Allegory with a portrait of a Venetian senator (Allegory of the morality of earthly things), attributed to Tintoretto, 1585
Immanuel Kant introduced the categorical imperative: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."
Kohlberg's model of moral development

Differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper (wrong).

- Morality

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Jeremy Bentham
John Stuart Mill
Immanuel Kant
Photograph of Jurgen Habermas, whose theory of discourse ethics was influenced by Kantian ethics

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior".


Study of the nature, scope, and meaning of moral judgment.

The School of Athens (1509–1511) by Raphael, depicting famous classical Greek philosophers in an idealized setting inspired by ancient Greek architecture.

Some theorists argue that a metaphysical account of morality is necessary for the proper evaluation of actual moral theories and for making practical moral decisions; others reason from opposite premises and suggest that studying moral judgments about proper actions can guide us to a true account of the nature of morality.


Cardinal and Theological Virtues by Raphael, 1511
Maat, to ancient Egyptians, personified the virtue of truth and justice. Her feather represents truth.
Personification of virtue (Greek Ἀρετή) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey
Valluvar (Statue at SOAS, University of London).
Virtues fighting vices, stained glass window (14th century) in the Niederhaslach Church
Parshwanatha, the torch bearer of ahimsa.
Virtue, spear in hand, with her foot on the prostrate form of Tyranny on the Great Seal of Virginia

Virtue (virtus) is moral excellence.

Normative ethics

Feelings like shame and love are sometimes considered the only meaningful sense in which morality is binding. Absent those feelings, a person could behave "immorally" without remorse.

Normative ethics is the study of ethical behaviour, and is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the questions that arise regarding how one ought to act, in a moral sense.


In most contexts, the concept of good denotes the conduct that should be preferred when posed with a choice between possible actions.

In many Western religions, angels are considered to be good beings and are contrasted with devils who are considered evil
Bust of Socrates in the Vatican Museum
Faravahar (or Ferohar), one of the primary symbols of Zoroastrianism, believed to be the depiction of a Fravashi (a guardian spirit)
A stained glass window of Thomas Aquinas in St. Joseph's Catholic Church (Central City, Kentucky)
One of the five paintings of Extermination of Evil portrays one of the eight guardians of Buddhist law, Sendan Kendatsuba, banishing evil

A sense of moral judgment and a distinction "right and wrong, good and bad" are cultural universals.

Value (ethics and social sciences)

Best to live , or to describe the significance of different actions.

The Inglehart–Welzel cultural map of the world, constructed by sociopolitical scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel based on the World Values Survey.

Values tend to influence attitudes and behavior and these types include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values.


Allegory with a portrait of a Venetian senator (Allegory of the morality of earthly things), attributed to Tintoretto, 1585

Amorality is an absence of, indifference towards, disregard for, or incapacity for morality.

Immanuel Kant

German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers.

Portrait by Johann Gottlieb Becker, 1768
Kant's house in Königsberg
Portrait of philosopher David Hume
Engraving of Immanuel Kant
Kant with friends, including Christian Jakob Kraus, Johann Georg Hamann, Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel and Karl Gottfried Hagen
Kant's tomb in Kaliningrad, Russia
Immanuel Kant by Carle Vernet (1758–1836)
Kant statue in the School of Philosophy and Human Sciences (FAFICH) in the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Immanuel Kant
In his Metaphysics, Immanuel Kant introduced the categorical imperative: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."
5 DM 1974 D silver coin commemorating the 250th birthday of Immanuel Kant in Königsberg
Statue of Immanuel Kant in Kaliningrad (Königsberg), Russia. Replica by of the original by Christian Daniel Rauch lost in 1945.
West German postage stamp, 1974, commemorating the 250th anniversary of Kant's birth

Kant believed that reason is also the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment.


Act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms, politics or being like-minded.

Which line matches the first line, A, B, or C? In the Asch conformity experiments, people frequently followed the majority judgment, even when the majority was wrong.
Individualism versus collectivism worldwide (5 August 2020)                        Description: countries colored with green have cultures that are more individualistic than the world average. Countries colored in red have relatively collectivistic cultures.

This is often referred to as groupthink: a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics, which ignores realistic appraisal of other courses of action.


Intentions are mental states in which the agent commits themselves to a course of action.

A phrenological mapping of the brain. Phrenology was among the first attempts to correlate mental functions with specific parts of the brain

It is often suggested that the agent's intentions play a central role in the moral value of the corresponding actions.