Difference between ethics and morals: what they are and examples

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to think about differences between ethics and morals, we must resort, first, to the etymological root of these words. Ethics derives from the Greek word ethos, which means “character”. It was used to represent a person's ways of acting, that is, their actions and behaviors. A variant of ethos was the word ethos, which means “custom” and can be applied to a society. The Latin term that designates ethos é moris, from which we take the word moral.

Basically, ethic it is the individual and reflected behavior of a person based on a code of ethics or conduct that should have general applicability. Ethics is called the field of Philosophy which is dedicated to understanding and reflecting human actions (moral actions) and classifying them as right or wrong. Therefore, we can say that ethics is a kind of “moral philosophy”. Moral it is, in turn, the custom or habit of a people, a society, that is, of certain peoples at certain times. THE moralconstantly changes, as social habits are renewed periodically and according to the place where they are observed.

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Read too: Difference between religion and sect

What is moral?

THE moral is a kind of set of habits and customs of a society. The moral, in general, is made according to the culture of a place in a certain period of time. Usually, some elements of society influence it, such as religion, the way of life of society, the access that this society has to information and the use that people from a particular social background make of information. Morals are usually exposed on precepts and often expressed as prohibition and permission rules.

It is common to hear the phrase "so and so attempted against the morals and good manners”, this is because morality is a kind of norm of social conduct that indicates something that is right or wrong in that society. Due to the cultural and subjective character of morals, something that is allowed in a certain moral may be prohibited in another. Although various moral norms repeat themselves, they are often different because societies have built different ways of life. What a society agrees as morally incorrect can be classified as a taboo.

→ Examples of morals

How moral behavior is shaped social and culturally, that is, the taboos and the moral permissions they are being modeled according to the social development of peoples. In this sense, several traits of human behavior change, as they are relative. Some examples of morals can be found in the following relationships:

- Standards of conduct in relation to sex and sexuality

Morality, being influenced by religion, can treat sex and sexuality in different ways. In ancient polytheistic societies, such as Greek and Roman, the celibacy it was not stimulated (at least for men) as it is in Western Christian societies, which grew out of the growth of Christianity in the Middle Ages.

As the Christian religion is based on the ideas of original sin and that the turning away from sins is necessary for the attainment of divine grace, morals incorporated the prohibition of sex outside of marriage as standard. Hence the taboo on the practice of sex that is not a reproductive practice and that has not obtained divine blessing.

THE homosexuality it is also a taboo in Judeo-Christian and Islamic cultures because of the precepts of these religions, but in the Ancient Greece, homosexuality was a common cultural element of society, based even on the high patriarchal content of those peoples who tended to place the woman in the simple place of the reproductive female, incapable of offering spiritual fullness to a men.

Frida Kahlo is an example of a woman who struggled against the gender injustices of her time, questioning the moral norms of the society in which she was inserted.
Frida Kahlo is an example of a woman who struggled against the gender injustices of her time, questioning the moral norms of the society in which she was inserted.

To learn more about Frida Kahlo, read: Frida Kahlo: biography, importance, works, curiosities

- Treatment for women

O domain of men in social relations with women it is old. what we call, today, patriarchy it is the hallmark of this dominance, which for millennia (and until today) has placed women in an inferior social position. If we think that, until the 1930s, women did not vote for the majority of the republican powers and that, even today, women are denied certain rights. basic rights, as the freedom to come and go and to express oneself, based on moral precepts, we can take the treatment given to women as an example of a moral norm. Ethics today has the duty to unmask and overthrow this ancient domain that subjugates and treats women with inferiority.

- Choosing right and wrong or good and bad

Nietzsche was a critic of Christian morals and moral philosophy.
Nietzsche was a critic of Christian morals and moral philosophy.

in the books genealogy of morals and Beyond good and evil, the german philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche he tries to deconstruct our society's image of moral values, claiming that this view is too dulled by Christian morality. According to the philosopher, the genesis of moral values ​​has a certain date of birth, despite appearing to be something that has always been given or been there.

The philosopher also speaks of the weight of the choice, for one or another action, which may imply good or evil, but he insists on making it clear that this moral weight, which is considered correct today, has not always been accepted or valued by society. According to Nietzsche, the moral values ​​in force in Modernity they weaken and devalue what is most empowering in human beings, their animal nature.

Read too: Nietzsche's critique of Christian morality

What is ethics?

ethic it is what concerns the action when it is reflected, thought. Ethics is concerned with right and wrong, but it is not a simple set of rules of conduct like morals. It promotes a style of action that seeks to reflect on the best way to act that does not affect life in society and don't disrespect the individuality of others.

In practical ethics, the Australian philosopher Peter Singer highlights and refutes four points that he considers do not apply to ethics, despite people, insistently, considering such points characteristic of what ethics would be.

  1. It is not a set of norms regarding sex: this is a matter for morality, as the first is an individual issue that, if it affects society, concerns an individual's misconduct and not sex itself. Singer says the same issues of misconduct as an individual with regard to sex can be applied to the act of driving a car. If he is responsible and, with his sexual attitudes, only affects himself, he is not acting outside of what ethics predict, in the same way that safe and responsible driving would not affect the society.

  2. It's not a pretty theoretical abstraction and unfeasible in practice: to think that ethics is utopian, because most people do not act in accordance with it, is false. If ethics are not applicable in practice, there is no reason for it to exist.

  3. It doesn't make sense only when in a religious context: ethics is a reflective practice that should guide the daily actions of individuals, both in religious contexts and outside them.

  4. It is not relative: unlike morality, which is subjective, ethics tries to express a set of practices that must be considered correct by society as a whole. Although there is a context of individual action, the ethical individual must seek to do what is right, and this is not a subjective and individual trait but it is within a context.

Ethics is, therefore, the moral reflection on action. It is ethics that will guarantee moral correction to people's actions, and often a morally ethical action may not fit the morality of a given society.

For example, if in a country that follows the islamic law, a woman commits adultery, she can be sentenced to death by stoning. This is part of the morals of that society, but it is not ethically correct. If, in a hypothetical situation, someone saves a woman who is about to die in that way, that person is violating morality but is doing the right thing, according to ethics.

Read too: Bioethics: what it is, origin, principles and importance

Examples of ethics

  • Respect the laws that are fair;

  • Seek to act justly;

  • Do not appropriate, improperly, what is not yours;

  • Don't harm others;

  • Respect social life.

by Francisco Porfirio
Philosophy teacher

Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/filosofia/diferenca-entre-etica-moral.htm

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