Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-11-2006, 03:20 PM
The Hamster King The Hamster King is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 10,138
Immoral vs. Unethical

Immoral and unethical are not synonyms, although teasing out the difference between the two can be tricky. It occured to me that a good way to understand that difference would be to come up with areas where they don't overlap. So ...

What's an example of something that's immoral, but ethical?

What's an example of something that's ethical, but immoral?

I have some ideas of my own, but before I post them I'm curious as to what other people come up with.
Old 04-11-2006, 03:28 PM
silenus silenus is online now
The Turtle Moves!
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 48,913
By my definitions, immoral means violating my personal code, while unethical means violating my professional or societal code. So...

Billing someone for an hour of work when the job only took 10 minutes would be, to me, immoral but ethical.

A mercy killing could be moral but unethical.
Old 04-11-2006, 03:29 PM
Pjen Pjen is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: In Scotland (but English)
Posts: 5,688
This was done almost word for word about a month ago.

Can we come to a consensus on the differences between ethics and morality?
Old 04-11-2006, 03:31 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
Mod Rocker
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 40,483
For starters, you might want to try to read last month's Can we come to a consensus on the differences between ethics and morality?.
(Or, you may want to avoid it like a bad disease.)

(Your topic is fine. I am only pointing out a possible reason if you do not get a lot of hits on this thread.)
Old 04-13-2006, 11:33 AM
AskNott AskNott is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,662
If you hire a fellow to kill your neighbor, because you covet your neighbor's wife (and her ass,) that's certainly immoral, on more than one count.

If you skip town so you don't have to pay the hitman, that's unethical as well.
"You know what they say about sleeping dogs; you can't trust 'em." --Oliver Faltz
Old 04-13-2006, 01:54 PM
JustAnotherGeek JustAnotherGeek is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New England, USA
Posts: 1,530
Assuming you really meant:

Originally Posted by Pochacco, with alterations
What's an example of something that's immoral, but ethical?

What's an example of something that's [un]ethical, but immoral?
If we go with the notion that morals come from within (i.e. are personal) whereas ethics come from without (i.e. are societal), then anytime you disagree with society, your ethics and morals are not in alignment.

E.g. If I believe that "all information wants to be free", copying DVD's that I rent is moral but unethical. However, if I expect my own intellectual property to be copyprotected, that is ethical, but immoral.

To continue with my above definitions, then anything from being a pot-smoker in today's Idaho* to being a member of the underground railroad in Antebellum South Carolina* would qualify as such an ethical/moral schizm.

* (to pick a couple of states at random)


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:12 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017