Ethics is a branch of moral principles that governs the behavior of individuals and their activity. Such principles may also influence the decision people make and the manner in which they live.
According to the Greeks, ethics means “character”, so the field of ethics covers various concepts of both right and wrong behavior of individuals. They include defending, developing, and recommending concepts. Ethics can be set out as moral philosophy because it considers the questions of what is good, what is wrong for society and individuals and how the person should act in different life situations. When we think about how we should act, we ask ethical questions that define us as human beings.
In terms of ethics, asking ethical questions helps us find the answers to how to live our lives correctly, what responsibilities and rights we have as humans, what is good and bad, as well as what decisions we should make. Often, our concepts of ethics are based on our religious and cultural principles.
Currently philosophers seek to talk about ethics according to three main approaches. They are applied ethics, normative ethics, and metaethics. Each of these three approaches deals with different aspects. Metaethics describes the origins of moral assessment, taking deep attention to what ethical principles mean. In normative ethics philosophers study moral assessment with regard to what is right and what is wrong, while applied ethics considers such topics as animal rights, war, discrimination, etc.
Philosophers think that ethics affects the way humans behave and have many arguments to support this claim. For instance, if an individual takes an action considering it to be the right one, then the decision not to behave this way would be unwise. On the other hand, any individual may behave unwisely by following intuitive instincts even in the cases when they realize that their mind offers other more rational ways of taking actions and making decisions. Together with it, ethics offers effective instruments to consider moral issues.
This way, ethics can give us a moral map or reveal a disagreement. It doesn’t give us the right answers, but provides us with several answers at once.
By moral map one can understand a framework that helps find answers to contagious questions like issues of euthanasia or abortion. Thinking of these issues, human beings tend to listen to their hearts and follow the instincts of their emotions and moral principles, while philosophers suggest some ethical rules help look for another angle in the moral problem that has no particular “yes” or “no” answers.
From the other point of view, the framework of ethics can help accurately define a disagreement between two people debating on an issue. Frequently, people who are arguing disagree in only one part of the problem they are discussing, while they find points of convergence in everything else regarding the question. Sometimes ethics can’t provide human beings with decisions they expect and many people believe that it doesn’t give the one correct answer to moral issues. Any problem can be discussed from various points of view; there’s a number of moral principles to be used in the particular cases that give explicit choices. At the same time, philosophers share the opinion that ethics overcomes any confusion and clears any issue up, so that any participant in the discussion comes to the individual observations and findings.
While ethics offers more than one right answer to any ethical question or one proper decision to find a way out of a situation based on moral principles, for many people it is important to know there’s only one correct answer. Vagueness of the moral issues can be a hard thing to accept, because many of us would prefer to have all grounds to know theirs is the one and only correct answer. On the other hand, in reality people have a choice to make from several option to decide what is right or wrong in a particular situation. As a matter of fact, there can be more than one right answer, including worse or better decisions, where individual can make a choice. Again, the choice made will not be regarded as right or wrong, it’s only the choice made by an individual who carries responsibility for it. This makes such vagueness of ethics hard from the point of view that many people are not ready to take full responsibility for their own actions, decisions, and choices, finding it easier to follow the traditional rules.
Many of us are asking if there are such moral rules or principles in moral philosophy that can be applicable to all questions, situation, decisions, and choices made at all times and in all cultures. Finding the answer to this question divides people into moral absolutism and relativism.
Moral absolutism says that there are always several correct moral principles and people have the possibility to expose and apply each of them.
According to the moral relativism, people had different moral views and principles at different times. As a result, one can affirm that something is regarded to be “good” if the specific number of people believes it to be so. The same applies to anything that is regarded as “bad”.
Each person may have their own personal ethical and moral principles that have the right to exist and be true, while others will find them incorrect or false.