English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Amoral in its dogmatic usage refers to irrelevant to morality, see, say http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/amoral.

But I am wondering:

1) In current usage, is this word also used to mean immoral?

2) If 1) is affirmative, is there any example?

3) Is using this word free from causing misunderstanding?

As an instance of 3), suppose I wish to say that sciences are amoral to mean that sciences themselves are irrelevant to moral judgements. Will this expression cause people to misperceive my words?

share|improve this question
up vote 1 down vote accepted

1) Yes

2) ...amoral means having no sense of either, like a fish (http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/chooseyourwords/amoral-immoral/)

3) I guess that depends on whether both parties have the same idea of what it means. Generally, I think most people know what amoral means.

3+) I think this sentence will be construed as you intended. But a little extra explanation at the end of your sentence wouldn't be unwelcome: "sciences are amoral, that is to say that sciences themselves are irrelevant to moral judgements" or something like that. If your thesis is "the sciences are amoral," stylistically, you can punch it up with that little clarification at the end to emphasize that this is the main point.

share|improve this answer
Hey thank you very much, I see. – Gudson Chou Jul 16 '14 at 2:08
Oh! After clicking the link you gave, I found I can rephrase my question in a more clear way. – Gudson Chou Jul 16 '14 at 2:09
No problem--happy to help. – Obfuskater Jul 16 '14 at 2:09

You can use the term morally neutral instead of amoral if you want to avoid the connotations that come with amoral.

share|improve this answer
Oh yes, thank you so much. Good point indeed! – Gudson Chou Jul 16 '14 at 2:17
@Dangph: This is great point. – Obfuskater Jul 16 '14 at 2:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.