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Ethics, or moral philosophy, is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. It is also concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy.
See the fact file below for more information on Ethics or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Ethics worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The word “ethics” is derived from the Greek word ethos which can mean custom, habit, character, or disposition.
- Ethics is based on standards of right and wrong, prescribing human roles in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues.
- It is also closely related to moral philosophy, the discipline concerned with moral good and bad, following the language of right and wrong.
- It consists of the primary issue of decision making, based on the standards that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty.
- Ethical theories are divided into three areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics.
- Metaethics studies moral thought and moral language.
- It seeks to understand the nature of ethical evaluations, basically answering the questions How do we know what is right or wrong? where do moral values from? Are some things morally right or wrong for all people at all times?
- Compared to metaethics’ pursuit of the nature of ethics, the normative theory is concerned with criteria of what is morally right and wrong.
- Normative ethics focuses on the major theoretical approaches to the content of moral reflection to determine which actions are right and wrong.
- Applied ethics is the application of normative ethics to particular issues such as animal rights and cloning. Simply put, it determines how ethical principles are applied in personal life, business, moral problems, and other real-life situations.
- It also addresses the moral permissibility of specific actions and practices. For example: Does a citizen have a moral obligation to actively participate in nation-building? To what extent?
Some Known Early Ethicists
- Ethicists are people who specialize in or write on ethics or who are devoted to ethical principles.
- Socrates (469-399 BCE) was a Greek ethicist and philosopher who presupposed that reason and good deeds are essential for a good life.
- He also stated that no one chooses evil and no one chooses to act in ignorance.
- Plato (428-348 BCE) was another Greek ethicist who proposed that happiness or well-being (eudaimonia) was the highest aim of moral thought and conduct, and the virtues (aretê: ‘excellence’) were the skills and dispositions needed to attain it.
- Confucius (551–479 BCE) was a Chinese philosopher who introduced the:
- Four Cardinal Principles: integrity (廉), propriety (禮), righteousness (義), and shame (恥);
- Eight Virtues: loyalty (忠), honesty (信), filial piety (孝), benevolence (仁), love (愛), harmony (和), justice (義), and peace (平).
- Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) was a German philosopher whose ethical perspective was called “categorical imperative”, a universal ethical principle stating that one should always respect the humanity of others, and only act in accordance with rules that could hold for everyone.
- Hammurabi (1810–1750) was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty who published one of the earliest legal texts, the Code of Hammurabi.
- His code introduced the principle of “presumption of innocence”.
- The 282 rules also established standards for commercial interactions and set fines and punishments to meet the requirements of justice.
- Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) was a Renaissance ethicist.
- The theory that “the end justifies the means” sums up his political and moral thought. In politics, he believed that leaders should be more feared than loved and should differentiate public and private morality.
Ancient vs. Modern Ethics
- Ancient ethics
- Socraticism: Wisdom is the chief good. Happiness consists in acting in the right way, and evil is the result of ignorance.
- Platonism: Happiness is achieved by excellent virtues.
- Aristotelianism: Our proper function is to use reason, and this is the way to live a satisfying life.
- Cyrenaicism: The primary purpose of life is the moment-to-moment experience of bodily pleasures.
- Epicureanism: Aim for the greatest amount of pleasure possible in a lifetime, but in moderation to avoid suffering due to overindulgence.
- Cynicism: The purpose of life is to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature (bare necessity).
- Stoicism: Developing self-control and fortitude to overcome destructive emotions. It holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason.
- Modern ethics
- Kantian-style deontology: The Categorical Imperative determines whether certain acts have moral worth or not. If the maxim is universalized, then it is valid and one must act upon it.
- Utilitarianism: Introduced “hedonic calculus”, the action that produces the “highest pleasure” should be put into practice or at the least be more heavily weighed than so-called “lower pleasures”.
Modern Ethics Quotes
- “Create all the happiness you are able to create; remove all the misery you are able to remove. Every day will allow you, will invite you to add something to the pleasure of others or to diminish something of their pains.” ― Jeremy Bentham (1747-1832, Utilitarian ethicist)
- “I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.” ― John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873, Utilitarian ethicist)
- “We ought not to do to our future selves what it would be wrong to do to other people.” ― Derek Parfit (1942-2017)
- “If doing the most you can for others means that you are also flourishing, then that is the best possible outcome for everyone.” ― Peter Singer (born 1946, specializes in applied ethics).
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Ethics across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about Ethics, or moral philosophy is a system of moral principles.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Ethics for Kids Facts
- Ethics in Brief
- Father of Ethics
- Great Minds
- People Around Us
- Ethics in Media
- Ethical Questions
- Ethical Dilemmas
- Agree or Disagree?
- Think Like an Ethicist!
- Code of Ethics
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Link will appear as Ethics for Kids Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, December 2, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.