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ethics

/ˈɛθɪks/

/ˈɛθɪks/

When discussing a code of morals, choose the noun ethics. You might call a politician who uses taxpayer money for wild parties a little "ethics-challenged."

Ethics can mean the study of morality — what's right and wrong. When discussing this branch of philosophy, treat the word as singular, despite the "-s": "Ethics is no longer widely taught." But in the sense of "moral correctness" or "a moral code," treat it as plural: "The ethics of capital punishment are complex." Don't confuse it with ethos, which means "the characteristic spirit of a culture." (Both words come from Greek ethos, "moral character.")

Definitions of ethics
  1. noun
    motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
    synonyms: ethical motive, morality, morals
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    types:
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    hedonism
    the pursuit of pleasure as a matter of ethical principle
    conscience, moral sense, scruples, sense of right and wrong
    motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person's thoughts and actions
    Christ Within, Inner Light, Light, Light Within
    a divine presence believed by Quakers to enlighten and guide the soul
    superego
    (psychoanalysis) that part of the unconscious mind that acts as a conscience
    small voice, voice of conscience, wee small voice
    an inner voice that judges your behavior
    sense of duty, sense of shame
    a motivating awareness of ethical responsibility
    type of:
    motivation, motive, need
    the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior
  2. noun
    the philosophical study of moral values and rules
    synonyms: moral philosophy
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    bioethics
    the branch of ethics that studies moral values in the biomedical sciences
    casuistry
    moral philosophy based on the application of general ethical principles to resolve moral dilemmas
    endaemonism, eudemonism
    an ethical system that evaluates actions by reference to personal well-being through a life based on reason
    hedonism
    an ethical system that evaluates the pursuit of pleasure as the highest good
    neuroethics
    the study of ethical implications of treatments for neurological diseases
    probabilism
    a Roman Catholic system of casuistry that when expert opinions differ an actor can follow any solidly probable opinion that he wishes even though some different opinion might be more probable
    type of:
    philosophy
    the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics
Pronunciation
US

/ˈɛθɪks/

UK

/ˈɛθɪks/

DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘ethics'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Vocabulary.com or its editors. Send us feedback
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