What is ethics?

What is ethics? People put different meanings into this concept, believing that ethics is:

  • The doctrine of morality;
  • A system of rules that control and correct people’s behavior;
  • A way of evaluating, approving, or condemning human actions;
  • “Social regulator” of behavior and relations between people;

Indeed, ethics is interested in questions of human behavior and relations between people. Aristotle also argued that the main task of ethics is the study of human relations in their most perfect form. From the time of its origin in antiquity, it began to act as a “philosophy of practical life”, analyzing the behavior of the “social man” “ “the person communicating”. Ethics-a philosophical doctrine, the subject of which is morality (morality), and the Central problem — Good and Evil. Ethics studies the Genesis, essence, specificity of morality; reveals its place and role in the life of society, reveals the mechanisms of moral regulation of human life, the criteria of moral progress. It examines the structure of the moral consciousness of society and the individual, analyzes the content and meaning of such categories as good and evil, freedom and responsibility, duty and conscience, honor and dignity, happiness and the meaning of life. Thus, ethics becomes the basis for creating an optimal model of humane and fair relations, providing high quality of communication between people and a guide for each person to develop his own strategy and tactics of “right life”.

The term “ethics” comes from the ancient Greek word “etnos” (“ethos”). Originally, the ethos was understood as a habitual place of cohabitation, a house, a human dwelling, an animal den, a bird’s nest. Later on, it came to mean primarily the stable nature of a phenomenon, a custom, a temper, a character. Starting from the word” ethos “in the meaning of character, Aristotle formed the adjective” ethical ” in order to designate a special class of human qualities, which he called ethical virtues.

Ethical virtues are properties of character, temperament of a person, they are also called spiritual qualities. They differ, on the one hand, from the affects as properties of the body, and, on the other hand, from the dianoetic virtues as properties of the mind. For example, fear is a natural affect, memory is a property of the mind, and moderation, courage, generosity are properties of character. To designate the totality of ethical virtues as a special subject area of knowledge and to highlight this knowledge as a special science Aristotle introduced the term “ethics”. Aristotle regarded ethics as a “practical” philosophy ” that is designed to answer the question: what should we do?

The words “morality”, “morality”, “ethics” are close in meaning. But they originated in three different languages. It has been said above that the word “ethics” comes from the Greek. ethos – the disposition, character, custom.

To accurately translate Aristotle’s concept of ethics from Greek into Latin, Cicero constructed the term “moralis” (moral). He formed it from the word “mos” (mores-mn. number) – the Latin analogue of the Greek “ethos”, which meant character, temperament, fashion, cut of clothing, custom. Cicero, in particular, spoke of moral philosophy, meaning by it the same field of knowledge that Aristotle called ethics. In the fourth century ad, the Latin language appears the term ” moralitas “(morality), which is a direct analogue of the Greek term “ethics”.

Both these words, one of Greek, the other of Latin origin, are included in the new European languages. Along with them, a number of languages have their own words denoting the same reality, which is generalized in terms of “ethics” and “morality”. For example, “morality” is a Russian word derived from the root “temper”. It first appeared in the dictionary of the Russian language in the XVIII century and was used along with the words “ethics” and “morality” as their synonym.

In the original meaning of “ethics”, “morality”, “morality” – different words, but one term. Over time, the situation changes. In the process of development of culture, in particular, as the originality of ethics as a field of knowledge is revealed, different meanings begin to be fixed for different words: ethics mainly means the corresponding branch of knowledge, science, and morality (morality) – the subject studied by it.

There are also various attempts to dilute the concepts of morality and morality. According to the most common of them, going back to Hegel, morality is understood as the subjective aspect of the relevant actions, and morality – the actions themselves in their objectively expanded completeness: morality – what the actions of the individual are seen in his subjective assessments, intentions, feelings of guilt, and morality – what actually are the actions of a person in the real experience of the life of the family, the people, the state. Thus, if we approach the meaning of the concepts of “morality” and “morality” from a scientific standpoint, morality should be understood as the subjective assessment of individuals of their activities; norms of human behavior. Morality acts as an objective assessment of people’s actions; higher values.

Morality is one of the most important and essential factors of social life, social development and historical progress, consisting in the voluntary coordination of the feelings, aspirations and actions of members of society with the feelings, aspirations and actions of fellow citizens, their interest and dignity, with the interest and dignity of society as a whole.

In ethics, there is a concept of moral law, which means the order to do good and not to do evil. According to I. Kant, the moral law due to freedom is a causal law and is prescribed unconditionally, categorically, regardless of empirical goals.

It is also possible to distinguish the cultural and linguistic tradition, which understands by morality high fundamental principles, and by morality-historically volatile norms of behavior; in this case, for example, the commandments of God are called moral, and the instructions of the school teacher-moral.

In General, attempts to assign the words “ethics”, “morality”, “morality” different meaningful meaning and, accordingly, to give them a different conceptual and terminological status did not go beyond academic experiments. In General cultural vocabulary, all three words continue to be used interchangeably. For example, in the living Russian language, what is called ethical norms can be called moral norms or moral norms with the same right. In a language that claims to be scientific rigor, the essential meaning is given mainly to the distinction between the concepts of ethics and morality (morality), but it is not fully maintained. Thus, sometimes ethics as a field of knowledge is called moral (moral) philosophy, and to refer to certain moral (moral) phenomena, the term ethics (professional ethics, business ethics) is used.

“Ethics” is a science, a field of knowledge, and “morality ” or” morality ” is studied by ethics, it is its subject.

Ethics as a science explores what in life and in the world has value for man, for ethical behavior consists in the implementation of ethical values. Ethics helps to awaken the appreciative consciousness. Ethical values, the meaning of which is revealed through education, ethical feeling, form a system, the basis of which is formed by unconsciously realized life values (the will to live, the need for food, sexual need, etc.), and at the top are the highest values.