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Examples of Ethos

An ethos is an ethical concept. The word is used to describe both broad generic concepts and personal ethics. An ethos involves values, beliefs, practices and usually moral perspectives.

(Note: In modern usage, the word of ethos is also used (inefficiently, unhelpfully and often inaccurately) to describe the process of persuasive logic through use of rhetoric. The idea is that oratorical rhetoric establishes an 'artificial ethos'. The use of the term is actually derived from the basic meaning of the word ethos and references to writings of Aristotle referring to this process. This usage doesn't exactly help people to understand the true meaning of the word ethos.)

An actual ethos can be described as a ethical code of behavior and applications of ethical principles.

  • The prevailing social ethos in any community may also include various religious principles and in some cases even old social customs and traditions.
  • A personal ethos can be an equally complex thing, derived from life experience, types of education and training and personal 'right or wrong' judgments.

For example:

  • It was pretty obvious that the 'work ethic' was the driving force of the community. This ethos included conscientious observation of all social- behavioral laws and traditions, to the extent everyone spent time picking up litter whenever they saw it. The result was an immaculately clean, peaceful town.
  • His personal ethos seemed to be a mixture of rhetorical references to his own honesty combined with what could politely be described as very sharp business practices.
  • Trying to create an ethos in the commodities market is like trying to teach a building to tap dance. People in these markets have never historically had any ethics, and wouldn't understand why they should.
  • If you describe an ethos as a set of high personal principles and values, he's never had any.

Please note: Terms like ethos and morals aren't necessarily interchangeable.

For example:

  • They talk a great ethos, but their actual morals seem to be non-existent.
  • Ethics are principles, morals are values. It's really a question of which actually gets applied, the ethos or the morality.