Branch of philosophy that studies the values that guide human conduct


Ethics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Ethics (from Greek ethikos) is the branch of axiology - one of the four major branches of philosophy, alongside metaphysics, epistemology, and logic - which attempts to understand the nature of morality; to define that which is right from that which is wrong. The Western tradition of ethics is sometimes called moral philosophy. ..."


Anti-Life Ethics in Iraq, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 15 Dec 2006
"One wonders whether ... [Weigel's] opinion on the war would be different if the number of American deaths matched the number of Iraqi deaths. ... Under what moral or ethical authority does one nation impose involuntary regime change on another nation, especially when it will entail innocent people's deaths in the process?"
Aristotle (382-322 BC) | Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, by Fred Miller, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
"Aristotle's practical treatise, the Nicomachean Ethics, argues that the human good consists of happiness, understood as rational and virtuous activity; that moral virtue involves achieving a mean (or intermediate condition) between extremes (e.g., courage is a mean between cowardice and foolhardiness); and that this mean is attained through practical wisdom, a deliberative excellence cognizant of the human end. Although concerned with individual excellence, the Ethics describes itself as a work of 'political science.' ... Because the city-state is necessary for individual human perfection, ethics is a part of political philosophy."
Ethics Study Guide: Aristotle, by Roderick T. Long
Part of study guide to Prof. Long's introductory ethics course; includes biographical details, comments on Aristotle's ethical and political writings, short introductions to Rethoric and Nichomachean Ethics and study questions
"The central concept in Aristotle's ethics is eudaimonia, usually translated as 'happiness.' Literally it means 'being well-favoured by the gods.' For Aristotle it is not a subjective psychological state, but a condition of overall well-being; we might think of it as 'living a good life' or 'flourishing as a human being.' ... Aristotle thinks that being a virtuous person involves a kind of moral insight developed through experience but not statable in words."
Related Topics: Aristotle, Dialectics
Herbert Spencer's Theory of Causation [PDF], by George H. Smith, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1981
Discusses Spencer's epistemology, his views on causation and how it affects social interactions, concluding with his ethical theory and concept of justice
"Acts are ethically good, generally speaking, if they are 'conducive to life' and ethically bad if they 'directly or indirectly tend towards death.' In order to label life-sustaining acts as 'good,' we must make 'an assumption of extreme significance ... an assumption underlying all moral estimates.' We must assume, according to Spencer, that life is worth living-and this brings us to the 'primary meanings of the words good and bad.'"
How a 19th century French pamphleteer preempted two centuries of economic fallacies, by Christopher Todd Meredith, 18 Oct 2016
Examines some of the main themes in Bastiat's writings, such as ethics and economics, the seen and the unseen and the State
"Those who have an interest in what are often called 'economic issues' tend to analyze public policy as though the ends ... justify the means. In fact, since Bastiat's day, it is not uncommon for economists to favor a utilitarian approach to ethics. ... For Bastiat, however, ethics and economics were interrelated, and the two ways of looking at morality were ultimately harmonious. In an essay entitled 'Two Systems of Ethics,' he referred to the utilitarian, ends-based ethics popular with economists as 'economic ethics' and the deontological, means-oriented ethics as 'philosophical or religious ethics.'"
Immorality, Inc., by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 31 Jul 2006
Argues that the lawlessness and violence in occupied Iraq is due to the immorality of modern day warfare
"In any society, the problem with crime extends beyond the immediate victims. Pervasive violence whittles away the cultural and moral foundations of society itself. ... modern wars are far more violent and blood-soaked than medieval ones, and they are far more likely to impact the whole of culture, dragging society's moral sense into the gutter, so that the sense of right and wrong, good and evil, dissolve and are replaced by a pervasive nihilism."
Related Topics: Government, Iraq, Socialism, War
Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution, by Murray Rothbard, Cato Journal, 1982
Examines the principles of tort law, how to determine what is just property and how to deal with invasions of property such as air pollution
"If ethics is a normative discipline that identifies and classifies certain sets of actions as good or evil, right or wrong, then tort or criminal law is a subset of ethics identifying certain actions as appropriate for using violence against them. The law says that action X should be illegal, and therefore should be combated by the violence of the law."
Objectivist Ethics in the Information-Age Economy, by Nathaniel Branden, Navigator, Feb 2001
After reviewing human progress, from hunter to farmer to laborer to thinker, argues that objectivist ethics are more relevant to current society
"... the ethics of Objectivism has a new relevance and a new urgency in our global, information-age economy. ... The mind has always been our basic tool of survival. But for most of our history, this fact was not understood. Today, it is obvious to (almost) the whole world."
Playboy Interview: Ayn Rand, by Ayn Rand, Alvin Toffler, Playboy, Mar 1964
Topics discussed include objectivism ethics, guilt, having a productive or creative purpose, emotions, women and family, romantic love, sex, marriage, religion, compassion, other writers, government, various politicians and altruism
"The ethic derived from the metaphysical base of Objectivism holds that, since reason is man’s basic tool of survival, rationality is his highest virtue. ... The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics is: man’s life—man's survival qua man—or that which the nature of a rational being requires for his proper survival. The Objectivist ethics, in essence, hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself."
Political Science, by Sheldon Richman, 18 May 2007
Reviews Frank Van Dun's 1986 paper titled "Economics and the Limits of Value-Free Science" and its implications for making an objective case for ethics, freedom and private property
"We ought to be reasonable. That proposition is deceptively simple because it's so powerful. How can one deny it or argue for the contrary proposition? Thought, language, and argument are tools of reason. ... Therefore, ... 'there can be a science of ethics and therefore also an ethics of science that is quite objective if it conforms to the normative fact as discussed by the science of ethics.'"
Related Topics: Politics, Private Property
Should We Force Others to Shape Up?, by David Gordon, Mises Daily, 20 Oct 2006
"If I steal from you, I may justifiably be compelled to return your property; but if I wish to drink myself to death, the state cannot stop me. People are free to persuade me to modify my conduct, or shun me if I will not; but they cannot use force against me. Many people find this sharp separation implausible, but Otteson suggests that most people implicitly accept it."
Smith, Adam (1723-1790) | Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, by Ronald Hamowy, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay focusing on Adam Smith's two major works
"In A Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith addresses the following question: From whence springs our ability to condemn certain intentions and actions as immoral and approve others as morally worthy? This problem is especially vexing inasmuch as we are able to judge our own behavior as either moral or immoral despite the fact that we are strongly motivated to act in our own self-interest. Smith maintained that our ability to form moral judgments is a function of our being possessed of a basic moral faculty that motivates us to act as an impartial spectator of our own and others' actions."
The Consequences of Liberty, by Sheldon Richman, 30 Jan 2015
Compares consequentialism to deontological ethics, also mentioning virtue ethics, and reviews Roderick Long's essay "Why Does Justice Have Good Consequences?"
"As I say, this discussion is hypothetical. Freedom (or justice) can be counted on to produce good outcomes, in a eudaimonistic way, for everyone. But is this just a lucky break? Or is there a more solid explanation? ... [Long] finds that the prima facie content of justice ... is represented by libertarianism, that is, the principle that each person is an end in himself and therefore is equal in authority to everyone else."
The Moral Case for Freedom Is the Practical Case for Freedom, by Sheldon Richman, 27 Dec 2013
Considers whether it is reasonable to make distinctions between ethical and practical arguments for freedom
"The concern of ethics, according to Aristotle, is to learn how such a being must think and act in order to flourish individually and as a member of society; the objective is 'the practical life of man as possessing reason.' That's why prudence (or practical wisdom) finds a place on his list of virtues."
Related Topic: Liberty
Would a Return to Conscription Substantially Reduce the Probability of War?, by David R. Henderson, 7 Sep 2015
Analyzes the question of whether reintroducing military conscription would incentivize the rich and powerful to object to "military adventurism" and thus prevent war; also includes a moral argument against the draft
"Most of us think that it's wrong to use innocent people as human shields in war. The immorality is due to two factors: (1) those innocent people's lives are put at risk, and (2) they do not get to choose whether to risk their lives. We don't make our moral judgment conditional on the consequences. ... Those who advocate conscription as a way to avoid war are advocating that innocent people become 'human shields.' Even if it can be shown that reintroducing conscription would reduce the chance of a war breaking out, it still is wrong to force people to put their lives at risk."
Related Topics: Vietnam War, War
Would You "Support the Troops" in Bolivia?, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 27 Dec 2006
Discusses U.S. military contracts and the hypothetical case of a soldier objecting to being deployed for an invasion of Bolivia on orders from the President, contrasting it to the real scenario of the 2003 invasion of Iraq
"But what about the morality of the entire operation? Where is the morality of killing people who have never attacked the United States and who have done nothing worse than try to defend their country from a wrongful invader? Where is the morality in killing in 'self-defense' when you don't have a right to be there killing people in the first place? Does a burglar who has entered someone's home in the middle of the night have the moral (or legal) right to claim self-defense ...?"
Related Topics: Militarism, Standing Armies, War


A Primer on Business Ethics
    by Tibor R. Machan, 2003
Related Topic: Business
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, by Adam Smith, 1759
Partial contents: Of the Propriety of Action Consisting of Three Sections - Of Merit and Demerit; or of the Objects of Reward and Punishment - Of the Foundation of our Judgments concerning our own Sentiments and Conduct, and of the Sense of Duty
The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism
    by Nathaniel Branden ("Mental Health versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice" and five more chapters), Ayn Rand, 1964
Partial contents: The Objectivist Ethics - The Ethics of Emergencies - The "Conflicts" of Men's Interests - Isn't Everyone Selfish? - The Psychology of Pleasure - Doesn't Life Require Compromise? - The Nature of Government - The Argument from Intimidation


An Introduction to Philosophy Part 5: Ethics 1, by Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio, 3 Sep 2006

An Introduction to Philosophy Part 5: Ethics 5, by Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio, 8 Sep 2006

An Introduction to Philosophy Part 5: Ethics Part 6, by Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio, 8 Sep 2006
Giants of the Scottish Enlightenment Part One: Francis Hutcheson, by James Stacey Taylor, 7 Dec 2011
Discusses the philosophical views of Francis Hutcheson, in particular the argument that human beings, in addition to the five traditionally recognized senses, have a public sense, a sense of honor and a moral sense
"And here is where we move into the core of Hutcheson's moral philosophy. You persons have a moral sense, claims Hutcheson. You feel approval when you recognize that persons have performed good, virtuous actions. You feel disapproval, naturally, when you feel, believe, and sense that they haven't. ... You simply think, that was not the right thing to do. Your moral sense is offended. Now, you might think, where does this moral sense come from? Why are we concerned about the interests of other people? For Hutcheson the answer is straightforward. We have a calm, stable disposition towards universal benevolence."
Related Topics: Francis Hutcheson, Philosophy

Introduction To Philosophy 5: Ethics Part 3, by Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio, 7 Sep 2006

Introduction To Philosophy Part 5: Ethics Part 4, by Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio, 7 Sep 2006

Intro To Philosophy 5: Ethics Part 2, by Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio, 7 Sep 2006