• M.A.Aponte

Quick Philosophy: Morals and Ethics

Morals and ethics are defined differently depending on who you ask or what source you use. Morals are defined, again in its simplest form, as a concerned distinction of principles for what is good and bad, positive and negative, holy and evil, proper and improper. Having good morals is to be considered to be a righteous good person by the community with similar morals. Depending on the culture, many stories give us moral lessons to live by. Just think of children's books that give lessons like “slow and steady wins the race” and “don’t judge a book by its cover”. These lessons are taught in western societies to influence young minds to do things like “take your time” and “get to know someone beyond looks”. What about moral societies as a whole? An example of someone who is moral can be someone who believes in equality for everyone regardless of race, creed, background, etc. However, this moral person may appear to be immoral if the other group believes in equity for everyone over equality because equity appears, in their view, more justified. We can say the same with religion; a person who follows the Qur'an, the Holy Bible, or the Hebrew Bible may seem moral to the proper religious group that they are associated with. However, an atheist or a different religious group from the other may see that group as immoral. In other words, morals depend on who is defining it and what THEIR morals are.


Ethics has a similar conundrum as morals when it comes to definition but much more complex. Although ethics can be defined by who is defining it, it holds more truth to the individual than the group. Ethics is how one holds themselves accountable for. In other words, ethics can be more individualized than morals. An example of this is integrity which falls under ethics. I define integrity to my middle schoolers as this: “Integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking”. But what is right? What is just? This can go back to moral values and I can write an entire book on the philosophy of morals and ethics but I digress. These questions need to be answered by you, the reader. In truth, how dangerous as this sounds, there is no right or wrong answer that you can come up with. But if you need an example of what is right and what is just, here is one: Can you do the action then look in the mirror, smile, and be proud of your actions WITHOUT acknowledgement of others? Because if you need that reassurance from another, you may need to rethink your ethics and your value.


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