Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 that addresses questions about morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue
Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being....

 and vice
Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption...

, justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 and crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

, etc.

Major branches of ethics include:
  • Meta-ethics
    In philosophy, meta-ethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes, and judgments. Meta-ethics is one of the three branches of ethics generally recognized by philosophers, the others being normative ethics and applied ethics. Ethical...

    , about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined;
  • Normative ethics
    Normative ethics
    Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking...

    , about the practical means of determining a moral course of action;
  • Applied ethics
    Applied ethics
    Applied ethics is, in the words of Brenda Almond, co-founder of the Society for Applied Philosophy, "the philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life that are matters of moral judgment"...

    , about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations;
  • Moral psychology
    Moral psychology
    Moral psychology is a field of study in both philosophy and psychology. Some use the term "moral psychology" relatively narrowly to refer to the study of moral development. However, others tend to use the term more broadly to include any topics at the intersection of ethics and psychology and...

    , about how moral capacity or moral agency develops and what its nature is;
  • Descriptive ethics
    Descriptive ethics
    Descriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people's beliefs about morality. It contrasts with prescriptive or normative ethics, which is the study of ethical theories that prescribe how people ought to act, and with meta-ethics, which is the study of what ethical terms...

    , about what moral values people actually abide by.

Within each of these branches are many different schools of thought and still further sub-fields of study.
Meta-ethics is a field within ethics that seeks to understand the nature of normative ethics
Normative ethics
Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking...


Poetry is an ethic. By ethic I mean a secret code of behavior, a discipline constructed and conducted according to the capabilities of a man who rejects the falsifications of the categorical imperative.

Jean Cocteau, in Diary of an Unknown (1988)

Strong ethics keep corporations healthy. Poor ethics make companies sick. Values are the immune system of every organisation.

Patrick Dixon, in Building a Better Business (2005), p. 131

There is good and there is Evil.Evil must be Punished.Even in the Face of Armageddon,I will not Compromise This

Rorschach Watchmen

One has a feeling that one has a kind of home in this timeless community of human beings that strive for truth. … I have always believed that Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God|Kingdom of God the small group scattered all through time of intellectually and ethically valuable people.

Albert Einstein, quoted in Einstein's God — Albert Einstein's Quest as a Scientist and as a Jew to Replace a Forsaken God (1997) by Robert N. Goldman

Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil.

Albert Schweitzer, in Kulturphilosophie (1923), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics

Let me give you a definition of ethics: It is good to maintain and further life — it is bad to damage and destroy life. And this ethic, profound and universal, has the significance of a religion. It is religion.

Albert Schweitzer, quoted in Albert Schweitzer : The Man and His Mind (1947) by George Seaver, p. 366

Ethics does not treat of the world. Ethics must be a condition of the world, like logic. Ethics and Aesthetics are one.

Ludwig Wittgenstein in his Journal (24 July 1916)