Difference Between Laws and Ethics (With Table)

For any state’s healthy functioning, some laws have been laid down in the constitution, a book that contains all the laws and rules of a particular country but many times, laws and ethics are mismatched, creating a lot of confusion.

Laws vs Ethics

The difference between laws and ethics is that laws are laid down in a society to maintain peace and brotherhood and provide protection to all the country’s citizens. In contrast, ethics are developed in a society by the people to present a positive behavior towards people that makes them a good person; everyone does not follow ethics.

However, laws are mandatory for everyone. If not, sometimes severe steps can be taken. For example, do not drink and drive is a law. On the other hand, respecting your elders and obeying them is an ethic a person inherits from birth.

Laws are set of rules that have been laid down by any organization at any level such as national, regional, or sometimes even at the international level; these laws are laid for every person to follow if not strict actions can be imposed.

Ethics are principles that have to be followed by every person to reflect a positive behavior in the society and helps them live a good life by following the required procedures.

Comparison Table Between Laws and Ethics

Parameters of ComparisonLawsEthics
MeaningLaws are set and laid in a society that governs all people to maintain peace amongst people.Ethics is a philosophical term that is usually set for a human to act in particular conduct.            
Governed ByLaws are set and governed by the governmentEthics are set by communities, individuals, educational institutes, and the workplace.
ViolationLaws are violative in nature and can be misused.Ethics are not violative.
PunishmentStrict actions can be taken like fines and, in some cases, punishment.No punishment is given in case of not following ethics, at most a formal professional warning.            
AimTo maintain peace between the people of the society and a healthy environment.Ethics are laid in society as for a person to know the right and wrong.
ExampleDo not drink and drive is a law laid down to maintain peace. If not followed, it is a criminal offense.Respecting your colleagues at a workplace and reflecting a positive behavior are some examples of professional ethics.

What are Laws?

Law is described as the set of rules and regulations that have been laid down lawfully that every person is required to follow living in the society irrespective of their gender, caste, etc.  A law helps the country maintain law and order peace among the citizens and prevent any miss happenings.

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 A law is maintained and made by the country’s judicial system, and every person is bound to follow the laws. Laws clearly define the limit of what a person can or cannot do while living in a particular country. Every country has different laws, and regulations laws are also punishable in nature. If found harassing the loss, the person can be in a serious situation.

 Laws reflect the ethical values of the person and his or her upbringing. There are many examples, but one example does not drink and drive, which is the law set by every country to maintain peace, reduce the number of accidents, and not cause damage to other people.  Laws are legally binding and there expressed, published, or in a written value. The government sets laws, but laws can be of a particular place like school colleges workplace.

What are Ethics?

Ethics or ethical values is much more of a philosophical term laid down by communities, individuals, or sometimes many professional places like offices, schools, and colleges. Ethics guide the person about what is good or bad; it is a collection of fundamental principles that guide the human’s character.

 Ethics is something that is a code of conduct and the social desires that every person should follow. Some of the most common ethics like respecting your elders, respecting your colleagues at the workplace, respecting your classmates in a class setup Ethics define the person’s character the person following the ethics showing a positive behavior towards his individual, peers, and even society is considered a perfect person.  But the person disobeying these ethics is considered a threat to social ethics is not punishable in nature. Every person must follow these ethics, but it is a personal choice of following ethics like an inferior person who doesn’t follow these rules is considered a threat to society.

Ethics are mainly applicable on the kind of upbringing of that person in the kind of society in the kind of community that has person grown ethics is much more of philosophical terms that is a lot different than the law.

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Main Differences Between Laws and Ethics

  1. The law is legally binding for every person living in society, and every person is required to follow them, whereas Ethics is not binding to a human.
  2. Laws are written down, conducts, and principal, which everyone must follow, whereas ethics are human conduct and a way of living in a society. 
  3. Breaking the law is punishable in nature; anyone who is seen disobeying can be in danger like imprisonment, but ethics are not punishable in nature. It makes the person character in society.
  4. Laws are written principles laid down in the constitution ( a book that contains all the principles and laws), whereas ethics do not exist in a written form.
  5. Government is the ultimate lawmaker in any country and expects everyone to follow, whereas ethics are laid by communities and society.


Humans are expected to live in a particular manner, so they are not a threat to society; to do that, many laws and ethics are laid by institutions. People are expected to perform their actions while being within the limit of written values.

Laws and ethics are many times confused, but they go side by side laws are written rules that everyone is required to follow. In contrast, ethics are some human behavior that leads to the person follows the following laws, ultimately becoming someone who follows ethics, thus reflecting a convinced role in society.