Plato said that philosophy begins with wonder. Ethics is the branch of philosophy rises from curiosity regarding the values involved in human behavior. Every kind of activity determined by ends is related to ethics. In this article, we will see ethics and moral philosophy in detail.
What are Ethics?
The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ethos that means customs or habits. Therefore, ethics is the science of the collective habits of man. Initially, we can define ethics as the study of the origin and scope of the language of morality. Morals can be considered as the values which are derived from the theory or set of principles. These principles consist of good and bad, right and wrong, justice and fairness.
There are so many debates around the origin and mix of our dispositions and reasons. According to some people, we can see the Divine hands that allow us to develop from our animal nature. Whereas others consider that the evidence of our evolution from ethical practices. Presently, by keeping these debates aside, we can see that all humans exhibit morality over our living years. Moreover, with these traits, we are capable of critiquing and improving our behavior.
Nature of Ethics
Ethics as a science
Ethics is a systematic explanation of its subject. It often aims at the explanation of right and wrong in human conduct. Systematically, it divides human actions into voluntary, involuntary, moral, and non-moral. “Reason” plays a significant role in science. Human observes, describes and classifies the facts.
Ethics evaluates human action
Ethics is the theory that considers human actions from the ethical and standard viewpoint. Majorly it studies the right or good of human conduct. Human actions can be considered right if it is following the rule. Similarly, in this way, with the mean of goals, ethics evaluates human conduct.
Ethics:- a theoretical Science or a practical Science?
Many western thinkers do not consider ethics as a practical science. Practical science teaches us how to do a particular thing. It is related to the realization of the definite end. Similarly, based on it, medicine is a practical science that takes out a means to achieve good health. Whereas, Ethics is not a practical science, as it gives them knowledge and guides principles. However, it does not explain how and where to apply those principles.
Branches of Ethics
Generally, there are four branches of Ethics:-
Descriptive Ethics deals with the theory people’s believe to be right or wrong. It holds whether human actions are acceptable or not acceptable under the custom and law. However, laws varies from time to time and region to region. The society has set principles and customs which they expects everyone to behave accordingly.
Normative ethics basically deals with norms and set of principles that how should one behave. Therefore, it is the study of ethical actions that deals with tightness and wrongness of actions. It is also termed as prescriptive ethics which prescribes whether actions are right or good. The simple rule of normative ethics is “doing similar things to other as we want them to do to us“.
For example, Aristotle’s Ethics, Kant’s deontological ethics, Mill’s Consequentialism (Utilitarianism), and the Bhagwad Gita’s Nishkam Karmayoga is a theory related to Normative Ethics.
Meta-Ethics is the study of ethical terms and theories. It analyses the validity of theories that include normative ethics. Also, it analyses the moral concept, that evaluates human actions as good or bad, right or wrong. Meta-Ethics seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties. It also deals with the questions such as ‘What is the meaning of moral terms or judgments?’, ‘What is the nature of moral judgments?’, ‘How may moral judgments be supported?’.
The branch of applied ethics is developed recently. It deals with the problems of our life. It applies ethical approaches in our daily life. Certain issues cause the rise of a new lifestyle. It can deal with the questions like “is abortion is immortal?”, Or “Do animals have their rights as well?”. Applied Ethics guides in determining public policy and laws. Applied Ethics develops into Environmental, Media and, Business Ethics.
Ethics and Moral Philosophy
Usually, the use of ethics is in connecting the activities of organizations and professional codes of conduct. For example, medical and business ethics, which are often formalized in terms of a list of rules or guidelines. Those are regarding how employees are supposed to behave in their workplaces.
Moral Philosophy, on the other hand, is more commonly used in connecting how individuals conduct their personal, private lives. Also about personal financial probity, lawful conduct, and acceptable standards of interpersonal behavior.
These ‘everyday use of both terms ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ are not wrong to an extent by philosophical standards, but too limited. The philosopher’s interest in the theoretical study of ethics is behind understanding the idea of conduct that is right, fair, and just. Also which does not cause any harm, and that can be applied to a wide variety of cases. Therefore, each of the terms ‘ethics’ and ‘moral philosophy’ captures the essence of that idea sufficiently well. Here, both of these terms may be used interchangeably to refer to the ideas about how humans should act.