Dimensions of Ethics

Dimensions of Ethics refers to a set of standards, norms, principles that the society places over itself, against which the actions of an individual judge from the view point of rightness or wrongness or goodness or badness.

Branches/Dimensions of Ethics

Ethics a multi-dimensional branch of moral Philosophy which can be divides into four main branches. They were:

  1. Meta-Ethics: It deals with the concepts beyond ethics, i.e. ethics about Ethics.
  2. Prescriptive Ethics(Normative Ethics): Which is again, divided into Deontological Ethics, Teleological Ethics, and Virtue Ethics.
  3. Descriptive Ethics(Comparative Ethics)
  4. Applying Ethics: It further divides into Bio-ethics, Cyber Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Personal Ethics, Professional Ethics, Public Ethics, and International Ethics and so on.

Dimension of Ethics

  • Meta ethics is defined as the study of the origin and meaning of ethical concepts, the term “meta” means after or beyond, and, consequently, the notion of Meta ethics involves a removed, or bird’s eye view of the entire project of ethics.
  • It is a branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties statements attitudes and judgments.
  • It is a branch of analytic philosophy that explores the status, foundations, and scope of moral values, properties, and words. Whereas the fields of applied ethics and normative theory focus on what is moral, meta-ethics focuses on what morality itself is.


  • Normative ethics is also called as prescriptive ethics. It is the study of ethical theories that prescribe how people ought to act. It examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions. Normative ethics suggests punishment when a person deviates from the path of ideals.
  • Aristotle’s virtue ethics, Immanuel Kant’s deontological ethics, J S Mill’s Consequentialism {Utilitarianism) and the Bhagwat Gita’s Nishkam Karma yoga are some of the theories in Normative Ethics.
  • The Golden Rule is a classic example of a normative principle: “We should do to others what we would want others to do to us”.
  • Normative ethics can be of following types
  1. Deontological Ethics
  2. Teleological Ethics
  3. Virtue ethics


  • Descriptive ethics deals with what people actually believe (or made to believe) to be right or wrong, and accordingly holds up the human actions acceptable or not acceptable or punishable under a custom or law.
  • However, customs and laws keep changing from time to time and from society to society. The societies have structured their moral principles as per changing time and have expected people to behave accordingly. Due to this, descriptive ethics is also called comparative ethics because it compares the ethics or past and present; ethics of one society and other.
  • It also takes inputs from other disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, sociology and history to explain the moral right or wrong.
  • Applied ethics is the branch of ethics which consists of the analysis of specific, controversial moral issues such as abortion, animal rights, or euthanasia. It helps to use knowledge of moral principles to present dilemmas.
  • It is the philosophical examination from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life that are matters of moral judgment. It attempts to use philosophical methods to identify the morally correct course of action in various fields of human life.

Examples: Ethics associated with some moral issues like euthanasia, surrogacy, medical termination of pregnancy (abortions), Bio Ethics, Environmental ethics, Media ethics etc. will be a part of applied ethics.