Differences between morality and ethics

Most sources offer  relatively limpid definitions.

Morality.  This is described as “what feels to be correct”.  Breaches of morality are supposed to produce an anguish or sense of unfulfilment in the perpetrator.  However, the definition should be relatively simple: it is the intuitive response of humans.  It has no bearing on the cognitive or the intellectual and it is “hard-wired” into humans.  Perhaps there are different groups of humans who have different genetics, cultural priming or context and therefore possibly different types of morality.  The basis for this is the “social personality” as discussed earlier.  It is likely that the social personality is modified evolutionarily and it is quite conceivable that it is modified by phylogenetic contexts or by “inherited memories”.  But the key feature is that it is universal to homogenous groups of humans and perhaps the word homogeneity is a key in itself.

Ethics, on the other hand, is morality within a particular context.  Therefore subgroups of persons might be expected by the greater group to exercise their morality with particular emphasis in some arenas, governed by context.  Therefore the medical profession might have a different set of ethics from the legal profession.  One of the context changes which modifies the medical profession is that the medical profession has a level of access to females which overcomes intuitive modesty.  Society then has a fear that this power of medical doctors might be used to breach restraints of marital fidelity.   This long concept train it is simplified by preventing doctors from having close social or sexual relations with their patients.  These rules are in place to protect the males of society from any chance of “unfair competition” from doctors. That unintended or adverse consequences to some might result is irrelevant to the initiators

Because “ethics” applies a relatively small field, and is more easily prescribed, it is written.  Another reason is that because it is enforced by law, ethics needs to be defined in a way that it can be used by law.  Therefore a distinction from morality (but in fact an unimportant distinction) is that ethics can be defined as “expected behaviour as written”

One of the problems about writing the rules of ethics is that they become inflexible to changes of context.  If the aspect of sexual ethics in medicine is addressed much of it becomes totally irrelevant.  The professional need of the medical practice to expose the anatomy of females (which at one stage was a feature peculiar to the medical profession) has long been over-ridden by the easy visual access to female anatomy, available from a great number of sources.

Therefore the  imposition of ethical rules on some groups is unfair.  In turn, there are many ethical rules which have not been inscribed as they should have been with changes of contexts of human behaviour.  Most notable of these are the “non-existent” ethical rules as they should apply to the legal profession.

An example of the change of context affecting groups bound by ethical rules is the change of demography in the professions.  Whilst the medical profession was at one time entirely male dominated, it is fast approaching the position where it will be female dominated.  Have those who have chosen to manipulate society by skewing entrance into the professions thought out the vast ramifications of their actions, one example of which is demonstrated by the obsolescence induced by their manipulations into “ethics”?

Whilst this might sound academic and distant, it is reflected in every day conversations.  There are areas of conversation which should not be breached.  Areas of enquiry which are not acceptable and conversely areas of discussion where “socially appropriate” behaviour can be emphasised and breaches of conversational limits  often taking the form of reprimand.

It is these subtleties of human behaviour which are far beyond the capabilities of politicians, notably politicians whose mandate overarches many groups and sub-groups, about which the politicians would be entirely uninformed.

The concept that the “law is equal over all persons” is naive, dangerous, and counterproductive, as well as being exceedingly “unfair” to many humans and transgresses that which should be protected by politics and law.

It is much more than that and the “written behaviour” is simply a heuristic.




About jp

Orthopaedic Surgeon
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