We currently have a tag on the main site, described as:

For questions that deal with whether something is right or wrong regarding certain norms.

However, we have no tag for the morals of a group or species.

Because the concepts are tightly intertwined, I humbly propose that we create a tag synonym pointing at the main tag .

For or against?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have often heard that one of them is the study/philosophy of right and wrong while the other one is the application of it. However, I have found no concistensy in which should be the one and which should be the other. However one chooses to define it, it should not have any major effect on how to build worlds; any potential differences should be irrelevant for our purposes. I'm for a synonym. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Feb 17 '17 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Mrkvička While I agree that in the context of worldbuilding any discussion of one would have to also implicate the other and so they should be treated as synonymous, I'd like to say that there is a clear consensus within their associated fields (and of course with anybody who studies the concepts). The "consensus" btw is that morals precede ethics (as it represents the pure idea of right vs. wrong instead of simply being the study of its application) much in the same way values precede principles. Ignorance and misuse of terminology within the general population does not equate controversy. $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Feb 17 '17 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry WB SE does have a "morals" tag. It's just mislabelled as "ethics". $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Feb 21 '17 at 11:59

I agree. Technically, there's a difference:

Some say "ethics" refers to the ideals imposed by society, while "morals" refers to individual viewpoints,

but the overlap is so great that there is no reason to keep them separate.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well; given this definition, can you discuss morals without by implication discussing ethics? Is discussing morals in the absence of specific or general rules of ethics meaningful? What is a society if not a semi-large number of individuals all trying to varying degrees to work together and get along? (Note: I'm not arguing against the point in your answer, only adding to it.) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Feb 20 '17 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ Whoever Some is he or she doesn't know what he or she is talking about. There is overlap, but it's not so great that there is reason to keep them separate -- most of the time. That's the trouble with overlap, it's so context dependent. Precision in thinking and terminology has its virtues. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Feb 21 '17 at 12:05

Against and For It

It helps if people do their research first. Actually Worldbuilding SE does have a tag for "morals" it's just that it's mislabelled as "ethics".

Ethic (adjective & noun) relating to morals, treating of moral questions.

Ethics (noun plural; rarely singular) Science of morals, treatise on this, moral principles, rules of conduct, whole field of moral science.

Moral (adjective & noun) Concerned with character or disposition, or with the distinction between right & wrong; moral sense power of distinguishing right & wrong; dealing with regulation of conduct.

Source: Concise Oxford Dictionary

There are other uses of the word "moral" but while they are related to morality the distance goes between them and morality. There is some overlap with "ethics", as in moral science and moral philosophy but overall they are separate but related.

If there is a synonym of "morals" it is "ethic" rather than "ethics". The relationship between "morals" and "ethics" is that of what is called by classification professionals a "related term".

The "ethics" tags has a description that better fits "morals" than "ethics". Therefore, the "ethics" tag should be changed to that of "morals". Now people can ponder whether WB SE needs an ethics tag.

The moral of this answer is do the research first and do not rely on common understanding of words and their usage. This tends to lead to common misunderstandings and misleading tags.


They are synonyms. The difference is only that the branch of philosophy that covers the topic is called ethics, specifically.

People make a mistake, because ethics inspires such stupidity, that because the field is specifically called ethics that ethics and morals are not the same. It's like saying that a feline and a cat are not the same thing, because Feline is the name that science uses for that type of animal. Or that my cat is not a cat because it's name is Puffball and because Puffball is its specific name that it suddenly isn't a cat.

The only way the distinction that it is the specific name of the philosophic branch would matter is if you want answers that have to do with the subject that have answers that are supported by generally accepted ethicists/philosopher and you can present a link or referenced quote... Of course anyone asking for such a thing would likely be just doing it for homework and anyone not doing it just for homework would be displaying a massive flaw in their understanding of philosophy and what makes something a valid source of information/thought, much the same as science really.


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