An Introduction to Ethics

  • Calvin Pinchin


Ethics may be defined as the study of the logical status of our moral judgements. It differs from morals in that it does not involve making moral judgements. According to Ayer, the distinction is not always marked between the moralist, who sets out a moral code, and the moral philosopher whose concern is to analyse the nature of moral judgements. Ayer tells us that a strictly philosophical treatise on ethics makes no moral judgements. It analyses ethical terms showing to what linguistic categories they belong. In other words, philosophers stop philosophising and start moralising when they make moral judgements. Ayer’s position is a neutral one. It should be contrasted with that of Plato and Socrates. They saw the task of the moral philosopher as discovering and describing the ideal life and the social and political institutions which are conducive to that life. Aristotle’s concern was with the chief good for man.


Moral Judgement Ethical Judgement Moral Rule Moral Conclusion Moral Virtue 
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    B. Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 53. Russell uses the term ‘universal’ in order to avoid any incorrect mentalist connotations which might be associated with Plato’s term ‘Idea’.Google Scholar
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    G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica (Cambridge University Press, 1976 ), p. 67.Google Scholar

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© Calvin Pinchin 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Calvin Pinchin
    • 1
  1. 1.Deganwy, N. WalesUK

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