Practical Philosophy

Ethics and Moral Philosophy

Moral philosophers ask what we ought to do in various circumstances. In doing so, they often find it necessary to ask more general questions about what is good and what is right, as well as investigate the nature and basis of ethical claims.

Moral philosophers explore such questions as:

  • What is good? What makes actions or people good? What makes one’s life a good one?
  • What is right? What makes actions right?
  • What is the relation between rightness and goodness?
  • What are the virtues? How are the virtues related to other moral principles or values (like rightness or goodness)?
  • How should I treat others?
  • Is morality objective or subjective? If morality is objective, how can we explain moral disagreement?
  • Do we have moral duties to non-human animals? Do we have moral duties to the natural world? Do we have moral duties to future generations? If so, what justifies such duties?

Political and Social Philosophy:
Political and social philosophy concerns the political and social relations and actions of people, including the nature of social practices and the organization of political institutions. Political philosophers ask how political institutions ought to be organized, what justice is, and how power ought to be distributed and exercised.

Questions that political and social philosophers explore include:

  • What is the nature of political liberty? What is the nature of equality? What is the relation between liberty and equality?
  • What is the most just political system for a society?
  • Are there principles of international justice? If so, what are they? Are there any universal human rights?
  • Do citizens have a duty to obey the law?
  • What is the nature of law?
  • What should be done to address social attitudes and practices like racism, sexism, and heterosexism?