I was taught that ethics is what you do when no one is watching. Now, if I have a starving child and all I can see is to steal a loaf of bread so that they may be saved, I may have acted unethically, but not necessarily immorally.
Under your definition...
Isn't that "ethics is what you do when people are watching". That is, if people are watching you would not steel the bread because it's "unethical" and you'd be caught/stopped. So ethics is what you break when no one is watching. Morals are what you do whether someone is watching or not...you'll steel the bread when no one is watching because it doesn't go against your morals, but maybe you would not KILL someone else's child* for the bread because that would go against your morals.
If that's not strong enough for some, you might not kill 50 people just to get bread. Or betray your true love just to get bread. Or whatever your moral code holds as it's highest value.
Here I think there is a difference between ethics in bold, and morals in blue. Ethics are dependent on others, and morals are not necessarily.
I'm almost with you on this, just I'd change the wording a little.
Ethics are the rules we live by in society with others. And currently they are usually dependent on those others. But (my point) is they're origen does not have to be dependent on others.
Morals too often come from others, witness people saying it was "how they were raised". But, again, they don't have to stem from that.
But yes I agree, ethics seems to be more about societal rules while morals is your own internal rules. (Roughly speaking)
It's even better cause this kid is totally gentle and harmless 99.9% of the time, but this one instant he had the look of death in his eyes.
Like, if looks could kill, the bully would be dead.
Totally thought he was gonna snap. We're all still friends though. Even the "nerd" laughs when we ask him how much he values his life.
That was a good story. And in a way I can relate. Fortunately I haven't actually been backed into any corners since I was pre-adult. But when I'd been threaded that I might be backed into a corner -- or when I've thought it might go that way -- my internal dialog has followed similarly to this total gentle, harmless, dork/nerd: I think, yep, I'm not a great fighter because I don't fight. But somewhere somehow I feel this line. It's like, if you come after me unjustly in a contest I can't win, you better kill me -- because if you just take away all options such that there is no justice -- my "morals" will "snap" and I'd kill over it. ~ And the few times I've thought that it might possibly happen that someone would push that far, I read them as being willing to give a beating, but not thinking it through to the kill stage. They are thinking "I'll show them a lesson", but I'm thinking from a whole different perspective.
Not saying I'm a bad ass just saying I think I get where this kid was coming from -- I think it's an intellectual place that isn't noticed much.
I think we've been talking about this for quite sometime, I remember telling you a long time ago I think one of the fundamental challenges to my generation is to clearly define core values that it finds important. We've lost that and are swimming in a sea of relativism and need something to move towards and build a language around what kind of world "do I" want to live in. Else we're just chasing our tails. It's to easy to get lost in dual approaches and spectrums: the individual/ community, conservation/progress, other examples. majority rule/rights of the minority, but I think they can be reconciled.
:speaking as a moral relativist:
Yep, I recall. I'm quite content that I'm getting back to discussing the things I like to - and that I think are important.
If you are a moral relativist, how can you be valuing the idea of defining core values? One the other hand, you can eat your cake and have it too, depending what type of relativist you are: Moral relativism is any of several philosophical positions concerned with differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures.
Descriptive moral relativism holds only that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral;
Meta-ethical moral relativism holds that in such disagreements, nobody is objectively right or wrong;
Normative moral relativism holds that because nobody is right/wrong, we ought tolerate behaviors even when we disagree about the morality of it.