Morals are a person’s felt sense of good, and/or desire to be virtuous, involving beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable to their spirit. Moral also refers to what societies sanction as right and acceptable. Morals are the intentions that empower people to live cooperatively in groups, i.e. morals are the principles that guide individual conduct within society..
Although morals can vary from person to person and culture to culture, many are universal, as they result from basic human emotions. We may think of moralizing as an intellectual exercise, but more frequently it’s an attempt to make sense of our gut instincts. The prime moral guideline is love/compassion/kindness. This is embedded into all culture and religion.
Most people tend to act morally and follow societal guidelines. Morality often requires that people sacrifice their own short-term interests for the benefit of society. People or entities that are indifferent to right and wrong are considered amoral, while those who do evil acts are considered immoral.
While some moral principles seem to transcend time and culture, such as fairness, generally speaking, morality is not fixed. Morality describes the particular values of a specific group at a specific point in time. Historically, morality has been closely connected to religious traditions, but today its significance is equally important to the secular world.
Some philosophers make a distinction between morals and ethics. But many people use the terms morals and ethics interchangeably when talking about personal beliefs, actions, or principles. For example, it’s common to say, “My morals prevent me from cheating.” It’s also common to use ethics in this sentence instead.
See also: The Concept of GoodFull Glossary Index