Hilario M. Olivo Jr.
Ethics and accountability
Explain the difference between ethics and morality.
On the basis of etymology, there is no difference between ethics and morality. On one hand, ethics comes from the Greek word ethos meaning “custom”. For the purpose of knowing, we can define ethics as the “study of the methods and principles used to distinguished rood from bad, [and] right from wrong action” (Articulo, 2003). On the other hand, morality comes from a Latin word mos or moris, which also means custom. It is usually understood as a rule of human action (conduct), which is established through the repetition of acts and it is observed or exercised as a rule of society which becomes generally obligatory and binding to all (Babor, 2006). In this regards, ethic is also called moral philosophy. There is of course an undeniably affinity of ethics with moral philosophy and vice versa, based on their etymological construction. However, there is a slight difference between the two. This difference can be traced, if not asserted, by way of applying the concept of theory and practice in ethics (ibid). Ethics, as a normative philosophical science, is a theoretical science of good and bad or right and wrong actions. So, ethics provides the principles on the morality of human acts; it equips the man with a (theoretical) knowledge of the morality of human acts (Babor, 2006). We know, however, that knowing is different from doing. It does not necessarily follow that man does what he knows. This means that ethics does not actually guarantee that man will be moral or good. One can only become moral (or good human person) when one applied ethics. In other words, when one does the theories of ethics one actually performs the theory, meaning one is actually doing ethics. This is morality: the praxis of the theory (Ethics) (ibid). If morality, therefore, is the practice of ethics, morality, then, should be properly called applied ethics. While ethics (as theoretical science) provides principles or bases of right or wrong and good or bad actions, morality actualizes the theory. As ethics outlines theories of right and wrong and good or bad actions, morality is nothing else but doing of ethics (Babor, 2006).
2. Discuss briefly the meaning of the ethical dictum “NO ACT IS THE CONCRETE INDIFFRERENT”. Human acts are those of which a man is master, which he has the power of doing or not doing as he pleases. True, we are physically free to perform certain acts or to omit them -- to do one thing or its contrary, to choose this act rather than some other; but are we also morally free in regard to all such acts? Is it right for me on all occasions to do whatever my inclination prompts me to do? My reason plainly answers, No: it is evident even to a child that some actions are good in themselves, morally good, and others bad in themselves, morally bad. According to Coppens (1895), “[A]n act considered in the abstract, i. e., apart from all circumstances, may be specifically neither good nor evil. For instance, walking, riding, reading, etc., are acts that in themselves do not imply a tendency to our last end or a departure from it. All such are called indifferent acts: specifically, they are neither good nor bad.” Quito (2008) will also argue that a human act mulled over or theoretically pursued may be indifferent or neutral as to goodness or badness. Once done, that human act becomes either good or bad and no longer indifferent. For example, if one wonders about walking or drinking or writing a poem of studying one’s lesson or cleaning one’s gun, these acts are indifferent. Walking can become evil of the assassin walks to the place of his crime, whereas walking to church or to a home is good. Drinking is in itself indifferent, but when concretely done, it becomes either good or evil depending on whether one intends to get drunk or merely to socialize. Actually writing a poem or studying one’s lesson for a good end is good act....
References: Agapay, R. B. (2001). Ethics and the Filipino. Mandulyong City: National Bookstore.
Articulo, A. C. & Florendo, G. G. (2003). Values and work ethics. Meycauayan City: Trinits Publishing, Inc.
Babor, E. R. (2006). Ethics: the philosophical discipline of actions. Manila: Rex Bookstore.
Coppens, C. (1895). A brief textbook of moral philosophy. New York: Catholic Book School Company.
Quito, E. S. (2008). Fundamentals of ethics. Quezon City: C & E Publishing, Inc.
Timbreza, F. T. (2007). Bioethics and moral decisions. Quezon City: C & E Publishing, Inc.
[ 2 ]. These conditions will be discussed in answering question number 4.
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