Ethics, Philosophy and Language

  • Sören Stenlund
Part of the Swansea Studies in Philosophy book series (SWSP)


In one of its traditional usages, the word ‘ethics’ refers to a branch of philosophy in the same sense as the word ‘logic’ refers to another. Calling ethics a branch of philosophy is traditionally meant to do something more specific than simply describe ethics as philosophical thinking about moral issues and about the phenomena of human life which we call ethical. A branch of philosophy is usually defined by stating its tasks and its main questions, and it is perhaps symptomatic of the nature of the philosophical problems about ethics that many writers have felt a need to redefine its subject matter and to offer their own statements of its tasks and main questions. Ethics seems to be a branch of philosophy which more than other branches tends to call itself into question.


Ethical Problem Moral Philosophy Ethical Theory Moral Standard Philosophical Problem 
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  1. 8.
    L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974, 2nd edition) § 128.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Hilary Putnam (Realism with a Human Face, 135–141) argues, for instance, that ‘without values we would not have a world’. Another example of the same tendency is Jürgen Habermas, who claims to have ‘The insight that the truth of statements is linked in the last analysis to the intention of the good and true life …’ (J. Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interest, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987, 317). These conceptions seem to be adapted to the idea of philosophical clarification as a means to certain political or ideological ends, an idea which is very much in accord with the spirit of our age.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Sören Stenlund

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