ethics
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending
concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas. They are understood to be the fundamental building blocks of the concept behind principles, thoughts and beliefs. They play an important role in all aspects of cognition. As such, concepts are studied by sev ...
s of
right Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convent ...
and wrong
behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English) is the range of Action (philosophy), actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or Artificial Intelligence, artificial entities in some environment. These systems c ...
".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' The field of ethics, along with
aesthetics Aesthetics, or esthetics, is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines aesthetic values, ...
, concerns matters of value; these fields comprise the branch of philosophy called
axiology Axiology (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''axia'': "value, worth"; and , ''wiktionary:-logia, -logia'': "study of") is the Philosophy, philosophical study of value (ethics), value. It includes questions about the nature and classification of values ...
. Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human
morality Morality () is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper (right) and those that are improper (wrong). Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of co ...
by defining concepts such as
good and evil In religion, ethics, philosophy, and psychology "good and evil" is a very common dichotomy. In cultures with Manichaeism, Manichaean and Abrahamic religious influence, evil is perceived as the dualistic cosmology, dualistic antagonistic oppos ...
, right and
wrong A wrong (from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest ...
,
virtue Virtue ( la, virtus) is morality, moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is Value (ethics), valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. In other words, it is a behavior that sh ...
and
vice A vice is a practice, behaviour, or Habit (psychology), habit generally considered immorality, immoral, sinful, crime, criminal, rude, taboo, depraved, degrading, deviant or perverted in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refe ...
,
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspective ...
and
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, definitions of", in C ...
. As a field of
intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, and who proposes solutions for the normative problems of society. Coming from the world of culture Culture () is ...
inquiry, moral philosophy is related to the fields of
moral psychology Moral psychology is a field of study in both philosophy and psychology. Historically, the term "moral psychology" was used relatively narrowly to refer to the study of moral development. Moral psychology eventually came to refer more broadly to var ...
,
descriptive ethics Descriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people's beliefs about morality. It contrasts with prescriptive or normative ethics, which is the study of ethical theories that prescribe how people ought to act, and with meta- ...
, and
value theory In ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' The field of ...
. Three major areas of study within ethics recognized today are: #
Meta-ethics In metaphilosophy and ethics, meta-ethics is the study of the nature, scope, and meaning of moral judgment. It is one of the three branches of ethics generally studied by philosophers, the others being normative ethics (questions of how one ought ...
, concerning the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions, and how their
truth value In logic Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both Mathematical logic, formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of Validity (logic), deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science in ...
s (if any) can be determined; #
Normative ethics Normative ethics is the study of ethics, ethical behaviour and is the branch of Philosophy, philosophical ethics that investigates the questions that arise regarding how one ought to act, in a Morality, moral sense. Normative ethics is distinct ...
, concerning the practical means of determining a moral course of action; #
Applied ethics Applied ethics refers to the practical aspect of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadersh ...
, concerning what a person is obligated (or permitted) to do in a specific situation or a particular domain of action.


Defining ethics

The English word ''ethics'' is derived from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
word ''ēthikós'' (), meaning "relating to one's character", which itself comes from the root word ''êthos'' () meaning "character, moral nature". This word was transferred into
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
as ''ethica'' and then into French as ''éthique'', from which it was transferred into English.
Rushworth Kidder Rushworth Moulton Kidder (May 8, 1944 – March 5, 2012) was an American author, ethicist, and professor. Kidder founded the Institute for Global Ethics in 1990, and is the author of ''Moral Courage'' and ''How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolv ...
states that "standard definitions of ''ethics'' have typically included such phrases as 'the science of the ideal human character' or 'the science of moral duty'. Richard William Paul and
Linda Elder Linda Elder is an American people, American educational psychologist, author and president of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. She is currently an executive director of the Center for Critical Thinking. Elder is best known for her work on cri ...
define ethics as "a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures". The ''
Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy ''The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy'' (1995; second edition 1999; third edition 2015) is a dictionary of philosophy published by Cambridge University Press and edited by the philosopher Robert Audi. There are 28 members on the Board of Editor ...
'' states that the word "ethics" is "commonly used interchangeably with '
morality Morality () is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper (right) and those that are improper (wrong). Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of co ...
' ... and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group or individual." Paul and Elder state that most people confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs, the law, and do not treat ethics as a stand-alone concept. The word ''ethics'' in English refers to several things. It can refer to philosophical ethics or moral philosophy—a project that attempts to use reason to answer various kinds of ethical questions. As the English moral philosopher
Bernard Williams Sir Bernard Arthur Owen Williams, Fellow of the British Academy, FBA (21 September 1929 – 10 June 2003) was an English Ethics, moral philosopher. His publications include ''Problems of the Self'' (1973), ''Ethics and the Limits of Philos ...
writes, attempting to explain moral philosophy: "What makes an inquiry a philosophical one is reflective generality and a style of argument that claims to be rationally persuasive." Williams describes the content of this area of inquiry as addressing the very broad question, "how one should live". Ethics can also refer to a common human ability to think about ethical problems that is not particular to philosophy. As
bioethicist Bioethics is both a field of study and professional practice, interested in ethics, ethical issues related to health (primarily focused on the human, but also increasingly includes animal ethics), including those emerging from advances in biol ...
Larry Churchill has written: "Ethics, understood as the capacity to think critically about moral values and direct our actions in terms of such
values In ethics and social sciences, value denotes the degree of importance of something or action, with the aim of determining which actions are best to do or what way is best to live (normative ethics in ethics), or to describe the significance of dif ...
, is a generic human capacity."


Meta-ethics

Meta-ethics is the branch of philosophical ethics that asks how we understand, know about, and what we mean when we talk about what is right and what is wrong. An ethical question pertaining to a particular practical situation—such as, "Should I eat this particular piece of chocolate cake?"—cannot be a meta-ethical question (rather, this is an applied ethical question). A meta-ethical question is abstract and relates to a wide range of more specific practical questions. For example, "Is it ever possible to have a secure knowledge of what is right and wrong?" is a meta-ethical question. Meta-ethics has always accompanied philosophical ethics. For example, Aristotle implies that less precise knowledge is possible in ethics than in other spheres of inquiry, and he regards ethical knowledge as depending upon habit and
acculturation Acculturation is a process of social, psychological, and cultural change that stems from the balancing of two cultures while adapting to the prevailing culture of the society. Acculturation is a process in which an individual adopts, acquires and ...
in a way that makes it distinctive from other kinds of knowledge. Meta-ethics is also important in G.E. Moore's ''
Principia Ethica ''Principia Ethica'' is a 1903 book by the British philosopher G. E. Moore, in which the author insists on the indefinability of "good" and provides an exposition of the naturalistic fallacy. ''Principia Ethica'' was influential, and Moore's ...
'' from 1903. In it he first wrote about what he called ''the naturalistic fallacy''. Moore was seen to reject naturalism in ethics, in his open-question argument. This made thinkers look again at second order questions about ethics. Earlier, the Scottish
philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Suc ...
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 New Style, NS (26 April 1711 Old Style, OS) – 25 August 1776)Maurice Cranston, Cranston, Maurice, and T. E. Jessop, Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999avid Hume" ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrieve ...
had put forward a similar view on the difference between facts and values. Studies of how we know in ethics divide into cognitivism and
non-cognitivism Non-cognitivism is the meta-ethics, meta-ethical view that ethical Sentence (linguistics), sentences do not express propositions (i.e., statement (logic), statements) and thus cannot be truth value, true or false (they are not truth-apt). A nonco ...
; these, respectively, take descriptive and non-descriptive approaches to moral goodness or value. Non-cognitivism is the view that when we judge something as morally right or wrong, this is neither true nor false. We may, for example, be only expressing our emotional feelings about these things. Cognitivism can then be seen as the claim that when we talk about right and wrong, we are talking about matters of fact. The
ontology In metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility. It includes questions about ...
of ethics is about value-bearing things or properties, that is, the kind of things or stuff referred to by ethical propositions. Non-descriptivists and non-cognitivists believe that ethics does not need a specific ontology since ethical propositions do not refer. This is known as an anti-realist position. Realists, on the other hand, must explain what kind of entities, properties or states are relevant for ethics, how they have value, and why they guide and motivate our actions.


Moral skepticism

Moral skepticism (or moral scepticism) is a class of metaethical theories in which all members entail that no one has any moral knowledge. Many moral skeptics also make the stronger, modal claim that moral knowledge is impossible. Moral skepticism is particularly against
moral realism Moral realism (also ethical realism) is the position that ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior ...
which holds the view that there are knowable and objective moral truths. Some proponents of moral skepticism include
Pyrrho Pyrrho of Elis (; grc, Πύρρων ὁ Ἠλεῖος, Pyrrhо̄n ho Ēleios; ), born in Elis, Greece, was a Greek philosopher of Classical antiquity, credited as being the first Greek Philosophical skepticism, skeptic philosopher and found ...
,
Aenesidemus Aenesidemus ( grc, Αἰνησίδημος or Αἰνεσίδημος) was a Greece, Greek Pyrrhonism, Pyrrhonist philosopher, born in Knossos on the island of Crete. He lived in the 1st century BC, taught in Alexandria and flourished shortly a ...
,
Sextus Empiricus Sextus Empiricus ( grc-gre, Σέξτος Ἐμπειρικός, ; ) was a Greek Pyrrhonist philosopher and Empiric school physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Comm ...
,
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 New Style, NS (26 April 1711 Old Style, OS) – 25 August 1776)Maurice Cranston, Cranston, Maurice, and T. E. Jessop, Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999avid Hume" ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrieve ...
,
Max Stirner Johann Kaspar Schmidt (25 October 1806 – 26 June 1856), known professionally as Max Stirner, was a German post-Hegelian philosopher, dealing mainly with the Hegelian notion of social alienation and self-consciousness. Stirner is often seen as ...
,
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, Prose poetry, prose poet, cultural critic, Philology, philologist, and composer whose work has exerted a profound influence on contemporary philo ...
, and J.L. Mackie. Moral skepticism is divided into three sub-classes: * Moral error theory (or
moral nihilism Moral nihilism (also known as ethical nihilism) is the meta-ethical view that nothing is morally right or wrong. Moral nihilism is distinct from moral relativism Moral relativism or ethical relativism (often reformulated as relativist ethi ...
). * Epistemological moral skepticism. *
Non-cognitivism Non-cognitivism is the meta-ethics, meta-ethical view that ethical Sentence (linguistics), sentences do not express propositions (i.e., statement (logic), statements) and thus cannot be truth value, true or false (they are not truth-apt). A nonco ...
. All of these three theories share the same conclusions, which are as follows: :(a) we are never justified in believing that moral claims (claims of the form "state of affairs x is good," "action y is morally obligatory," etc.) are true and, even more so :(b) we never know that any moral claim is true. However, each method arrives at (a) and (b) by different routes. Moral error theory holds that we do not know that any moral claim is true because :(i) all moral claims are false, :(ii) we have reason to believe that all moral claims are false, and :(iii) since we are not justified in believing any claim we have reason to deny, we are not justified in believing any moral claims. Epistemological moral skepticism is a subclass of theory, the members of which include Pyrrhonian moral skepticism and dogmatic moral skepticism. All members of epistemological moral skepticism share two things: first, they acknowledge that we are unjustified in believing any moral claim, and second, they are
agnostic Agnosticism is the view or belief that the existence of God, of the divinity, divine or the supernatural is unknown or Uncertainty, unknowable. (page 56 in 1967 edition) Another definition provided is the view that "human reason is incapable o ...
on whether (i) is true (i.e. on whether all moral claims are false). *Pyrrhonian moral skepticism holds that the reason we are unjustified in believing any moral claim is that it is irrational for us to believe either that any moral claim is true or that any moral claim is false. Thus, in addition to being agnostic on whether (i) is true, Pyrrhonian moral skepticism denies (ii). *Dogmatic moral skepticism, on the other hand, ''affirms'' (ii) and cites (ii)'s truth as the reason we are unjustified in believing any moral claim. Noncognitivism holds that we can never know that any moral claim is true because moral claims are ''incapable'' of being true or false (they are not truth-apt). Instead, moral claims are imperatives (e.g. "Don't steal babies!"), expressions of emotion (e.g. "stealing babies: Boo!"), or expressions of "pro-attitudes" ("I do not believe that babies should be stolen.")


Normative ethics

Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking. Normative ethics is distinct from
meta-ethics In metaphilosophy and ethics, meta-ethics is the study of the nature, scope, and meaning of moral judgment. It is one of the three branches of ethics generally studied by philosophers, the others being normative ethics (questions of how one ought ...
because normative ethics examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts. Normative ethics is also distinct from
descriptive ethics Descriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people's beliefs about morality. It contrasts with prescriptive or normative ethics, which is the study of ethical theories that prescribe how people ought to act, and with meta- ...
, as the latter is an
empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence is of central importance to the sciences and ...
investigation of people's moral beliefs. To put it another way, descriptive ethics would be concerned with determining what proportion of people believe that killing is always wrong, while normative ethics is concerned with whether it is correct to hold such a belief. Hence, normative ethics is sometimes called prescriptive rather than descriptive. However, on certain versions of the meta-ethical view called
moral realism Moral realism (also ethical realism) is the position that ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior ...
, moral facts are both descriptive and prescriptive at the same time. Traditionally, normative ethics (also known as moral theory) was the study of what makes actions right and wrong. These theories offered an overarching moral principle one could appeal to in resolving difficult moral decisions. At the turn of the 20th century, moral theories became more complex and were no longer concerned solely with rightness and wrongness, but were interested in many different kinds of moral status. During the middle of the century, the study of normative ethics declined as meta-ethics grew in prominence. This focus on meta-ethics was in part caused by an intense linguistic focus in
analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a Academic discipline, branch and Philosophical tradition, tradition of philosophy using philosophical analysis, analysis, popular in the Western world and particularly the Anglosphere, which began around the turn of the 2 ...
and by the popularity of
logical positivism Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, is a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle (also known as the verifiability criterion ...
.


Virtue ethics

Virtue ethics describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior, and it is used to describe the ethics of early Greek philosophers such as
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher from Classical Athens, Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the Ethics, ethical tradition of thought. An enigmati ...
and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
, and ancient Indian philosophers such as
Valluvar Thiruvalluvar (Tamil language, Tamil: திருவள்ளுவர்), commonly known as Valluvar, was a celebrated Tamil people, Tamil poet and philosopher. He is best known as the author of the ''Tirukkuṟaḷ'', a collection of coup ...
.
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher from Classical Athens, Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the Ethics, ethical tradition of thought. An enigmati ...
(469–399 BC) was one of the first Greek philosophers to encourage both scholars and the common citizen to turn their attention from the outside world to the condition of humankind. In this view,
knowledge Knowledge can be defined as Descriptive knowledge, awareness of facts or as Procedural knowledge, practical skills, and may also refer to Knowledge by acquaintance, familiarity with objects or situations. Knowledge of facts, also called pro ...
bearing on human life was placed highest, while all other knowledge was secondary. Self-knowledge was considered necessary for success and inherently an essential good. A self-aware person will act completely within his capabilities to his pinnacle, while an ignorant person will flounder and encounter difficulty. To Socrates, a person must become aware of every fact (and its context) relevant to his existence, if he wishes to attain self-knowledge. He posited that people will naturally do what is good if they know what is right. Evil or bad actions are the results of ignorance. If a criminal was truly aware of the intellectual and spiritual consequences of his or her actions, he or she would neither commit nor even consider committing those actions. Any person who knows what is truly right will automatically do it, according to Socrates. While he correlated knowledge with
virtue Virtue ( la, virtus) is morality, moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is Value (ethics), valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. In other words, it is a behavior that sh ...
, he similarly equated virtue with joy. The truly wise man will know what is right, do what is good, and therefore be happy.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
(384–323 BC) posited an ethical system that may be termed "virtuous." In Aristotle's view, when a person acts in accordance with virtue this person will do good and be content. Unhappiness and frustration are caused by doing wrong, leading to failed goals and a poor life. Therefore, it is imperative for people to act in accordance with virtue, which is only attainable by the practice of the virtues in order to be content and complete. Happiness was held to be the ultimate goal. All other things, such as civic life or
wealth Wealth is the abundance of Value (economics), valuable financial assets or property, physical possessions which can be converted into a form that can be used for financial transaction, transactions. This includes the core meaning as held in the ...
, were only made worthwhile and of benefit when employed in the practice of the virtues. The practice of the virtues is the surest path to happiness. Aristotle asserted that the soul of man had three natures: body (physical/metabolism), animal (emotional/appetite), and rational (mental/conceptual). Physical nature can be assuaged through exercise and care; emotional nature through indulgence of instinct and urges; and mental nature through human reason and developed potential. Rational development was considered the most important, as essential to philosophical self-awareness, and as uniquely human. Moderation was encouraged, with the extremes seen as degraded and immoral. For example,
courage Courage (also called bravery or valor) is the choice and willingness to confront Suffering, agony, pain, Risk, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Valor is courage or bravery, especially in battle. Physical courage is bravery in the face of ...
is the moderate virtue between the extremes of
cowardice Cowardice is a trait wherein excessive fear prevents an individual from taking a risk or facing danger. It is the opposite of courage. As a label, "cowardice" indicates a failure of character in the face of a challenge. One who succumbs to cowa ...
and recklessness. Man should not simply live, but live well with conduct governed by virtue. This is regarded as difficult, as virtue denotes doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reason.
Valluvar Thiruvalluvar (Tamil language, Tamil: திருவள்ளுவர்), commonly known as Valluvar, was a celebrated Tamil people, Tamil poet and philosopher. He is best known as the author of the ''Tirukkuṟaḷ'', a collection of coup ...
(before 5th century CE) keeps virtue, or ''aṟam'' (
dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions, such as Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religions, Indian religion or ''dharma'', a religious and univers ...
) as he calls it, as the cornerstone throughout the writing of the Kural literature. While religious scriptures generally consider ''aṟam'' as divine in nature, Valluvar describes it as a way of life rather than any spiritual observance, a way of harmonious living that leads to universal happiness. Contrary to what other contemporary works say, Valluvar holds that ''aṟam'' is common for all, irrespective of whether the person is a bearer of palanquin or the rider in it. Valluvar considered
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspective ...
as a facet of ''aṟam.'' While ancient Greek philosophers such as
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
, and their descendants opined that justice cannot be defined and that it was a divine mystery, Valluvar positively suggested that a divine origin is not required to define the concept of justice. In the words of V. R. Nedunchezhiyan, justice according to Valluvar "dwells in the minds of those who have knowledge of the standard of right and wrong; so too deceit dwells in the minds which breed fraud."


Stoicism

The Stoic philosopher
Epictetus Epictetus (; grc-gre, Ἐπίκτητος, ''Epíktētos''; 50 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born into slavery at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present-day Pamukkale, in western Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially ...
posited that the greatest good was contentment and serenity. Peace of mind, or ''
apatheia Apatheia ( el, ἀπάθεια; from ''a-'' "without" and ''pathos'' "suffering" or "passion"), in Stoicism, refers to a state of mind in which one is not disturbed by the passions (philosophy), passions. It might better be translated by the word e ...
'', was of the highest value; self-mastery over one's desires and emotions leads to spiritual peace. The "unconquerable will" is central to this philosophy. The individual's will should be independent and inviolate. Allowing a person to disturb the mental equilibrium is, in essence, offering yourself in slavery. If a person is free to anger you at will, you have no control over your internal world, and therefore no freedom. Freedom from material attachments is also necessary. If a thing breaks, the person should not be upset, but realize it was a thing that could break. Similarly, if someone should die, those close to them should hold to their serenity because the loved one was made of flesh and blood destined to death. Stoic philosophy says to accept things that cannot be changed, resigning oneself to the existence and enduring in a rational fashion. Death is not feared. People do not "lose" their life, but instead "return", for they are returning to God (who initially gave what the person is as a person). Epictetus said difficult problems in life should not be avoided, but rather embraced. They are spiritual exercises needed for the health of the spirit, just as physical exercise is required for the health of the body. He also stated that sex and sexual desire are to be avoided as the greatest threat to the
integrity Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and Honesty, truthfulness or accuracy of one's actio ...
and equilibrium of a man's mind. Abstinence is highly desirable. Epictetus said remaining abstinent in the face of temptation was a victory for which a man could be proud.


Contemporary virtue ethics

Modern virtue ethics was popularized during the late 20th century in large part due to a revival of
Aristotelianism Aristotelianism ( ) is a philosophical tradition inspired by the work of Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Cla ...
, and as a response to G.E.M. Anscombe's " Modern Moral Philosophy". Anscombe argues that
consequentialist In ethical philosophy, consequentialism is a class of normative ethics, normative, Teleology, teleological ethical theories that holds that the wikt:consequence, consequences of one's Action (philosophy), conduct are the ultimate basis for judgm ...
and deontological ethics are only feasible as universal theories if the two schools ground themselves in
divine law Divine law is any body of law that is perceived as deriving from a Transcendence (religion), transcendent source, such as the will of God or godsin contrast to man-made law or to secular law. According to Angelos Chaniotis and Rudolph F. Peters, di ...
. As a deeply devoted Christian herself, Anscombe proposed that either those who do not give ethical credence to notions of divine law take up virtue ethics, which does not necessitate universal laws as agents themselves are investigated for virtue or vice and held up to "universal standards", or that those who wish to be utilitarian or consequentialist ground their theories in religious conviction.
Alasdair MacIntyre Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre (; born 12 January 1929) is a Scottish-American philosopher who has contributed to moral philosophy, moral and political philosophy as well as history of philosophy and theology. MacIntyre's ''After Virtue'' (1981) i ...
, who wrote the book '' After Virtue'', was a key contributor and proponent of modern virtue ethics, although some claim that MacIntyre supports a relativistic account of virtue based on cultural norms, not objective standards.
Martha Nussbaum Martha Craven Nussbaum (; born May 6, 1947) is an American philosopher and the current Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, where she is jointly appointed in the law school and the philosoph ...
, a contemporary virtue ethicist, objects to MacIntyre's relativism, among that of others, and responds to relativist objections to form an objective account in her work "Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach". However, Nussbaum's accusation of relativism appears to be a misreading. In ''Whose Justice, Whose Rationality?'', MacIntyre's ambition of taking a rational path beyond relativism was quite clear when he stated "rival claims made by different traditions are to be evaluated without relativism" (p. 354) because indeed "rational debate between and rational choice among rival traditions is possible” (p. 352). ''Complete Conduct Principles for the 21st Century''John Newton, Ph.D., ''Complete Conduct Principles for the 21st Century'' (2000). . blended the Eastern virtue ethics and the Western virtue ethics, with some modifications to suit the 21st Century, and formed a part of contemporary virtue ethics. Mortimer J. Adler described Aristotle's
Nicomachean Ethics The ''Nicomachean Ethics'' (; ; grc, Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια, ) is Aristotle's best-known work on ethics, the science of the good for human life, which is Teleology, the goal or end at which all our actions aim. (I§2) The aim of the i ...
as a "unique book in the Western tradition of moral philosophy, the only ethics that is sound, practical, and undogmatic." One major trend in contemporary virtue ethics is the Modern Stoicism movement.


Intuitive ethics

Ethical intuitionism (also called moral intuitionism) is a family of views in moral
epistemology Epistemology (; ), or the theory of knowledge, is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemology is considered a major subfield of philosophy, along with other major subfields such as ethics, logic, and metaphysics. Epis ...
(and, on some definitions,
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of conscio ...
). At minimum, ethical intuitionism is the thesis that our intuitive awareness of value, or intuitive knowledge of evaluative facts, forms the foundation of our ethical knowledge. The view is at its core a
foundationalism Foundationalism concerns epistemology, philosophical theories of knowledge resting upon non-inferential knowledge, justified belief, or some secure foundation of certainty such as a conclusion inferred from a basis of sound premises.Simon Blackbu ...
about moral knowledge: it is the view that some moral truths can be known non-inferentially (i.e., known without one needing to infer them from other truths one believes). Such an epistemological view implies that there are moral beliefs with propositional contents; so it implies cognitivism. As such, ethical intuitionism is to be contrasted with coherentist approaches to moral epistemology, such as those that depend on
reflective equilibrium Reflective equilibrium is a state of balance Balance or balancing may refer to: Common meanings * Balance (ability) in biomechanics * Balance (accounting) * Balance or weighing scale * Equality (mathematics), Balance as in equality or equilibri ...
.Shafer-Landau & Cuneo (2012), p. 385 Throughout the philosophical literature, the term "ethical intuitionism" is frequently used with significant variation in its sense. This article's focus on foundationalism reflects the core commitments of contemporary self-identified ethical intuitionists.Stratton-Lake (2014) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intuitionism-ethics/ Sufficiently broadly defined, ethical intuitionism can be taken to encompass cognitivist forms of moral sense theory.Stratton-Lake (2013), p. 337 It is usually furthermore taken as essential to ethical intuitionism that there be self-evident or '' a priori'' moral knowledge; this counts against considering moral sense theory to be a species of intuitionism. Ethical intuitionism was first clearly shown in use by the philosopher Francis Hutcheson. Later ethical intuitionists of influence and note include
Henry Sidgwick Henry Sidgwick (; 31 May 1838 – 28 August 1900) was an English Utilitarianism, utilitarian philosopher and economist. He was the Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy, Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Cambridge f ...
, G.E. Moore, Harold Arthur Prichard, C.S. Lewis and, most influentially, Robert Audi. Objections to ethical intuitionism include whether or not there are objective moral values (an assumption which the ethical system is based upon) the question of why many disagree over ethics if they are absolute, and whether
Occam's razor Occam's razor, Ockham's razor, or Ocham's razor ( la, novacula Occami), also known as the principle of parsimony or the law of parsimony ( la, lex parsimoniae), is the problem-solving principle that "entities should not be multiplied beyond neces ...
cancels such a theory out entirely.


Hedonism

Hedonism posits that the principal ethic is maximizing
pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain or suffering, which are forms of feeling bad. It is closely related to value, desire and action: humans and other conscious animals ...
and minimizing
pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, ...
. There are several schools of Hedonist thought ranging from those advocating the indulgence of even momentary desires to those teaching a pursuit of spiritual bliss. In their consideration of consequences, they range from those advocating self-gratification regardless of the pain and expense to others, to those stating that the most ethical pursuit maximizes pleasure and happiness for the most people.


Cyrenaic hedonism

Founded by
Aristippus Aristippus of Cyrene (; grc, Ἀρίστιππος ὁ Κυρηναῖος; c. 435 – c. 356 BCE) was a hedonistic Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that pleasure plays a central role in them. ''Psycholo ...
of Cyrene, Cyrenaics supported immediate gratification or pleasure. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Even fleeting desires should be indulged, for fear the opportunity should be forever lost. There was little to no concern with the future, the present dominating in the pursuit of immediate pleasure. Cyrenaic hedonism encouraged the pursuit of enjoyment and indulgence without hesitation, believing pleasure to be the only good.


Epicureanism

Epicurean ethics is a hedonist form of virtue ethics.
Epicurus Epicurus (; grc-gre, wikt:Ἐπίκουρος, Ἐπίκουρος ; 341–270 BC) was an Greek philosophy, ancient Greek philosopher and sage (philosophy), sage who founded Epicureanism, a highly influential school of philosophy. He was born ...
"presented a sustained argument that pleasure, correctly understood, will coincide with virtue." He rejected the extremism of the Cyrenaics, believing some pleasures and indulgences to be detrimental to human beings.
Epicureans Epicureanism is a system of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed ...
observed that indiscriminate indulgence sometimes resulted in negative consequences. Some experiences were therefore rejected out of hand, and some unpleasant experiences endured in the present to ensure a better life in the future. To Epicurus, the ''summum bonum'', or greatest good, was prudence, exercised through moderation and caution. Excessive indulgence can be destructive to pleasure and can even lead to pain. For example, eating one food too often makes a person lose a taste for it. Eating too much food at once leads to discomfort and ill-health. Pain and fear were to be avoided. Living was essentially good, barring pain and illness. Death was not to be feared. Fear was considered the source of most unhappiness. Conquering the fear of death would naturally lead to a happier life. Epicurus reasoned if there were an afterlife and immortality, the fear of death was irrational. If there was no life after death, then the person would not be alive to suffer, fear, or worry; he would be non-existent in death. It is irrational to fret over circumstances that do not exist, such as one's state of death in the absence of an afterlife.


State consequentialism

State consequentialism, also known as Mohist consequentialism, is an ethical theory that evaluates the moral worth of an action based on how much it contributes to the basic goods of a state. The ''
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy The ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (''SEP'') combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with scholarly peer review, peer-reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by S ...
'' describes Mohist consequentialism, dating back to the 5th century BC, as "a remarkably sophisticated version based on a plurality of intrinsic goods taken as constitutive of human welfare". Unlike utilitarianism, which views pleasure as a moral good, "the basic goods in Mohist consequentialist thinking are … order, material wealth, and increase in population". During
Mozi Mozi (; ; Latinization (literature), Latinized as Micius ; – ), original name Mo Di (), was a Chinese philosophy, Chinese philosopher who founded the school of Mohism during the Hundred Schools of Thought period (the early portion of the ...
's era, war and famines were common, and population growth was seen as a moral necessity for a harmonious society. The "material wealth" of Mohist consequentialism refers to
basic needs The basic needs approach is one of the major approaches to the measurement of absolute poverty in developing countries globally. It works to define the absolute minimum resources necessary for long-term physical well-being, usually in terms of Co ...
like shelter and clothing, and the "order" of Mohist consequentialism refers to Mozi's stance against warfare and violence, which he viewed as pointless and a threat to social stability.
Stanford Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. S ...
sinologist Sinology, or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China primarily through Chinese philosophy, Chinese language, language, Chinese literature, literature, Chinese culture, culture and History of China, history and ...
David Shepherd Nivison, in '' The Cambridge History of Ancient China'', writes that the moral goods of Mohism "are interrelated: more basic wealth, then more reproduction; more people, then more production and wealth … if people have plenty, they would be good, filial, kind, and so on unproblematically." The Mohists believed that morality is based on "promoting the benefit of all under heaven and eliminating harm to all under heaven". In contrast to Bentham's views, state consequentialism is not utilitarian because it is not hedonistic or individualistic. The importance of outcomes that are good for the community outweighs the importance of individual pleasure and pain.


Consequentialism

Consequentialism refers to moral theories that hold the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action (or create a structure for judgment, see rule consequentialism). Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence. This view is often expressed as the
aphorism An aphorism (from Greek ἀφορισμός: ''aphorismos'', denoting 'delimitation', 'distinction', and 'definition') is a concise, terse, laconic, or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. Aphorisms are often handed down by ...
''"The ends justify the means"''. The term "consequentialism" was coined by G.E.M. Anscombe in her essay " Modern Moral Philosophy" in 1958, to describe what she saw as the central error of certain moral theories, such as those propounded by Mill and Sidgwick. Since then, the term has become common in English-language ethical theory. The defining feature of consequentialist moral theories is the weight given to the consequences in evaluating the rightness and wrongness of actions. In consequentialist theories, the consequences of an action or rule generally outweigh other considerations. Apart from this basic outline, there is little else that can be unequivocally said about consequentialism as such. However, there are some questions that many consequentialist theories address: * What sort of consequences count as good consequences? * Who is the primary beneficiary of moral action? * How are the consequences judged and who judges them? One way to divide various consequentialisms is by the many types of consequences that are taken to matter most, that is, which consequences count as good states of affairs. According to
utilitarianism In ethical philosophy, utilitarianism is a family of Normative ethics, normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit ...
, a good action is one that results in an increase and positive effect, and the best action is one that results in that effect for the greatest number. Closely related is eudaimonic consequentialism, according to which a full, flourishing life, which may or may not be the same as enjoying a great deal of pleasure, is the ultimate aim. Similarly, one might adopt an aesthetic consequentialism, in which the ultimate aim is to produce beauty. However, one might fix on non-psychological goods as the relevant effect. Thus, one might pursue an increase in material equality or political liberty instead of something like the more ephemeral "pleasure". Other theories adopt a package of several goods, all to be promoted equally. Whether a particular consequentialist theory focuses on a single good or many, conflicts and tensions between different good states of affairs are to be expected and must be adjudicated.


Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that argues the proper course of action is one that maximizes a positive effect, such as "happiness", "welfare", or the ability to live according to personal preferences.
Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 ld Style and New Style dates, O.S. 4 February 1747– 6 June 1832) was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. Bentham defined as the "fundam ...
and
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873) was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the ...
are influential proponents of this school of thought. In ''A Fragment on Government'' Bentham says 'it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong' and describes this as a fundamental
axiom An axiom, postulate, or assumption is a statement (logic), statement that is taken to be truth, true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Ancient Greek word (), meaning 'that whi ...
. In ''An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation'' he talks of 'the principle of utility' but later prefers "the greatest happiness principle". Utilitarianism is the paradigmatic example of a consequentialist moral theory. This form of utilitarianism holds that the morally correct action is the one that produces the best outcome for all people affected by the action.
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873) was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the ...
, in his exposition of utilitarianism, proposed a hierarchy of pleasures, meaning that the pursuit of certain kinds of pleasure is more highly valued than the pursuit of other pleasures. Other noteworthy proponents of utilitarianism are neuroscientist
Sam Harris Samuel Benjamin Harris (born April 9, 1967) is an American philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as ...
, author of '' The Moral Landscape'', and moral philosopher
Peter Singer Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher, currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a Secularit ...
, author of, amongst other works, '' Practical Ethics''. The major division within utilitarianism is between ''
act utilitarianism Act utilitarianism is a utilitarian theory of ethics that states that a person's act is morally right if and only if it produces the best possible results in that specific situation. Classical utilitarians, including Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart M ...
'' and ''
rule utilitarianism Rule utilitarianism is a form of utilitarianism that says an action is right as it conforms to a rule that leads to the greatest good, or that "the rightness or wrongness of a particular action is a function of the correctness of the rule of which ...
''. In act utilitarianism, the principle of utility applies directly to each alternative act in a situation of choice. The right act is the one that brings about the best results (or the least bad results). In rule utilitarianism, the principle of utility determines the validity of rules of conduct (moral principles). A rule like promise-keeping is established by looking at the consequences of a world in which people break promises at will and a world in which promises are binding. Right and wrong are the following or breaking of rules that are sanctioned by their utilitarian value. A proposed "middle ground" between these two types is Two-level utilitarianism, where rules are applied in ordinary circumstances, but with an allowance to choose actions outside of such rules when unusual situations call for it.


Deontology

Deontological ethics or deontology (from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, ''deon'', "obligation, duty"; and , ''
-logia ''-logy'' is a suffix In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the Stem (linguistics), stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns, adjectives, and verb endings, which form t ...
'') is an approach to ethics that determines goodness or rightness from examining acts, or the rules and duties that the person doing the act strove to fulfill. This is in contrast to
consequentialism In ethical philosophy, consequentialism is a class of normative ethics, normative, Teleology, teleological ethical theories that holds that the wikt:consequence, consequences of one's Action (philosophy), conduct are the ultimate basis for judgm ...
, in which rightness is based on the consequences of an act, and not the act by itself. Under deontology, an act may be considered right even if it produces a bad consequence, if it follows the ''rule'' or moral law. According to the deontological view, people have a ''duty'' to act in ways that are deemed inherently good ("truth-telling" for example), or follow an objectively obligatory rule (as in
rule utilitarianism Rule utilitarianism is a form of utilitarianism that says an action is right as it conforms to a rule that leads to the greatest good, or that "the rightness or wrongness of a particular action is a function of the correctness of the rule of which ...
).


Kantianism

Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German Philosophy, philosopher and one of the central Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemolo ...
's theory of ethics is considered deontological for several different reasons.Orend, Brian. 2000. ''War and International Justice: A Kantian Perspective''. West Waterloo, Ontario:
Wilfrid Laurier University Press Wilfrid Laurier University Press, based in Waterloo, Ontario, Waterloo, Ontario, is a publisher of scholarly writing and is part of Wilfrid Laurier University. The fourth-largest university press in Canada, WLUP publishes work in a variety of disc ...
: 19.
First, Kant argues that to act in the morally right way, people must act from duty (''Pflicht''). Second, Kant argued that it was not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives of the person who carries out the action. Kant's argument that to act in the morally right way one must act purely from duty begins with an argument that the highest good must be both good in itself and good without qualification.Kant, Immanuel. 1785. 'First Section: Transition from the Common Rational Knowledge of Morals to the Philosophical', Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. Something is "good in itself" when it is intrinsically good, and "good without qualification", when the addition of that thing never makes a situation ethically worse. Kant then argues that those things that are usually thought to be good, such as
intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, value (personal and cultura ...
, perseverance and
pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain or suffering, which are forms of feeling bad. It is closely related to value, desire and action: humans and other conscious animals ...
, fail to be either intrinsically good or good without qualification. Pleasure, for example, appears not to be good without qualification, because when people take pleasure in watching someone suffer, this seems to make the situation ethically worse. He concludes that there is only one thing that is truly good: Kant then argues that the consequences of an act of willing cannot be used to determine that the person has a good will; good consequences could arise by accident from an action that was motivated by a desire to cause harm to an innocent person, and bad consequences could arise from an action that was well-motivated. Instead, he claims, a person has goodwill when he 'acts out of respect for the moral law'. People 'act out of respect for the moral law' when they act in some way ''because'' they have a duty to do so. So, the only thing that is truly good in itself is goodwill, and goodwill is only good when the willer chooses to do something because it is that person's duty, i.e. out of "respect" for the law. He defines respect as "the concept of a worth which thwarts my self-love". Kant's three significant formulations of the
categorical imperative The categorical imperative (german: kategorischer Imperativ) is the central philosophy, philosophical concept in the deontological Kantian ethics, moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Introduced in Kant's 1785 ''Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Mo ...
are: * Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law. * Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end. * Every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in a universal kingdom of ends. Kant argued that the only absolutely good thing is a good will, and so the single determining factor of whether an action is morally right is the will, or motive of the person doing it. If they are acting on a bad maxim, e.g. "I will lie", then their action is wrong, even if some good consequences come of it. In his essay, '' On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns'', arguing against the position of
Benjamin Constant Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (; 25 October 1767 – 8 December 1830), or simply Benjamin Constant, was a French people, Franco-Switzerland, Swiss political thinker, activist and writer on political theory and religion. A committed repub ...
, ''Des réactions politiques'', Kant states that "Hence a lie defined merely as an intentionally untruthful declaration to another man does not require the additional condition that it must do harm to another, as jurists require in their definition (''mendacium est falsiloquium in praeiudicium alterius''). For a lie always harms another; if not some human being, then it nevertheless does harm to humanity in general, inasmuch as it vitiates the very source of right 'Rechtsquelle''... All practical principles of right must contain rigorous truth ... This is because such exceptions would destroy the universality on account of which alone they bear the name of principles."


Divine command theory

Although not all deontologists are religious, some belief in the 'divine command theory', which is actually a cluster of related theories which essentially state that an action is right if God has decreed that it is right. According to Ralph Cudworth, an English philosopher,
William of Ockham William of Ockham, OFM (; also Occam, from la, Gulielmus Occamus; 1287 – 10 April 1347) was an English Franciscan friar The Franciscans are a group of related Mendicant orders, mendicant Christianity, Christian Catholic religious order, ...
,
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinisation of names, Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French people, French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, widely considered a seminal figure in the emergence of m ...
, and eighteenth-century
Calvinists Calvinism (also called the Reformed Tradition, Reformed Protestantism, Reformed Christianity, or simply Reformed) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the Christian theology, theological tradition and forms of Christianity, Christ ...
all accepted various versions of this moral theory, as they all held that moral obligations arise from God's commands. The Divine Command Theory is a form of deontology because, according to it, the rightness of any action depends upon that action being performed because it is a duty, not because of any good consequences arising from that action. If God commands people not to work on
Sabbath In Abrahamic religions, the Sabbath () or Shabbat (from Hebrew ) is a day set aside for rest and worship. According to the Book of Exodus, the Sabbath is a day of rest on the seventh day, Ten Commandments, commanded by God to be kept as a Holida ...
, then people act rightly if they do not work on Sabbath ''because God has commanded that they do not do so''. If they do not work on Sabbath because they are lazy, then their action is not truly speaking "right", even though the actual physical action performed is the same. If God commands not to covet a neighbor's goods, this theory holds that it would be immoral to do so, even if coveting provides the beneficial outcome of a drive to succeed or do well. One thing that clearly distinguishes Kantian deontologism from divine command deontology is that Kantianism maintains that man, as a rational being, makes the moral law universal, whereas divine command maintains that God makes the moral law universal.


Discourse ethics

German philosopher Jürgen Habermas has proposed a theory of discourse ethics that he states is a descendant of Kantian ethics. He proposes that action should be based on communication between those involved, in which their interests and intentions are discussed so they can be understood by all. Rejecting any form of coercion or manipulation, Habermas believes that agreement between the parties is crucial for a moral decision to be reached. Like Kantian ethics, discourse ethics is a
cognitive Cognition refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses all aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as: perception Perceptio ...
ethical theory, in that it supposes that truth and falsity can be attributed to ethical propositions. It also formulates a rule by which ethical actions can be determined and proposes that ethical actions should be universalizable, in a similar way to Kant's ethics.Payrow Shabani 2003, p. 54 Habermas argues that his ethical theory is an improvement on Kant's ethics. He rejects the dualistic framework of Kant's ethics. Kant distinguished between the
phenomena A phenomenon ( : phenomena) is an observable event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, Epistemology ...
world, which can be sensed and experienced by humans, and the
noumena In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studie ...
, or spiritual world, which is inaccessible to humans. This dichotomy was necessary for Kant because it could explain the autonomy of a human agent: although a human is bound in the phenomenal world, their actions are free in the noumenal world. For Habermas, morality arises from discourse, which is made necessary by their rationality and needs, rather than their freedom.


Pragmatic ethics

Associated with the pragmatists
Charles Sanders Peirce Charles Sanders Peirce ( ; September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician and scientist who is sometimes known as "the father of pragmatism". Educated as a chemist and employed as a scientist for t ...
,
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an List of American philosophers, American philosopher, historian, and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James is considered to ...
, and especially
John Dewey John Dewey (; October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and Education reform, educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. He was one of the most prominent American s ...
, pragmatic ethics holds that moral correctness evolves similarly to scientific knowledge: socially over the course of many lifetimes. Thus, we should prioritize social reform over attempts to account for consequences, individual virtue or duty (although these may be worthwhile attempts, if social reform is provided for).


Ethics of care

Care ethics contrasts with more well-known ethical models, such as consequentialist theories (e.g. utilitarianism) and deontological theories (e.g., Kantian ethics) in that it seeks to incorporate traditionally feminized virtues and values that—proponents of care ethics contend—are absent in such traditional models of ethics. These values include the importance of empathetic relationships and compassion. Care-focused feminism is a branch of feminist thought, informed primarily by ethics of care as developed by
Carol Gilligan Carol Gilligan (; born November 28, 1936) is an American feminist, ethicist, and psychologist, best known for her work on ethical community and ethical relationships. Gilligan is a professor of Humanities and Applied Psychology at New York ...
and Nel Noddings. This body of theory is critical of how caring is socially assigned to women, and consequently devalued. They write, "Care-focused feminists regard women's capacity for care as a human strength," that should be taught to and expected of men as well as women. Noddings proposes that ethical caring has the potential to be a more concrete evaluative model of moral dilemma than an ethic of justice. Noddings’ care-focused feminism requires practical application of relational ethics, predicated on an ethic of care.


Feminist matrixial ethics

The 'metafeminist' theory of the matrixial gaze and the matrixial time-space, coined and developed Bracha L. Ettinger since 1985, articulates a revolutionary philosophical approach that, in "daring to approach", to use Griselda Pollock's description of Ettinger's ethical turn, "the prenatal with the pre-maternal encounter", violence toward women at war, and the Shoah, has philosophically established the rights of each female subject over her own reproductive body, and offered a language to relate to human experiences which escape the phallic domain. The matrixial sphere is a psychic and symbolic dimension that the 'phallic' language and regulations cannot control. In Ettinger's model, the relations between self and other are of neither assimilation nor rejection but 'coemergence'. In her conversation with Emmanuel Levinas, 1991, Ettinger prooses that the source of human Ethics is feminine-maternal and feminine-pre-maternal matrixial encounter-event. Sexuality and maternality coexist and are not in contradiction (the contradiction established by
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for evaluating and treating psychopathology, pathologies explained as originatin ...
and
Jacques Lacan Jacques Marie Émile Lacan (, , ; 13 April 1901 – 9 September 1981) was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Described as "the most controversial psycho-analyst since Sigmund Freud, Freud", Lacan gave The Seminars of Jacques Lacan, yearl ...
), and the feminine is not an absolute alterity (the alterity established by Jacques Lacan and Emmanuel Levinas). With the 'originary response-ability', 'wit(h)nessing', 'borderlinking', 'communicaring', 'com-passion', 'seduction into life' and other processes invested by affects that occur in the Ettingerian matrixial time-space, the feminine is presented as the source of humanized Ethics in all genders. Compassion and Seduction into life occurs earlier than the primary seduction which passes through enigmatic signals from the maternal sexuality according to Jean Laplanche, since it is active in 'coemergence' in 'withnessing' for any born subject, earlier to its birth. Ettinger suggests to Emanuel Levinas in their conversations in 1991, that the feminine understood via the matrixial perspective is the heart and the source of Ethics. At the beginning of life, an originary 'fascinance' felt by the infant is related to the passage from response-ability to responsibility, from com-passion to compassion, and from wit(h)nessing to witnessing operated and transmitted by the m/Other. The 'differentiation in jointness' that is at the heart of the matrixial borderspace has deep implications in the relational field and for the ethics of care. The matrixial theory that proposes new ways to rethink sexual difference through the fluidity of boundaries informs aesthetics and ethics of compassion, carrying and non-abandonment in 'subjectivity as encounter-event'. It has become significant in
Psychoanalysis PsychoanalysisFrom Greek: + . is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques"What is psychoanalysis? Of course, one is supposed to answer that it is many things — a theory, a research method, a therapy, a body of knowledge. In what might ...
and in transgender studies.


Role ethics

Role ethics is an ethical theory based on
family Family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of the family is to maintain the well-being of its ...
roles. Unlike
virtue ethics Virtue ethics (also aretaic ethics, from Ancient Greek, Greek wikt:ἀρετή, ἀρετή 'arete (moral virtue), aretḗ'' is an approach to ethics that treats the concept of virtue, moral virtue as central. Virtue ethics is usually contr ...
, role ethics is not individualistic. Morality is derived from a person's relationship with their community.
Confucian Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
ethics is an example of role ethics though this is not straightforwardly uncontested. Confucian roles center around the concept of
filial piety In Confucian ethics, Confucianism, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhism, and Daoism, Daoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') (Latin: pietas) is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety ...
or ''xiao'', a respect for family members. According to Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont, "Confucian normativity is defined by living one's family roles to maximum effect." Morality is determined through a person's fulfillment of a role, such as that of a parent or a child. Confucian roles are not
rational Rationality is the Quality (philosophy), quality of being guided by or based on reasons. In this regard, a person Action (philosophy), acts rationally if they have a good reason for what they do or a belief is rational if it is based on strong e ...
, and originate through the ''xin'', or human emotions.


Anarchist ethics

Anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, movement that is skeptical of all justifications for authority and seeks to abolish the institutions it claims maintain unnecessary coercion and Social hierarchy, hierarchy, typi ...
ethics is an ethical theory based on the studies of anarchist thinkers. The biggest contributor to anarchist ethics is
Peter Kropotkin Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (; russian: link=no, Пётр Алексе́евич Кропо́ткин ; 9 December 1842 – 8 February 1921) was a Russian anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, move ...
. Starting from the premise that the goal of ethical philosophy should be to help humans adapt and thrive in evolutionary terms, Kropotkin's ethical framework uses biology and anthropology as a basis – in order to scientifically establish what will best enable a given social order to thrive biologically and socially – and advocates certain behavioural practices to enhance humanity's capacity for freedom and well-being, namely practices which emphasise solidarity, equality, and justice. Kropotkin argues that ethics itself is evolutionary, and is inherited as a sort of a social instinct through cultural history, and by so, he rejects any religious and transcendental explanation of morality. The origin of ethical feeling in both animals and humans can be found, he claims, in the natural fact of "sociality" (mutualistic symbiosis), which humans can then combine with the instinct for justice (i.e. equality) and then with the practice of reason to construct a non-supernatural and anarchistic system of ethics. Kropotkin suggests that the principle of equality at the core of anarchism is the same as the Golden rule:
This principle of treating others as one wishes to be treated oneself, what is it but the very same principle as equality, the fundamental principle of anarchism? And how can any one manage to believe himself an anarchist unless he practices it? We do not wish to be ruled. And by this very fact, do we not declare that we ourselves wish to rule nobody? We do not wish to be deceived, we wish always to be told nothing but the truth. And by this very fact, do we not declare that we ourselves do not wish to deceive anybody, that we promise to always tell the truth, nothing but the truth, the whole truth? We do not wish to have the fruits of our labor stolen from us. And by that very fact, do we not declare that we respect the fruits of others' labor? By what right indeed can we demand that we should be treated in one fashion, reserving it to ourselves to treat others in a fashion entirely different? Our sense of equality revolts at such an idea.


Postmodern ethics

Antihumanists such as
Louis Althusser Louis Pierre Althusser (, ; ; 16 October 1918 – 22 October 1990) was a French Marxist philosophy, Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École normale supérieure (Paris), École normale supérieure in Paris, where he ...
,
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and literary critic. Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and h ...
and structuralists such as
Roland Barthes Roland Gérard Barthes (; ; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) was a French people, French literary theory, literary theorist, essayist, philosopher, critic, and Semiotics, semiotician. His work engaged in the analysis of a variety of sign sys ...
challenged the possibilities of individual agency and the coherence of the notion of the 'individual' itself. This was on the basis that personal identity was, in the most part, a social construction. As critical theory developed in the later 20th century,
post-structuralism Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism, the intellectual project that preceded it. Though post-structuralists all present different critiques ...
sought to problematize human relationships to knowledge and 'objective' reality.
Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (; ; born Jackie Élie Derrida; See also . 15 July 1930 – 9 October 2004) was an Algerian-born French philosopher. He developed the philosophy of deconstruction, which he utilized in numerous texts, and which was developed th ...
argued that access to meaning and the 'real' was always deferred, and sought to demonstrate via recourse to the linguistic realm that "there is no outside-text/non-text" ("''il n'y a pas de hors-texte''" is often mistranslated as "there is nothing outside the text"); at the same time,
Jean Baudrillard Jean Baudrillard ( , , ; 27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) was a French sociology, sociologist, philosopher and French poetry, poet with interest in cultural studies. He is best known for his analyses of Media (communication), media, contemporary ...
theorised that signs and symbols or simulacra mask reality (and eventually the absence of reality itself), particularly in the consumer world. Post-structuralism and
postmodernism Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourseNuyen, A.T., 1992. The Role of Rhetorical Devices in Postmodernist Discourse. Philosophy & Rhetoric, pp.183–194. characterized by skepticism Skepticism, also spelled scepticism ...
argue that ethics must study the complex and relational conditions of actions. A simple alignment of ideas of right and particular acts is not possible. There will always be an ethical remainder that cannot be taken into account or often even recognized. Such theorists find narrative (or, following Nietzsche and Foucault,
genealogy Genealogy () is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their Lineage (anthropology), lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family a ...
) to be a helpful tool for understanding ethics because narrative is always about particular lived experiences in all their complexity rather than the assignment of an idea or norm to separate and individual actions.
Zygmunt Bauman Zygmunt Bauman (; 19 November 1925 – 9 January 2017) was a Polish sociologist and philosopher. He was driven out of the Polish People's Republic during the 1968 Polish political crisis and forced to give up his Polish citizenship. He emigrate ...
says
postmodernity Postmodernity (post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist ''after'' modernity. Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century – in the ...
is best described as modernity without illusion, the illusion being the belief that humanity can be repaired by some ethic principle. Postmodernity can be seen in this light as accepting the messy nature of humanity as unchangeable. In this postmodern world, the means to act collectively and globally to solve large-scale problems have been all but discredited, dismantled or lost. Problems can be handled only locally and each on its own. All problem-handling means building a mini-order at the expense of order elsewhere, and at the cost of rising global disorder as well as depleting the shrinking supplies of resources which make ordering possible. He considers Emmanuel Levinas's ethics as postmodern. Unlike the modern ethical philosophy which leaves the Other on the outside of the self as an ambivalent presence, Levinas's philosophy readmits her as a neighbor and as a crucial character in the process through which the moral self comes into its own. David Couzens Hoy states that Emmanuel Levinas's writings on the face of the Other and Derrida's meditations on the relevance of death to ethics are signs of the "ethical turn" in Continental philosophy that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Hoy describes post-critique ethics as the "obligations that present themselves as necessarily to be fulfilled but are neither forced on one or are enforceable". Hoy's post-critique model uses the term ''ethical resistance''. Examples of this would be an individual's resistance to consumerism in a retreat to a simpler but perhaps harder lifestyle, or an individual's resistance to a terminal illness. Hoy describes Levinas's account as "not the attempt to use power against itself, or to mobilize sectors of the population to exert their political power; the ethical resistance is instead the resistance of the powerless". Hoy concludes that


Applied ethics

Applied ethics is a discipline of philosophy that attempts to apply ethical theory to real-life situations. The discipline has many specialized fields, such as
engineering ethics Engineering ethics is the field of system of moral principles that apply to the practice of engineering. The field examines and sets the obligations by engineers to society, to their clients, and to the profession. As a scholarly discipline, it is ...
,
bioethics Bioethics is both a field of study and professional practice, interested in ethics, ethical issues related to health (primarily focused on the human, but also increasingly includes animal ethics), including those emerging from advances in biol ...
, geoethics, public service ethics and
business ethics Business ethics (also known as Corporate Ethics) is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics, that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business co ...
.


Specific questions

Applied ethics is used in some aspects of determining
public policy Public policy is an institutionalized proposal or a decided set of elements like laws, regulations, guidelines, and actions to solve or address relevant and real-world problems, guided by a conception and often implemented by programs. Public ...
, as well as by individuals facing difficult decisions. The sort of questions addressed by applied ethics include: "Is getting an abortion immoral?"; "Is
euthanasia Euthanasia (from el, εὐθανασία 'good death': εὖ, ''eu'' 'well, good' + θάνατος, ''thanatos'' 'death') is the practice of intentionally ending life to eliminate pain and suffering. Different countries have different Legali ...
immoral?"; "Is affirmative action right or wrong?"; "What are
human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Social norm, normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for ce ...
, and how do we determine them?"; "Do animals have rights as well?"; and "Do individuals have the right of self-determination?" A more specific question could be: "If someone else can make better out of his/her life than I can, is it then moral to sacrifice myself for them if needed?" Without these questions, there is no clear fulcrum on which to balance law, politics, and the practice of arbitration—in fact, no common assumptions of all participants—so the ability to formulate the questions are prior to rights balancing. But not all questions studied in applied ethics concern public policy. For example, making ethical judgments regarding questions such as, "Is lying always wrong?" and, "If not, when is it permissible?" is prior to any etiquette. People, in general, are more comfortable with dichotomies (two opposites). However, in ethics, the issues are most often multifaceted and the best-proposed actions address many different areas concurrently. In ethical decisions, the answer is almost never a "yes or no" or a "right or wrong" statement. Many buttons are pushed so that the overall condition is improved and not to the benefit of any particular faction. And it has not only been shown that people consider the character of the moral agent (i.e. a principle implied in virtue ethics), the deed of the action (i.e. a principle implied in
deontology In moral philosophy Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' ...
), and the consequences of the action (i.e. a principle implied in utilitarianism) when formulating moral judgments, but moreover that the effect of each of these three components depends on the value of each component.


Particular fields of application


Bioethics

Bioethics is the study of controversial ethics brought about by advances in
biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of Cell (biology), cells that proce ...
and
medicine Medicine is the science and Praxis (process), practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment, Palliative care, palliation of their injury or disease, and Health promotion ...
. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among
life sciences This list of life sciences comprises the branches of science that involve the scientific study of life – such as microorganisms, plants, and animals including human beings. This science is one of the two major branches of natural science, the ...
,
biotechnology Biotechnology is the integration of Natural science, natural sciences and Engineering Science, engineering sciences in order to achieve the application of organisms, cells, parts thereof and molecular analogues for products and services. The te ...
,
medicine Medicine is the science and Praxis (process), practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment, Palliative care, palliation of their injury or disease, and Health promotion ...
,
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of res ...
,
law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. ...
, and
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
. It also includes the study of the more commonplace questions of values ( "the ethics of the ordinary") that arise in primary care and other branches of medicine. Bioethics also needs to address emerging biotechnologies that affect basic biology and future humans. These developments include
cloning Cloning is the process of producing individual organisms with identical or virtually identical DNA, either by natural or artificial means. In nature, some organisms produce clones through asexual reproduction. In the field of biotechnology, cl ...
,
gene therapy Gene therapy is a medical field which focuses on the genetic modification of cells to produce a therapeutic effect or the treatment of disease by repairing or reconstructing defective genetic material. The first attempt at modifying human D ...
,
human genetic engineering Human genetic enhancement or human genetic engineering refers to human enhancement by means of a Genetic engineering, genetic modification. This could be done in order to cure diseases (gene therapy), prevent the possibility of getting a particul ...
, astroethics and life in space, and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA, RNA and proteins, e.g. "three parent baby, where baby is born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor. Correspondingly, new bioethics also need to address life at its core. For example,
biotic ethics Biotic ethics (also called life-centered ethics) is a branch of ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), beh ...
value organic gene/protein life itself and seek to propagate it. With such life-centered principles, ethics may secure a cosmological future for life.


Business ethics

Business ethics (also corporate ethics) is a form of
applied ethics Applied ethics refers to the practical aspect of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadersh ...
or
professional ethics Professional ethics encompass the personal and corporate standards of behavior expected of professionals. The word professionalism originally applied to vows of a religious order. By no later than the year 1675, the term had seen secular applic ...
that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment, including fields like
medical ethics Medical ethics is an applied branch of ethics which analyzes the practice of clinical medicine and related scientific research. Medical ethics is based on a set of values that professionals can refer to in the case of any confusion or conflict. T ...
. Business ethics represents the practices that any individual or group exhibits within an organization that can negatively or positively affect the businesses core values. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and entire organizations. Business ethics has both
normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good, desirable, or permissible, and others as bad, undesirable, or impermissible. A Norm (ph ...
and descriptive dimensions. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is primarily normative. Academics attempting to understand business behavior employ descriptive methods. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reflect the interaction of profit-maximizing behavior with non-economic concerns. Interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s, both within major corporations and within academia. For example, today most major corporations promote their commitment to non-economic values under headings such as ethics codes and social responsibility charters. Adam Smith said, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." Governments use laws and regulations to point business behavior in what they perceive to be beneficial directions. Ethics implicitly regulates areas and details of behavior that lie beyond governmental control. The emergence of large corporations with limited relationships and sensitivity to the communities in which they operate accelerated the development of formal ethics regimes. Business ethics also relates to unethical activities of interorganizational relationships, such as strategic alliances, buyer-supplier relationships, or joint ventures. Such unethical practices include, for instance, opportunistic behaviors, contract violations, and deceitful practices.


Machine ethics

In ''Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong'', Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen conclude that issues in machine ethics will likely drive advancement in understanding of human ethics by forcing us to address gaps in modern normative theory and by providing a platform for experimental investigation. The effort to actually program a machine or artificial agent to behave as though instilled with a sense of ethics requires new specificity in our normative theories, especially regarding aspects customarily considered common-sense. For example, machines, unlike humans, can support a wide selection of learning algorithms, and controversy has arisen over the relative ethical merits of these options. This may reopen classic debates of normative ethics framed in new (highly technical) terms.


Military ethics

Military ethics are concerned with questions regarding the application of force and the ethos of the soldier and are often understood as applied professional ethics. Just war theory is generally seen to set the background terms of military ethics. However individual countries and traditions have different fields of attention. Military ethics involves multiple subareas, including the following among others: # what, if any, should be the laws of war. # justification for the initiation of military force. # decisions about who may be targeted in warfare. # decisions on choice of weaponry, and what collateral effects such weaponry may have. # standards for handling military prisoners. # methods of dealing with violations of the laws of war.


Political ethics

Political ethics (also known as political morality or public ethics) is the practice of making moral judgements about political action and political agents.


Public sector ethics

Public sector ethics is a set of principles that guide public officials in their service to their constituents, including their decision-making on behalf of their constituents. Fundamental to the concept of public sector ethics is the notion that decisions and actions are based on what best serves the public's interests, as opposed to the official's personal interests (including financial interests) or self-serving political interests.


Publication ethics

Publication ethics is the set of principles that guide the writing and publishing process for all professional publications. To follow these principles, authors must verify that the publication does not contain
plagiarism Plagiarism is the fraudulent representation of another person's language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions as one's own original work.From the 1995 '' Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary'': use or close imitation of the language and though ...
or publication bias. As a way to avoid misconduct in research these principles can also apply to experiments that are referenced or analyzed in publications by ensuring the data is recorded honestly and accurately. Plagiarism is the failure to give credit to another author's work or ideas, when it is used in the publication. It is the obligation of the editor of the journal to ensure the article does not contain any plagiarism before it is published. If a publication that has already been published is proven to contain plagiarism, the editor of the journal can retract the article. Another critical publication ethics issue pertains to citation plagiarism when researchers copy and paste citation entries from other published works without reading the original source. Publication bias occurs when the publication is one-sided or "prejudiced against results". In best practice, an author should try to include information from all parties involved, or affected by the topic. If an author is prejudiced against certain results, than it can "lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn". Misconduct in research can occur when an experimenter falsifies results. Falsely recorded information occurs when the researcher "fakes" information or data, which was not used when conducting the actual experiment. By faking the data, the researcher can alter the results from the experiment to better fit the hypothesis they originally predicted. When conducting medical research, it is important to honor the healthcare rights of a patient by protecting their anonymity in the publication. ''Respect for autonomy'' is the principle that decision-making should allow individuals to be autonomous; they should be able to make decisions that apply to their own lives. This means that individuals should have control of their lives. ''Justice'' is the principle that decision-makers must focus on actions that are fair to those affected. Ethical decisions need to be consistent with the ethical theory. There are cases where the management has made decisions that seem to be unfair to the employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders (Solomon, 1992, pp49). Such decisions are unethical.


Relational ethics

Relational ethics are related to an ethics of care. They are used in qualitative research, especially ethnography and autoethnography. Researchers who employ relational ethics value and respect the connection between themselves and the people they study, and "...between researchers and the communities in which they live and work." (Ellis, 2007, p. 4). Relational ethics also help researchers understand difficult issues such as conducting research on intimate others that have died and developing friendships with their participants. Relational ethics in close personal relationships form a central concept of Ivan Böszörményi-Nagy#Contextual therapy, contextual therapy.


Ethics of nanotechnologies

Ethics of nanotechnology is the study of the ethical issues emerging from advances in nanotechnology.


Ethics of quantification

Ethics of quantification is the study of the ethical issues associated to different forms of visible or invisible forms of quantification.


Animal ethics

Animal ethics is a term used in academia to describe human-animal relationships and how animals ought to be treated. The subject matter includes animal rights, animal welfare, animal law, speciesism, animal cognition, wildlife conservation, the moral status of nonhuman animals, the concept of nonhuman personhood, Anthropocentrism, human exceptionalism, the history of animal use, and theories of
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspective ...
.


Ethics of technology

Ethics of technology is a sub-field of ethics addressing the ethical questions specific to the technological evolution, Technology Age. Some prominent works of
philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Suc ...
Hans Jonas are devoted to ethics of technology. The subject has also been explored, following the work of Mario Bunge, under the term technoethics.


Moral psychology

Moral psychology is a field of study that began as an issue in
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
and that is now properly considered part of the discipline of psychology. Some use the term "moral psychology" relatively narrowly to refer to the study of moral development. However, others tend to use the term more broadly to include any topics at the intersection of ethics and psychology (and philosophy of mind). Such topics are ones that involve the mind and are relevant to moral issues. Some of the main topics of the field are moral responsibility, moral development, moral character (especially as related to
virtue ethics Virtue ethics (also aretaic ethics, from Ancient Greek, Greek wikt:ἀρετή, ἀρετή 'arete (moral virtue), aretḗ'' is an approach to ethics that treats the concept of virtue, moral virtue as central. Virtue ethics is usually contr ...
), altruism, psychological egoism, moral luck, and moral disagreement.


Evolutionary ethics

Evolutionary ethics concerns approaches to ethics (morality) based on the role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior. Such approaches may be based in scientific fields such as evolutionary psychology or sociobiology, with a focus on understanding and explaining observed ethical preferences and choices.


Descriptive ethics

Descriptive ethics is on the less philosophical end of the spectrum since it seeks to gather particular information about how people live and draw general conclusions based on observed patterns. Abstract and theoretical questions that are more clearly philosophical—such as, "Is ethical knowledge possible?"—are not central to descriptive ethics. Descriptive ethics offers a Value-neutral, value-free approach to ethics, which defines it as a social science rather than humanities, a humanity. Its examination of ethics does not start with a preconceived theory but rather investigates revealed preference, observations of actual choices made by moral agents in practice. Some philosophers rely on descriptive ethics and choices made and unchallenged by a society or culture to derive categories, which typically vary by context. This can lead to situational ethics and situated ethics. These philosophers often view
aesthetics Aesthetics, or esthetics, is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines aesthetic values, ...
, etiquette, and arbitration as more fundamental, percolating "bottom up" to imply the existence of, rather than explicitly prescribe, theories of value or of conduct. The study of descriptive ethics may include examinations of the following: * Ethical codes applied by various groups. Some consider aesthetics itself the basis of ethics—and a personal moral core developed through art and storytelling as very influential in one's later ethical choices. * Informal theories of etiquette that tend to be less rigorous and more situational. Some consider etiquette a simple negative ethics, i.e., where can one evade an uncomfortable truth without doing wrong? One notable advocate of this view is Judith Martin ("Miss Manners"). According to this view, ethics is more a summary of common sense social decisions. * Practices in arbitration and
law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. ...
, e.g., the claim that ethics itself is a matter of balancing "right versus right", i.e., putting priorities on two things that are both right, but that must be traded off carefully in each situation. * Revealed preference, Observed choices made by ordinary people, without expert aid or advice, who Voting, vote, buy, and decide what is worth valuing. This is a major concern within disciplines such as political science and economics.Hary Gunarto, Ethical Issues in Cyberspace and IT Society, Symposium on Whither The Age of Uncertainty, APU Univ.
paper
, Jan. 2003


See also

* Morality * Integrity *
Applied ethics Applied ethics refers to the practical aspect of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadersh ...
* Axiological ethics * Contemporary ethics * Corporate social responsibility * Declaration of Geneva * Declaration of Helsinki * Deductive reasoning * Dharma * Effective altruism * Environmental ethics * Ethical movement * Ethicist * Ethics in religion * Ethics paper * Feminist ethics * Internalism and externalism * Humanism * Index of ethics articles—alphabetical list of ethics-related articles * Longtermism * Neuroethics * Outline of ethics—list of ethics-related articles, arranged by sub-topic * Practical philosophy * Science of morality * Secular ethics * Sexual ethics * Theory of justification * Trail ethics


Notes


References

* * * *


Further reading

*
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
, ''
Nicomachean Ethics The ''Nicomachean Ethics'' (; ; grc, Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια, ) is Aristotle's best-known work on ethics, the science of the good for human life, which is Teleology, the goal or end at which all our actions aim. (I§2) The aim of the i ...
'' * Joxe Azurmendi, Azurmendi, J. 1998: "The violence and the search for new values" in ''Euskal Herria krisian'', (Elkar, 1999), pp. 11–116. * Simon Blackburn, Blackburn, S. (2001)
''Being good: A short introduction to ethics''. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
*Cools, Guy & Gielen, Pascal. ''The Ethics of Art''. Valiz: Amsterdam, 2014.Jadranka Skorin-Kapov, ''The Intertwining of Aesthetics and Ethics: Exceeding of Expectations, Ecstasy, Sublimity''. Lexington Books, 2016. De Finance, Joseph, ''An Ethical Inquiry'', Rome, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1991. * Miguel A. De La Torre, De La Torre, Miguel A., "Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins", Orbis Books, 2004. * Jacques Derrida, Derrida, J. 1995, ''The Gift of Death'', translated by David Wills, University of Chicago Press, Chicago. *D'Urance, Michel, ''Jalons pour une éthique rebelle'', Aléthéia, Paris, 2005. *Fagothey, Austin, ''Right and Reason'', Tan Books & Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, 2000. *Paul R. Ehrlich, Ehrlich, Paul R. Ehrlich, Paul R. (May 2016)
Conference on population, environment, ethics: where we stand now
(video, 93 min), ''University of Lausanne'' *''Encyclopedia of Ethics''. Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker, editors. Second edition in three volumes. New York: Routledge, 2002. A scholarly encyclopedia with over 500 signed, peer-reviewed articles, mostly on topics and figures of, or of special interest in, Western philosophy. *John Paul II, Encyclical Lette
''Veritatis Splendor''
August 6, 1993. *Lafollette, Hugh [ed.]: ''Ethics in Practice: An Anthology.'' Wiley Blackwell, 4th edition, Oxford 2014.
London Philosophy Study Guide
offers many suggestions on what to read, depending on the student's familiarity with the subject

*Emmanuel Levinas, Levinas, E. 1969, ''Totality and infinity, an essay on exteriority'', translated by Alphonso Lingis, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh. *Thomas Nagel, Nagel, Thomas, "Types of Intuition: Thomas Nagel on human rights and moral knowledge", ''London Review of Books'', vol. 43, no. 11 (3 June 2021), pp. 3, 5–6, 8. Deontology,
consequentialism In ethical philosophy, consequentialism is a class of normative ethics, normative, Teleology, teleological ethical theories that holds that the wikt:consequence, consequences of one's Action (philosophy), conduct are the ultimate basis for judgm ...
,
utilitarianism In ethical philosophy, utilitarianism is a family of Normative ethics, normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit ...
. *Newton, John Ph.D. ''Complete Conduct Principles for the 21st Century'', 2000. ., Panayot Butchvarov, Butchvarov, Panayot. Skepticism in Ethics (1989). * Robert C. Solomon, Solomon, R.C., ''Morality and the Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics Through Classical Sources'', New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1984. *Vendemiati, Aldo, ''In the First Person, An Outline of General Ethics'', Rome, Urbaniana University Press, 2004. * An entire issue of ''Pacific Island Studies'' devoted to studying "Constructing Moral Communities" in Pacific islands, 2002, vol. 25
Link


External links

* * * * *
An Introduction to Ethics
by Paul Newall, aimed at beginners.

2d ed., 1973. by William Frankena
Ethics Bites
, Open University podcast series podcast exploring ethical dilemmas in everyday life.
National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature
World's largest library for ethical issues in medicine and biomedical research

entry in Encyclopædia Britannica by
Peter Singer Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher, currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a Secularit ...

The Philosophy of Ethics
on Philosophy Archive
Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics
Resources, events, and research on a range of ethical subjects from a Christian perspective.
Basic principle of ethics
summary talk
International Association for Geoethics (IAGETH)

International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG)

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University
Resources for analyzing real-world ethical issues and tools to address them. * {{Authority control Ethics, Axiology Philosophy of life Philosophy of mind Psychoanalysis Social philosophy Main topic articles