3 Approaches in Ethics: Normative, Descriptive and Applied Ethics

Following are the 3 Approaches in Ethics:

  1. Normative Ethics
  2. Comparative/Descriptive Ethics
  3. Applied Ethics

Normative Ethics:

Normative ethics derived from the word “Norm”. It is prescriptive in nature and discusses the context of ethics and morality. Normative Ethics deals with what ‘ought to be’ of human conduct – what should be i.e. It delves into the questions of what ought to be achieved. It’s concerned with standards of human conduct which should be following by humans so that they can improve their human conduct & achieve Summum bonum (means “the highest good”). Normative ethics is further divided into:

  1. Virtue Ethics
  2. Consequentialism
  3. Deontology

All ethical theories known as Agent- Action theories or normative ethics theories.

Comparative/Descriptive Ethics:

While Normative Ethics seeks ‘what ought to be human conduct’, Descriptive ethics is concerned with “what is of human conduct’” i.e. It’s also an approach in ethics which studies human conduct, different social context, situations to understand about human behavior. i.e. How human behaves without being judgemental.

It’s descriptive ethics that can help to understand of positive and negative of human behavior and that can become the basis for normative ethics to set some established standards for improving behavior.

Descriptive Ethics can further be divided into:

  1. Ethical Relativism – Moral principles are relative and change from culture and context.
  2. Ethical Universalism – Moral principles are universally applicable.

Applied Ethics:

Applied Ethics is a practical branch of Moral Philosophy. It is concerned with the application of moral principles to continuous issues. It can be one organization, profession, sector such as:

  1. Professional ethics
  2. Media ethics
  3. Sports ethics
  4. Environmental ethics
  5. Ethics in civil services
  6. Health/bio.

This field also deals with ethical issues faced by people in applied contexts such as the issue of GM crop, euthanasia, surrogacy, embryonic, stencil, new technology, and other issues.

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