Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Legal and Ethical

Legal vs Ethical

“Legal” and “ethical” are often used and breathed in the same sentence. Though there is a relationship between the two, the concepts are mutually exclusive of each other. They often clash and work with each other. Both words are often used in the same context in terms of issues and social situations. Both “legal” and “ethical” can be applied in almost any situation, private or public, even in the realm of professions.

“Legal” is an adjective and a noun used to describe anything that concerns the law or its workings. Legal is associated with all equipment, processes, procedures, practices, languages, cultures, and other relative concepts in the system of the law. “Legal” is a derived term from the word “law.” It originated from the Anglo-French “legalis” which stems from the Latin “lex,” which means “law.” It was first used as a word in 1562.

Related forms of legal include a bunch of other adjectives like post legal, pre-legal, pseudo-legal, quasi-legal, and as an adverb, which is legally. “Legal” as a noun is also observed in “paralegal” and as a label for people who are represented as legitimate or sanctioned by implementation in a given set of rules and regulations.

On the other hand, “ethical” is also an adjective as well as a noun and is used to associate with the word “ethics.” The word came from the Middle English “etik” which in turn came from the Latin “eticus” and the earlier Greek “ethikos.” It was created formally as a word in 1588. “Ethical” also has derived terms in forms of other parts of speech. Nouns include “ethicality” and “ethicalness” while an adverb comes in the word “ethically.”

Today, many issues are brought up and questioned whether they are legal or ethical. The curious relationship between the two is evident since the base word or concepts of legal (law) as well as ethical (ethics) have the same kind of relationship. Many of the existing laws have originated in ethics while ethics, in turn, is rooted in morals and the perception of the rightness or wrongness of an act or conduct. Another distinction between the two is that the two concepts are not exactly equivalent words for each other. There are some instances where legal acts can be unethical, and there are also times when an ethical act is considered as illegal. It all depends on the current governing laws and perceptions of the people in the act as well as outside of the act.

Aside from the nature of both concepts, there is also a difference in how it is applied. Any legal act is applicable to all people in a society that implements a particular set of laws. On the other hand, any ethical part is considered as a voluntary and personal act of an individual all based on that individual’s perceptions or stand between right and wrong.

In determining what is a legal act or an ethical act, the bases are also different. A legal act is an act that meets the terms of rules and regulations of a particular but massive and collective entity, like a society or a country. It is different when it comes to ethical acts since the act is compliant to the ethical principles or justifications of an individual or a small and specific organization.


1.“Legal” and “ethical” both function as nouns and adjectives. They have different origins as “legal” derives from Anglo-French while “ethical” has Middle English and Greek roots. However, both share a common ground in Latin.
2.Both “legal” and “ethical” are considered as standards and methods to conduct a certain kind of behavior and action. 3.However, there is the difference in scope and application. “Legal” can apply to a more widespread scope while “ethical” applies on an individual basis.
4.“Legal” has its basis in ethics while “ethics” has its basis in morals. They both judge a certain behavior or action either as right or wrong in their respective opinions.
5.“Legal” has a more objective view while “ethics” has a personal and varied view depending on the individual.

Read More ESL Articles

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Custom Search

Help us improve. Rate this post! 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 3.63 out of 5)

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.

1 Comment

  1. Who is the author of this and what are their credentials i would like to use the article for my research but i need to know that the author is credible

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

See more about : ,
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder