Morality and Ethics

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Morality and Ethics

Morality and ethics are terms often used as if they have the same meaning. At other times, they are used as if they have no relationship to one another. I think most people realize ethics and morality have something to do with the concepts of good and bad. However, English is not like French, which has the Academic Fantasies acting as its linguistic jury - establishing what proper French is. English changes at the impulse of the crowded. One can bomb, and that's bad, but if one is the bomb, and that's good. The word "morality" has been co-opted by groups, such as the Moral Majority, making us think morality only deals with acts these religious groups think aren't proper, or are therefore immoral. The meanings of the terms "ethics" and "morality" can be differentiated based on their origins in ancient Greek and Latin, respectively. As a result, words that come into the English language from the Greeks often have meanings that are primarily philosophical study, while the Latin-derived words imply "doing the thing." Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos - moral character or custom. Morality comes from the Latin word moralist - custom or manner. The words both deal with the customs or the manner in which people do things. Their modern meanings relate to the way people act - either good or bad. Morality, strictly speaking, is used to refer to what we would call moral conduct or standards. Morality is looking at how good or bad our conduct is, and our standards about conduct. Ethics is used to refer to the formal study of those standards or conduct. Sometimes, one refers to the study of conduct as moral philosophy, but that is less common than just saying "ethics." One might say that morality is ethics in action, but in the end, the two terms can be used interchangeably. The study of ethics or moral philosophy can be divided into three broad areas: descriptive, normative and analytical or met ethics. Ethics...
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