The term ‘ethics’ is technically used by philosophers tomean a philosophical study of morality—morality understood as aset of social rules, principles, norms that guide or are intended toguide the conduct of people in a society, and as beliefs about rightand wrong conduct as well as good or bad character. Even thoughmorality is the subject matter of ethics, it is most often usedinterchangeably with ‘ethics’. In spite of thephilosophical inquiries or analyses undertaken by individualmoral philosophers regarding morality (i.e., the morality of asociety or people)—analyses which often result in diverse positions orconclusions—nevertheless, the basic features, the core elementsof the morality of a society, those moral principles and values thatactually guide and influence the lives of a people, remain pretty muchwhat they are or have been. What individual moral philosophers, throughtheir critical analyses and arguments, try to do is to explain,clarify, refine, sharpen, or enlarge the understanding of the conceptsand issues of morality. Even though the moral beliefs and circumstancesof their own societies constitute the immediate focus of theirphilosophical activities—for human experience is most directlyfelt within some specific social or culturalcontext—nevertheless, moral philosophers do not think or imply atall that the results of their reflective activities are to be tetheredto their own societies as such. They believe, to the contrary, that, in thelight of our common humanity, which speaks to the common sentiments,purposes, responses, hopes, and aspirations of all human beings inrespect of certain situations, the conclusions of their reflectionswould, surely, have implications for the capacious community of humankind, forthe universal human family.


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