Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Ethics and Morals

Ethics vs Morals

Many a time people forget to differentiate between ethics and morals. Ethics and morals are two different things. There may be things which are both ethical and legal, but they can be against a personal moral. There is a fine line dividing the two.


Ethics is a code that points to the standards put forward by the society or the cultural group. Ethics are more a code of conduct set forward by the community. These could be company ethics, national ethics, social ethics, professional, or family ethics.
Working ethics have stringent guidelines. An ethical behavior in the workplace requires constant education which helps the people to follow the newest guidelines and may mould themselves according to them. A strict follow-up of ethics is very important in the professional world. Ethics educates the professionals what the rules to follow are and also the consequences that would incur if they are defied.


Morals are a more personal thing. It’s a person’s inner and peculiar character. An act which a person thinks or assumes to be wrong or incorrect may be perfectly right and correct for another one. Morals are the faith of a person rather than any set of rules to be followed. It is essential to point out that ethics and legal issues have precedence to one’s beliefs and morals in society.
For instance, a doctor has his medical ethics to follow. It is ethical for a doctor to treat a person be it a terrorist or a soldier from the opposite army. A doctor is bound with the Hippocratic Oath which frames the structure of the working ethics of the medical world. He is bound to treat even an enemy trying to kill him or his family or his fellow citizen. However, his morals may be totally against it.
Similarly for morals, an example regarding abortion can be placed. Abortion is totally legal and allowed in the medical ethics. However, it is against the morality of human kind. Citing another example, a criminal defense lawyer will keep aside his morals when defending a criminal and murderer in court. It does not matter whether he considers the killing of another person to be against a moral code but, according to his ethics, he has to defend the client as strongly as possible. Here the lawyer knows that his client is guilty and, if released on the charges, can repeat his crime. His morals take a back seat as compared to his legal ethics.


1.Morals are personal codes while ethics are codes followed by a group or culture.
2.Morals of a person do not change with time while his ethics can.
3.Morals differ from person to person while ethics are similar in the group.
4.Morals are based on religion whereas ethics are based on philosophy.

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  1. I like the distinction, but wonder if others would agree. Some treat them as synonymous. In philosophy, it is worth noting that utilitarian and deontological ethical accounts fit with what the author calls ‘ethics’, but virtue ethics fits more with what the author calls ‘morals’. And finally, some reverse the definition – ie, ethics are personal (as in ‘ethos’ and perhaps in line with ‘virtue ethics’) while morals are public (ie, others will tell us that such and such is immoral)

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