Applied ethics is an attempt to use philosophical methods to identify the morally correct course of action in various fields of human life. Applied ethics is an area of professional philosophy that is well paid and highly valued both within and outside of academia¹.
Applied ethics is distinguished from normative ethics and from meta-ethics. Normative ethics is concerned with what people should believe to be right and wrong. Meta-ethics is concerned with the nature of moral statements.
Applied ethics is concerned with just three theories: utilitarianism ethics, deontological ethics, and virtue ethics. A modern approach to applied ethics attempts to overcome the divide between deontology and utilitarianism. This is called case-based reasoning, or casuistry¹. Casuistry does not begin with theory but instead starts with the facts of a real and concrete case¹. In other words, the particular case is explored first before ethical theory is applied.
Some examples of applied ethics include abortion, animal rights, and euthanasia. In recent years, ethical issues have been divided into groups such as medical ethics, business ethics, environmental ethics, and sexual ethics².
Two requirements are required for an issue to be considered an applied ethical issue. First, the issue needs to be controversial in the sense that there are significant groups of people for and against the issue². The second requirement for an issue to be an applied ethical issue is that it must be a distinctly moral issue².
2. Fieser, James. Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/#H3