Morals and Manners (Etiquette)

Manners (or etiquette) is an area of human behaviour closely allied with morals. Not all human behaviour can be classified as moral – some of it is (non-moral) and some of it is (social), having to do with manners which is essentially a matter of taste rather than of right or wrong. Here, it is important to distinguish between non-moral and moral behaviour which has to do with manners alone.

Let us take an example from everyday life – an employer giving a secretary a letter to type. Both the act of giving the letter to the secretary and the secretary’s act in typing it involve non-moral behaviour. Let us now suppose that the employer uses rude words in talking to the secretary in front of all of the employees in the office – this exhibits poor manners but employer has not really done anything immoral.

Let us now suppose that the contents of the letter would ruin an innocent person’s reputation. The behaviour now falls into the sphere of morality and questions must be raised about the morality of the employer’s behaviour. Also, a moral problem arises for the secretary concerning whether he or she should type the letter. Further, if the employer uses rude words to intimidate or sexually harass the secretary then he is being immoral by threatening the employee’s sense of personal integrity and professional pride.

We had enough discussion on the key concepts associated with ethics and morals. It’s time to delve into the subject of Morality – What it constitutes? Source of Morality? Who is morally responsible?