Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ethics v Morals

Steve SolomonEthics versus Morals. Ethical behavior may be defined as acting after thinking about what would produce the greatest good for the greatest number affected. Morals are a codification of prior ethical decisions, simplified into easy-to-grasp rules. Morals exist because most people are very uncomfortable with the uncertainties of attempting to figure out what the right course of action might be, and most and are reluctant to take responsibility for having made mistakes. Being ethical means making decisions based on inadequate data and acting anyway. Ethical actions frequently work out badly; the actor has no one to blame for the results but themselves. Acting ethically while still desiring certainties means being uncomfortable. Moral acts also often work out badly. The apparent advantage to being moral is that when a moral act works out badly no one is to blame because the actor did what was supposed to be done. Being moral is comfortable because a moral person always knows what should be done, did it and is not to blame for the outcomes.

-- Steve Solomon, "The Wisdom of Solomon",

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