are completely internal, they are flexible though and can change quite dramatically through out a person’s life. This may be caused by coming of age, traumatic events, rehabilitation or other life events; a person’s moral compass is how they feel about committing or thinking about a certain act.

Does it make YOU feel good/bad? Those are your morals coming to light, the person next to you may feel the exact opposite about the same act in question.

I would like to point out that even though you may feel one way about a certain act but choose to go against what your internal feelings are things will change. As an example, you may sleep with a married wo/man and your morals make you feel horrible about it but you keep doing it. The feeling will eventually pass and you may not think twice about it anymore, this is how morals can be changed with time. They are flexible and yours only to hold and do what you please with.

With such a varied range of internal feelings that change from person to person how do we end up regulating and grouping them? Fear not! Society has the answer for you…

 

What Are Ethics?

 

Ethics, like morals, are feelings of what is right and wrong but in terms of imposed values. These values can be imposed by society, an organization or other external body. They may be a collection of “moral” values stuck together or they may not be, it all depends on who or what is imposing these values. Ethics are by nature very inflexible due to a collective of contributors, they do not change day by day depending on what happens. When ethics do change it is very rare and takes a large amount of time, in terms of society this can be generations or longer.

As an example for ethics take a look at a BAR association, in order to do there job correctly everyone needs to follow the same set of imposed rules. This is known as a “code of ethics”, it is mandatory in many professions to avoid such a varying degree of moral compasses but as you’ll see in a later post this is not without consequence…

 

Conclusion and Part Two

 

Now that you have in hand the basic concepts of morals and ethics things are going to get way more complicated. Despite a good portion of society using morals and ethics interchangeably that is a slippery slope.

We need both morals and ethics in a functioning society but they battle like hatred enemies on occasion and the results are explosive.

Part two is going to focus on how they interact with each other in good, bad and downright ugly ways.

 

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4 thoughts on “Morals vs Ethics – The Series (Part One)

  1. While this was well written, and cleared up a little bit of the difference, it still feels like there was much to be desired. You got a point across and I understood it, with the exception of your example of sleeping with a married wo/man. There are far too many variables behind the behaviour to say whether or not it is immoral. If you were referring to a happily married wo/man, than yes, one could see it as immoral, provided there are no agreements between said couple that infidelity is accepted. However, if one is doing it so many times that it changes one’s perspective that it is immoral, than was it really that immoral in the first place? Perhaps it was, in fact, the right thing to do but the “moral police” (ie society) tells you it’s unacceptable. I think the difference between the two is not as black and white as you claim because our laws (ethics) are based on our morals, and society clearly tells us what is morally acceptable and what isn’t. Maybe it’s just me, maybe not. Looking forward to part two.

    • The example I used was to put it in layman’s terms and was the most relevant one that came to mind. It may not seem black and white but when it comes down to it, it most definitely is.

      Morality changes with time and in terms of sleeping with a married wo/man is not about the situation at hand in terms of how the other married partner feels or what the root cause of the infidelity is. This is from the perspective of the “outside” partner solely and that must be made clear. Moral conditioning is at hand due to the nature of our species, If we feel bad about doing an act such as sleeping with married partner eventually the feelings will fade. This may not be retrospective if the person in question sleeps with other married wo/men but it will dull or negate the effect relating to the specific experience.

      The entire point of this original post was to set a solid foundation in which to grow upon. It was not meant to be the end all and be all of the topic. A solid well versed foundation is key in any topic worth exploring. If your foundation is shaky then all future discussions relating to it will be come moot very quickly.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading it and I hope you keep the comments coming in future posts!

  2. I know what the example was for but at the same time, if you don’t have solid examples, your point gets a little fuzzy (or, to put it in your terms, it’s not a solid, well versed example and it’s “shaky”).

    Depending upon the situation, morality can be either black and white or it can be grey. For example, the torture of children, in Western society, is never ok. It is black and white, across the board, and under no uncertain circumstances is it ever ok to do. In Western society. Lol
    However, grey matters of morality come in when there are exceptions, when the strength for or against the behaviour can waiver. Sleeping with a married person can be black and white, or grey. It is dependent upon the circumstances under which the situation is happening. And from the sounds of it, (“this is from the perspective of the outside partner solely”) you’re the “outside” partner. If that’s the case, and you were against the infidelity, than something must have told you that it was an ok thing to do. In other words, the circumstances behind the behaviour of your married partner mattered. If s/he was happy, would it have happened? It had to be something other than your morals in the end that were in question and “desensitized” you to feeling that the behaviour was/is wrong. Either that or you can’t control yourself and at that point, married or not, what’s the difference really?

    While you did set a solid foundation and I’m appreciative of your writing as a reader, I just felt that the example could have been a better one for an article that was so “hyped up” and for something it seems you put so much effort into.
    I was simply saying that I liked the foundation and how you expressed it but I could’ve done without the “shaky” example in leu of a better one. Constructive criticisms is all. If everyone agreed all the time, things would be boring. Have a good night. 🙂

    • I would love to get into the discussion of micro issues with you but here is not the place for it. I appreciate the feedback but focusing on one minor example detracts from the main point of the post, explaining the basics of morals and ethics.

      If this was coming from someone without a vested and personal interest in my answers I may be more keen to tickle your fancy some more.

      Have a good night as well 🙂

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