Sunday, June 1, 2008

Honor and Morals

I looked up the definitions of Morals, Honor, Ethics and Law, and the online definitions were not very good in my opinion. The online definitions did not differentiate between them enough. While they are codes of conduct they are not the same and do conflict on occasion. These things differ by religion, society, and even by the individual. The ethics of Plato are different than say the ethics of Confucius. The laws of Japan are not the same as the laws of the United States.

My views on these:
Laws - government enforced rules
Honor - Complex system of standards of what is due to one's self and to others (others being society, family, or religion)
Morals - your distinctions between right and wrong (standards)
Ethics - way you go about achieving your morals (practice)

Originally ethics and morals were the same thing one being the Greek term the other being a Latin term but in common usage they have come to have distinctions. For some reason in the United States morals are often associated with sex, i.e. a moral person does not sleep around and won't condone others doing so; whereas, ethics have been associated with business, i.e. an ethical business man will treat you fairly and not cheat.

That these can and do conflict is very obvious. Some honorable things are blatantly illegal, such as in Sudan killing a female family member whom had sex before marriage is considered honorable (300 or so women die a year from this). It's also immoral and unethical. Back stabbing someone, metaphorically speaking, is ethically/morally wrong but legal. A person can have good morals (strong sense of right and wrong) but have crappy ethics (uses questionable means to do good). There are/have been laws that were unethical (there is a reason laws change).

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