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”
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.