It is currently 25 Jul 2014 21:33

All times are UTC + 10 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010 00:18 
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 18 Mar 2010 13:52
Posts: 249
Those who have studied philosophy in college generally maintain that there is no difference between the meaning of the words "ethics" and "morality", and dictionaries accept this view. But although there is a large overlap in meaning, there is a subtle, but distinct, difference between the usuage of the two words.

The bottom line is that ethics generally refers to interpersonal relations, while morality most often involves the relationahip between a person and jhis or her God. For example, few people would say that homosexual acts between consenting adults are unethical, but Baptist preachers have been known to say such things as "I do not hate homosexuals, but homosexual acts are an abomination in the eyes of God." Many orthodox sects of the Biblical, Judeo-Christi-Islamic, religions also maintain that premarital sex, oral sex, and other sexually oriented activities are "immoral", but not necessarily unethical. Fundamentalist Muslims and Jews maintain that eating pork is immoral because it violates the laws of God, but, again, it would be doubtful that any would try to make a case that eating prok is unethical.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010 08:01 
Not surprisingly, I believe there is a clear difference between ethics and morality. As does the St James Ethics Centre.

The way I capture the difference is that ethics is focussed on good decision making, while morality is focussed on right or wrong. Morality believes in right and wrong while ethics knows there is only no such thing as right but only compromise. Ethics is about "the good", morality is about "the right and wrong". The best vs. the absolute.

My dictionary states that;
- ethics is the study of what is right or wrong, especially morality. So it also makes a distinction between the two, but I would say ethics is the study of what is better or worse as there is no absolute right or wrong.
- morality is a set of standards.
So they are different.

I would be very concerned if colleges teach that morality and ethics are the same. Certainly I can't recall any book of philosophy that I have read recently that made that claim.

However, I do think that many people generally do not understand the difference and often use the word ethical when they mean right. Typically they say "That is unethical." when they really mean they disagree with the action because it does not confirm with their morality. Ethical means one has analysed the options and made the choice which on balance is best ... for most, in the future, now etc.

Even the current Dali Lama believes violence may be appropriate in some circumstances, because he understands there is no absolute right or wrong, only grey and difficult decisions. He understands the difference between ethics and morality.


Last edited by Airzone on 09 Apr 2010 10:46, edited 1 time in total.

Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010 10:10 
Major forum contributor
Major forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 26 Oct 2009 00:31
Posts: 506
Other than believing there are some absolute right and wrong situations, I tend to agree with Airzone. Morals tend to be absolute. Thou shalt not or the opposite. Ethics is more about what the best action might be, recognizing there is not always a clear answer.

I tend to ignore moral and immoral and focus on ethical behavior and considerations.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010 11:30 
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 18 Mar 2010 13:52
Posts: 249
Airzone, I'm unclear about your statement that "Morality believes in right and wrong while ethics knows there is only no such thing as right but only compromise."
IMHO it is unethical to try to coerce someone, violating the Golden Rule of reciprocity. If a person brandishing a knife confronts me in a dark alley and demands my wallet, am I ethically or morally bound to compromise with him? Do you think it would be unethical for me to pull out a gun, if I had one, and send him on to his reward? If not the best action, would it still be an ethical action, patrickt?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010 11:57 
Major forum contributor
Major forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 26 Oct 2009 00:31
Posts: 506
The point is, ethics is not black and white. It is about better or worse. For me, I wouldn't kill someone for my wallet. That's part of the reason I don't carry much in my wallet.

When I was working we dicsussed ethics, including shooting people, quite often. We often made rules, based on these discussions, that we thought were the best we could come up with while recognizing it wouldn't always be best.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010 18:16 
Being ethical means one considers the possibilities and the impacts on oneself and others, now and in the future. The same action or decision can be ethical to one person while unethical to another. It is not possible to do anything which is in everyone's best interest.

In your example, maybe your action is ethical to you but not to the attacker.

If I am the subject of an attack that I have not provoked, it may seem to be an unethical attack. But is it? Maybe not. Maybe unknown to me my attacker has been blackmailed to rob someone in exchange for the life of his family. My attacker has made his ethical decision to attack me with perhaps minimal harm to gain the safely of his family. Ethics considers all those involved, today and tomorrow. In my example above, am I ethical/right to defend myself if I am unaware of why I am being attacked? Am I right/ethical to defend myself if I know the real reason for the attack and that the attacker will only cause me minimal harm? Is it ethical to insist on zero harm to me despite serious harm to others? Can an action that harms someone be ethical? Ethics is the process of thinking about all these things. Right or wrong and morality excludes doubt. If something is right, then it is right. I cannot think of anything that is always right for everyone always, hence I cannot accept any absolute right or wrongs. This was discussed in an earlier post so I won't repeat it all here again.

Are poor starving persecuted people fleeing from parts of Asia illegally acting ethically? Is Australia acting ethically by allowing such people who successfully reach Australian waters to jump the formal application processes at the expense of legal migrants? The ethics of these questions are tough and there is no absolute right or wrong.

I think your reply; Patrickt is a good real life workable one. Good to hear about. I also tend to ignore moral and immoral and focus on ethical behaviour and considerations. If no one is harmed, who cares about the so called moral aspects? The world would be a better place if people focussed more on "the good" instead of the "right".

Of course, people feel so great if they solve a problem with the "right" answer, their egos expand exponentially. In truth, sadly there are no absolutely right answers, we must simply compromise. But the temptation to feel great and solve everyone else problems and to beat our chest and say we are wonderful is so very strong. Just look at the media, our politicians, our schooling ... it is all sold as fixing problems. I suggest it would be better if we focussed on making better ethical decisions in the first place so we would have fewer problems which need to be solved. That would mean a serious change to our thinking, and I have no idea if it is possible or even really that good an idea? As to whether it is ethical ... too hard for me right now ..


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010 22:16 
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 18 Mar 2010 13:52
Posts: 249
patrickt,
Not carrying a wallet wouldn't help a woman told to take her clothes off. If she pulls out a gun and shoots the attacker, who may rape and strangle her, she may not only be protecting herself, but future victims if the attacker continues to be blackmailed into raping and murdering women to protect the life of his family.

More seriously, what is your opinion of Confucius' view of reciprocity, expressed some 300 years before Rabbi Hillel's version, "Do not unto others that which is hateful to you. This is the whole of the law; the rest is commentary", which, again, was espoused several decades before Christ's Sermon on the Mount?

Confucius allegedly said that human ethics could be expressed in that one word, "reciprocity". Can we agree that if we don't want ourselves to be violated that we shouldn't brandish a knife in an effort to rob or rape someone? That this action would be unethical? IMHO robbing, raping, or othewise initiating force against another person is unethical.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 10 Apr 2010 00:22 
Major forum contributor
Major forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 26 Oct 2009 00:31
Posts: 506
Tom Palven wrote:
patrickt,
Not carrying a wallet wouldn't help a woman told to take her clothes off. If she pulls out a gun and shoots the attacker, who may rape and strangle her, she may not only be protecting herself, but future victims if the attacker continues to be blackmailed into raping and murdering women to protect the life of his family.

More seriously, what is your opinion of Confucius' view of reciprocity, expressed some 300 years before Rabbi Hillel's version, "Do not unto others that which is hateful to you. This is the whole of the law; the rest is commentary", which, again, was espoused several decades before Christ's Sermon on the Mount?

Confucius allegedly said that human ethics could be expressed in that one word, "reciprocity". Can we agree that if we don't want ourselves to be violated that we shouldn't brandish a knife in an effort to rob or rape someone? That this action would be unethical? IMHO robbing, raping, or othewise initiating force against another person is unethical.


I'm not a big fan of changing the question to make a point. Oh, oh, what if the robber with a knife if four-years old?

I think robbing and raping are unethical. Initiating force may or may not be unethical.

I disagree with Airzone, and we've disagreed before, on rationalizing your actions to the point that ethical becomes unethical and the opposite.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 10 Apr 2010 05:54 
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 18 Mar 2010 13:52
Posts: 249
Yes, coercion, or intiation of force can be tricky. Like, is it unethical to intervene if someone is abusing a dog? Personally, if I saw a kid setting fire to a fuel-doused dog, and I had a gun, I might well try to shoot him in the leg, and it were an adult, I just might aim higher. I don't know. But I don't think that exceptions, or extreme cases, demonstrate that the Golden Rule of reciprocity is not a logical basis for ethical behavior.

Some may view the Golden Rule as being a slippery slope, because if one rejects the arguments for the divine rights of kings and popes, and believes that no person has more rights than another, and then also accepts the Golden Rule as a standard of behavior, involuntary taxation becomes illegitimate, and one's cherished belief in theocracy or collectivism might be threatened. I've found over the years that trying to reach logical conclusions with hard core Rabbis, Jesuits, and communists- who Eric Hoffer called True Believers, is impossible, because instead of trying to peel layers off an argument as you would an onion and then whittle it down to a point, the true believers become adept at doing the opposite, throwing in irrelevancies, changing the subject, and so on, and they are masters at it. Anyway, I'll side with Confucius in the belief that the Golden Rule of reciprocity is the most logical, humane, productive, and ethical behavior to try to pursue, and as Hillel said, "the rest is commentary" (ie, bullshit, and there's an enormous amount of it.).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 10 Apr 2010 06:44 
Major forum contributor
Major forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 26 Oct 2009 00:31
Posts: 506
You seem eager to shoot someone.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ethics vs Morality
PostPosted: 10 Apr 2010 11:31 
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Offline

Joined: 18 Mar 2010 13:52
Posts: 249
Well, if you're eager to change the subject to me, we're done with the discussion.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 

All times are UTC + 10 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Based on Maroon Fusion theme created by Oxydo, modified by Simone Walsh