Meaning of Ethics

What is Ethics:

Ethics is a discipline of philosophy that studies human behavior and its relationship with the notions of good and evil, moral precepts, duty, happiness and common welfare.

The word ethics comes from Latin ethĭcus, which in turn comes from ancient Greek ἠθικός (Ethics), derived from êthos, which means "character" or "belonging to the character".

The function of ethics as a discipline is to analyze the precepts of morality, duty and virtue that guide human behavior towards freedom and justice.

To fulfill its function, ethics is subdivided into a set of specialized branches. Among the branches of ethics the following are recognized:

  • Metaethics: study the ethical theories themselves and analyze the meanings attributed to ethical words. For example, what do people mean when they talk about the good, the happiness or the desirable.
  • Normative ethics or deontology: establishes principles to guide the systems of norms and duties in areas of common interest. For example, the call Golden Rule (treat others as we would like to be treated).
  • Applied ethics: analyzes the application of ethical and moral standards to specific situations. For example, when bioethics, environmental ethics, communicational ethics, etc.

Ethics is very closely related to morality, but it is different from it. While morality refers to norms adopted by tradition, ethics is a discipline that reflects on what actions would be correct.

Therefore, in common language, ethics can also be understood as the value system that guides and orients human behavior towards the good.

Moral and ethic

Ethics are different from morals. While morality defends compliance with the norms arising from custom, ethics defends the principles that guide behavior, even if they challenge tradition.

In philosophy, ethics analyzes human actions and norms, without being limited to morality, since it does not prescribe norms as such.

Ethics only defines explicit standards for professionals in the exercise of their functions, in order to ensure that they act correctly when personal morals conflict with professional duty.

For example, suppose a doctor receives a murderer wounded by the police as an emergency patient. His moral values ​​make him disapprove of the "patient" and think that it is unfair that he lives when he has killed so many innocent people.

However, the ethical code of his profession obliges him to do everything possible to save his life. If you deliberately let him die, the doctor may lose his professional license.The fulfillment of professional duty is imposed on the moral of the individual.

See also

  • Moral.
  • Moral and ethic.

Types of ethics

Although there is no systematic classification of the types of ethics, we can determine them according to their areas of application.

Professional ethics: it is the normative science that studies the values, principles, duties and rights that guide each profession based on responsibility. Professional ethics is specified in the professional code of ethics or deontological code.

Some examples of professional ethics are:

  • Medical ethics: refers to the values ​​that guide the health professional towards the correct act, taking into account the risks and social concerns. An example is the Hippocratic Oath.
  • Legal ethics: study the values ​​and principles that govern the practice of law in all its instances.
  • Teaching ethics: science that studies the values ​​and principles that govern the duties and rights of the teacher in the exercise of their profession.
  • Scientific ethics: system of values ​​that guides scientific practice in all its stages (research and application), appealing especially to the principles of honesty, integrity and social and environmental responsibility.
  • Military ethics: regulates the limits and scope of military action. Among them, it regulates the use of military force in compliance with citizen and governmental order.

Business ethics: these are the principles and values ​​that regulate the actions and activities of a company. For example, avoid unfair competition, protect the environment, offer quality products, promote a healthy work environment, and avoid misleading advertising.

Secular ethics or secular ethics: set of values ​​and principles that guide human behavior, based on intellectual virtues such as empathy, rational thinking and logic.

Religious ethics: principles that order human behavior based on spiritual virtues and transcendental concepts, such as the highest good, Truth, the soul, justice, the primordial order, love, etc. It differs from one religion to another.

Environmental ethics or environmental ethics: it is a part of applied ethics that considers caring for the environment with the scope of the common good. It is transversal to different disciplines such as ecology, economics, law, etc.

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