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General Nature of Ethics

Updated on August 25, 2009

General Nature of Ethics


          Morality is the standards that an individual or a group has about what is right and wrong, good or evil. Moral standards are norms we have about the kinds of actions we believe are morally right and wrong as well as the values we place on the kinds of objects we believe are morally good and morally bad (Smith, 2003). From there, we can say that Ethics is a branch of philosophy (moral philosophy) that examines the moral standards of an individual or society, and asking how these standards apply to our lives and whether these are reasonable or unreasonable.

      As part of the general nature of ethics, we uphold moral rights (Smith, 2003).  The three important features of moral rights are:

1. MORAL RIGHTS are tightly correlated with duties. Duties are generally the other side of moral rights (Smith, 2003). For example, my right to work implies the government's duty to make jobs available to the people.

2. MORAL RIGHTS provide individuals with autonomy and equality in the free pursuit of their interests (Smith, 2003). For example, the right to worship as I choose implies that I am free to pursue this interest as I personally choose. No one can dictate to me how I ought to worship (Halle, 2000).

3. MORAL RIGHTS provide a basis for justifying one's actions and for invoking the protection or aid of others. My right to something is my justification for doing it. For example, why do I work? - Because it is my right to work! And no one can restrain me from working group, or an exchange (Smith, 2003).  The better the quality of a person's contributed product, the more he or she should receive.


Lastly, some ethical perspectives are seen through utilitarianism. Utilitarianism" is a general term for any view that holds that actions and policies should be evaluated on the basis of the benefits and costs they will impose on society (Halle, 2000). In any situation, the "right" action or policy is the one that will produce the greatest net
benefits or the lowest net costs (Smith, 2003). Utilitarianism's general view is that an action is right from an ethical point of view if and only if the sum total of utilities produced by that act is greater than the sum total of utilities produced by any other act the
agent could have performed in its place (Smith, 2003).

Smith, Godfried (2003).  Ethical Principles: An Introduction.  New
York: Routledge.
Halle, Jonard (2000).  The Basic aspects of General Ethics.  New
Jersey: Springer.


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      ven. thero 3 years ago

      thanks...... very helpful

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      Krishnapriya. (a philosophy student) 5 years ago


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      meenakshi 5 years ago

      This is very useful to philosophy students.

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      CHRISS 6 years ago

      relevant and helpful

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      Akuamoah-Boateng Alex 6 years ago

      Very interesting.

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      khupboi 6 years ago

      i find it helpful and reasonable because it save me lots of time and energy for a person like me who teach in college. Thanks

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      thobile zondi 6 years ago

      it is helpful , explanation was in great extent i learned a lot tanks

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      Cecil V 7 years ago

      Acting virtuously is grounded in reason. Skillful acts produce skillful results.

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      venky 7 years ago

      its very good