Difference Between Legal and Ethical

Legal vs Ethical

We all know that legal refers to acts, conducts, and behaviors that are according to the laws of the country while acts and behaviors that violate these laws are referred to as illegal. So driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal while it is perfectly legal to be driving a vehicle after one has obtained his driver’s license. Ethical is what is morally right though it may be legal or illegal. This article explains the difference between legal and ethical to remove some of the confusion people remain to have between legal and ethical and cannot make the right choice. .


Legal is a term that reminds people of the actions and behaviors they must avoid to remain on the right side of the law. Law is a framework of rules and regulations that are meant to maintain peace and order in a society. They also serve to deter people from indulging in actions and behaviors that may be detrimental to not only others but also to the society in general. Laws are made and amended by the elected representatives of the people inside the legislature and upon passage in the parliament and getting approval from the highest authority become necessary to be followed by the people of the country. There is judiciary to take care of the violations of laws of the country and law enforcement authorities to see that these laws are followed by the people. Violators of laws are arrested by police and sentenced to jail by the law courts.


Ethical is anything pertaining to right and wrong in thought and conduct. The principles of morals constitute ethics and thus what is moral is what ethical is. Anything that is immoral is considered unethical or not ethical. In many countries, abortion has been declared legal, and it is the right of a woman to decide whether to go for abortion for not. However, in many religions, killing a fetus is just as criminal as killing a human being and it is considered immoral to abort a fetus. Thus, while abortion may be legal, it is believed to be not ethical by many people. However, what is ethical and what is not is a subjective matter and it is hard to find everyone agreeing on what is considered unethical by some.

While all businesses work to earn more profits for the shareholders, there are some who engage in unethical actions to earn higher profits. On the other hand, there are still companies that refuse to budge on moral grounds, and they follow ethical principles all the time even if they have to remain content with lesser profits.

What is the difference between Legal and Ethical?

• Ethical is more subjective than legal that is objective in nature.

• Ethical is social responsibility whereas legal is not a responsibility but a deterrent.

• Something unethical for someone may be ethical for others, whereas everyone has to follow what is legal.

• There is punishment for violation of laws, whereas there is no punishment for violation of ethics though unethical behavior may be looked down upon by the society.