Monday, May 17, 2004

Ethics and Morality: A Difference?

Keith Burgess-Jackson, as usual, makes an excellent point here:

Let me lay down the law. Unless you have a clear distinction in mind between ethics and morality, as Williams does (and in which case you’re obliged to share it with your interlocutor), don’t use both terms in a single expression, for that implies (1) that there is a difference and (2) that you know the difference. Pick a term and use it consistently. Don’t fudge. Don’t weasel. Don’t put on airs.


This is from a 16 May 2004 post.

I myself make no distinction between ethics and morality. For me, the difference between the two terms is simply the difference between Greek (ethos) and Latin (mores). KBJ is right: to use both terms in such a way as to suggest a difference in their referents is verboten unless you explain the difference that you have in mind.

KBJ executes very well, and on a daily basis, one of the chief tasks of the philosopher, namely, conceptual clarification. Keep it up, Keith!