Ethical Theories

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Normative ethics Pages: 13 (4231 words) Published: April 9, 2013
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.[1] The term comes from the Greek word ethos, which means "character". Ethics is a complement to Aesthetics in the philosophy field of Axiology. In philosophy, ethics studies the moral behavior in humans, and how one should act. Ethics may be divided into four major areas of study. * Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined. * Normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action. * Applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations. * Descriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people's beliefs about morality.

. The focus of meta-ethics is on how we understand, know about, and what we mean when we talk about what is right and what is wrong. Meta-ethics has always accompanied philosophical ethics, but in this explicit sense it came to the fore with G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica 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 Scottishphilosopher David Hume had put forward a similar view on the difference between facts and values. Meta-ethics is a field within philosophy that seeks to understand the nature of normative ethics Studies of how we know in ethics divide into cognitivism and non-cognitivism; this is similar to the contrast between descriptivists and non-descriptivists. Non-cognitivism is the claim that when we judge something as right or wrong, this is neither true nor false. We may for example be only expressing our emotional feelings about these things.[4] 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 of ethics is about value-bearing things or properties, i.e. 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.[5] NORMATIVE ETHICS-

Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical 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 because it 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 fromdescriptive ethics, as the latter is an empirical 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 facts are both descriptive and prescriptive at the same time. Normative ethics are further can be classified into two main approaches: * practical ethics

* ethical theories
. Ethical theories in turn divided into two main types or approaches: * Virtue ethics-begins by considering what makes a person(or his/her character or motives) good(ARISTOTLE,HUME). * Duty ethics-focuses on rules or acts and what makes them right (MILL, KANT, RAWLS)....
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