Ethics: An unexamined life is not worth living as an ethical statement by Socrates deserves that every person in all societies need to understand. Imagine we are living in a society without the application of moral principles by its dominant, of course life in that society would be brutish, poor, and socially disordered. However, the aim of my discussion in this article would be center on ethics as a principle of morality and how important the subject matter of ethics to every human society.
Ethics or moral philosophy as it is sometimes referred to concerns the question of right or wrong in human behaviour. How should we behave and what makes certain kinds of behaviour right and others wrong. Hence, ethics is the set of principles guiding human action or conduct. It is the branch of philosophy which deals with questions of moral values and value judgments in human affairs. Aside the idea of ethics in the philosophical parlance, ethics can also refer to certain codes of conduct, for instance. Civil service code of conduct. This means certain rules and principles guiding civil servant to whom a breach of such ethics can lead to either summary dismissal or punishment depending on the degree. In other instance however, ethics is just some etiquettes or rules through which human beings control their lives.
Ethics in philosophy is the systematic study of human conduct or actions from the point of view of their rightness or wrongness, as a means towards achieving ultimate happiness. Etymologically, the word ethics is gotten from the Greek ethos which means custom or character. Socrates is said to be the first to systematize the discipline. He says in his ethics “an unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates was very critical of human behaviour; he opines that ethics is “the science of human conduct. The three traditional branches ethics are:
- Normative or prescriptive ethics: This arm of ethics has to do with how people ought to behave. As the name implies, it prescribes norms and principles that regulate human conduct and actions. It is often explained as a way of contrasting it with descriptive ethics. This branch of ethics says something about what ought to be the case, rather than what is the case. For example, while normative ethics will tell us how people ought to behave, that is, the ideal thing to do. Descriptive ethics concerns how people actually
- Descriptive ethics: This has to do with how things are. It is concerned with sociological and psychological claims about how people do in fact behave or about what people value. It is often explained as a way of contrasting it with descriptive ethics. It says something about what is, rather than what ought to
- Meta-ethics: This arm of ethics deals with the analysis of the logic of moral reasoning. It also analyses the language and meaning of ethical concepts like “ought”, “good” “right”, wrong” and so on as they are used in ethical statements. Meta- ethics aims at clarifying the meaning and force of such statements and the conditions under which it is appropriate to make them. For example, normative ethics will ask, is it wrong to tell a lie? Meta- ethics will analyze thus: What does it mean to say it is wrong to tell a lie and how could someone argue for or against that
Ethics is different from morality. Morality is the conventionally approved rules of behaviour in the society. Ethics is the study of morality. Ethics is the philosophical thinking or systematic study of morality, moral problems and moral judgment. Morality is the basis of ethics; it provides the raw materials or data for ethics to work on. Ethics therefore presupposes morality; it is the systematic study of and reflection on the basic principles of morality. It is important to note that the study of ethics has given birth to more fields of ethics like:
Bioethics: This is the ethics of life that examines the advances in the life sciences with the aim of regulating such advancements.
Environmental Ethics: This examines the moral basis of environmental responsibility. It studies the ethical relationship between human beings and the environment.
Business Ethics: this has to do with the kind of behaviour a business adheres to in both how the business interacts with the world at large and also to their one-on-one dealing with a single customer.
Ethics is indeed one of the care branches of philosophy. Aesthetics which is the study of the appreciation beauty and works of art like sculpture, paintings, drawings, graphics, landscape, dance, music, and so on could be said to be the twin sister of ethics.