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Normative Ethics

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Moral philosophy; Moral principles; Rules of conduct


Ethics are the principles guiding one’s moral behavior. Ethics is also the study of these principles – namely, what is good, and which actions are right or wrong. Normative ethics is concerned with what people ideally ought to do (Kagan 1997). Typically it is thought that people ought to do the right thing, and ought not to do the wrong thing. People should be good, not bad. People ought (or ought not) to do certain things and when such claims are made, they set forth norms of behavior – the way things ought to be. Ethical behavior is not always common, and this is why it is frequently said that it is difficult to do the right thing. Normative ethics also play an important role in providing moral justification for one’s own behavior. One may ask, “why did you make this decision?” and what is being asked is “what is your moral justification for doing this? – why did you think this was the right thing to do?” and...

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Correspondence to Andrew B. Gustafson .

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Gustafson, A.B. (2021). Normative Ethics. In: Poff, D.C., Michalos, A.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Business and Professional Ethics. Springer, Cham.

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