If you agree with the definitions that follow, do freethinkers havr morals or ethics, or a combo?
Ethics: A system of thinking about correct behaviour that comes from personsl introspection.
Morals: A system of thought about behaviour that is based on some outward form od authority such as government ornreligion.
"adopt a strong stand".
Last time somebody was on my case, they weren't being violent, and this is how it played out. If someone is being violent towards you, then you don't have much choice. The ideal is to inflict the minimum harm.
Don't ask me about violence, I'm no good at violence. I do know however, if someone's acting badly towards you, it's good to think about the long-term consequences and do one's best to make the best possible outcome for everybody, including the idiot, who we hope will learn something from the whole process. As well - "hatred is not overcome by hatred but by love".
That's all good and well, but at what point, what number of whatever, do we as a society get to say "This dude/ette is never going to change, and it would be better that we keep him out of society all together?: To give an extreme example, I think that everyone reading this would agree that Charles Manson should never see the light of day while alive. In and out of prison he has shown himself not to be worthy of society. And I, for one, am all for that.
I suppose it's taken on a case-by-case basis by the parole board. At the moment, if someone's considered a danger to the public, I presume they're not let out. Someone who's worked in the corrections system could tell us how it works.
@Jack - it's the mystery of mysteries. No matter how clearly I explain it, you won't understand it unless you think about it.
These are my definitions/observations, without looking up definitions.
Morality comes from authority. People choose their favorite authorities for personal and often emotional or illogical reasons, and they can criticize other moral standards as being beneath them. They'll consider imposing their morals on others, even if it affects people's personal (behind closed doors) lives. At its extremes, morality carries judgmental pronouncements of "good vs evil".
Ethics comes from people who've agreed upon standards of interaction, such that mutually beneficial interactions are highly likely. If two groups differ too much in ethics, they just prefer not deal with each other, often without judgmentalism (i.e. "moralism"). Ethics employs more introspection in a "golden rule" sense, sponsoring trustworthy interaction, or discouraging interaction if ethical standards are not considered mutually beneficial. Ethics provides a baseline of expectations and risk assessment, helping people decide if they want to or should conduct business with each other.
Law puts morals and/or ethics into enforceable form. Religion and morality have more say in what becomes law in some countries, while business and ethics inform what becomes law in other countries. It's no accident that highly religious, moralistic countries are stuck with stone age, repressive traditions. Some Americans think they would like to revert back to religious and moralistic standards of behavior, but fortunately, the Constitution forbids it.
We are taught ethical behavior by a moral code that was created by ethical behavior. We operate on ethics, derived from observation, introspection, and by what we first learned from the moral code that was first taught to us.
Morals can be seen as the long term copy, and Ethics as the constantly evolving short term copy that adds to the long term.
In essence, it's macro-evolution and micro-evolution.
Here's what Wikipedia's got to say, not that it's necessarily accurate.
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct, often addressing disputes of moral diversity.
Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are "good" (or right) and those that are "bad" (or wrong). The philosophy of morality is ethics.
Those are conventional definitions. If you checked Merriam-Webster or the OED, you would get definitions which are inline with what you have provided up above.
Oddly, apart from the notion that ethics and morality deal with concepts of right and wrong, it seems people hold many varied definitions. I am curious, if English-speakers were randomly polled, if the most common current usage would actually match the conventional definitions.
In other words, what I've always been saying: ethics is about making rational decisions based on due consideration of the effects of one's actions. Morality involves rote parroting and obedience to various dicta (following instructions, in other words, The Ten Commandments, for example).
I get it now. Morality means what you actually do, and the moral attitudes you hold; and ethics means the study of those things. So the two are tightly linked. Morality and spirituality are tightly linked too. Spirituality is an advanced form of morality.