To understand the concept of cultural ethics, one must be aware of the philosophy of ethics. Ethics is defined as the branch of philosophy that questions or aims to tackle questions about integrity, principles, righteousness and morality. It seeks to justify concepts involving what is right or wrong, good or bad, and what is honest and impartial from dishonesty and partiality.
Ethics can be divided into various branches.
They include the following:
- Meta-ethics: Meta-ethics deals with the meaning of truth-values in theory and refers to moral propositions.
- Normative Ethics: Normative Ethics deals with the practicality of actions which are moral and just.
- Applied Ethics: Applied Ethics refers to moral and ethical outcomes that can be achieved, in particular situations.
- Moral Psychology: Moral Psychology deals with the development and nature of moral capacity.
- Descriptive Ethics: Descriptive Ethics are moral values that most people follow and stand by.
The term culture refers to beliefs, values, customs and traditions which are shared and followed by a society for survival. The principles and customs are taught to the younger generations as values and morals. The term culture encompasses the beliefs and thought process of majority of the members of that society and their actions reflect the cultural ethics of that community.
Cultural ethics, as the name suggests deals with the morality, integrity, principles and values of a culture, and in some case, even religion. It usually differs from culture to culture. In spite of that, certain values remain the same simply because they are ethically and morally justifiable.
People tend to compare and equate their feelings with ethics. However, this should not be the case because sometimes feelings tend to take control of a personâ€™s actions even if it is morally and ethically wrong. Thus, feelings should not be equated with ethics.
Most people tend to identify religion with ethics. This again, does not apply because a person who is religious may have the same values and morals as a person who is an atheist or non-religious. Yet, most people assume cultural ethics to be the principles and values imparted by a certain religion.
Culture is an integral part of ethics and vice versa. The culture of a community impacts it progress, development, laws, principles and to some extent, its policies. Cultural ethics reflect the values and morals of a society and therefore, is a plays a vital part in the governance of that society.