As a branch of philosophy, ethics investigates the questions “What is the best way for people to live?” and “What actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances?” In practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual enquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.
The three major areas of study within ethics are: Richard William Paul and Linda Elder define ethics as "a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures". Paul and Elder state that most people confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs and the law and don 't treat ethics as a stand-alone concept.
The word "ethics" in English can mean several things. It can refer to philosophical ethics—a project that attempts to use reason in order to answer various kinds of ethical questions. It can also be used to describe a particular person 's own, idiosyncratic principles or habits. For example: "Joe has good ethics." It may also be used to characterize the questions of right-conduct in some specific sphere, even when such right-conduct is not examined philosophically: "business ethics," or "the ethics of child...
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...ns that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking. 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.
Traditionally, normative ethics was the study of what makes actions right and wrong. These theories offered an overarching moral principle one could appeal to in resolving difficult moral decisions.
At the turn of the 20th century, moral theories became more complex and are no longer concerned solely with rightness and wrongness, but are interested in many different kinds of moral status. During the middle of the century, the study of normative ethics declined as meta-ethics grew in prominence. This focus on meta-ethics was in part caused by an intense linguistic focus in analytic philosop
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