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How is ethics different from morality?

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kc76384 | Valedictorian

Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:06 AM via web

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How is ethics different from morality?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 30, 2013 at 2:07 AM (Answer #1)

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I have seen many different definitions of the difference between ethics and morality.  Since you have been posting questions about the criminal justice system (and you posted one about ethics in that system today), I will assume that you are asking this question in that context.

In that context, the best answer is that ethics are the specific rules that govern conduct in a given profession (which is why we have things like business ethics and medical ethics) whereas morals are more general beliefs about what is right and what is wrong.  Ethics are imposed on a person from the outside while morals are things that come from the inside.

In the case of the criminal justice system, then, the idea that a person should not take a bribe is an ethical idea.  It is imposed on actors in that system from the outside.  People do not necessarily have to believe that taking a bribe is wrong, but they do have to behave ethically if they want to keep their jobs. 

Thus, in this context at least, ethics are rules of conduct that are imposed from the outside on people in a given profession.  By contrast, morals are ideas that people hold regarding what is and is not right.

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