Define what it means to be 'moral' and 'ethical.'  Please start your definitions for each word in the following way: 1. To be moral, it means... or, What it means to be moral is... 2. To be...

Define what it means to be 'moral' and 'ethical.'

 Please start your definitions for each word in the following way:

1. To be moral, it means... or, What it means to be moral is...

2. To be ethical, it means... or, What it means to be ethical is...

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because the terms moral and ethical both concern distinguishing between right and wrong or good and evil behavior, they are often used interchangeably. However, if we are to distinguish, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to be ethical means to adhere to a system or set of moral values or principles. According to the same dictionary, to be moral means to behave in a way that conforms to ethical principles or to express or teach ethical values. For example, a story can be said to have moral. We wouldn't normally say a story has an ethic. The moral—or guidance towards right behavior or attitudes—expressed in a story would be rooted, however, in ethical principles about right and wrong. For example, the moral of the fable about the boy who cried wolf is that it is a mistake to tell a lie because then when you then tell the truth nobody will believe you. However, this moral is rooted in an overarching ethic that asserts that lying is bad—a social evil that sows confusion—and honesty a good, in that it promotes a secure, stable society in which words adhere to reality.  

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A moral person is one who does the right thing in a situation or towards a particular person(s) and demonstrates good character and conduct. A moral person conforms to the accepted rules and standards of his/her society. Morality refers to all people as human being.

An ethical person is one who conforms to the principles of good conduct relating to his/her business or profession. Ethics usually refers to moral actions, duty, and judgment. Ethics is used to apply to a doctor, lawyer, or anyone who is part of a profession. Ethics also refers to business, usually referring to a business person who can be trusted or who is just and fair.

henu | Student

I have seen the difference described this way:

"Morals define personal character, while ethics stress a social system in which those morals are applied. In other words, ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs. This could be national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics, or even family ethics. So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethics he or she practices can be other dependent".

krishna-agrawala | Student

There are no standard or widely accepted meaning or definitions of the terms 'moral' and 'ethical'. Different people including experts, philosophers, and religious leaders has explained these terms in different ways. Further that there is no clear distinction between these two terms. Although the terms ethics is also used as the name of subject dealing with moral behavior. Also when applied to behavior in a professional context the term ethical behavior is more popular.

In general people talk of ethical or moral behavior in terms of right or good behavior as opposed to wrong or bad behavior. However there are so many diff rent way of defining what is right and what is good.

There are two general approaches of approaching the problem of discriminating moral and ethical behavior from the opposite behavior. One approach is the voice of conscience, where every individual must decide what is right and wrong behavior for him.

The second approach is an externally imposed guidelines. In general culture of every society has some implicit codes of conduct of right and wrong behavior. Religious teachings are another major source of such guidelines. In addition some social institutions may also impose some voluntary or statutory codes of conduct of ethical behavior.