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Overview of Ethics

Ethics is basically the study of what we ought to do.The question is how we know what we ought to be doing? What are the principles that guide us in deciding right from wrong?

There are actually quite a few schools of thought here - some which see ethics as fundamental and others that see ethics as dependent on social and cultural realities. For example, should we always do what brings the greatest good for the greatest number (utilitarianism), or what brings us, personally, the greatest pleasure (hedonism)?

Maybe we should act in accordance with the word of God - in the Bible, the Qu'ran, commandments (divine command theory). Or maybe what's right is what will get us into heaven (salvation theory). Do we have ‘duties’, such as to tell the truth and act justly (deontology), or should we act in ways that protect a citizen's inalienable rights, that is life and liberty (contract theory).

But then again maybe it's all about survival of the fittest (social Darwinism) or maybe there really is no such thing as morality, or maybe ethics is just a political power game (nihilism).

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