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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?

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2 Answers 2

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.

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Hey thank you very much, I see. –  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. –  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.

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

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