7 junio, 2024

Moral code: what it is, characteristics, types, examples

What is a moral code?

A moral code It is a set of norms and moral values ​​that guarantee the survival of the group through agreements between what should be considered as morally good or bad.

Moral codes are established between a group of people, regardless of their type and size, it can be a family, a team, a nation or a race. Since people belong to different social groups, we govern our behavior based on different moral codes.

The purpose of a moral code is to guarantee the survival of the social group and the coexistence of its members.

This set of norms and moral values ​​can be manifested explicitly, and even set out in writing, as in the case of the Constitution of a country, or they can be established implicitly, such as the moral code of a family or the that governs a certain culture.

Characteristics of a moral code

The following characteristics are typical of moral codes:

They are individual and own

The moral code is about morality and morality is something individual. Therefore, people must be free to choose and decide if they accept a moral code or not and must consider it as their own.

This is due to the fact that it is in the exercise of individual action where the application of the norms and values ​​that make up the code occurs.

They are shared and coercive

Since the moral code is a kind of contract that the individuals of a social group establish among themselves, the norms and values ​​are shared by the group.

Failure to comply with the rules and values ​​of the contract generates reactions in the group aimed at punishing non-compliance with the code.

An example of this is when a person performs an action that does not conform to moral standards or values ​​and is judged immoral and socially rejected by the rest of society.

are hereditary

Moral codes are inherited from one generation to the next through the family or through formal systems such as school, church, etc. In this way, individuals from a young age begin to assimilate them and accept them as their own.

They are universal but also particular

There are some moral codes that are universal or nearly universal. They are accepted by the majority of the world’s population, such as the moral norm of “not killing”.

However, these codes depend on the social, historical and cultural context in which a certain social group is found. Thus, for example, during a war this norm is transformed and acquires different nuances and exceptions.

They evolve and transform

Moral codes are norms and values ​​that remain stable over time but are not immovable. Changes in the group environment associated with a moral code generate modifications or adaptations in it.

For example, in the Middle Ages, the moral code was based on the «deadly sins» and the «cardinal virtues», but in today’s society, this code does not have the same validity and has been substantially modified.


The different types of moral codes respond to the nature of the group that governs them. They can be based on:

The religion

The code bases its values ​​and norms on religious beliefs and non-compliance is punished both by society and by divine entities. Some of the oldest examples of moral codes are based on religion, such as the Divine Code.


This is the case of codes imposed by laws such as the Constitution of a country. In this case, non-compliance with its rules is sanctioned both by the State (fine, imprisonment, etc.) and by society.

Traditions and customs

They are the codes that base their values ​​and norms on the idea of ​​“it has always been done that way”. They are typical of small groups.

Examples of Moral Codes

The United States Constitution

The Constitution of the United States, created in 1787, is a moral code in which the thirteen states that make up the federation reached various agreements in order to regulate their relations. It is the oldest federal constitution in force today.

The Divine Code

It is known as the Noachian Code or «The Seven Laws of Noach» and focuses on the definition of the idea of ​​»good». According to the story, the code came to us through Noah (Noah), to ensure that humanity would not make the same mistakes that had caused the universal flood.

Borgia Codex

It is one of the pre-Hispanic codes. Like other codes that coexisted in pre-Hispanic times, they were based on stories, making use of paint, to disseminate norms and values. This code is focused on fertility, the importance of rain and the lunar stages.

medieval code

This code arose in Medieval Europe between 1170 and 1220. It was made up of 10 main rules known as The Romantic Ten Commandments in which values ​​such as loyalty, honor, robustness and generosity were very important.

Code Hammurabi

The story goes that this code was communicated by King Hammurabi to the people, saying that it had been given to him by the God Shamash.

It was a highly coercive code in which each of the laws was associated with a punishment if it was disobeyed. Most of the punishments were associated with mutilation or death.

Moral Code of Scientology (or Scientology)

Developed in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, it is based on 21 precepts such as “try not to do to others what you don’t want them to do to you”. The vision of this code is strongly utilitarian and pragmatic whose motto is «what is not useful for one, does not work».

moral code of islam

It is a moral code based on religion. It is a broad code that penetrates various spheres of life, regulating both the smallest details of domestic life and international behavior.

The ultimate goal of Islam’s moral code, largely contained in the Qur’an, is for people to live in deep love and submission to Allah.

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