Significance and Approach to Study Ethics


Significance of Ethics

Importance of ethics is felt in every sphere of our life. The power of the traditional religions and ideologies is on a decline. Crime, terrorism, ecological degradation, deception, prostitution, gambling, and other unfair practices are on a rise.

The significance of studying ethics is understood by the fact that the study of moral philosophy or ethics can deepen our understanding of the ultimate goal of life. Through ethics, an individual can look upon his life critically and evaluate his actions and decisions.

Second, the study of ethics can enable a person to deliberate upon the moral principles. Moral philosophy, or ethics, can help in clearing our mind on the questions of morality. Thus, our actions are more thoughtful and conscious. Study of moral philosophy also sharpens our mental faculty and thinking process. It trains out mind to think rationally and logically. Ethics become an inevitable part of the human existence, since man is a social animal. Thus, no one can escape the ethical questions of life.

The rational nature of human individual makes him aware of certain fundamental principles of logical and moral reasoning. Every human action has a subjective aspect and an objective aspect, which prompts the individual to base himself on certain common principles. The human society is necessarily driven by certain rules and regulations, which are the conditions of satisfactory human life in a society. These rules and regulations cannot exist without any moral principles.

From times immemorial, man has sought to know how to lead a good life. Modern society has witnessed extensive debates over the conception of good life. This is primarily due to- the spread of education, advances in science and technology, problems associated with the modern way of life and communication and transportation revolution.

Methods of Ethics

Ethics utilize the methods of philosophy. Two prominent approaches are:

Deductive Method– it is a process of gaining knowledge independently of experience through pure logical reasoning. Deductive reasoning begins with a universal truth and leads towards the knowledge of a particular thing. Example- Lion eats herbivores, and Goat is a herbivore, therefore lion eats goat.

Inductive Method– it is a process of arriving at knowledge through experience. It begins with the particular and moves towards the general/universal. Example- if many crows are seen as black, and no other crow is seen as white, therefore, it may be concluded that all crows are black.

Approaches and Classifications of Ethics

Broadly, there are two approaches to the study of ethics- Non-Normative Approach and the Normative Approach. The Non-Normative approach includes the Descriptive Approach and the Meta-ethics; while the Normative Approach includes the General normative ethics and the Applied ethics.

The Non-Normative approach examines the morality without the concerns for making judgements. They do not take any moral position regarding moral issues. Contrary to this, the normative approaches make judgements as to what is morally right or wrong. They, thus, take a clear position regarding the moral issues.

The Descriptive Ethics Approach tries to explain the moral and ethical practices and beliefs of certain societies and cultures. Many of the sociological and political theories try to do this in their research. This study is done without making any moral judgements. Descriptive ethics is also called comparative ethics, and is more concerned with people’s beliefs about morality. It is a value-free approach of studying different issues concerning the society. It’s subject of study includes- ethical codes, informal theories of etiquttes, issues of law, and observed choices of the people.

The Meta Ethics approach focuses on the analysis of the meanings of the concepts and terms of ethical reasoning and decision making. It involves answering the meaning of different terms of ethics. Thus, meta ethics is necessarily related to the theoretical enquiry into different moral propositions.

Normative ethics is the practical means of determining a moral course of action. It investigates how one is ought to act. Hence, normative ethics is sometimes called prescriptive science. Applied Ethics is about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations. It tries to apply the ethical theory to real-life situations. It has many specialized fields like- bioethics, human ethics, legal ethics, and business ethics.

More coming soon…

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