What is Ethics?
Branches of Ethics
- Metaethics: the study of where ethical notions came from and what they mean; in particular, whether there is an ethical system independent of our own opinions that could be applied to any situation at any time or place.
- Normative ethics: the search for a principle (or principles) that guide or regulate human conduct—that tell us what is right or wrong. A norm is just another way of saying “standard”, so normative ethics is the attempt to find a single test or criterion for what constitutes moral behavior—and what does not.
- Applied ethics: the study of specific problems or issues with the use or application of moral ideas investigated in normative ethics and based on the lessons of metaethics. Applied ethics may sometimes coincide with political or social questions but always involves a moral dimension.
Origins of Ethics: The Greeks
Two Primary Schools of Ethics
- Teleological ethics are results-oriented, based on weighing outcomes.
- Cost Benefit Analysis
- One decides if a decison is ethical based on weighing the potential good versus the potential harm.
- Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are two of the most important telelogical thinkers.
Deontological (Value or act oriented)
- For deonotological thinkers, actions are inherently moral or immoral.
- They believe in universal standards of conduct.
- The primary deontological thinker is Immanuel Kant.