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Applied Ethics and It’s Modern Problems

Already at the beginning of the twentieth century, the question was raised about the need to rethink the tasks of ethics, finding new ways and methods, in comparison with the previous traditional one. George Edward Moore Was the first to criticize all the traditional concepts. He analyzed in detail the shortcomings and mistakes of metaphysical philosophy from a lot of perspectives including esoteric ones and showed that none of the directions existing in it is able to solve any of its fundamental questions – what is good, ideal, right behavior, happiness.

With this critical attitude, the development of Western ethics began in our century. And this negative-critical attitude turned out to be very constructive. Moore laid the beginning of a whole special period, which received the general name of meta-ethics. In its course, all the most important concepts were subjected to rigorous logical analysis. Subsequently, the critique of meta-ethics culminated in an almost unanimous determination to turn from dry logic to the vital facts of moral, social and psychological empiricism.

The next period in the development was marked by the search for a breakthrough to real life in the physical natural area. Investigations of empirical facts from the field of sociology and the psychology of morality have convincingly shown that here, ethics still does not acquire its main subject: a specific person who, throughout his life, faces real moral problems. At this stage, a human becomes the main subject of study, and science begins to be interested in all the specific details of his behavior from a moral perspective.

The third period represents a period of applied ethics. The main reason for its emergence was the logic of the civilizational process, which includes humanizing the entire life of man and society and understanding the values of individual and personal character. Humanistic ethics believes that value judgments can be worked out on the basis of reason. Reasonably knowing himself, a person can be “himself” and “for himself.” In this approach, good is the unfoldment of essential human forces, and virtue is the responsibility in relation to one’s own existence. Evil is any impediment to the development of human abilities, and vice is irresponsibility towards oneself.

The development of modern ethics also gave birth to an amplified list of new problems. Applied ethics arose where there was a threat to the life and existence of human and humankind, the danger of infringement of his inalienable rights and interests. This may be the sphere of biological experiment, medical care or environmental survival, where attempts were made to “dispense with rules”, to place in the first place some considerations of minute advantage, economic necessity or somebody’s interests, to push moral considerations to the second plan, where there was a new danger to life and the fear of death. The subject of applied normative ethics is special types of problems – those that are called “moral dilemmas” by literature history. Dilemmas are those problems that do not have a simple and unambiguous solution, which contain contradictions that cannot be formalized. These dilemmas are divided into two types. The first one is when a person is obliged to do two opposite acts because both are correct. The second situation is when a person at the same time should and should not commit the same act.

From the solution of moral dilemmas, from reflections on them, from reasoning in the process of their analysis, in fact, ethics grew. And modern applied concepts have grown from the need to solve the moral dilemmas of modern times, the origins of which are very diverse – from the situation of a deadly disease to environmental contamination. Consequently, applied ethics is a solution to contemporary moral dilemmas. Modern reality has created a lot of moral dilemmas, they really exist, and applied ethics shows what the possibilities for their solution are. However, in the modern world there are thousands of moral dilemmas; therefore, it is impossible to list and analyze all of them.

Written by: grademiners.co


Allhoff, Fritz. What Are Applied Ethics? Published online: Sci Eng Ethics, 17:1–19 (March

2010):2-5. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e537/7e1f4919cf1cf6847c94a8bdb8ebd92b02a9.pdf

Campbell, John. The Problem of Ethics in Contemporary Anthropological research.

Published online: Anthropology Matters Journal 2010, 12 (1), (December 2010): 1-6. https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/10352/1/The_problem_of_ethics_in_contemporary_anthropological_research.pdf