Morals vs Ethics

Vol.?

11am, at the Schnitz

A lot of people use these two terms interchangeably but they are two separate and distinct concepts. Patty and JD discuss these terms during an episode of our podcast. If you’re listening to us you may have picked up on it during the Enron discussion. Essentially, morals is a construct or a set of values/principles we want to live by. We say “want” here because sometimes laws, policies, or a businesses culture conflict with morals. Then we are at odds with what we should or want to do. Morals are developed over a period of time and usually begin with our family, community, and culture. Sometimes the process happens unconsciously and other times we are aware that we are learning a life lesson. Many of us never even assess whether the belief is fully aligns with what we know.

Ethics is really about how you operate or how you behave. You may be faced with the question, “What should I do?” Basically, you have these morals or values. For some it might be a quick answer. For instance, don’t lie to your parents and maybe you never do. However, there could be other instances where what you want to do is in conflict with what you should do. For example, Patty is driving to Weinerschnitzel and is super excited about the excursion because she loves their chili-cheese dogs. She likes to obey the laws and treat people with respect. However, there is a traffic jam on the highway. Patty can see her exit a ¼ of a mile ahead. Patty decides to drive on the shoulder which goes against her morals about obeying laws. A car she passes by gets mad and starts honking at her. Patty gives them the middle finger as she cruises by. She feels bad for using such a derogatory symbol and feels that she’s violated another principle of hers which is to treat people with respect. So ethics is about reflecting on our morals or values and then acting in a consistent manner…or maybe you don’t. It all depends on the circumstances really.

What do you think about your morals and ethics? Ever done anything that was in conflict with your principles? What happened in the situation and why did you make the choice to act?

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