Ethics is known as a field of philosophy that defines whether the behavior of the individuals shall be considered as right or wrong. Namely, this science elaborates the criterion which is applied to distinguish the types of socially acceptable and, therefore, “normal” demeanor of the individuals and socially unacceptable and, therefore, “deviating” demeanor of the ones.
The role played by ethics in the development and prosperity of the community must never by underestimated. Special relevance of ethics has become evident with the advent of the 21st century, when the need to differentiate the good from the evil has turned into the crying necessity of the local communities and the international society as well. Notably, the main particularity of the 21 century is the dominance of the informational aspects over the production ones (Huebner, 2012). Hereby, considering that the major areas of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics, it is virtually impossible to ascertain which area of ethics shall be preferred. Both the theoretical definition and classification of ethics and practical application of the fundamental principles in specific situations must be considered (Noman, 2011). The informational dominance of the 21 century dictates the principle according to which the categories and concepts related to the development of the information and business ethics are among the most rapidly developing philosophic areas today.
These principles in their majority are inferred by the scholars of Postmodernism philosophic school and by the studies of the classics.
Nowadays, the relevance and the permanent development of the ethics prescriptions are undisputable. The production branches of the society generate flows of informational resources as well as continue to produce the commodities of physical nature. Ethics principles are the keystones, which protect the community from overproduction and the subsequent deterioration of the environmental and social spheres of the communal being.
Overall, the aim of this paper is to outline the main peculiarities of the metaethics, normative and applied ethics in the 21 century.
For the present study, various scholarly sources were used. In particular, the issues connected with the development of ethics were addressed by Noman E. Bowie in his Business Ethics published in 2011. This study provides a detailed overview of the business ethical provisions and is primarily focused on the applied ethics. To be more exact, the structural frameworks, ideological aspects, and the guide to practical application are provided in the book. Business ethics is presented as a pledge for the successful conduct of business and if the ethics is disregarded, the shortest way to the bankruptcy is guaranteed (Noman, 2011).
The second source used in this survey is the outstanding work by Donald Barnett King titled Legal Education For the 21 Century. In this book, the author accentuates legally pertinent issues and explains how the ethical issues of the 21 century are connected with the existing mandatory prescriptions of the law and amplifies how these issues are normatively regulated nowadays.
The third source is An introduction to Christian ethics: History, Movement, People published in 2012. This book serves as a primary source for this essay as it outlines the causation of the ethical provisions and the rest of the public commandments.
The ultimate source for this essay is the Ethics written by the outstanding United States philosophy professor Geoffrey C. Hazard in 2000. This study encompasses basic concepts and categories of philosophy and serves as a framework for this essay.
The Spheres of Ethics, Its Particularities in the 21 Century, and the Relevance to the Community
As it has been stated in the previous abstracts, both the contemporary and classical ethics consist of three integral spheres, namely meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. This section of the essay addresses the peculiarities of these constituents characteristic for the 21 century and examines the relevance of these principles and the occurred alternation.
The aim of meta-ethics is to simplify the cognition and understanding of the nature and the essence of the normative ethics. This sphere in its turn is divided into two subcategories, namely the cognitivist and non-cognitivist theories, which encompass the huge number of concepts, theories, and affiliated categories (ethical non-naturalism, ideal observes theory, divine commandment theory, etc.). The main particularity inherent to this area of ethics which took place in the 21st century is the emerged availability of the scientific and technical tools that simplify the process of cognition and understanding of their natures. Another rapid development of the meta-ethics section focuses on the centralism and non-centralism subcategories of the theory (Huebner, 2012). While the centralists advocate the notion that a unified system of concepts and categories must be used to accomplish the designated goals, the non-centralist scholars advocate the idea that concepts and categories from the adjoined spheres of philosophy must be applied along with the purely meta-ethical categories and concepts (Noman, 2011).
The relevance of meta-ethics can hardly be exaggerated by the scholarly as well as by the business communities of the 21st century (Huebner, 2012). Nowadays, it is particularly essential for the proper understanding and comprehension of ethics because of the constantly growing number of concepts and categories, which must be duly understood and comprehended by the members of the community.
The objective of the normative ethics is to serve as a base of the ethical norms which, in their turn, set the criterion for distinguishing the good and the evil. In the 21st century, this section of the ethical science was substantially affected by the theory of logical positivism and by analytic philosophy. Among the particularities that occurred in this field of study in the 21st century, there is the evident trend to the simplification of the concepts and the categories. In other words, the scholar community in a close cooperation with the business partners does their best to amplify the complex philosophical concepts and categories to make them understandable and comprehensible for general public and for the non-scholars in particular (Noman, 2011).
Nowadays, the unified code of ethics does not still exist although in several professional areas, these instruments have already been introduced. To illustrate, the lawyers and the military men have their own codes of ethics, which are affirmed by the respective bylaws and other documents of the mandatory legal character.
Another sphere that has been fundamentally changed with the advent of the 21st century is moral values, the set of principles which is not normatively fixed, but which is firmly fixed in the social consciousness of the community. Nowadays, it became evident that the change in public values is so fundamental that the entire set of moral principles is been substantially altered. To illustrate, with the imminent terrorist threat, the community has changed its attitude to death; while in the late 20th century, the murder of the terrorist in the course of the military operation was still considered as a murder, nowadays, this deed may be construed as almost a heroic exploit (Noman, 2011).
Applied ethics is traditionally divided into the decision ethics, professional ethics, business ethics, social ethics, and organizational ethics. The aim of this sphere of the ethical process is to provide a practical application of the formulated ethical principle. The major difference between the normative ethics and applied ethics is that the latter defines whether what people believe is good or evil, but not what they should believe is good or evil. The major changes in the 21st century occurred in the professional and business ethics, because these spheres have always been among the most dynamically developed areas of the public life. New professional castes emerged, and obsolete professions ceased their existence. Therefore, the new practice of the applied ethics emerged on the philosophical horizon of our civilization. To illustrate, in the 21st century, the role of the software engineers has fundamentally increased; respectively, the number of the professionals engaged in this area grew dramatically (Huebner, 2012). Consequently, a wide set of governing ethical principles has been elaborated by the professional community, and the practice of application was firmly established.
The major particularity of the applied ethics in the 21st century is the fact that in contrast to the philosophical phenomenon of the 20th and 19th centuries, the discrepancies between the provision of the normative and the applied ethics are insignificant. In other words, nowadays, both the business and the professional communities in their majorities distinguish the good and the evil, and the normatively developed criterions are almost completely observed.
Having summarized the statements discussed above, it can be recapitulated that although several fundamental changes took place in the development of the ethics in the 21st century, the structural compound of the ethical science still remains the same. However, the changes that took place with the constituent elements of the study are evident, and the process of development is under way nowadays.
As far as the specific issues are concerned, it is necessary to accentuate the fact that the trend for simplification of the ethical prescriptions became evident along with the removal of differences between the normative and applied ethics in the context of business and professional areas.