The 12 Types Of Ethics And Their Characteristics (with Examples)

Among the  types of ethics  are normative, applied, religious, utilitarian, Epicurean, Stoic, among others. However, many times they can be mixed with each other, because it is very difficult to separate them. Ethics is the branch of philosophy that studies the behavior of human beings by establishing what is “good” and what is “bad.”

It can be said that ethics is responsible for the study of morality, virtue, happiness and duty. Each of these aspects varies according to the field where it operates and the situation in which it finds itself. 

Feelings and emotions mark the characteristics of ethics

For this reason, ethics presents several classes that allow the human being to respond to the problems that arise daily, specifically when a decision has to be made.

List of types of ethics and their characteristics

– Epicurean Ethics

This type of ethics is based on the thought of the philosopher Epicurus, who established that pleasure was the purpose of all human beings.

Epicurus believed that everything that produced pleasure was good, while he considered that everything that produced pain was bad. However, Epicurus always said that pleasure should be rational and moderate.


The pleasure that Epicurus refers to can range from the simple act of breathing fresh air when waking up in the morning, to enjoying the warmth that a good animal fabric provides. From a pleasant conversation with someone who causes you sympathy, to the pride of having conquered the love of a very beautiful person.

– Stoic ethics

It establishes that the human being must live according to the laws of nature. For this reason, it is necessary for human beings to become virtuous and strong beings who can endure everything that comes their way, without showing any feelings (they should not feel sad about failures or happy about victory).


Man must avoid feelings like passion, which are nothing more than deviations from rationality. This could apply when buying unnecessary things simply out of the need to create false happiness.

– Normative ethics

This type of ethics is responsible for studying what human beings should think is “good” or is “bad” according to moral values .

This type of ethics studies what should be or what should be done and what is not and should not be done. For this, it is necessary to establish the moral standards that will serve to regulate human behavior.


There is a saying that goes “who robs a thief has a hundred years of forgiveness.” But, to what extent is it moral or not to denounce this act? Some may think that karma has caused one thief to steal from another, so they should not act, while others will think that any act of injustice should be reported, whoever the victim is.

– Metaetics

Type of ethics that is responsible for studying the origin and meaning of ethics, morals, value judgments, that is, everything related to ethical principles.


Metaethics can be asked about the question. That is, while ethics questions “Are we ethical because we are free?”, Metaethics asks questions such as “Who questions whether we are ethical because we are free?” or “Why has it become necessary to ask ourselves if we are ethical because we are free?”

– Religious ethics

This type of ethic is one that is influenced by religion. Each religion follows specific norms, for which religious ethics is divided according to the existing religions. For example, there are Christian ethics, Muslim ethics, Hindu ethics, among others.


This ethic arises in most religions concepts such as the search for happiness or how to achieve paradise once we die. To do this, it establishes moral standards that have the approval of God.

Christian ethics

Christian ethics is one that is responsible for ensuring compliance with the values ​​taught in the Gospels, that is, it seeks that people act as Jesus acted.

Hindu ethics

The Hindu ethic is one that is characterized by the search for peace, for this it is necessary for the human being to have control of himself, have compassion for all living beings, and stay away from violence while remaining pure and sincere.

Muslim ethics

Muslim ethics is responsible for ensuring compliance with the commandments of the Koran. It also seeks that human beings follow in the footsteps of Muhammad, a Muslim prophet who is considered an example to follow.

– Applied ethics

This type of ethics refers to its application in the day-to-day, that is, in the workplace, in the business field, in medicine, in the legal field, in politics, in each and every one of the activities that the human being performs.


This ethic asks whether euthanasia or abortion should be legalized or not.

– Empirical ethics

Empirical ethics is the one that is created while living, that is, it is the one that arises from one’s own experience and direct observation.


A child, without the ability to reason as an adult, can dedicate himself to killing insects until a certain age when he understands that it is wrong to harm any living being. It is learning acquired autonomously, without the need for anyone to influence it.

– Civic ethics

Civic ethics is one that ensures that human beings behave “correctly” within society, since its proper functioning will depend on it.


Some examples of civic ethics would be respect for public and private institutions, respect for national symbols or laws, among others.

– Professional ethics

Professional ethics is one that is responsible for studying the conduct and values ​​in the professional life of human beings.

Professional ethics is divided into several types, as each profession has its own code of ethics. However, in some cases they are similar to each other. Consequently, there is medical ethics, military ethics, teaching ethics, legal ethics, among others.


A technician with a computer repair shop should focus on figuring out the technical problem with his customer’s computer, avoiding the temptation to gossip about photographs or personal files.

– Medical ethics

Medical ethics is one that is applied in the field of health and medicine. It has a set of rules that regulate the behavior of health professionals.

In medical ethics, it is specified how the relationship between the doctor and the patient should be, how the ailments and illnesses of patients should be handled, how the behavior between co-workers should be, among others.


When a doctor is faced with a patient with very little chance of survival, he must decide between continuing to fight for him, or give up and dedicate more efforts to other patients.

– Military ethics

Military ethics is based on obedience and the observance of moral values. Therefore it is said that a military man has ethics when he obeys a superior.

However, it is necessary for each military to bear in mind the values ​​so that they are allowed to identify when an order should not be carried out.


If a military man is told to torture a prisoner, it would be unethical to comply with that order, as human rights would be violated.

– Utilitarian ethics

Its logic establishes that what benefits the majority of the population is good. Consequently, the good and the bad will depend on how useful it is for humanity.


For example: if some antisocials break into an office saying that they are going to murder everyone if they do not hand over a particular person.

Here is a dilemma: what should they do? Should they give up the person in order to stay alive?

In this case a utilitarian might consider handing over the person they are looking for, as this would cause a greater number of individuals to be saved. It is evident that the good will depend on the number of people who will benefit from the action.


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