Originally published February 23, 2018
Here is an excerpt:
In practical terms, if you use both “ethics” and “morality” in conversation, the people you’re speaking with will probably take issue with how you’re using these terms, even if they believe they’re distinct in some way.
The conversation will then veer from whatever substantive ethical point you were trying to make (“Our company has an ethical and moral responsibility to hire and promote only honest, accountable people”) to an argument about the meaning of the words “ethical” and “moral.” I had plenty of those arguments as a graduate student in philosophy, but is that the kind of discussion you really want to have at a team meeting or business conference?
You can do one of three things, then:
1. Use “ethics” and “morality” interchangeably only when you’re speaking with people who believe they’re synonymous.
2. Choose one term and stick with it.
3. Minimize the use of both words and instead refer to what each word is broadly about: doing the right thing, leading an honorable life and acting with high character.
As a professional ethicist, I’ve come to see #3 as the best option. That way, I don’t have to guess whether the person I’m speaking with believes ethics and morality are identical concepts, which is futile when you’re speaking to an audience of 5,000 people.
The information is here.
Note: I do not agree with everything in this article, but it is worth contemplating.