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Under Practical Philosophy Are the Following:

a) Semantics

Semantics came from the Greek words sema meaning sign or mark
and semantikos meaning significant. This practical branch of philosophy
studies the meaning of words and its linguistic forms, their functions and
their relationship to other words.

b) Axiology
The word Axiology is from the Greek words axios meaning worthy,
and logos, meaning discourse or study. Axiology is thus the discourse or
study of the philosophy or system of value judgments or worthiness.
c) Aesthetics
Aesthetic is the branch of philosophy that aims to establish the
general principles of art and beauty. It is the study of beauty and art. It
can be divided into the philosophy of art and the philosophy of beauty.
Aesthetics came from the Greek word aisthetikos which means one is
perceptive of things through his sensations, feelings and intuitions.
d) Logic
Logic deals with the nature of thinking and reasoning using
empirical support to establish the truth. Logical validity is the characteristic
of an argument that guarantees that if the premises of the argument are
true then the conclusion must necessarily be true.
Deductive Reasoning reasoning from universal truth to
Inductive Reasoning reasoning from particular to universal
or general principles.
e) Ethics
The term Ethics derived from the Greek word ethos which means
characteristic way of acting which is proper to man as a rational being.
The Latin word for ethos is mos (or mores). Ethics is sometimes called a
Moral Science or Moral Philosophy.
The goal of Ethics as a science is to investigate the nature of the
human act or human conduct.
Ethics is a philosophical science that studies the morality of human
acts. As a science, ethics is concerned with the analysis of the nature of
the human conduct from the point of view of morality.
From the very beginning of philosophy, philosophers have
attempted to answer the question: How should we act? They take it as a
given that there is a difference between living rightly or well and living
wrongly or badly. Ideally, ethics allows us to live together, productively
and in harmony with one another.

Definitions of Ethics

Ethics is the practical science of the morality of human acts.

Ethics is the study of human conduct from the standpoint of morality.
Ethics is a normative science based on reason which studies human
conduct and provide norms for its natural integrity and honesty.
Ethics is a practical science that guides us in our actions that we may live
rightly and well.
Ethics is the science which lays down the principles of right living.
Ethics is the science of human acts with reference to right and wrong.
Ethics is the scientific inquiry into the principles of morality.
Ethics and Morality

Morality refers to the quality of goodness or badness in a human act.

Good is described as moral and bad as immoral. It means conformity to the
rules of right conduct. For this reason, Ethics is also often called moral

Ethics, on the other hand, involves the study of those standards and
judgments which people create. Ethics basically investigates the nature of moral
principles, ethical systems and moral norms that people use to justify their moral
judgments. Ethics in this case outlines the theories of right or wrong, good or bad
actions. Morality, however, translates these theories into actions.

Ethics as a Normative Science

Ethics is a branch of philosophy and is considered a normative science

because it is concerned with the systematic study of the norms of human
conduct, as distinguished from formal sciences such as Mathematics, physical
sciences such as Chemistry and Physics, and empirical sciences such as
Economics and Psychology. Ethics is a normative science because it involves a
systematic search for moral principles and norms that are used to justify our
moral judgments.

Three Categories of General Ethics:

1. Descriptive Ethics consists of studying and describing the morality of a

people, culture, or society. It also makes comparisons and contrasts on
the different values, principles, code of ethics, beliefs, and practices of
people. It serves as the foundation of Normative Ethics and provides a
standard of the morality of a people, culture or society.
Psychological Egoism a concrete example of Descriptive Ethics is
the study of human motivation. It says nothing about what is good or bad,
rather it simply declares results based on various scientific studies.
Cultural Relativism does not prescribe how people should act,
rather it describes how people, when grouped and observed in their own
cultural realities, actually differ in their behavior.
In other words, descriptive Ethics is very objective in studying human
behavior but it does not provide a clear standard of morality. It simply
describes how people act and does not prescribe how people should
2. Normative Ethics involves moral judgment based on ethical norm or
theory. This consists both of the basic moral principles and values and the
particular moral rules that govern peoples behavior, which is right or
moral and wrong or immoral. The three tasks of Normative Ethics are the
a. To form into a related whole the various norms, rules and values of a
societys morality.
b. To find the basic principle from which the particular norm can be
c. To justify an ethical norm or moral principle.
3. Metaethics is a branch of Normative Ethics. In some other ways, both
Normative and Descriptive Ethics involve some metaethical activity.
Metaethics is concerned with analysis of the meaning of words and the
logic of moral reasoning, e.g., it analyzes moral terms like, good, bad,
moral, immoral, and the like. Metaethics does not describe moral
beliefs of people, does not evaluate the process of moral reasoning but
simply analyzes the usage and meaning of words.
The Problem of Ethical Relativism and Situation Ethics

Ethical Relativism

Ethical relativism claims that when any two cultures or any people hold
different moral values of an action, both can be right. While ethical relativism
emphasizes the differences of moral beliefs and practices from the point of view
of culture, situational ethics (or moral subjectivism) emphasizes moral differences
based on personal beliefs and convictions.

Approaches to Moral Differences

There are four approaches in dealing with moral differences:

a) There is No Moral Truth

This is philosophical perspective believes that there is no ultimate
right or wrong. This view is called moral nihilism. Moral Nihilism is akin to
moral skepticism which holds that we cannot know whether or not there
are moral truths. Moral subjectivism, on the other hand, holds that moral
views differ from one person to another.
b) There is No Universal Moral Truth
Each culture has its own set of rules that are valid for that culture,
and we have no right to interfere, just as they have no right to interfere
with our rules. This view is known as ethical relativism. This ethical paradigm
maintains that there are moral truths that exist but these truths are relative
and dependent on cultures and beliefs of people.
c) Deep Down, We Can Find Basic Moral Truths

This philosophical perspective believes that despite differences,

people of different cultures can still agree on certain moral basics. People
find some common ground on basic moral principles. This is called soft
d) There is One Universal Moral Truth
This view is also known as hard universalism or moral absolutism. This
moral paradigm maintains that there is only one universal moral code that
everybody must follow. Because this moral code is universal and
objective, moral problems and moral conflicts can be solved through
proper moral reasoning.

Deontological vs. Teleological Approaches to Ethical Evaluation of the Human


C End of the Actor Non -
T Means/Action in
I Itself, End of the Act

Consequences/Result, Consequentialist
N Probable and Actual

Deontological Ethics

Deontological Ethics or non-consequentialist approach is a body of

ethical theories that measures and evaluates the nature of a moral act based
on the validity of the motive of an act. This means that if the motive or intention
is of the act is good, then regardless of the consequences, the whole action is
Examples of Deontological Ethics:

Kantian Ethics or Kantianism this is also known as the categorical imperative

approach, the idea that one should always base his actions on maxims or rules
that are believed to be universal. For Kant, the moral goodness or badness of
the act does not depend on the consequences of the act but on the motive or
intention of the actor, e.g. the motive is good if it is an expression of the persons
sense of duty.
Divine Command Theory is another example of non-consequentialist
ethics. This ethical theory holds that the standard of right and wrong is the will or
law of God.
Teleological Ethics

The word teleology came from the Greek word tele which means far or
remote. Teleological Ethics or the consequentialist theory measures the morality
of an action based on its consequences and not on the motive or intention of
the actor. If the consequence of the act is good, regardless of the motive, then
the act is always morally good.
Examples of Teleological Ethics:

Hedonism or the view that pleasure (regardless whether the pleasure is mental
or physical, but mostly sensual) is the only good as an end.

Utilitarianism is another example of a consequentialist theory. This school of

thought maintains that the greatest good is the greatest happiness or pleasure
of the greatest number. This means that if the action can provide the greatest
happiness to the greatest number of people who are affected by the action,
then the action is considered to be morally good.

Comparison Between Deontological and Teleological Ethics

Deontological Teleological
Motives/Principles/Intentions Result/Consequences
Non-consequentialist Consequentialist
Examples Examples
Christian Ethics Utilitarianism
Ethics of Kant Hedonism

Comparison of Deontological and Teleological Approaches

Implications of Deontological and Teleological Ethics to Decision Making

These two approaches to the ethical evaluation of the human conduct

are also used by managers in the decision making process. Some managers
decide on the basis of their personal principles and convictions. In this regard,
managers are said to biased towards deontological perspective because of
their principle-oriented decision making process. On the other hand, some
managers could be result-oriented in terms of decision making. In this regard,
they favor the perspective of Teleological Ethics because they focus on the
consequence or the result of the action regardless of the intention or the motive
of the one performing the action.

The Moral Sense in Us

Traditional ethics believes that man has a natural insight to morality, this
being a gift of the Creator who gave man a moral sense. This moral sense is
native in all persons regardless of race, religion, culture, education and creed.
Man, therefore, is a moral being. This basic knowledge of right and wrong is
what differentiates man from animals.
The next three theories, namely, that of Aquinas, Kohlberg, and Freud
attempt to explain the fundamental question of how people develop their
concept of morality.
1. The Synderesis of Man According to St. Thomas Aquinas

According to Aquinas, the moral sense in man is manifested and

expressed in three different ways:

1) Man is able to distinguish or to know what is good and what is bad. Of all
creatures, only man has the capacity to know the difference between a
good and a bad action.
2) Man is always obligated to do good and avoid evil.
3) Man knows that he is accountable for his actions good or bad.

For Thomas Aquinas and the scholastics, this synderesis is the starting
point of mans moral reasoning which takes place when a person reaches
the age of reason.
2. Freuds Theory of the Id, Ego, and the Superego

Freud believes that the human mind has three important components,
that of the preconscious, conscious and unconscious. No other psychologist
except Freud has studied the unconscious part of the human mind.

Freud founded the Psychoanalysis Theory (Theory of Psyche) where the

approach is to understand human behavior which views men and women as
constantly torn between internal unconscious forces and external social forces.
The key points of psychoanalytic theory are the following:

1) Man must learn to control his inborn desires.

2) Man must achieve fulfillment in ways that are harmonious with others.
Freuds Theory of the Psyche
and Platos Three Parts of the Soul

Freud Plato
Superego Will
Ego Reason
Id Desire for Plaesure

Superego for Freud the superego basically reflects social rules and values of the
society that govern our behavior. This also includes the codes and rules that we
have been taught. The superego has elements in common with both reason
and willpower. Freud equates superego with conscience.

Ego is the rational self or the conscious self. In Freuds theory it is also known as
the reality-principle. It is part reason (intellect) but also part willpower. The ego
is under constant pressure to fight off the pleasure-seeking desires of the id and
at the same time, the ego is pressured by the reality forces of the environment
and the moral dictates of ones upbringing the superego.

Id is the irrational part in us or the unconscious instincts. According to Freud, we

are born with the id which is also known as the pleasure-principle in each of
us. When the id wants something, it craves for instant satisfaction.
3. Kohlbergs Theory of Moral Development

He is well known for his Theory of Moral Development. His theory of

moral development was based on the earlier works of the Swiss psychologist
Jean Piaget. Kohlberg helped to clarify the general cognitive developmental
approach of Jean Piaget, through his analysis of the changes in moral
reasoning or extending the approaches into a series of stages.

Kohlbergs Classification of the Persons Moral Development

1) Pre-conventional. This behavior is generally found in young children and
older children. There are two stages in this level: 1) reaction to punishment,
and 2) the desire for the right behavior that will satisfy the persons self-
interest. Stage 1 explains the concept of being good by following the
commands and authority and avoiding being punished. Stage 2 is a
stage of Individual Instrumental Purpose and Exchange. This means fair
deals for concrete exchanges.
2) Conventional. This level is generally found in an ideal civilized society,
hence, the name conventional. The first stage of this level (Stage 3) is
the Stage of Mutual Interpersonal Expectations, Relationaships and
Conformity. This is characterized by an attitude which seeks to do what
will gain the approval of others, commonly referred to as Putting oneself
in the other persons shoes. Stage 4 on the other hand, is the Stage of
Social System and Conscience Maintenance wherein one is oriented to
abiding by the law and responding to the obligations of duty. In this
context, the good or the bad behavior is dependent on the persons
conformity or non-conformity with the laws created by the state or
3) Post-Conventional. This third level of moral thinking is one that Kohlberg
felt is not reached by the majority of adults. Stage 5 is the Stage of Prior
Rights and Social Contract or Utility. It is the stage of understanding of
rights and values. It gives a person a sense of democracy but relativity of
rules. This means that people at this stage realize that there are
fundamental concepts of right and wrong but the application of which is
confined to their own culture and environment. The last stage (Stage 6) is
the Stage of Universal Ethical Principles. It is based on respect for universal
principles and the demands of individual conscience. At this stage
Kohlberg believed that people do good and avoid evil because they are
convinced that there are universal ethical principles that govern and
justify their actions.

Kohlberg believed that individuals could only progress through these

stages one stage at a time, without skipping a stage or reversing their order
and that not all people progress through all six stages classified into three
levels. Kohlberg as well as Piaget, believed that most moral developments
occur through social interaction.

The last stage of Kohlbergs stages of moral development is called

Transcendental Morality. At this stage, Kohlberg believes that people can
transcend their concepts of good and evil by integrating them with their
religious convictions.