Ethics and law differ in that ethics are social guidelines based on moral principles and values while laws are rules and regulations that have specific penalties and consequences when violated. Ethics do not have punishments, fines or associated penalties when people fail to abide by them while laws do. Both set standards of expected societal actions, but laws enforce actions while ethics set forth social guidelines.
Laws and ethics are found in virtually all spheres of society. They govern actions of individuals around the United States and the world on a daily basis. Laws and ethics often work hand-in-hand to ensure that citizens act in a certain manner, and likewise coordinate efforts to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Although most ethics established at the national level do not set penalties for violations of civil codes, many individual institutions can choose to establish remedial actions for breaches of ethics rules. In some instances, schools, companies and other companies have rules that coordinate with a code of ethics, and these institutions may impose penalties for individuals who violate those rules. In some instances, laws are established based on ethics, principles or morals. In these instances, morals help to establish a minimal level of safety or expected behavior, which in turn facilitates the act of establishing governing laws.