Between Morality and Ethics...
I´m reading the Biography of Heinz von Foerster these days.
In this book, it´s often stressed that there´s an essential difference between moral and ethics.
I know guys who like to propose an intellectual-sounding "Both morally and ethically-" at every third beginning of their sentences. But is it really clear to everyone what the difference between those two is? And is it so easy just to combine them?
Heinz makes a clear difference between both.
Three things about defining what´s morale ( at least those points i remember the most from reading so far):
Moral is always about rules pointing to the others: It´s always "YOU SHOULD..."
Like "you should not kill people", or "you should not throw the banana peel on the street"- you get the idea...
Morals and laws of states are connected with each other. Different societies have different views of what is morally and therefore have different laws, different values to appreciate and different norms to orientate on.
But laws never are carved in stone. Well, Moses wouldn´t agree there...
However, laws changed through history, they changed yesterday, do so today and will go on to change.
Some decades ago in the United States you followed the law by not letting blacks share the same rights as white people. You acted according to the law when you didn´t let black woman ride with the bus for the white folks.
And therefore you acted morally- That was the law, that was the moral. What´s morally today won´t stay like this forever.
Connected to the "you should" is always the "OR ELSE..." with very clear sanctions for this or that act of breaking the rules/ laws.
"You should not kill" - "or else you get 20 years of prison" (in country x) respectively "or you´re sentenced to death" (in county z) etc....
So morale is always a bargain: You can know very well why not to do this or that, bceause then you get this and that punishment...
Like helping to hide jews in your cellar when you lived in germans nationalsocialistic time. That was an act against the former moral and punished severly...
now, in comparison, there´s ethics.
Ethics, according to Heinz, aren´t clear rules. They just count for yourself, not for others. They can´t be clearly defined, as the imagine of ethics can vary from person to person. They can´t be bestowed on others- that´s what moral´s for.
Ethics is more of an personal attitude. Instead of trying to define it Heinz prefers totell stories from life where ethics are IMPLIED.
Ethics can be shown implied in certain acts, but not be defined EXPLICIT- if you try to define it explicit, you can´t avoid ending up to moralize things.
So in stories that inner attitude is more understandable. Like a german soldier who gave a jewish prisoner during his work secretely a piece of bread. If someone would have seen this, the soldier would have ended up as a prisoner himself. He had no practical benefit doing this. Noone told him to do so. That´s an example for an ethical act.