Definition for MOR'AL

MOR'AL, a. [Fr. and Sp. moral; It. morale; L. moralis; from mos, moris, manner. The elements of this word are probably Mr; but I know not the primary sense. The word coincides in elements with Ar. مَرَّ marra, to pass, to walk. If the original sense of the L. mos, moris, was settled custom, the word may be from the root of moror, to stop, delay; Eng. demur.]

  1. Relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined. The word however may be applied to actions which affect only, or primarily and principally, a person's own happiness. Keep at the least within the compass of moral actions, / which have in them vice or virtue. Hooker. Mankind is broken loose from moral bands. Dryden.
  2. Subject to the moral law and capable of moral actions; bound to perform social duties; as, a moral agent or being.
  3. Supported by the evidence of reason or probability; founded on experience of the ordinary course of things; as, moral certainty, distinguished from physical or mathematical certainty or demonstration. Physical and mathematical certainty may be styled infallible, and moral certainty may be properly styled indubitable. Wilkins. Things of a moral nature may be proved by moral arguments. Tillotson.
  4. Conformed to rules of right, or to the divine law respecting social duties; virtuous; just; as when we say, a particular action is not moral.
  5. Conformed to law and right in exterior deportment; as, he leads a good moral life.
  6. Reasoning or instructing with regard to vice and virtue. Whilst thou, a moral fool, sitt'st still and cri'st. Shak.
  7. In general, moral denotes something which respects the conduct of men and their relations as social beings whose actions have a bearing on each other's rights and happiness, and are therefore right or wrong, virtuous or vicious; as, moral character; moral views; moral knowledge; moral sentiments; moral maxims; moral approbation; moral doubts; moral justice; moral virtues; moral obligations, &c. Or moral denotes something which respects the intellectual powers of man, as distinct from his physical powers. Thus we speak of moral evidence, moral arguments, moral persuasion, moral certainty, moral force; which operate on the mind. Moral law, the law of God which prescribes the moral or social duties, and prohibits the transgression of them. Moral sense, an innate or natural sense of right and wrong; an instinctive perception of what is right or wrong in moral conduct, which approves some actions and disapproves others, independent of education or the knowledge of any positive rule or law. But the existence of any such moral sense is very much doubted. Paley. Encyc. Moral philosophy, the science of manners and duty; the science which treats of the nature and condition of man as a social being, of the duties which result from his social relations, and the reasons on which they are founded.

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