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Morality Versus Ethics

The moral sense is an internalized guide to the expectations of the group. It concerns the compatibility of behavior with intuited, self-evident, and supposedly absolute truth. Ethics, in contrast, has more to do with self-consistency, based upon consciously accepted precepts. In that, it resembles law and the notion of formal proof in mathematics. Ethical principles, like democratically legislated laws, are norms or conventions of behavior to which people have agreed, for whatever reasons; whereas moral notions involve belief in the intrinsic validity of such principles. Good and evil, divine decree, or other moral sanctions are often called upon to justify ethical principles. Unfortunately, ethical and moral principles usually require a convincing metaphysic to underwrite them—the threat of hell or karma, for instance. We prefer that our relationships to one another be regulated by an absolute order of things above us, and independent of individual will or whim. But a conscious ethic must reverse this chain of command, so that collectively we agree to principles that serve the universal good.

RELATED TAGS: [moral sense, internalized value, karma, self-evident truth, ethical system, law and ethics, formal proof/system, consensual agreement, divine sanction, absolutism, moral relativity, absolute truth, justifying ethical principles, moral threat, conscious ethic, universal good/morality]

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