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  • ‘Ethics’ and ‘Morality’ are terms often used as synonyms: an ethical issue just is a moral issue. In academic discourses, one may tend to distinguish between ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’.
  • However, they  are same when we investigate into questions like: ‘What I ought to do?” or “How should I live”.
  • Moreover, the English word ‘Ethics’ is derived from the Greek word ethos meaning habit, custom. The English word ‘Morality’ is created from the Latin word moralis, which was created by Cicero from mos (pl. mores) meaning custom, which correspond to the Greek ethos (custom).
  • This is why in many contexts, ‘moral’ and ‘ethical’ or ‘moral philosophy’ and ‘ethics’ are used interchangeably. However, despite their etymological origin, it would be foolish to equate the customary with the ethics or morality.

But the two words have also been used to mark various distinctions.

Important points of difference:

  1. Some scholars distinguish between both with reference to theory and practice. They maintain that the interest of an ethicist is theoretical while that of a moralist is practical.
  2. Accordingly, ethics is also called ‘moral philosophy’ or `science of morals’, since it tries to examine moral concepts such as ‘right’, `good’, ‘virtue’ and so on.
  3. According to some thinkers, morality is a subset of ethics. Ethical deliberations help us conceptualize the highest ideals of life, whereas morality is concerned with specific principles of action. In other words, ethics is concerned with an ideal or good life and morality with right conduct.
  4. Some scholars hold that ethics is secular but morality is related to a religion.
  5. Some scholars make the distinction by claiming that something can be unethical yet moral. For example, it can be said that Robin hood’s act of stealing to feed the poor was unethical but still moral.

Moreover, ethics is different from other specialized types of knowledge that many of us can do without. Many of us can live our lives quite well without acquiring many specialized types of knowledge, such as that of the physics or macroeconomics.

However, we cannot avoid making ethical choices, almost every day we make ethical choices in every sphere of existence.




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