Ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the morality of people. It seeks to address how moral issues should be determined and at the same time trying to point out what is morally right and what is not. Ethics also seeks to differentiate between the good and the bad, the fair and the unfair, responsible and the irresponsible, the obligatory and the permissible, the praiseworthy and the blameworthy, etc. The principle behind ethics is that each human being should be treated equally and all the human rights that it defines are applied equally applied to all people and to all people. This paper will seek to address the meaning of ethics and the different types of ethics that apply to human life.


This is concerned with how we make our judgements, prescriptions, and properties so that one can say what is being done is moral or ethically right. This even concerns the language that an individual uses in his or her daily life which should be morally right. Meta-ethics says that the actions of an individual are the ones that determine whether the individual is morally right or wrong and not the knowledge in the individual. Consequently, an individual who uses a very humble and ethical language in addressing people but does contrary t his or her actions cannot be said to be ethically right (John, 2008: p.1).

Normative Ethics

Normative ethics is concerned with how the right and the wrong should be determined. According to philosophers, an individual can only do what is right if he or she knows what is right. Anyone who is willing to learn will always know what is bad or evil and thus avoid it for


these are the results of ignorance (John, 2008: p.1). History has it that a person who knows the consequences of his or her action will always try to do what is right. Normative ethics sees ethics as doing the right thing at the right time and to the right person.

Applied Ethics

Applied ethics attempts to apply ethical theories to real life situations so as to make the real life situations as realistic as possible. It is used most in determining public policy in terms of what is morally acceptable. Some of the issues that can be addressed here are like whether abortion is right, whether animals have their rights, whether affirmative action is right or wrong, etc (John, 2008: p.1). according to applied ethics, public policies are designed so that they do not favour some individuals while they oppress others.

Moral Psychology

Moral psychology defines the development of an individual that can be seen as being ethically right. The development here is used to shape an individual in a way that will be acceptable to members of the community (John, 2008: p.1). Some morally acceptable values already do exist and the individual who is developing only needs to be made aware of the issues so that as he or she develops, he or she will be in a position to differentiate between what is morally right and wrong.

Descriptive Ethics

Descriptive ethics takes the right thing as the one that is not opposed by the society. It uses what already exists to take what is right and what is wrong (John, 2008: p.1). The ethical codes that are applied by various groups are most probably ethically right when applied in general life.



Ethics as a branch of philosophy seeks to address how moral issues should be determined and at the same time trying to point out what is morally right and what is not. All the branches of ethics seek to find what is right and who it should be applied to and the time that is right for its application. The different branches include meta-ethics, normative ethics, applied ethics, moral psychology, and descriptive ethics. These are the broad branches but different individuals have different branches that can be arranged in different ways aimed at achieving the same goal.


John, C. (2008). What is ethics? A Guide to Teaching the Ethical Dimensions of science. Retrieved on 12-Oct-09 from e/chapt2.aspx