History of Ethics

Ethics, also commonly known as a virtuous theory, pertains to a subdivision of philosophy that encompasses several notions (Thompson, 2008). They include categorizing, protecting and endorsing perceptions of desirable and immoral behavior. Ideally, ethics try to answer queries of social principles. This is achieved through describing different views like upright and malicious, moral and immoral, quality and iniquity and impartiality and delinquency.

Besides, Thompson (2008) asserts that the field in question also relates to subjects such as ethical psychology, expressive beliefs and assessment philosophy, as a discipline of academic analysis. On the other hand, ethical theories refer to theoretically articulate group of suggestions that strive to offer wide-ranging standards for the supervision and appraisal of principled demeanor. Usually, they lay out the basis for generating verdicts, especially where moral codes apply. This is because these models under discussion epitomize the perspectives from which people ask for help during decision-making.

Moreover, every theory tends to accentuate diverse arguments, like forecasting the aftereffect and sticking to an individual’s obligations to other people, to achieve what they consider morally acceptable judgments (Thompson, 2008). As such, this essay brings out an overview of the history of ethics and a summary and comparison of the various categories of ethical theories. Further, the paper also includes a personal explanation of the most relevant theory to my life and the reasons why.

Overview of the History of Ethics

The acknowledged account of basic ethics or ethical theories commenced with the different early Greek theorists. These philosophers included Socrates, Sophists, Plato, Stoics Socratic schools, Aristotle and Epicurus. Subsequently, it was later improved by primary English rationalists trailed by those supporting utilitarianism against those for Kantian morals. At the time, this form of ethics was identified by two reasonable techniques known as reproach and contrast (Crisp, 2013).

Fundamentally, these particular notions were debated aggressively all over Europe during the nineteenth era. Consequently, Comte, Darwin, Spencer, and Green, respectively, also chipped considerable ideas within the discussed period. These specific scholars adjusted the progression theory into pure disciplines along with the growth of beliefs. Thus, at the start of the 20th epoch, ethics was possessing additional evolutionary theories. Nonetheless, it was still alienated between those for Utilitarianism and Kantianism (Crisp, 2013).

Types of Ethical Theories

Cognitive and Non-Cognitive

            Cognitive theories maintain that ethical declarations tend to convey opinions and that they are suitable for certainty and fallaciousness. Nonetheless, SEP (2016) posits that people should not compare these models in question to pragmatism. This is because cognitivists could characterize as fault thinkers and reason towards the falsifiability of all decent reports. However, principle pragmatists tend to classify as cognitivists as far as they concur to the aptness of moral accounts for forceful reality and speciousness.

Conversely, non-cognitivist theories assert that instructions possess dissimilar characteristics from expressive stretches. The traits include the absence of precision morals and coherence, as well as the tenure of different interactive responsibilities. In other words, this means that they do not communicate realistic statements or dogmas and as a result become neither accurate nor wrong. Instead, they then affiliate to another illocutionary potency known as the regulatory disposition (SEP, 2016).

Relativist and Universalist

            Universalists and relativists are two forms of meta-virtuous outlooks under the cognitive theories. This infers that they try to comprehend the motive behind moral possessions, insolences, restrictions, and conclusions. Nonetheless, the two theories tend to differ in their outlooks (White, 2017). To begin, universalism is regarded as a perfect domain, whereas relativism elucidates a more convincing viewpoint on the reasons why diverse societies could have unlike perceptions of identical deeds. However, both models under discussion inquire more into the vital implications of concepts instead of merely categorizing activities as true or erroneous (White, 2017).

In addition to this, White (2017) states that ethical universalism stipulates that there exists a worldwide principle that relates to all individuals globally. This is usually irrespective of people’s personal antiquities, predilections, personalities or situations. Contrariwise, relativists claim that ethical tenets only operate in some ethnicities and citizens. Simply, this means that certain things viewed as morally appropriate in a certain region could be unscrupulous in another area and vice versa. For instance, eating pork meat is regarded as extremely immoral within the Indian societies according to their faith whereas to other cultures it is totally right (White, 2017).

Most Relevant Theory of the Four

            Personally, I am more of a Universalist since relativism could result to higher chances of depravity due to the contrasting perceptions and ways of life. Moreover, the actuality or falsifiability of deeds does not depend solely on the views of a particular community. Furthermore, White (2017) argues that the relativist perspective also mainly depends on individual inclinations and ideals, which could result in skirmishes and contradiction of beliefs.


This essay brought out an overview of the history of ethics and a summary and comparison of the various categories of ethical theories. Further, the paper also included a personal explanation of the most relevant theory to my life and the reasons why. From the given illustrations, it is correct to infer that ethics are extremely vital in the day-to-day decision-making processes. Moreover, the described theories contain different opinions towards diverse phenomena. However, through an individual’s most preferred ethical theory, it becomes easier to generate verdicts regarding varying situations.


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