Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Ethics and Ethical Behavior

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_216


Human beings are constantly judging their own actions and those of others. Good and evil, moral and amoral, and conscienceless are the respective judgments whereby we implicitly assume that “one” knows the basic difference between good and evil. Moral conduct is thus always attributed to an individual, who is regarded as being responsible for his actions and held accountable for these, i.e., he has to answer to himself, his own conscience, or an external authority or institution. Moral behavior therefore presupposes the concept of voluntariness and freedom. Conscience, freedom, and responsibility are central concepts of moral behavior and ethics as the philosophical doctrine of morally relevant behavior (Moral Philosophy).

Ethics as a philosophical discipline dates back to Aristotle, who also pursued earlier approaches, as those of Plato and Socrates. The term ethics is derived from the Ancient Greek “ethikos”: custom, habit, or tradition. Although the adjectival or...

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This text was translated by Gisela Rumsey, M.A.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nagel & Company Management ConsultingFrankfurtGermany