What Are Types of Ethics?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 27, 2020 6:16:06 PM ET

The three types of ethics include descriptive ethics, normative ethics and metaethics, explains Lander University’s Philosophy Department. Each type has a place in the functionality of a society.

Descriptive ethics are the morals of a society. People use descriptive ethics as a way to judge particular actions as good or bad based on the social contract of a particular society. It is possible for people in one group to hold a different set of morals than people in another group. Descriptive ethics also change over time. For instance, the acceptability of racism changed in the United States over the course of generations. Normative ethics imply what should be good or bad in a society. The view of what is an acceptable ethic requires subjectivity. Normative ethics conflict with descriptive ethics at times. An example of normative ethics is the debate concerning abortion. Metaethics involves the examination of ethical terms, such as justice and morality, as broad concepts for a society. It also seeks to define a middle ground between terms such as good and evil. Emotivism, a part of metaethics, involves using a seemingly objective claim as an emotional response. An example of metaethics includes questioning the existence of free will in a society.