Difference Between Unethical and Illegal

Unethical vs Illegal

Man is a social animal and lives in societies that have rules and regulations of behavior towards each other. There are norms that are implicit and are obeyed by individuals that make up the society. Still there are individuals that engage in behaviors considered unethical or against the norms that are a result of hundreds of years of collective existence. There is another word illegal that is perhaps better known because of sentences that are awarded to those who indulge in illegal activities by courts of laws. Though at first glance there seems to be quite a similarity between unethical and illegal, there are many differences between these two concepts that will be highlighted in this article.

As long as one conforms to the rules and regulations, norms, values and belief systems of the society or the organization that he works for, his behavior is ethical and of course legal. It is only when he indulges in behaviors that are unacceptable to the society or organization that trouble starts. Having a romantic relationship with a girl half your age is not illegal; however it is considered unethical and may raise a few eyebrows. Hiding your income from tax men and not filing your return is both illegal and unethical.

There are countries where abortion has been legalized but religion still considers it against ethics and moral values. This is where a person who believes moral values feels torn apart between his belief system and the legal system. The same goes with views and opinions about gay people in a country where gay relationship has been legalized.

The word illegal comes from the word legal which pertains to law. There are laws in every country to tackle with people who break laws and engage in behaviors that are unacceptable to the society and need deterrence. Violence, killing, rape, embezzlement, burglary etc are behaviors that are considered illegal and attract strict penalties under the provisions of law. However, there are behaviors over which law is silent and there is no provision for punishment yet they are not considered desirable and society at large feels offended when a person engages in those behaviors. If an employee uses the telephone line in his organization to make personal long distance calls, he may not be doing anything illegal but he is certainly engaging in unethical behavior. The same applies to those who copy software from office computer to use at home.

In brief:

Unethical vs Illegal

• Behaviors that are looked down upon by the society and considered undesirable are called unethical behaviors

• Some of the unethical behaviors are also dealt severely by the law and there are laws to deal with such people

• However there are acts that may not be illegal yet be unethical