I am writing this article as a registered medical practitioner who is a fellow in the study of human behavior and psychology
Ethics Is Existing In Every Moment Of Life
Definition Of Ethics
Ethics or Moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior".
The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matter of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called Axiology.
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. Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, involves understanding what makes one’s conduct right and what makes it wrong. Ethics is much bigger than morality. When morality deals with moral codes and the practice of specific acts, ethics not only touches on all moral behaviors and theories, but also on one’s philosophy of life. Ethics deals with questions such as how a person should act, what people think is right, how an
individual uses and practices his moral knowledge, and the very meaning of
Morality is a biased concept which keeps changing according to norms, cultural beliefs & passing time. But in the case of ethics, it is based and developed on universal ideas and values, which can be implemented all over the place at all times
As such Ethics can be categorized into 4 types as follows
Types of Ethics
Meta ethics is the most abstract and philosophical level of ethics. It examines ethical judgments and specifically tries to understand statements, attitudes, judgments, and ethical properties. Meta-ethics is not concerned with evaluating whether or not a specific choice is good or bad. Rather, it examines the nature and meaning of the issue.
In more simple words, Meta Ethics deals with the following basic questions, such as, -
- What does it mean when one claims something is “good” or “right”?
- What is moral value, and where does it come from?
- Is morality objective and universal, or is it relative to specific individuals or cultures or group or area specific or time specific?
- Do moral facts exist or is morality based on belief system?
Beside this, Metha Ethics also deals with, questions such as What is Ethics and Why one need to be Ethical or to be right?
Such Meta ethical questions that are important to outline all dimensions of ethics. even though for every time, they’re not so easy & straight to answer.
Philosophically, Meta Ethics can be categorized into 2 types
- Moral Realism (Ethical Naturalism, Cognitivist View))
- Moral Antirealism. (Ethical Non-Naturalism)
Moral realism is the belief that there are objective moral values. Therefore, according to this meta-ethical viewpoint, evaluative statements
are actually factual claims based on proved or well evident facts. And feelings and beliefs are not considered to ascertain those facts of individual. Hence it is known as a cognitivist view, where propositions that are valid and can be proven substantially all time, are conveyed as ethical sentences, which can either be true or false.
Examples of moral realism include:
Ethical naturalism, the belief that we have empirical knowledge of
objective moral properties (however, these can then be reduced to non-ethical
properties such as needs, wants or pleasures (
Suppose someone is relating the ethical terms to the "Will of God", to undertake necessary action -then it is example of Ethical naturalism, where "Ethical Values "are reduced to one's needs /wants/pleasures in the name of God, which is acceptable to human conscience.
Moral Anti -Realism:
Moral Anti Realism or Ethical Non-Naturalism can be defined as the belief that ethical statements represent "a proposition" that is impossible to deduce into non-Ethical statements.
It is identified with such conditions & circumstances where it is not possible to define "good", for example, in terms of one or more natural properties (e.g. "pleasant", "more evolved", "desired"," bliss full").
Moral Anti Realism is in fact indefinable in that it cannot be defined in any other terms.
For example, the meaning of sentences containing the word "good" cannot be explained entirely in terms of sentences not containing the word "good".
According to Moral Anti Realism, there are no such things that exist which can be called "as objective moral values".
There are three types of Moral Anti-Realism:
1. Ethical subjectivism
3. The idea that ethical statements are mistaken objective claims
1.Ethical Subjectivism is based on the idea that ethical statements are
actually, subjective claims. It denies the "metaphysical thesis" of moral realism, by denying the claim that moral truths are ordinary facts about the world. Instead, ethical subjectivism follows the idea that moral truths are based on the mental states of individuals or groups of people (subjective claims).
For example: Prostitution is crime (immoral) in many countries but in Germany prostitution is seen as legitimate. This means "morality" is subjective matter and Ethical values of German citizens may differ comparing to other countries of world where prostitution is seen as "immoral or unlawful". Ethical implications of changing morality as per subjectivity, is studied under "Ethical Subjectivism"
2.Non-cognitivism: - is a meta ethical view or the notion that "ethical statements are not genuine and hence cannot be true or false". A non-cognitivist denies the cognitivist for their claim of "moral judgments are capable of being objectively true, because they describe some feature of the world". Hence for non- cognitivism, if moral statements cannot be true, and if one cannot know that what is truth? then Non cognitivism accepts that "moral knowledge is impossible"
For Example: A non-cognitivist would have to disagree with someone saying, "'Enjoying adultery is wrong' is a false statement" (since "Enjoying adultery with is wrong" is not truth-apt at all). But non cognitivist may have to agree with a person saying, "Enjoying adultery is not wrong"
The issue is, due to lack of confirmation of right or wrong about "Adultery" due to varying moral values from place to place, non-Cognitivist will follow line of such claim, which is more conclusive and widely acceptable.
3.The idea that ethical statements are mistaken objective claims- this is defined as a idea which is expressed through moral skepticism, the belief that nobody can have moral knowledge, or moral nihilism, the belief that ethical statements
are usually false
For Example: If one looks into the idea that "committing murder is wrong " then one has to accept that "murder committed under self-defense" must also be wrong. But for the sake of self-defense, there may rise such situation where killing aggressor/assassin may be need of time to save one's life then "murder is not wrong". Here the "idea of murder" carries mistaken identity and such conflicting ideas are studied under this notion of Anti -Realism to understand their Ethical Value
Normative Ethics/Prescriptive Ethics
Normative Ethics/Prescriptive Ethics attempts to understand "ethical action" by creating a set of rules (or norms) that govern action and human conduct. It looks at how things should be, how one should value things, what actions are right versus what actions are wrong, and which things are good versus which things are bad.
In simple words Normative Ethics deals with “norms” or "sets of considerations how one should act". Thus, it’s a study of “ethical action” and tries to identify the rightness or wrongness of the actions.
It is also called prescriptive ethics because it is based on the principles that determine whether an action is right or wrong. The Golden rule of normative ethics is “doing to others as we want them to do to us “. Normative ethics also provides justification for punishing a person who disturbs social and moral order.
For example: Normative Ethics identifies that -Since we don’t want our neighbors to throw stones through our glass window, then it will not be wise to first throw stone through a neighbor's window. Based on this reasoning, anything such as harassing, victimizing, abusing or assaulting someone is wrong.
Normative Ethics is classified further into 3 types (based on underlying Ethical Theories)
. It basically deals with consequence of actions. As "Morality of an action" is based on the results or outcome of the action. If there is a good outcome, then an action is considered morally right. But if there is a bad outcome, then an action is considered morally wrong. In Consequentialism, philosophers identifies /examine about -what makes a consequence a good consequence & how one can judge a consequence & who should do the judging, & who gains the most from a moral action.
Consequentialism further includes Theories of Hedonism, Utilitarianism, and Egoism.
Rather looking at the consequences of actions, Deontology looks at
how the actions themselves can be right and wrong. Deontology claims that one should take into consideration factors such as the rights of others and one’s own duty when making decisions. Deontology includes further theories to study & identify Ethical Values
For example: "The Natural Rights Theories of John Locke and Thomas
Hobbes", which claims that humans have universal and natural rights;
"The Divine Command Theory", which claims that God commands morally right actions and that an action is morally right when it is performed as a duty or obligation;
"Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative", claims that one must act based on duty, and that rightness and wrongness are based on the motives of the individual and not the consequences. According to Kant’s categorical imperative, a person should think of his actions as if the motivating principle of that action should be
considered a universal law.
In virtue ethics, philosophers focus is on the inherent character of an
individual. Virtue ethics seeks out virtues. Virtues are basically the behaviors and
habits that allow one to have a good life or reach a state of well-being. It
also provides counsel/opportunity to fix conflicts between virtues and claims that for "ensuring good life, one must practice these virtues for his entire life"
For example: Aristotle under idea of "Eudaimonia" states that an action is considered “right” when it leads to well-being and can be attained through the daily practice of virtues;
What Is Normative Ethics ?
Descriptive Ethics/comparative Ethics
Descriptive Ethics/Comparative is a the empirical (observational/postpriori) study of the moral beliefs and practices of different peoples and cultures in various places and times. It not only explains such beliefs and practices but also aims to understand those beliefs and practices in relation to concerned social, economic, and geographic circumstances.
Descriptive ethics is the proper subject matter of the social sciences where anthropology, history, sociology, and psychology are studied all together to rediscover "Ethical Values " and "mind set behind moral values " of society/culture under study.
Brief Idea Of Descrptive Ethics
Applied Ethics is related to the practical application of moral considerations/Ethics discovered in all above-mentioned Ethical studies. It is a branch of ethics which deals with real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadership. Applied Ethics is seen as a sub discipline/branch of moral philosophy. Since the 1970's time, Applied Ethics has expanded the study of ethics beyond the realms of academic philosophical discourse and brought it into the real world and implemented it into day-to-day life of society.
Applied Ethics, as it appears today, emerged from debate surrounding rapid medical and technological advances in the early 1970s. Now in the 21st century it is, by its very nature, a multi-professional subject because it requires specialist understanding of the potential ethical issues in fields like medicine, business or information technology. Ethical codes of conduct exist in almost every profession and they are studied and identified under "Applied Ethics"
For example: Bio-ethics community is concerned with identifying the correct approach to moral issues in the life sciences, such as euthanasia, the allocation of scarce health resources, or the use of human embryos in research.
Environmental ethics is concerned with ecological issues such as the responsibility of government and corporations to clean up pollution.
Business -ethics considers issues regarding the duties of 'whistle-blowers' to the general public or their loyalty to their employers.
Applied Ethics approach to the examination of moral dilemmas of professions and interpersonal conflict in work culture, can take many different forms.
Most notably, in the field of Applied Ethics, Tom Beauchamp and James Childress has specially developed 4 principal approaches in Bio-Ethics and Medical Profession .1
This 4 -principal approach, commonly termed principlism, entails consideration and application of four prima facie ethical principles of 1st-autonomy, 2nd -non-maleficence, 3rd- beneficence, and 4th -justice.
Brief Introduction To Applied Ethics
Benefits Of Studying and Following Ethics
Studying and taking a dip into the sea of ethics, one can deepen own's reflection on the ultimate questions of life. It helps a person to understand his and other life critically. This further helps a person to evaluate his/her actions /choices / decisions/ideas/wishes. It helps a person to know what he/she really is and what is best for him/her and what he/she has to do in order to attain it.
By understanding Ethics one can think better about morality. Which further helps oneself to make more appropriate judgments from time to time. Ethics becomes inevitable as by nature human beings are a ‘social’ being, and to sustain society, "Ethical Values" need to be followed by its elements, otherwise degradation and devolution of society is destined for the future.
And the most important benefit of studying Ethics is - Fellowship of Ethics - acts as best armor against any immorality and moral conflicts in any unseen future, for its follows,
Ethics Brings Morality & Morality Brings Fearlessness In One's Life
"Be Ethical and Be Fearless for all future adventures of life "
1.Beauchamp, T. L. and Childress, J. F. (1994) Principles of medical ethics, New York: Oxford University Press.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Dr Nilesh Jaybhaye