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Ethics vs. Morals

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In today’s world, which often seems lawless and relativistic, the difference between ethics and morals might seem like splitting hairs, especially since no one seems concerned with either of them. Nonetheless, you can be the last bastion of upright conduct in a corrupt society and a great writer by knowing the difference between them and using them correctly.

In this article, I will compare ethics vs. morals. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so you can see them in context. Plus, I will show you a useful memory tool that will help you decide whether you are actually talking about ethics or morals, or both.

Origin:

The word ethics originated from late Middle English (denoting ethics or moral philosophy; also used attributively): from Old French éthique, from Latin ethice, from Greek (hē) ēthikē (tekhnē) ‘(the science of) morals’, based on ethos. The word morals originated from late Middle English: from Latin moralis, from mos, mor- ‘custom’, (plural) mores ‘morals’. As a noun the word was first used to translate Latin Moralia, the title of St Gregory the Great's moral exposition of the Book of Job, and was subsequently applied to the works of various classical writers.

Ethics as noun:

Ethics is a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

The puritan ethic was being replaced by the hedonist ethic.

Ethics as verb:

Ethics is also used as a verb which means moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity.

Medical ethics also enter into the question here.

Ethics also means the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.

Neither metaphysics nor ethics is the home of religion.

Moral as noun:

The word moral is used as a noun which means a lesson that can be derived from a story or experience.

The moral of this story was that one must see the beauty in what one has.

Moral is also standards of behaviour; principles of right and wrong.

The corruption of public morals is common.

Examples:

Many voters, including some who do not share the Salafis’ puritanical morals, say they trust the sheiks to understand their perspectives for tangible reasons. [New York Times]

The society scandal sheet Town Topics made snide remarks about her moralsand reported that she had been “indulging freely in stimulants” at Newport. [Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life, Kathleen Dalton]

Prince George’s County should strengthen its ethics regulations and get tough on government officials who try to make backroom deals. [Washington Post]

Professional organizations began to revise their ethics codes to acknowledge that nonsexual dual relationships were unavoidable in some situations, especially in small communities. [Issues and Ethics in the Helping Profession]

Ethics or moral:

Ethics and morals refer to attitudes about right and wrong. Ethics are broad principles. Morals reflect individual values and beliefs. You can keep them straight by remembering that ethics apply to everyone, while morals apply to me.

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"Ethics vs. Morals." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 24 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/ethics_vs._morals>.

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