Normative and Descriptive Approaches

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Normative and Descriptive Approaches

Decision making can be very difficult when both choices are very appealing. We are faced with many decisions daily and have to make sure we choose the right one. Ethics play a major role in decision making. It allows moral philosophy to play its part. It gives you the freedom to choose right from wrong. In this paper you will be introduced to normal and descriptive ethics. You will be given a definition, a contrast, how the approaches may impact the criminal justice professional, how the approaches are similar and vary, and which approach you feel is best and why.

“Normative ethics is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when we think about the question “how ought one act, morally speaking?” Normative ethics can be divided into the sub-disciplines of moral theory and applied ethics. In recent years the boundaries between these sub-disciplines have increasingly been dissolving as moral theorists become more interested in applied problems and applied ethics is becoming more profoundly philosophically informed. 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.” (

This approach is similar to how religious people view their God. They say that God gives the individual the choice to choose what’s right and wrong. Christians also believe that Adam and Eve utilized the power of what’s right and wrong. They were given the descriptive approach by God and they chose otherwise.

“For any act, there are three things that might be thought to be morally interesting: first, there is the agent, the person performing the act; second, there is the act itself; third, there are the consequences of the act. There are three types of normative ethical theory--virtue, deontological, and...
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