The scope of ethics indicates its subject matter. Ethics as normative science deals with moral ideal or the good in order to enquire the nature of our conduct. It enquires into the nature of the springs of actions, motives, intentions, voluntary actions and so on. It determines rightness or wrongness of human actions. It does not enquire into the origin and growth of human conduct. As a science of morality ethics discusses the contents of moral consciousness and the various problems of moral consciousness.
Ethics is concerned with the highest good or absolute good. It investigates the nature of its fundamental notions i. e. right, duty and good. Moral judgments passed on our voluntary actions are also included within the scope of ethics. In discussing the moral judgment it has also to concern with the nature, object, faculty and standard of moral judgment. Moral sentiments and feelings are arising in our mind when we contemplate about the moral judgment and therefore, ethics has to discuss the nature of moral sentiments to moral judgment.
The scope of ethics includes whatever has reference to free human acts, whether as principle or cause of action (law, conscience, virtue), or as effect or circumstance of action (merit, punishment, etc. ) Ethics discusses the nature of human freedom. Ethics investigates what constitutes good or bad, just or unjust. It also inquires into-what is virtue, law, conscience and duty? What obligations are common to all? What is the good in all good acts? These questions lie within the scope of ethics. The sense of duty, oughtness or moral obligation and the responsibility for actions are also included within the range of ethics.
The particular aspect under which ethics considers free acts is that of their moral goodness or the rectitude of order involved in them as human acts. A man may be a good artist or orator and at the same time a morally bad man, or, conversely, a morally good man may be a poor artist or technician. Ethics has merely to do with the order which relates to man as man and which makes of him a good man. Thus we find that although Ethics is not a guidebook of moral rules as a branch of philosophy Ethics seeks clarification of terms used in moral language.
The ‘meta-ethical” problems fall within the scope of philosophical aspect of Ethics. There are other ‘meta ethical discussions related to the nature of moral judgments, the logical basis of ethical evaluation etc. The applied dimension of Ethics is known as “Applied Ethics’ that falls within the broad field of Ethics. These comprise the areas of situational Ethics while Meta Ethics deals with logical and semantic questions like ‘What do we mean by “freedom” and “determinism” etc.
Ethics is essentially related to all other branches of knowledge like sociology, political science, jurisprudence, law and legal study, psychology, anthropology, culture study, ecology and environmental study, economics, religion, aesthetics and other similar areas. Ethics is concerned with political, sociological, cultural, psychical, economic, environmental, religious problems in pursuit of highest good. So these problems have an additional place in the scope of ethics. With the emergence of new technology there is scope for widening the scope of ethics to address new issues
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