Well, at any given time there are many different standards of ethics around the world, depending on where you are. The main thing to know is that ethics are winding down, things are getting less ethical, and they are developing into something worse. The early developments in moral and political philosophy left a lasting effect through the history of those. For both moral and political philosophy it is both Plato and Aristotle that have been either the basis for, or the rejection of, most further developments. Importantly it is their contributions that have eventually led us to the current predominant philosophical thought. Plato established a set metric for morality, and good, through his use of the Forms (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 255). Importantly the form of "Good" was the highest form; the counterpart of this was evil and nonexistence (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 257). It was then through reason, and seeking knowledge of the form of Good, that served as the basis for his ethic (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 257). Aristotle took an alternative viewpoint and made an appeal to nature, and that good is following our natural objective (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 261). Aristotle reasoned that the natural objective for humans was happiness which can be achieved through enjoyment and enhancing the ability to reason (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 261). Augustine and Aquinas expanded upon, and modified where necessary, Plato's and Aristotle's philosophies adding God as the focal point (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 267 & 273). Importantly both Augustine and Aquinas continued with a metaphysic for their philosophy. Hobbes extended upon Aristotle's naturalism though his materialism belief that only the physical exists, and thus morality flowed from this (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 274-275). Kant followed both Plato and Aristotle that reason played an integral role in philosophy (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p. 278). Nietzsche, and the other existentialist philosophers, rejected the previous...
References: Moore, B. N. & Bruder, K. (2005). Philosophy: The power of ideas. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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