The three ethical theories are metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. Another term for ethics is moral philosophy. It is the practice of learning about, and recommending practices of right and wrong behavior.
The word "ethics" stems from the Greek word "ethos," which means a custom or habit. In philosophy, ethics are the best way humans should live and the kind of actions that are acceptable or not in a given situation.
The first type of ethical theory is metaethics. This theory addresses the origin and definition of people's ethical principles. Universal truths, God's will, the meaning of ethical terms and how reason plays a role in ethical decisions are all a part of metaethics.
Next is the more practical theory of normative ethics. Normative ethics defines the moral standards that regulate right and wrong choices. This theory is subdivided into three theories: virtue theories, duty theories and consequentialist theories. It involves things such as good habits, a person's ethical duties and the consequences of making an inappropriate ethical choice.
Finally, there is applied ethics. This is how ethics are used in everyday life to make everyday decisions. It often covers issues that are considered to be controversial, such as stem cell research, abortion, animal rights, nuclear war, homosexuality or capital punishment.