Yes, that’s a good point…
I suggest the definition put forth in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/. It is quite verbose, but it can be summed up in a simple sentence: “The written and unwritten rules of socially acceptable behavior in a specific society at a specific time”.
…but I don’t think this alone is a satisfactory definition. I think there are two definitions that may reasonably be used, one based on the assumption that morality exists objectively, and one that assumes it does not. An admittedly imprecise definition of the two would be this: morality is the extent to which an action is right or wrong, versus the extent to which an action is acceptable.
According to the first definition adultery would always be wrong, while according to the second it would be wrong only until it became popular enough to become generally acceptable at which point it would become right.
Obviously these written and unwritten rules themselves exist objectively, but they are not the same in different societies and in different times. The written rules are usually codified into a legal system, which rules are enforced by some police and the judicial branch of the society. The unwritten rules are usually enforced by the informal acceptance or rejection by the members of society, which can be positive or negative. The negative assessment carries a “social stigma”, or “shunning”. If someone adheres to these rules, then she is called a “moral” person. If someone rejects these rules, she is usually called an “immoral” or “amoral” person.
I understand this. It begs the question, however, as to whether a society can sustain itself when the public believes that there is no right or wrong, but only legal and illegal - or socially acceptable or not.
But usually you cannot get away with it [doing whatever you want regardless of the laws]- precisely because you live in a society. There is no need for arguments. As they say, even the best arguments lose to properly wielded weapon.
This actually seems unlikely; there simply aren’t enough police (forest rangers, tax inspectors, border patrol…) to catch all (or even most) of the miscreants that decide every day to ignore the laws. How well do you think they’d function if everyone was liberated by a moral code that justified stealing, cheating, and poaching?
*We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. *(John Adams)
You may reject his assertion, but I think we are on the verge of discovering whether or not he was right.