What is Ethics?

What is ethics and why do we need it? It’s not an exact science and neither can it be successfully used to control or predict behaviour. What does it do and how is it useful?

ethics (n.): Reflective and systematic
study of morality. Ethics is
divided, in terms of subject matter,
into ethical theory and applied
ethics. Ethical theory in turn is divided
into normative ethics and
metaethics— the former dealing
with questions about how we
ought to live, the moral rules and
values we should seek to incorporate
and put into practice, and the
types of persons we should strive
to become; and the latter dealing
with second-order questions about
morality, such as whether it can be
said to be objective or universal.
Applied ethics takes up a range of
concrete topics (e.g., ones arising
in relation to biomedical practices,
or in the pursuit of economic justice).
Ethics also is divided, in terms
of its methodology, into philosophical
and theological—the former
treating morality in light
of human nature as such and as
knowable apart from explicit divine
revelation; and the latter
treating morality in light of human
nature as understood (by Christians)
to be fallen and redeemed.
(Note: “Ethic” is sometimes used
as a singular noun to designate
a particular normative theory or
— Words of Wisdom: A Philosophical Dictionary for the Perennial Tradition

In the video above we are faced with the idea that the study of ethics is to discover the nature of the highest good and to find the appropriate means for its realisation.

Love & light,


“Every art and every kind of inquiry, and likewise every act and purpose, seems to aim at some good; and so it has been well said that the good is that at which all things aim.” — Aristotle


About Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.
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4 Responses to What is Ethics?

  1. Nice article Jason, this perspective on Good, reminds me of the Hebrew word or rather concept “Tov” meaning both Good and also Completed.
    Is this to say that Aristoteles did not regard moral virtue as important in the appreciation of beauty only intellectual or both? What could I read to understand that better?

  2. Thank you so much, Jason. I look forward to read it, having some more time in the next two weeks 🙂
    I like that Aristotle also had the perspective of development.
    From that point I wonder, if he had lived today, if he still wood have regarded intellectual virtues never to be in excess???
    These days the situation seem so different from his time, but then I do not know if we can regard the contemporary intellectual activity as virtue at all.
    I will read the Nicomachean Ethics 🙂

    • The video states that the intellectual virtues are never in excess for their achievement always enhances the welfare of the entire soul. In other words they cannot be in excess because if they were then it would contradict the state of well-being and would cease to be a complete virtue. An 8 ounce glass of pure drinking water (virtue) mixed with one millilitre of poison (vice) can be rather deadly to say the least. If the brain surgeon is not 100% accurate with their incisions, attaining the good comes down to luck. Aristotle would have a lot of catching up to do but I am confident that he would continue to find sound reason in regard of virtue to be just as important as any other major discipline of the 21st century if not more. Would he have agreed with the advances made in medicine through ignoble human experiments and the degradation of natural resources to enhance technology for warfare and oligarchy under the guise of democracy? Well that is a matter that any one of us can pursue on our own but for Aristotle he would probably reaffirm that the end does not justify the means, nor agree that some evil is allowable to achieve a greater good. Indeed a clear conscience may reveal that our actions make us complicit to wrong doing and so virtue remains the mean by which one can ascertain perspective from within the eye of the storm. We need courage now more than ever to fight the good fight.

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