Guide to Ethics & Morality
Principles, Problems, and Questions
What are ethics? What is morality? How can one behave in a moral manner? These are among the most difficult and most interesting questions which face people of any age. Today, however, with advancing technology, difficult moral situations come upon us faster than we can even create the questions, much less find the answers. This FAQ will address both general issues and specific questions in the area of moral philosophy.
Introduction to Ethics
Just what are ethics and morality - and what is the difference between the two? How do our values impact our ethical decisions and moral standards? And why does the study of ethics and morality even matter - don't we already and inherently understand how to reason about morals and arrive at ethical decisions?
How To Think About Ethics
The field of ethics is usually broken down into three different ways of thinking about ethics: descriptive, normative and analytic. It isn't unusual for disagreements in debates over ethics to arise because people are approaching the topic from a different one of these three categories. Thus, learning what they are and how to recognize them might save you some grief later.
Normative Ethical Systems
Normative ethical systems can generally be broken down into three categories: deontological, teleological and virtue ethics. The first two are considered deontic or action-based theories of morality because they focus entirely upon the actions which a person performs. The third, virtue ethics, focuses upon what sort of person one wants to be.
Ethical Dilemmas and Problems
Very often, the best way to learn how to reason through ethical dilemmas is by doing it - it's not a skill that can be completely taught in the abstract. You do need to understand the different types of ethical systems and how they work, but once that is complete you simply have to work through various ideas and positions to see what is logical and what isn't. Here you will find a large number of articles which exemplify how one can reason through ethical problems from a secular, atheistic, and humanistic perspective.
Below are links to biographies of philosophers who have played an important role in the development of ethical philosophy through the centuries.
Clifford, William K.
Mill, John Stuart