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Moral and Ethical Ethics 

We often hear the words ethics and morals used interchangeably or paired as if either meaning the same thing or needing to go together.

Let’s look at the difference between these two words:

  • Morals have to do with personal conduct. They are generally recognized principles of good and bad and are often used when speaking of sexual conduct.
  • Ethics are rules of correct behavior, usually recognized or defined by a group. For example, research scientists might have a code of ethics regarding the use of animals in product testing.

An ethic is a moral rule that might be observed by some but disregarded by others. Your work ethic might be to put in at least eight hours of hard work each day, whereas your brother’s work ethic might be to put in a token effort, then spend the rest of the day watching the ballgame with a beer in hand.

  • Moral support is support in principle (not necessary practical).
  • Moral victory is success of good over bad.
  • Moral obligation is a duty to do what is considered right, regardless of other factors.

Morale is a sense of confidence, pride, high spirits, feeling valued.  When things look grim, we try to keep our morale up. A person can be amoral (without morals), but she can’t be amorale (without morale), because moral/amoral are adjectives and morale is a noun.

Negligence Is Not Negligible

Neglect and negligence are both nouns, but there is a difference in meaning.  Neglect is an action that shows lack of duty or attention:

  • The animal died due to the owner’s neglect.

Negligence is an action or habit that means a failure to exercise the carefulness expected in a situation:

  • The accident was caused by the driver’s negligence.

Neglect is often deliberate and negligence involuntary. A person is neglectful if he’s careless and forgetful (whether purposely or not). He would be negligent if he’s habitually careless or unconcerned when he shouldn’t be, and the result of such negligence is sometimes an accident.

Another word that is related is negligible, which simply means insignificant or of little consequence:

  • The damage to my car was negligible.

It may seem negligible to you to learn the difference between neglect and negligence, but I wouldn’t want you to be negligent about learning the distinction.

Whether or Not You Like This

Contrary what many of us were taught (me included),  the word whether doesn’t always have to be followed by or not.

According to Bryan Garner, whether implies or not. So it is perfectly correct to say the following:

  • They discussed whether the plans would be suitable.
  • I didn’t know whether I should go.

The exception to this, though, is when you use whether to mean “regardless of whether.” In this case,  it’s important to include those two little words.

  • You can write a check whether or not you have the funds available in your account.
  • I’m going on that vacation whether or not it snows.

Don’t get overexcited and pile all those words together. Saying “I want to go regardless of whether or not I have the money” is a bit superfluous. Either leave out the regardless of or leave out the or not.

And while the expression as to whether is one that’s been around a long time, this phrasing is often considered unnecessary. Instead of saying “He doesn’t have the facts as to whether the man was guilty,” just say “He doesn’t have the facts that prove the man was guilty” (or something to that effect).

Whether  or not you wanted to read about all this, I hope you’ve learned something. If not, weather it out!

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