Constructing Practical Ethics

Dale Jamieson

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199545971
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Constructing Practical Ethics


This chapter sketches a broad history of practical ethics. It identifies five distinguishable styles of work in practical ethics: the Vertical Approach, the Horizontal Approach, Analysis and Intuition, Reasoning From Middle-Level Principles, and the Case Approach. It is argued that practical ethics is today a glorious mess, as evidenced by the different philosophical views implied by the different approaches. Some philosophers also practice more than one of these styles, sometimes in the same paper, which helps to explain the tension between practical ethics and the discipline of philosophy. If people working in this field cannot agree about what they are doing, then it is difficult to locate this field on a map of the discipline.

Keywords: practical ethics; philosophy; history

Article.  11578 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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