The 4 Differences Between Moral, Immoral And Amoral

Ethics and morality are two of the most important components of human life. The fact of living in society causes us to create norms about what is right and wrong, good and bad, to govern our own lives and try to make the people around us follow the same rules of the game.

However, in this aspect it is easy to get confused with the concepts related to our way of understanding good and evil, since these are very abstract concepts. Therefore, below we will see what they consist of the differences between moral, amoral and immoral elements linked to each other that tell us about the degree to which certain behaviors are desirable or not.

The concepts of moral, immoral, and amoral behavior form the cornerstone of ethical discourse, delineating the spectrum of human conduct in relation to ethical principles and standards. While they may seem similar at first glance, each term carries distinct connotations and implications. In this exploration, we elucidate four key differences between moral, immoral, and amoral behavior, shedding light on their nuanced meanings and implications.

Differences between moral, amoral and immoral

Although sometimes a strongly implanted scale of ethical values ​​or a series of religious dogmas means that almost all people in a community have a similar conception of what is good and what is bad, there are always exceptions. For example, when someone guides her life based on values ​​that are very different from those followed by the rest, it is easy to be labeled as immoral or amoral indistinctly and, consequently, often incorrectly.

To clarify this, it is good that we first define what we mean by moral, immoral and amoral and then delve into their differences.

Morality is the set of rules that establish what is right and what is wrong, not in an aesthetic or functional sense, but in an ethical one. For example, in Western society it is assumed that killing children is always wrong, and that helping disadvantaged people by providing them with basic necessities is right.

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On the other hand, what is immoral is, in short, that which goes against what is moral, while The amoral is that which is outside of this

Let’s now look at the differences between these concepts.

1. Moral and immoral can be relative, amoral cannot

In philosophy and in all the fields of knowledge that depend on this area, there is a lot of discussion about whether the rules of morality are relative or if they are universal (and there was even more discussion about this in the past). That is, it is possible that moral rules and what constitutes a violation of the idea of ​​good do not exist as an entity separate from our expectations and social constructions in general, in the same way that money only exists because we have made it so. agreed.

The amoral, on the other hand, cannot be relative because by definition it is what remains when there is no morality.

2. Morality and immorality depend on abstract thought

To create behavioral norms it is necessary to have the ability to think abstractly, that is, think about concepts that They group characteristics and properties that cannot be isolated in nature (the way a vegetable can be isolated from the rest of the garden).

For example, aggressiveness is not something tangible, but it can be found in the behavior of many animals or, if we use a higher degree of abstraction, even in some climatic phenomena, landscapes, works of art, etc.

The amoral, on the other hand, exists regardless of whether there is a way of thinking based on the abstract and semantics, because it is the option that occurs “by default” in nature. On a planet inhabited only by beings incapable of using language and creating norms of behavior, amorality.

3. Amorality has no use, the other two do

As we have seen, the amoral exists without the need for minds with the capacity for abstract thought to appear on the scene. Therefore, it does not pursue any purpose, in the same way that the waves of the sea are not there because they are useful to someone.

Morality and immorality do exist because they fulfill a function Specifically, they act as a glue that unites society, allowing networks of relationships to exist between individuals.

4. The moral is desirable, the immoral and the amoral are not

Morality is almost always constructed by more than one individual, and the same goes for immorality. This means that morality is always referred to as what we must aspire to; At the end of the day, thanks to the fact that there are people who respect it, society exists as such. In the same way, the immoral and the amoral, being elements that are not moral despite belonging to the same field of knowledge (the definition of what is good and bad) are conceived as what is undesirable, what must be avoided

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5. The moral and the immoral define each other

Implicit in moral rules is what is immoral For example, if according to a religion it is said that eating turkey meat with dairy products is prohibited, the moral thing is not to mix these foods, while the immoral thing is to do so.

The amoral, on the other hand, does not belong to the domain of morality, and that is why there is nothing in the latter that tells us what is amoral. A living being can avoid eating turkey meat along with dairy products due to the demands of its biology, without following moral rules.

Foundation of Principles

  • Moral: Moral behavior is guided by a set of ethical principles, values, or beliefs that govern one’s actions and decisions. Individuals who exhibit moral behavior adhere to a code of conduct rooted in concepts such as justice, fairness, compassion, and integrity. Their actions are guided by a sense of duty or obligation to uphold moral standards and promote the well-being of others.
  • Immoral: In contrast, immoral behavior involves a conscious disregard or violation of ethical principles, often driven by selfishness, greed, or malevolence. Individuals who engage in immoral behavior knowingly transgress moral norms and may prioritize their own interests or desires at the expense of others’ rights or well-being.
  • Amoral: Amoral behavior, by definition, lacks a moral framework or ethical considerations. Individuals who exhibit amoral behavior may act in ways that are neither morally right nor wrong, as they operate outside the realm of ethical judgment. Their actions are driven by practical considerations, self-interest, or indifference to moral concerns, rather than adherence to moral principles.

Ethical Evaluation

  • Moral: Moral behavior is typically regarded as virtuous and commendable, reflecting a commitment to ethical principles and the common good. Individuals who consistently demonstrate moral behavior are often praised for their integrity, altruism, and ethical leadership, earning respect and admiration from others.
  • Immoral: Immoral behavior, on the other hand, is condemned and censured for its disregard of moral norms and ethical standards. Individuals who engage in immoral behavior may face social stigma, criticism, or legal consequences for their actions, as their conduct is deemed harmful, unethical, or reprehensible.
  • Amoral: Amoral behavior, while morally neutral, may elicit varying responses depending on the context and consequences of actions. While some may view amoral behavior as pragmatic or rational in certain situations, others may perceive it as ethically dubious or lacking in moral integrity.
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Intent vs. Outcome

  • Moral: Moral behavior is characterized by a sincere intent to adhere to ethical principles and promote positive outcomes for oneself and others. Individuals who exhibit moral behavior strive to align their actions with their values and beliefs, intending to uphold moral standards and contribute to the greater good.
  • Immoral: In contrast, immoral behavior often involves a deliberate intent to disregard or subvert moral norms, regardless of the consequences for oneself or others. Individuals who engage in immoral behavior may prioritize their own interests or desires over ethical considerations, knowingly causing harm or injustice.
  • Amoral: Amoral behavior may stem from a lack of consideration for ethical principles rather than a deliberate intent to cause harm or benefit oneself. While the outcomes of amoral behavior may vary, the absence of moral intent distinguishes it from both moral and immoral behavior.

Ethical Responsibility

  • Moral: Individuals who exhibit moral behavior recognize their ethical responsibilities towards others and strive to act in accordance with moral principles, even in the face of challenges or temptations. They demonstrate accountability for their actions and seek to make ethical choices that uphold integrity and respect for others.
  • Immoral: Those who engage in immoral behavior may shirk or evade ethical responsibilities, prioritizing their own interests or desires above moral considerations. Their actions may harm or exploit others, reflecting a lack of ethical accountability and regard for the well-being of others.
  • Amoral: While individuals who exhibit amoral behavior may not actively seek to fulfill ethical responsibilities, they are not necessarily exempt from ethical accountability. Depending on the consequences of their actions, they may still be held accountable for any harm or injustice caused, albeit without the moral intent typical of immoral behavior.

The distinctions between moral, immoral, and amoral behavior lie in their underlying principles, ethical evaluation, intent vs. outcome, and ethical responsibility. While moral behavior reflects adherence to ethical principles and a commitment to the common good, immoral behavior involves conscious disregard or violation of moral norms. Amoral behavior, by contrast, operates outside the realm of moral judgment, lacking a moral framework or ethical considerations.