Navigating Moral Waters: An Exploration of Philosophical Ethics

Categories: EthicsPhilosophy

Ethics is the study of the nature of moral virtues and evaluates human actions. Ethics come from agreements between people, duty considerations and considerations of the consequences of various actions we involve ourselves into. Philosophical ethics is the study of morality through rational means guided in human well-being. The three subsections of philosophical ethics are; normative ethics-is the study of moral standards that makes us judge our actions as wring or wrong or good from bad. Meta-ethics – is concerned with the meaning of ethical judgments that is responsible for the truth and validity of our actions.

Meta-ethics assists us determine whether an opinion can be applied to any situation at present or in future. It asks questions such as; what’s the meaning of ethical terms such as good and right, the motives for acting ethically, the nature of moral reason. Applied Ethics – is the application of moral philosophy to real-life situations that have been investigated in normative ethics and judged on the lessons of meta-ethics.

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According to Paul Newall article moral philosophy is divided into branches; meta-ethics and normative ethics.

The two have some differences according to how they are applied in the day to day real–life situations. Normative ethics is concerned with ethical questions that guide us in all what we do on a daily such as “What has value? ” and “What are our moral obligations? ” such questions give us our character and personality. Meta-ethics on its side is concerned with philosophical questions about ethics such as "What is value? " and “What can make it the case that we ought to do something? ”.

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A personal ethical situation I experienced involved my neighbor who was caught stealing neighbor at the market place.

Since police officers were not around to arrest him the mob took the chance to bit and stone him in protest. Being a person I had known over a period of time, I felt ethically right to save his live from the swelling mob. At first, I had to stop the mob from biting and stoning him, through dialogue. But my greatest fear was that the mob may turn and direct their anger towards me because I was protecting to protect a criminal who has been terrorizing them, but this did not happen since the crowd listened and accepted my request.

In my opinion, it was ethically wrong for my neighbor to steal what others had ethically through struggle and hard work. He thus deserved to be punished, but the way the mob chose to punish the offender was totally unethical since the federal laws and regulations that govern the state should be followed in such a case. Being a quite tricky situation, I requested the mob first to stop any further biting and stoning and took the chance to dialogue and discuss with them other possible ways of punishing the offender such as taking him to the law officers.

The mob seemed not to reason ethically at first because the police had in many cases fallen short of providing adequate security and the residents had no trust in them anymore. When I finally won them, I narrowed further to the issue of acting contrary to the state laws and the implications of their actions and even explained to them that the offender has right to live. The reason for this approach was that the mob seemed to have no moral standards and obligations to judge between good and bad.

In many occasion, the mob makes wrong decisions but evaluates their action after an ffence has been committed, in this case the death of my neighbor. In my opinion their action was bad and could not be justified ethically, philosophically the mob morality was not rational and was not grounded in the notion of human happiness for both the accused ad the accusers. According to Newall's explanation of normative ethics, several ethical questions must be questioned by all the participants in the whole process. First, my neighbor should have analyzed whether his decision to steal had any moral obligation and any value.

Such a personal question should have stopped him from making the decision to steal. His morals could have been provoked and changed of mind taking a decision to engage in a more productive activity rather than stealing. The mob as well should have questioned their morals before choosing their action. By stoning to kill it implies that their morals were all wrong because it is moral wrong to hurt anyone. The law is very clear and precise on what should be done in such a case, but because they never followed the law; their moral values are as well questionable.

My action was guided by the value of life and that no one is supposed to take the law into their own hands by causing bodily harm to anybody. My moral obligation was to safe my neighbor because if I watched him stoned to death, my moral conscience and quit would haunt me because I should have acted to save him. In conclusion, all our actions and decisions should be guided by our morals values and that normative ethics must always prevail in any action. We are supposed to fully evaluate our actions and be ready to face the consequences of our actions.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Navigating Moral Waters: An Exploration of Philosophical Ethics. (2016, Oct 03). Retrieved from

Navigating Moral Waters: An Exploration of Philosophical Ethics essay
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