The principals of ethics provides society with the moral basis for decisions making and it changes throughout history as it reflects the knowledge and beliefs of the world at one particular time (Begley, 2009). Today, a new branch of moral philosophy has been developed with a more predominant regarded and value for science, fact and reasoning, placing more emphasis on evidence based practice in modern society (Begley, 2009). This moral philosophy is based on principals of logic and reason, a dramatic contrast to past philosophies, which were influenced deeply by spiritual and religious models. This new branch of philosophy is known as secular ethics. Secular ethics was established through the influences of both science and philosophy (Begley, 2009). This short paper will discuss the influences that these two systems of knowledge and thought had on the transition to the development of today’s secular ethics as well as the individuals that were essential for this process.
During the Middle Ages before the emergence of science philosophical thought was governed by the church. The church was the principal authority of the time period, guiding the people to lead good lives in ways they saw ethically fit (Scearce, 2008). This was done through several avenues including scripture such as the golden rule, or Ten Commandments, which provided the people with the outlines of how to be morally good, and just (Blomquist, 1978). During this period ethics surrounded Christian virtues and it shared a close relationship with philosophy, but this all began to change with the arrival of science (Scearce, 2008). Science has its roots in natural philosophy, a branch of philosophy dedicated more to understanding and explaining the cause relationship...
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.... It can be said with that definition in mind, that the origins of secular ethics can be traced back as far as the time of Aristotle, as he posed that the universe is logical to the human mind (Begley, 2009). The discovery of science gave man the outlet to reject the conventional answers by the church, it created curiosity which then proved to be life changing with the emergence of inventions, policies, and bodies of knowledge. Without the church as the main source of ethical principles, it has to be expected ethics would have to adopt a new basis of reason, and this was developed through the curiosity of man. Although these new branches of moral philosophy have resulted, it is still ultimately up to the individual to choose to adopt or reject these ideals, therefore ethics will still be a source of continuous debate and therefore differently defined by each person.
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