What Is Ethics?

Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we should make ourselves happy, but how we should become worthy of happiness.

- Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Pt. 1, II, 2

Podcast of the Day

Susan Neiman draws on Enlightenment thinking to illuminate the values we should live by in the 21st Century. If you enjoy the Philosophy Bites podcast you might also enjoy Ethics Bites (which is also available on iTunesU.

Listen to Susan Neiman on Morality in the 21st Century

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...Like so many subjects (maths, physics, waterskiing), moral philosophy can be divided into a theoretical side (‘meta-ethics’) and a practical side. The back-room boys and girls of moral philosophy examine the ultimate reasons for doing things, search for fundamental values, and try to understand the language and the logic of moral claims. Practical ethics (or applied ethics, as it is also called), looks at what we should do when confronted by specific moral problems. Its practitioners are the glory merchants who get invited onto government commissions to examine the rights and wrongs of things like euthanasia, public conduct and experimentation on human embryos...

Continue reading Philosophy Now's Introduction to Ethics

Further Reading

The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosophers today usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the meaning of ethical terms themselves. Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others. Finally, applied ethics involves examining specific controversial issues, such as abortion, infanticide, animal rights, environmental concerns, homosexuality, capital punishment, or nuclear war...

Continue reading the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Ethics by James Feiser

Bonus Webcomic

Related Topics

 Animal EthicsAristotle | ConsequentialismKant | Moral ResponsibilityStoicism | Utilitarianism

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