Difference Between Amoral vs. Immoral

Main Difference

The main difference between the words amoral and immoral is that amoral refers to the disregard or lack of a moral sense and immoral refers to the denying of accepted standards of morality.

Amoral vs. Immoral

The words amoral and immoral are words related to morality (the distinction between right and wrong). However, these two words have distinctly different meanings. Amoral refers to the unawareness of differentiating between what is wrong and what is right. In literal meaning, the prefix ‘a’ means the absence of morality. Immoral refers to the actions that are not good enough in the moral sense. The addition of the prefix ‘im’ to the word ‘moral,’ is translated as not moral, or non-moral. An amoral person does not accept the moral standards set by society to which he could be judged. It also includes those who cannot know the rules or set guidelines of morality. An immoral person continues to do things even if he knows that it is wrong. An immoral person may swindle other people, involved in extramarital relationships or other situations that are not congruent to the status quo. Example of amoral is the babies as they are innocent beings who do not understand morality, and they are merely incapable of doing immoral acts. Example of immoral is a person who committed an act of infidelity and is now known as an immoral person by society. In simple words, the amoral person does not care about morality mainly because he does not understand or does not know what morality is. An immoral person is someone who is aware of morality but is still neglecting it by doing things contrary to morals.

Comparison Chart

AmoralImmoral
An adjective that means disregard or lack of a moral senseAn adjective that means denying of accepted standards of morality
Perspective
Neutral positionNegative perspective
Associated With
Small children, people with cognitive disordersWicked, cruel, unethical people
Prefix
‘a’ means the absence of morality‘im’ translates as not moral, or non-moral

What is Amoral?

Amoral is defined as “The lack of a moral sense; unconcerned with the wrongness pr rightness of something.” Amoral indicates an indifference to morality or absence of moral sensibility. Amoral is also defined as being neither immoral nor moral. This term rather shows a neutral position towards morality. The word amoral derives by the combination of two words, a Greek privative prefix a- meaning “not” and a Latin word “moral.” An English author Robert Louis Stephenson first used this word as differentiation from immoral. Amoral refers to a state where the action is simply unconcerned with morality or disregards the presence of a moral code. The word morality is a differentiation of what is proper and improper intentions, actions, and decisions. Being an amoral person does not mean that you are bad or evil; it only means that you do not care about the actions you do. You do not have the sense that if what you are doing is right or wrong or you are not abiding by the moral rules or codes of society because you do not understand the meaning of them. When someone is doing something without thinking about its rightness or wrongness, we can say that this is an amoral action. Also, an amoral person has no conscience or sense that the act he is doing is morally wrong. This person escapes from the moral world as he is outside the confines of morality itself.

Examples

  • Little kids and newly born infants are amoral.
  • People with cognitive disorders who do not have any sense of wrong and right

What is Immoral?

The word immoral is the opposite of moral. It means not conforming to the accepted standards of morality. Immoral refers to the deliberate breaking of rules established by morality. Immoral gives a negative sense. This word, when used to describe a person, means wicked, cruel, unethical, or evil. An immoral person knows the difference between wrong and right but chooses not to adhere to the moral principles. Thus, the villains in films, novels, and even cartoons can be described as immoral. To be immoral implies to act or think in a way that violates one’s conscious morality. Immoral is doing wrong by the moral rules or codes of society. It is that state of obstinacy where a person knows about something wrong but still does it. An immoral person does not care about the consequences of his actions. Some actions and attitudes that are legally considered as immoral include murder, theft, robbery, and lying. The word immoral is used when someone has a conscience but acts against it.

Examples

  • His immoral conduct repulsed his family.
  • Cheating is an immoral act.
  • People argue that abortions are immoral.

Key Differences

  1. Amoral means indifference to morality or lacking a moral sense, whereas immoral means are not conforming to the accepted standards of morality.
  2. Amoral was introduced to the language in the 19th century conversely immoral has a longer history than amoral.
  3. The example of amoral is the babies as they are innocent beings who do not understand morality and they are merely incapable of doing immoral acts, on the other hand, the example of immoral is a person who committed an act of infidelity and is now known as an immoral person by the society.
  4. Amoral indicates a neutral position towards morality on the flip side immoral indicates negative implications.
  5. The prefix ‘a’ in amoral means the absence of morality contrarily the addition of the prefix ‘im’ to the word ‘moral,’ is translated as not moral, or non-moral.
  6. Amoral can be used about small children, people with cognitive disorders, etc. while Immoral can be used to describe wicked, cruel, unethical people.

Conclusion

The words amoral and immoral are the two words concerned with the morality of an action. Both words have different meanings and are not interchangeable.

Author:

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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