Digest of terms


systematic thinking applied to moral value judgements and any bases for them. It is often helpful to distinguish between broad categories of ethics. Descriptive ethics provides what are hoped to be ethically neutral accounts of the moral ideas and practices of individuals and societies generally. Normative ethics, by contrast, recommends various moral principles and values as the right ones to be adopted. Practical ethics applies particular principles to particular issues, e.g. abortion or birth control. Metaethics analyses the terms constitutive of distinctively moral language, e.g. rights, duties, or addresses issues regarding, say, the status of moral principles (are they absolute or relative, are they universal or purely subjective?). While helpful, these categories do in practice sometimes overlap.

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