Ethics is the branch of philosophy that is dedicated to understanding human behavior and what guides its conduct. The word ethics is derived from the Greek term ” éthikos ” which means ” way of being “.
The purpose of ethics is to make social coexistence peaceful and just, whether through collective or individual attitudes. Thus, ethics helps the individual to answer questions such as:
- I must?
- I can?
- I want to?
Ethics in philosophy
In philosophy, ethics, also known as moral philosophy , is a study that seeks to understand the motivations of human behavior, differentiating concepts like good or bad, right or wrong.
Ethics is not limited to morality, which is generally understood as a custom, or habit, but seeks the theoretical foundation to find the best way of living, individually or collectively.
Great philosophers like Plato , Socrates and Aristotle , believed that ethics was linked with politics and with the participation of life in society. For them, every human being is born with an ethical sense .
It is also possible to understand ethics by examining certain conduct in our daily lives. This happens when we refer, for example, to the behavior of some professionals, such as:
- a doctor;
- and even a teacher.
For these cases, it is quite common to hear expressions such as: medical ethics, journalistic ethics, business ethics and public ethics.
ethic and moral
Ethics and morals are related themes, but they are different . While morality is the set of rules and norms established within society, ethics is the reflection and understanding of the principles that underlie morality.
The moral is related to norms, customs or cultural commandments, family and religious. Ethics , on the other hand , seeks to support the way of life through thought and the principles that guide human behavior.
An example of the difference between ethics and morals is the female vote in Brazil. Until 1934, it was morally incorrect for women to be able to vote. That is, it was a standard to be followed.
It was necessary for women to think about the principles that guided this rule / norm, if they were just or unfair, right or wrong, and contradict the current model.
From this ethical reflection , the right to vote for women in Brazil was allowed in the Vargas Government.
See more about ethics in philosophy .
Examples of ethical conduct
There are many examples of ethics, since it contemplates not only our individual conduct, but also in society. Some common examples are:
- Do not harm people in the work environment;
- Have religious tolerance regarding different cults, rituals and beliefs;
- Get hold of what doesn’t belong to you;
- Do not throw trash on the street;
- Do not smoke indoors;
See also the meaning of ethical .
Types of ethics
Widely used and studied by the ancient Greeks, rationalist ethics explains that the individual is able to control his will and conduct through his reason .
In this case, it is rational thinking that leads a person to become ethical, guiding attitudes, between what is good or bad, right or wrong, whether for individual life or in society.
It is the type of ethics that analyzes and reflects until the last possible consequence of an individual’s good or bad attitude .
For example, when a person discards garbage in rivers, the main consequence could be water contamination and the destruction of flora and fauna, but teleological ethics seeks the real purpose of the action, asking questions such as:
- What is the purpose of throwing garbage in the river?
- Will this action bring any kind of benefit?
- Is it an attitude that generates good?
- Is polluting better than not polluting?
Theological or Christian ethics
Unlike rationalist ethics, theological ethics do not believe in reason as an aspect that controls the wills or attitudes of human beings. In this case, ethics is explained by the Bible, where the individual follows the conduct of the holy book of Christians .
Thus, the ethical person is one who approaches God, following his commandments and unethical one who does not follow what was stipulated in the bible.
Learn more about Christian ethics .
The ethics used by the philosopher Immanuel Kant, believes that the individual himself has the obligation and the sense of having ethical attitudes .
Kant explains that duty comes before the concept of good or evil, of what is right or wrong. Therefore, the individual must act in an ethical manner regardless of what he may receive from the consequences of his behavior. The duty to be ethical comes first.
Deontological ethics is linked to professional ethics , relating to the sets of actions that a professional must take in the exercise of their profession.
Learn more about professional ethics .
It is the type of ethics that is based on providing good to the greatest number of people .
In this case, ethics is focused on practical attitudes where the individual must assess the situation before actually taking action, thinking about how many people will benefit from their action.
History of ethics
The origin of ethics takes place in Ancient Greece, when the ancient Greek philosophers began to question and evaluate the human way of being and behavior, with the aim of organizing people’s way of life.
The Greeks had as their main purpose, to use ethics to achieve the happiness of the individual and of society.
Ethics in the Middle Ages
Upon reaching the Middle Ages, what stands out is Christian ethics. This ethic is based on being obedient to God’s will and laws. With that, the human being would reach true life, which is eternal salvation.
Modern ethics was centered on subjectivity, that is, on the individual. In modern ethics, it is the individual who starts to make his own choices and becomes responsible for his own actions.
Contemporary ethics deals with the human being’s ability to make appropriate choices to conduct his own life, within the society environment.
In contemporary ethics, existentialism stands out, where man is responsible for his own attitudes and his happiness and it is he who produces his own existence.