I was wondering how these two are different from the meaning viewpoint?

  1. He / she is a moral person.
  2. He / she lives a moral life.

Do they exactly mean the same? If not, how they differ?

P.S. I have reviewed the defined links, but they are somehow ambiguous and make me more confused.


1 Answer 1


There is seldom any difference between the two, and when somebody says one they almost always mean the other.

However, there is a subtle difference, and it's mostly philosophical.

The saint was a moral person.

This discusses the actual qualities of the person themself. Such a person does not commit a crime, say murder, because they firmly believe that committing a crime is wrong.

In short, their inner beliefs are moral.

In terms of the Bible, they they follow the ten commandments not because they have been told to, but because they hold them in their heart to be right.

Such a perspective is called deontology.

From Wikipedia:

In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek δέον, deon, "obligation, duty") is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action. It is sometimes described as duty-, obligation- or rule-based ethics. Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted to consequentialism, virtue ethics, and pragmatic ethics.

The serial killer avoided detection by living a moral life.

This puts the emphasis on action and consequence rather than actual belief.

In short, although their inner beliefs are not moral, they act as if they were.

Although over any given span of time the serial killer might feel the need and desire to kill, and they might even feel it's their right to be allowed to kill, the do not do so because, if they did at the wrong time, they could be caught.

Note that living a moral life in this context does not mean for their entire, uninterrupted lifetime. It means, for the killer in this example, those normal periods of living in between murders.

In short, they don't refrain from killing because of any innate morality, but merely because it's practical for them not to do so.

This is called consequentialism.

From Wikidpedia:

Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.

Consequentialism is primarily non-prescriptive, meaning the moral worth of an action is determined by its potential consequence, not by whether it follows a set of written edicts or laws. One example would entail lying under the threat of government punishment to save an innocent person's life, even though it is illegal to lie under oath.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .