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What is ethics?....continued

Deeper definition of Ethics

The word "ethics" is used in a variety of ways, and confusions between these uses are common. At least three main types of question are called "ethical" in different senses:

(1) Questions as to what is right, good, etc., or of how we ought to behave (normative ethics, morals);

(2) Questions as to the answers given by particular societies and people to questions of type (1) (descriptive ethics or comparative ethics, a branch of moral sociology or anthropology); and

(3) Questions as to the meanings or uses of the words used in answering questions of type (1), or the nature or logical character of the moral concepts, or, in older language, of what goodness, etc., are (theoretical ethics, philosophical ethics, moral philosophy). It is perhaps best, in philosophical writing, to reserve the word "ethics" (unqualified) for inquiries of type (3).

The motive for undertaking them has, how- ever, often been the hope that their results might bear on questions of type (1); whether and in what ways this is possible is the question that above all others vexes students of philosophical ethics, and divides the supporters of naturalism , intuitionism , emotivism , descriptivism , prescriptivism , etc (see glossary).

Excerpts taken from "A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics".

Index to the topic

What is ethics?
A definition
A deeper definition of ethics
A deeper definition of Christian ethics
Why should we bother about ethics
The root of Christian ethics
    a) relationship
    b) freedom
    c) love
    d) responsibility
The Bible in Christian ethics

Other Material
1. Ethics by David J Garrard

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