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Mores

The term mores (pronounced in two syllables) as used in Sociology is used only in the plural. The Latin singular, which is not used in English, is mos. The English word morality comes from the same root, as does the noun moral, which can mean the 'core meaning of a story'.

Mores refer to a collection of strongly held norms or customs. These derive from the established practices of a society rather than its written laws. Taboos form the subset of mores that forbid a society's most outrageous behaviours such as incest and murder. Usually these are formalized in some kind of moral code, e.g. commandments. Most sociologists reject the thesis that the formalization matters as much as the informal social response of disgust and isolation of offenders.

However, constant exposure to social mores is thought by some to lead to development of an individual moral core, which is pre-rational and consists of a set of inhibitions that cannot be easily characterized except as potential inhibitions against taking opportunities that the family or society does not consider desirable. These in turn cannot be easily separated from individual opinions or fears of getting caught.



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