About This Chapter
Ethics - Chapter Summary
People make judgment calls every day, but how do individuals decide what calls to make? Most people use some sort of system of moral principles to form judgments, and these systems are often referred to as ethics. In this chapter, get an overview of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Thomas Hobbes' descriptive approach to natural law, ethical subjectivism and the divine command theory. You'll also compare and contrast morals, ethics and values. Gauge your understanding of ethics basics with help from our multiple-choice quizzes and practice exam. Around-the-clock access lets you study any time. Once you've completed this chapter, you will be able to:
- Summarize Euthyphro and Plato's beliefs on ethics
- Discuss stoic philosophy and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- Exhibit knowledge of the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant
- Explain ideas of utilitarianism from Epicurus, Bentham and Mill
- Describe ethical relativism and ethical absolutism
- Provide details about existential ethics and the ethics of care theory
- Share views on egoism from Ayn Rand and James Rachels
1. What Are Values, Morals & Ethics?
In this lesson, learn the differences between ethics and morals. Consider how these terms can mean different things to philosophers compared with the general public and how values factor into the conversation.
2. Euthyphro & Plato's Beliefs on Ethics
Learn about virtue ethics and Plato's beliefs on how to achieve human well-being in this lesson. We'll use his text 'Euthyphro' as an example of his interest in virtue and piety.
3. Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Summary & Analysis
In this lesson, you'll develop an understanding of Aristotle, including his view of moral responsibility and ethics. You'll also better understand what he thought was the purpose of human life.
4. Stoicism & The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
In this lesson, learn what stoic philosophy teaches about how to live a good life. Consider the writings of Marcus Aurelius, who used his diary to work through challenges he faced during his life.
5. Divine Command Theory: Definition & Ethics
In this lesson, you'll find out why some philosophers argue for the existence of God. You will explore what divine command theorists see as the benefits of the belief in a creator of moral laws.
6. Thomas Hobbes' The Descriptive Natural Law
In this lesson, you'll consider whether there is a universal moral code that applies to all human beings, throughout time. You'll learn about natural law and how this concept varied between different thinkers.
7. Immanuel Kant's Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals
In this lesson, you'll think about the different reasons why you use the word 'should.' We'll look at how Immanuel Kant understood these imperatives and what he had to say about doing the right thing.
8. Utilitarian Ethics: Epicurus, Bentham & Mill
In this lesson, learn the key ideas of utilitarianism. We'll look at three thinkers who saw the benefits of pursuing pleasure while still considering the needs and rights of others.
9. Ethical Subjectivism: Hume, Spinoza & Santayana
This lesson focuses on whether any one person can know what is ethical. We'll look at three key thinkers on this topic and see how they agree there is no objective way for an individual to determine what is moral behavior.
10. Ethical Relativism & Ruth Benedict's Anthropology and the Abnormal
In this lesson, examine what you think is normal and what is abnormal when it comes to morality. Learn Ruth Benedict's approach to ethics and her belief in the power of culture to shape our values.
11. Ethical Absolutism & W.T. Stace's The Concept of Morals
In this lesson, consider two different views of ethics: absolutism and relativism. Learn what W.T. Stace had to say about these approaches and what he proposed instead.
12. Existential Ethics & Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus
In this lesson, you'll consider why existentialists focus on the futile experiences of life. You'll gain insight into their thoughts on meaning and the role of the individual.
13. Ethics of Care Theory: Carol Gilligan & Nel Noddings
How has the lack of female voices in philosophy in the past affected our understanding of ethics? In this lesson, you'll consider the difference between the traditional ethics of justice and a feminist ethics of care.
14. Egoism, Ayn Rand & James Rachels
In this lesson, we look at two opposing views of the topic of egoism, including one that has generated a great deal of controversy for advocating selfishness.
Earning College Credit
Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Transferring credit to the school of your choice
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Other chapters within the Philosophy 101: Intro to Philosophy course
- Introduction to Philosophy & Logic
- Types of Fallacies
- Free Will & Determinism
- Self, Mind & Soul in Philosophy
- God in Philosophy
- Religion & Philosophy
- Reality in Philosophy
- Philosophy in Science
- Intro to Epistemology
- Ancient Epistemology
- Modern Epistemology
- Contemporary Epistemology
- Political Philosophy
- Philosophy & Social Justice
- Studying for Philosophy 101