Moral and Morals

Henry T. Secrist
1920 International Journal of Ethics  
T HE commanding officer of one of the training camps during the war said to me that he was not concerned with the morals of his men but he would not stand having a man in the United States uniform drunk and he would use every means in his power to prevent it. The language of the statement was adorned with the customary army emphasis and has to be toned down to suit peace-time tastes. But the feeling of the officer was very strong. He was also an officer of the regular army. There was no
more » ... here was no intimation that he would want his position kept secret. Besides he acted on what he said. His own morals were good. He and those under him were noticeably concerned with keeping drunkenness out of the uniforms and with many other practices and habits which interfered with the discipline and efficiency and the appearance of the soldiers. Many of these things would generally be counted within the region of morals, but as morals they had no influence with the commandant. It was as matters of morale that he was interested in them and not as matters of morals. There was, and doubtless is, this distinction between morale and morals. Morale won its place in the army and navy. It had a standing of its own. Officers who came to believe in the many influences within and without the camps which helped to create morale among the men would have resented the idea that they were deciding and enforcing ideas and rules of right and wrong. And there were features of morale which plainly did not touch morals. Confidence in the ability of their leaders, the sense of certain skill in tactics and in the handling of arms, had a place in creating the spirit which was commonly known as morale. The need of morale was so generally recognized that morale officers were appointed. And the word itself gained such an honorable distinction that a department has been created.
doi:10.1086/intejethi.31.1.2377165 fatcat:ffv3gzhsaremdn4ufdjrpdpcyi