Just another blogs.oregonstate.edu weblog

Conceptual Precis III: Ethics

By Danielle Womble




Ethics is one of the five classical fields of philosophical study.  It is also called moral philosophy. From the concept of ethics sprang different forms of ethics to study. Metaethics (the inquiry into the usage of ethics and the foundations of what constitutes right and wrong, good and evil) and normative ethics (principles of right conduct) are two different forms of ethics as disciplines. Many great philosophers have studied and tried to interpret what the concept of ethics is.  Socrates and Plato questioned the nature of goodness as separate and distinct from any object or thing rendered to be good.


The study of ethics is focused on moral principle and behavior.  It studies the nature of good, and what defines good. Ethics is the pursuit of pleasure, with respect for others and also respect for God.  The Stoics believe that ethics pertained to universal harmony and the divine will; which meaning has been adopted in to Judeo-Christian views. Hedonists believe that ethics means the pursuit of maximum pleasure while minimizing pain. Epicureans refute the Hedonist idea of ethics, believing that pursuing happiness and indulging in pleasure can result in negative consequences.


I think that ethics is an internal knowledge of what helps us define what is right and wrong. I believe it is a subconscious device that helps us make the right decisions for ourselves while respecting others and also following the will of God. It is a moral code which we choose to live by. At my job we sign an ethics contract, outlining good behavior and conduct in the work place.  As far as ethics pertains to God, I am torn on some subjects. Cloning is unethical in Christianity, but from a scientific and agricultural point of view cloning can be very informational and beneficial. Stem cell research is unethical in Christianity because it uses cells from unborn children for scientific advancement, but could be beneficial for curing diseases that have plagued human kind for thousands of years.


Brandon Tyler views ethics as moral integrity. I agree with his definition, but I also think that ethics encompasses more than just the moral interpretation of ethics. Brad Womble thinks that ethics is a moral standard that is applied to the decisions we make and are pertinent to the situation. He gave the example of a police officers code of conduct, saying it would be unethical for a police officer to accept a bribe in the line of duty. I thought it was a good parameter to inject that ethics depends on the situation.

October 19th, 2009 at 9:21 am | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink