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ethics

ROBERT ATTFIELD and SUSANNE GIBSON


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


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Ethics is the branch of philosophy which studies the nature and criteria of right and wrong action, obligation, value and the good life, and related principles. Throughout its history it has been a normative and critical discipline, concerned with not only the analysis of concepts but also justifications and principles of how life should be lived. Usually without seeking to supply advice about immediate particularities (in the manner of preachers or agony columns), it has always retained a relevance to practical principles, whether at the level of individual action or political policy. Thus principles of ethics necessarily underlie social and political philosophy, disciplines concerned ultimately with the ethics of power and the ethics of S ocial formations and practices. More colloquially, “ethics” is used of the morals of various societies or the moral standards implicit in their behavior. In this sense, ethics is as various as humanity. Importantly, ethics (in this sense) is perennially open to appraisal by ethics (in the sense defined above). History of Ethics Ethics cannot be understood independently of its historical development. The connections between ethics, society, and politics were recognized in the ancient world by Plato and Aristotle. Seeking to reply to the relativism and skepticism of the Sophists, Plato argued that instances of goodness participate in the universal ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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