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It’s true that many, perhaps most, people make a distinction between morality and ethics, but the problem is that no two people seem to agree about what that distinction is. Test this claim by asking five people you know, “Do you believe there is a difference between ethics and morality? If so, what is that difference?” You’ll get responses like these:
• Ethics has to do with social standards; morality is about personal beliefs. • Ethics comes from secular institutions, whereas morality is a religious phenomenon. • Ethical judgments are absolute and objective; moral judgments are relative and subjective.
Not only do folks differ about what the distinction between the concepts is; they also differ about how to define each one. Even those who believe there is no difference between ethics and morality may differ over how to define them.
O'Hear, A. (2004). Modern moral philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Amstutz, M. R. (2013). International ethics: Concepts, theories, and cases in global politics. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.
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