Ethics, Theories of

Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with morality. Ethicists are concerned with a wide range of topics, such as human nature; the meaning of life; the nature of value; how judgments are made; how judgments can be improved; how moral attitudes arise and change; and the workings of morally significant mental states such as love, hate, greed, envy, indifference, pity, desire, aversion, pleasure, and pain. Moral or ethical theories offer the means of understanding significant elements in these and other areas of inquiry.

Ethical theories tend either toward merely describing or toward both describing and judging. As a result, some moral theories seem to belong to anthropology, psychology, or sociology, while others look like instances of what ethics purports to study—that is, like moral ...

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