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Difference Between Ethic and Values [Examples]

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Although the words "ethics" and "values" are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a distinction to be made. Ethics refers to the principles that govern our conduct or behavior; we can say that we hold as right or wrong. Values refer to beliefs about what things are essential in life. This blog post will explain the difference between ethic and values with examples, so you can better understand how they differ from one another!

What are Ethics?

Ethics are moral principles that guide an individual's behavior. Ethics can be defined as a system of ethical standards or the code of conduct someone uses throughout their life when deciding what is right and wrong. Ethics are codes of behavior based on specific rules, whereas values are more general terms for things you consider essential. One way to understand ethics is by breaking it down into three parts: descriptive ethics which describes how things are done in society; normative ethics, which provides standards of conduct for the community; and metaethics which is the study of ethical thought.

What are Values?

Values influence individuals' thoughts, feelings, and actions - guiding their behavior throughout life. Our values act as a compass to help us make decisions, especially when faced with difficult choices. Values can be intrinsic (meaning they come from within) or extrinsic (from external factors).

Differences Between Ethics And Values

The difference in their core definitions

There is a big difference between ethics and values. Ethics refers to the codes of conduct that society has established to dictate how people behave. Values are a little different because they are the individual principles that you hold yourself to, i.e., what is right and wrong for you as an individual.

Ethics is a concept of right or wrong behavior based on society's rules/laws, while values are more about what the individual thinks is right for themselves versus others. Values can be things like being honest at work. Someone might value being part of their community so much that they would volunteer hundreds of hours each year in different capacities outside of their paid employment.

Ethics relates to how people behave toward one another where values relate only to the person him or herself. To sum up, ethics are the codes of conduct that society lives by, while values are personal beliefs that dictate how individuals live. Ethics and values are essential in any community, but they have different meanings and implications.

One main difference between ethics and values is that ethics are more externally based while values are more internally based. Another critical distinction is that ethics tend to be more about the "oughts" in life, or what one ought to do, whereas values center around what someone believes is important to them.

Finally, another divergence between these two concepts has to do with their origins – ethics come from reason, while values arise from emotion. When it comes down to it, there isn't a clear line of demarcation between ethics and values; instead, they are two related but distinct concepts.

Different Examples

The difference between values and ethics can be seen in religion quite often because many religions have guidelines on how people should behave. Still, these rules about behavior aren't necessarily based on moral principles or values that the individual believes in.

An example of this would be the Ten Commandments in Christianity. These commandments are ethics because they dictate how people should conduct their lives. But a Christian may not necessarily have the same values as another Christian. Another example would be Islam, where there are specific guidelines on behaving (ethics), but Muslims don't necessarily agree on the same values.

The main difference is that both deal with philosophy, morality, and human leanings. Values are things like what you would do for a friend or how you treat others every day. Ethics are more broad concepts of right vs. wrong behavior in general.

Different Types

Ethics can be categorized as:

  • Metaethics: This looks at the origins of ethics and tries to understand what makes an action ethical or not.
  • Normative Ethics: This is concerned with setting out guidelines for behaving.
  • Descriptive Ethics: This applies to the study of what people believe is right.

Values can be categorized as:

  • Intrinsic Values: These are values that are internal to an individual. They are values that the individual believes in for their own sake.
  • Extrinsic Values: These are values that come from external factors. They are values that an individual believes in because they think it will help them achieve something else that they value.

Difference in objective

Ethics are guidelines that a person lives by, while values can change from person to person. For example, one person may think that honesty is essential, while another person may not care about honesty as much.

Ethics are considered more universal, meaning that they apply to all people in all societies. On the other hand, values may be specific to a particular culture or society.

Lastly, ethics are more concerned with right and wrong actions, while values can be more concerned with happiness or comfort.

Ethics are more concerned with objective truth, while values can be subjective and relative to the individual.

Similarities Between Ethics & Values

Both have to do with philosophy, morality, and personal leanings. Both are very much integral to human existence. They both are similar in that they help people live their lives in a way that they deem appropriate.

Both Ethics & Values are required for the successful functioning of a society. Without them, the community would be in chaos.


The difference between ethics and values can be confusing. The first thing to understand is that these two concepts are not synonymous. Ethics refer to what people believe should or shouldn't be done regardless of the consequences.

At the same time, values represent a unique set of principles guiding one's behavior which may change depending on circumstance. Understanding where your own beliefs lie will help determine how you want to act in various scenarios throughout life for both yourself and others- whether it's at work, at home, or anywhere else!


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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