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a. A set of principles of right conduct.
b. A theory or a system of moral values: "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain" (Gregg Easterbrook).
2. ethics(used with a sing. verb) The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.
3. ethics(used with a sing. or pl. verb) The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics.

[Middle English ethik, from Old French ethique (from Late Latin ēthica, from Greek ēthika, ethics) and from Latin ēthicē (from Greek ēthikē), both from Greek ēthikos, ethical, from ēthos, character; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots.]


1. (Philosophy) (functioning as singular) the philosophical study of the moral value of human conduct and of the rules and principles that ought to govern it; moral philosophy. See also meta-ethics
2. (functioning as plural) a social, religious, or civil code of behaviour considered correct, esp that of a particular group, profession, or individual
3. (functioning as plural) the moral fitness of a decision, course of action, etc: he doubted the ethics of their verdict.
ˈethicist, eˈthician n


(ˈɛθ ɪks)

1. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) a system or set of moral principles.
2. (used with a pl. v.) the rules of conduct governing a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics.
3. (usu. used with a sing. v.) the branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of actions and the goodness and badness of motives and ends.
4. (used with a pl. v.) moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade cheating.
[1400–50; modeled on Greek tàēthiká]
eth•i•cist (ˈɛθ ə sɪst) e•thi•cian (ɛˈθɪʃ ən) n.


See also philosophy; values

the state or quality of being without morality or of being indifferent to moral standards. — amoralist, n. — amoral, adj.
the branch of philosophy dealing with values, as those of ethics, aesthetics, or religion. — axiologist, n. — axiological, adj.
1. a person who studies and resolves questions of right and wrong in conduct.
2. an oversubtle or specious reasoner. — casuistic, adj.
1. the branch of ethics or theology that studies the relation of general ethical principles to particular cases of conduct or conscience.
2. a dishonest or oversubtle application of such principles.
the branch of philosophy concerned with ethics, especially that branch dealing with duty, moral obligation, and right action. — deontologist, n. — deontological, adj.
the ethical doctrine that the basis of morality lies in the tendency of right actions to produce happiness, especially in a life governed by reason rather than pleasure. eudemonist, eudaemonist, n.
a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations of ethics and especially with the definition of ethical terms and the nature of moral discourse.
the practice of morality, as distinct from religion. — moralist, n. — moralistic, adj.
sensualism. — sensationalist, n.
the doctrine that the good is to be judged only by or through the gratifleation of the senses. Also called sensationalism.
the belief or doctrine that the conscience is the repository of the laws of right and wrong. See also health.
the ethical doctrine that virtue is based upon utility and that behavior should have as its goal the procurement of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of persons. — utilitarian, n., adj.


1. 'ethic'

A particular ethic is an idea or moral belief that influences the behaviour and attitudes of a group of people.

...the ethic of public service.
...the Protestant work ethic.
2. 'ethics'

Ethics are moral beliefs and rules about right and wrong. When you use ethics with this meaning, it is a plural noun. You use a plural form of a verb with it.

Such action was a violation of medical ethics.

Ethics is also the study of questions about what is morally right or wrong. When ethics has this meaning, it is an uncount noun. You use a singular form of a verb with it.

We are only too ready to believe that ethics is a field where thinking does no good.
3. 'ethical'

Ethic is never an adjective. The adjective that means 'relating to ethics' is ethical. ethical problem.
He had no real ethical objection to drinking.


The philosophical study of morality in human conduct, and of the rules which ought to govern it.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.ethics - motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
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; "we did not understand his motivation"; "he acted with the best of motives"
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 Within, Light - a divine presence believed by Quakers to enlighten and guide the soul
2.ethics - the philosophical study of moral values and rules
egoism - (ethics) the theory that the pursuit of your own welfare in the basis of morality
philosophy - the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics
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
descriptivism - (ethics) a doctrine holding that moral statements have a truth value
prescriptivism - (ethics) a doctrine holding that moral statements prescribe appropriate attitudes and behavior


plural noun moral code, standards, principles, morals, conscience, morality, moral values, moral principles, moral philosophy, rules of conduct, moral beliefs Such an action was a violation of medical ethics.
"True ethics begin where the use of language ceases" [Albert Schweitzer Civilization and Ethics]
آداب، أخْلاقعِلْم الأخْلاق
siîfræîisiîfræîi, siîareglur
ētikaētikas principi
ahlâketiktöre/ahlâk bilimi


A. NSING (= subject) → ética fsing
B. NPL (= honourableness) → moralidad f


n (= moral beliefs) → éthique f
a code of ethics → un code d'éthique medical ethics
npl (= morality) → moralité f


sing (= study, system)Ethik f
pl (= morality)Moral f; the ethics of abortiondie moralischen or ethischen Aspekte plder Abtreibung


[ˈɛθɪks] n (sg, study) → etica; (pl, principles, system) → morale f


(ˈeθiks) noun singular
the study or the science of morals.
noun plural
rules or principles of behaviour.
ˈethical adjective
1. of or concerning morals, justice or duty.
2. (negative unethical) morally right.
ˈethically adverb


n. ética, normas y principios que gobiernan la conducta profesional.
References in periodicals archive ?
This claim generated much discussion when I taught the book in a graduate course on ecological ethics; it deserves significant attention from philosophical and theological ethicists alike.
When a hundred scholars and ethicists signed a petition that read, "As Christian ethicists, we share a common moral presumption against a preemptive war on Iraq by the United States," Elshtain argued the opposite, publishing the book Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World in 2003.
While faculty - particularly ethicists - who placed a high moral value on responding to student emails also typically rated themselves high on their responsiveness, Schwitzgebel and Rust found that assessment to be generally inaccurate.
Social ethicists have little trouble applying the ethics of Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) to such issues as church and state, war, or politics, says Haddorff (theology and ethics, St.
This paper asks: if the Principal Investigator (PI) of the grant controls the funding of the ethics projects, can ethicists undertake serious, objective reflection and make normative suggestions independently and fearlessly, especially in an economic climate in which reductions in ethics and humanities funding jeopardize other employment?
If philosophical moral reflection tends to improve moral behavior, one might expect that professional ethicists will, on average, behave morally better than non-ethicists.
Chaplains and clinical ethicists together could identify, recommend, and promote methods useful to both groups in the clinical context.
It is of interest to note that some principle-based ethicists regard natural moral law, not as reason's understanding of divine law, but as analogous to the physical laws of science.
After summarizing the arguments of several feminist economists and ethicists, Jarl attempts to synthesize from these works a feminist theory of economic justice based on addressing basic human needs.
The Institute of Medicine panel avoided a host of more controversial policies that some ethicists say are needed in light of the thousands of Americans who die each year on transplant waiting lists.
This realization has allowed modern day ethicists to resolve the traditional debate between objectivists and subjectivists.
The growing gulf between patients requiring organ transplants and the number of persons willing to give them is spurring some ethicists to call for new--and sometimes radical--ways to encourage donations.