Many believe the two are interchangeable when speaking about morals and ethics, when the two in no way mean the same thing. Morals are subjective beliefs that belong to an individual, they are one’s own beliefs as to what is right and what is wrong. Ethics on the other hand are the rules that society creates and teaches regarding proper and improper, right and wrong, social behavior. Morals are internal, ethics are external, and they have been the unwritten rules of society as old as mankind, which govern proper social conduct based on the greater good of the popular belief. Philosophers have tussled over the nature of the concepts of morality and virtue, where they stem from as well as their true meanings.
Some philosophers believe that our moral and ethical beliefs stem from what we are taught by society based on rational acceptance of proper decisions, whereas others oppose saying that our morals and ethical beliefs belong to our soul alone and it is learned from within, rather than being taught by one’s society.
One of Aristotle’s most influential works, Nicomachean Ethics, lays claim that there is an actual, material definition of what happiness is and ways one may possibly attain the greatest good in life, which is ultimately to be happy. Furthermore, Aristotle distinguishes that there is a difference between higher and lower pleasures that one ought to seek in life. He believed that the highest good one has the possibility of achieving is grasping true virtue. In Aristotle’s eyes, there are different types of virtue; intellectual virtue is learned from the teachings of society, whereas moral virtue is discovered as result of our habits.
Aristotle taught that virtue was the perfect balance of weight between the good and the bad in the given circumstance. This metaphorical scale is dictated by the widespread views of society between what one ought and ought not to do, and to achieve moral virtue, one must abide by the preconceived, objective rules of the road that map out the right from wrong manners of social conduct. He affirms that we must learn before we do, but states that it must first have been necessary to do in order to learn the proper way to do. As confusing as that may seem, he gives the example of bravery; a person had to have acted brave in a scenario to learn what it meant to in fact be brave. He also shows that society must first had to learn about what defines bravery to determine that a man is a coward. Thus, there is a scale, too much and too little, and the man who attains virtue is in perfect balance of the two extremes, which he deems vices of society.
To sum Aristotle up in terms of his explanation of morals and ethics, he believed that we are taught the values and beliefs of society as a whole, and it is necessary to maintain a balance of the positive as well as the negative, for too much positive is unnecessary excess, it is necessary to learn from both the good and the bad in life. Only once a person can find...