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Ethics and Its Definition

Ethics is an area that is relevant not just to students of philosophy, but for humans making difficult decisions in their lives. It applies in typical situations such as a footballer deciding if his behavior during a match will be moral or not. Ethical dilemmas arise often. But what is ethics? This article will explain.

Ethics defined

Ethics is also called moral philosophy and can be summed up as a set of principles that guide our behavior. The word itself is from the Greek “ethikos”, which is translated as relating to a person’s character. Often the concepts that we call morality can be defined as ethics.

However, it can be separated from morality. Often ethics is applied to a very specific area of activity to prescribe what is or is not correct behavior. It can also mean what is good for individuals and society. For example, a modern dilemma is the ethics of artificial intelligence technology. Morality, on the other hand, is used when describing an individual’s particular values and what they consider to be right or wrong.

In general, when people speak about ethics they are speaking about one of two / three things. One, the philosophy or consciousness of moral importance. Or two, a theory of moral values.

Aristotle and his role

Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, was one of the first to tackle ethics, giving it a name and theories that are still used to this day. His take on ethics was a practical one, involving actually doing good as opposed to just knowing what was good.

He set down his ideas in the 10-volume Nicomachean Ethics. The theme of this is the Socratic question of how men should best live. This volume is considered one of the most important works in the field of philosophy. It had a great impact on Europe during the Middle Ages and on the development of philosophy in general. The main goal in Aristotle’s ethics is to become a virtuous and happy character. Practicing this is a combination of using intellect with practical wisdom. At the end of this the person should become a philosopher.  

Areas of ethics

There are three major areas of ethics. The first one is meta-ethics. This is about theory, what are the meaning, origins, and reference of ethical principles. It also deals with the question of how their truth values can be determined.

Secondly, there is normative ethics. This is a practical area of ethics. It deals with determining a moral judgment or course of action, and how we determine what is right or wrong.

Lastly, there is applied ethics. This is an area that can tackle controversial things like the death penalty, war, abortion, and how we treat animals. It is all about what a person is obligated to do in particular situations. This is one that we can all see examples of in our lives. Applied ethics is used for difficult decisions, and especially for public policy as well.

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