Ethics, Epistemology and Free Will


Ethics is a branch of philosophy that includes systematized suggestions about goodness and evil, good and bad events and actions. The Greek word ethos means character. Ethics is also called a moral philosophy. Its central question is “what is the best a person should do”. Ethics has different definitions. It is tightly connected with the issues of morality and virtue. It also evaluates some human’s deeds and phenomena, decision-making, wise or foolish actions. The world ethics is associated with positive conducts that are useful for an individual and society overall.

Meta-ethics is focused on researches of normative ethics that is based on the study of morality issues. It gives people the answers on the questions about how they ought to behave. Other ethical theories are Hedonism, Virtue ethics, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Consequentialism, Deontology, Evolutionary ethics, Descriptive ethics, Pragmatic ethics and Utilitarianism. Ethics is linked with every part of individual’s life, where it appears both as a criterion of evaluation and its subject.


Epistemology is a study of knowledge as true justified belief. Epistemology is aimed to answer the following questions: What are the sufficient and necessary conditions of knowledge? What are the sources of knowledge? What are the limits and the structure of knowledge? What is justification? What may justify some beliefs?

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Knowledge may be based on beliefs, truth and justifications. Belief accepts everything as true because faith in something or somebody needs no rational data, logical ground or causes and reasons. True belief is not supposed to be believed in. The suggestion is true because it is known. For example, it is a common knowledge that the globe is round. Justification means that people should not only believe in something, but also have sufficient reasons to believe.

There are two kinds of justifications:

  • deontological;
  • non-deontological.

The sufficient evidence makes rationalized beliefs justified. Evidence consists of various experiences that are related to the belief. The structure of knowledge depends upon the structure of justification. There are different sources of beliefs, such as perception, memory, introspection, testimony and reason. It is difficult to define the limits of knowledge. People may think that they know something when they do not. Nevertheless, people know much less, than they want to know.

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Free Will

People want to be free and independent individuals. Since the times of sophists and especially Protagoras, a human being is considered to be the most valuable creature. Freedom is an attribute of a strong, independent individual. Free will provides human with an opportunity to be sovereign and free from all the circumstances and rules. However, not everybody agrees with this chance. Free will is theological and philosophical doctrine, which declares that human is able to be free, independently from the circumstances and other factors that may have an impact on his/her opinion. The study also claims that a decision-making is grounded on freedom.

Immanuel Kant has grounded his suggestions about morality on the theory of free will. True virtue and morality are possible in case they are based on freedom and autonomy. Kant realized that it was impossible to know properly whether the decision was made in accordance with personal free opinion or universal morality rules.

David Hume managed to connect free will and determinism. He wrote about liberty and necessity. On the one hand, necessity makes people to act and to make some decisions. In this case, people make choices not because they want to, but because they have to. Yet, people may make various choices, which are based on freedom, even if the necessity has occurred. Hume has concluded that freedom is an understanding of necessity. Thus, people may accept the necessity and benefit from it.

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