On the Distinction Between Ethics and Morality

Many people misunderstand the term “ethics.”

Ethics doesn’t refer to your morality.It refers to the rules you agree to follow when you take on a specific function or role.

Thus, doctors, lawyers, priests, and others have ethics that limit what they can do with the information that is revealed to them by their clients.The same can be said of notaries public, only with a different set of limits.

This is why there is a distinction between the terms unethical and immoral.

Morality includes acting based on what you perceive to be the best interests of the other person, whereas ethics involves the rules under which you operate in your particular situation (such as the rule of impartiality for a notary public).

Morality might lead you to offer suggestions or advice to someone when ethics would forbid you from doing so.

As a notary, you should never notarize anything if the signer is not signing it freely and willingly. Willingly includes with knowledge of what they are signing and why — that they have a purpose in mind when they sign. Freely means it is their choice to sign; they haven’t been coerced or pushed to sign it. If the signer is reluctant to sign because he didn’t understand what he was signing, you should not notarize under those circumstances, as doing so would be unethical and immoral and possibly illegal, as well.

 

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About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed (May 2016). Mobile notary public and signing agent, freelance writer, and ordained minister. Science fiction and fantasy fan, willing servant to cats, avid reader and collector of books and other stuff. Please see my websites (including this blog and others) for more info on me and what I think about the issues of the day.
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