Morality and Ethics

Last night my friends and I were talking about ethics and morality and we sort of went in circles because we all seemed to have different ideas of what they were. Some expressed the idea that morals only come from religion so they avoided the word and used ethics instead.

Here is a concise explanation:

Morality is used to refer to what we would call moral standards and moral conduct while ethics is used to refer to the formal study of those standards and conduct. For this reason, the study of ethics is also often called "moral philosophy."

But in casual conversation the terms can be used interchangeably.


(from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is a sense of behavioral conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong). A moral code is a system of morality (for example, according to a particular philosophy, religion, culture, etc.) and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code. Immorality is the active opposition to morality, while amorality is variously defined as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any set of moral standards or principles.

Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) is the branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality.
The word 'ethics' is "commonly used interchangeably with 'morality' to mean the subject matter of this study; and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group, or individual."


Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality — that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.


But on the subject of good and evil, I think they are definitely religious terms. I try to use words that describe what I'm expressing without the unhelpful loaded concepts. I use healthy and unhealthy, positive and negative, constructive and destructive.  This reflects my worldview as a naturalist where there is no supernatural or gods running the show.

How do you get your morality? We all learn from our parents, role models and peers, but have you reevaluated your code of ethics as you've matured?

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps it's because I didn't grow up in a religious environment, but good and evil/bad are completely synonymous with positive and negative for me, provided they are used in the relevant contexts.