Paul professional ethics and human values notes pdf Elder state that most people confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs and the law and don’t treat ethics as a stand-alone concept. English refers to several things. It can refer to philosophical ethics or moral philosophy—a project that attempts to use reason to answer various kinds of ethical questions. What makes an inquiry a philosophical one is reflective generality and a style of argument that claims to be rationally persuasive.
Williams describes the content of this area of inquiry as addressing the very broad question, “how one should live”. Ethics can also refer to a common human ability to think about ethical problems that is not particular to philosophy. As bioethicist Larry Churchill has written: “Ethics, understood as the capacity to think critically about moral values and direct our actions in terms of such values, is a generic human capacity. Ethics can also be used to describe a particular person’s own idiosyncratic principles or habits. For example: “Joe has strange ethics.
Meta-ethics asks how we understand, know about, and what we mean when we talk about what is right and what is wrong. An ethical question fixed on some particular practical question—such as, “Should I eat this particular piece of chocolate cake? A meta-ethical question is abstract and relates to a wide range of more specific practical questions. For example, “Is it ever possible to have secure knowledge of what is right and wrong? Meta-ethics has always accompanied philosophical ethics.
For example, Aristotle implies that less precise knowledge is possible in ethics than in other spheres of inquiry, and he regards ethical knowledge as depending upon habit and acculturation in a way that makes it distinctive from other kinds of knowledge. This made thinkers look again at second order questions about ethics. Non-cognitivism is the claim that when we judge something as right or wrong, this is neither true nor false. We may, for example, be only expressing our emotional feelings about these things. Cognitivism can then be seen as the claim that when we talk about right and wrong, we are talking about matters of fact.