Doing Good and Avoiding Evil
2. The Vocabulary of Ethics
Any text on ethical theory has to open with the observation that of all matters in ethics, the meanings of the terms has caused the most acrimony and dispute. Since the earliest of the Socratic Dialogues, we have argued about the meaning of key terms like "morals," "ethics," "virtue," "piety," "justice" and the others, all the others. Given the limited purposes of this text, I will simply stipulate at this point how I intend to use the key terms of ethics, observing only that my usage is not bizarre. More than that will no philosopher claim. In what follows you may expect the following words to be used in general in these ways:
Morals or Morality
The Rules and prima facie duties that govern our behavior
as persons to persons.
States of affairs that are desired by and for people and
that we want to increase; ends, goals.
Conditions of people that are desirable both for the people
themselves and for the good functioning of the society.
Properly speaking, the study of morals, duties, values, and virtues, to find: ,/p>
Other understandings of the term ethics:,/p>
Very general concepts that sum up a range of morals, values and virtues from which moral imperatives can be derived.
Materials prepared by Lisa H. Newton, Ph.D. 1998
Copyright © 2002, Hale Chair. All rights reserved.
Created by Elsi Caldeira
Last modification Tuesday, 22-Jan-2008 09:34:31 EST
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