The prehistoric age is assumed as a life lead by human beings equal to animals. The culture and civilization was not evolved during the pre historic age. Man during several centuries led nomadic life. He migrated from one place to other due to several diverse factors that affected him. After migrating to suitable places he began to settle down. Later he began to live in groups or communities that shared a common life style. The common life pattern gave way to new civilizations and cultures. New living standards and rules were introduced. Moral codes became an essential part in leading a life that ensured prestige and status in the society. The main purposes of moral codes were to create awareness and guide lines about the right and wrong in the society. The creation of moral codes focused on the welfare of an individual and through them to build a good society. Ethics or the standard codes are regarded as moral code that is a branch of moral philosophy. The term ethics derive from the Greek word “ethos” that means “character”. In every culture the character of an individual and the community was given prime importance in leading a life. The ethics emphasis on moral conduct of an individual that gives him direction about how to behave or act in a society.
There are several definitions given for ethics according to the difference of opinion among the historians and critics. According to the definition of Thomas Paul and Linda Elder ethics are often confused with standards of religious beliefs and standard of law. They further give an accurate definition about ethics that “it is a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what helps or harms sentient creatures”. The Cambridge dictionary defines and definitely affirms that ethics means the rational, optimal and appropriate decision brought on the basis of common sense. This definition of ethics is widely accepted. This means that ethics is not an interchangeable term for morality. But in wider concept ethics can be used as a determining factor for moral value. It is an attitude that gives priority or prominence to social and moral values.
The ethics have four main classifications. Meta ethics, normative ethics, applied ethics and descriptive ethics. Meta ethics defines the theoretical meaning of moral values and the determination value of truth in the moral values. Normative ethics deals with the practical aspect of determining moral values when applicable in action. Applied ethics focus on specific or extraordinary situations when the moral codes are inevitable. Descriptive ethics deals with branch of study about belief of people about morality. The descriptive ethics is also known as comparative ethics. Virtue ethics was propagated by ancient Greek philosophers and thinkers like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. They instigated and encouraged common people to have a new perspective from ordinary course of living to have new concepts about knowledge and wisdom that require higher standards of ethics. Socrates motivated people to attain self knowledge and discipline to know right and wrong, virtue and vice. He asserted that one who knows what is right will find happiness as ignorance will lead only to folly and sadness in life.
Today ethics is applied in different fields or professions. Business ethics, professional ethics, political ethics, public sector ethics, military ethics, relational ethics, family ethics and bioethics are some of the newly evolved ethics in the modern world. The main purpose of ethics defined or classified under various heads aims at the shaping and conditioning of human behavior. The human psychology and behavior is under continuous shaping and conditioning that give new dimensions to the concept of ethics.