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What is the difference between morality and ethics?

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Quick Answer

Morality is understanding the distinction between right and wrong and living according to that understanding, and ethics is the philosophy of how that morality guides individual and group behavior. The two are closely related, with morality being the foundation of ethics.

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What is the difference between morality and ethics?
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Full Answer

Morality is defined as having and living according to a moral code, or principles of right and wrong. Basic morality condemns murder, adultery, lying and stealing. However, morality evolves with the evolution of society, differing noticeably in different cultures. For instance, whereas one culture finds a man with several wives to be perfectly moral, another culture sees this as immoral and wrong. Time also noticeably affects the idea of morality. Once, women were considered the property of men, which is now considered outdated and immoral.

The philosophy of morality is ethics, which explores the idea of morality and its place in society and addresses questions about morality. Both Kant and Aristotle were famous for their approach to ethics. Kant believed ethics were based on duty and obligation, while Aristotle based his ideas on virtue. Ethics are now a large part of life. Businesses have certain ethical lines they must toe, schools require students to keep to codes of conduct and people in society are expected to abide by both moral and legal laws.

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