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From Middle English etik, from Middle French ethique, from Late Latin ethica, from Ancient Greek ἠθική (ēthikḗ), from ἠθικός (ēthikós, of or for morals, moral, expressing character), from ἦθος (êthos, character, moral nature).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɛθ.ɪks/
  • (file)


ethics (countable and uncountable, plural ethics)

  1. (philosophy) The study of principles relating to right and wrong conduct.
  2. Morality.
  3. The standards that govern the conduct of a person, especially a member of a profession.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Although the terms ethics and morality are often used interchangeably, philosophical ethicists sometimes distinguish them, using ethics to refer to theories and conceptual studies relating to good and evil and right and wrong, and using morality and its related terms to refer to actual, real-world beliefs and practices concerning proper conduct. In this vein, the American philosopher Brand Blanshard wrote concerning his friend, the eminent British ethicist G. E. Moore: "We often discussed ethics, but seldom morals. . . . He was a master in ethical theory, but did not conceive himself as specially qualified to pass opinions on politics or social issues." [1]


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See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • ethics”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.


  1. ^ Paul Schilpp, ed., The Philosophy of Brand Blanshard, Library of Living Philosophers, →ISBN, "Autobiography", p. 85.