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Applied and Professional Ethics

One area of ethics is applied or “practical” ethics. This is a large area that includes treatments of specific ethical issues and also philosophical work associated with particular professions. Specific issues include such questions as the morality of homosexuality, drug use and regulation, and gun control, as well as many others. Professional ethics includes such areas as military ethics, medical ethics, engineering ethics, legal ethics, nursing ethics, and veterinary ethics. Business ethics, although often not considered a part of professional ethics, is also an area of great interest and importance.

Effective work in applied ethics requires extensive knowledge of the areas to which the ethicist directs his or her attention. For example, a medical ethicist should know as much as possible about medicine. This often requires work in a medical context. Because of the importance of ethical considerations to various areas of human endeavor, however, applied ethicists are often in great demand.


  • Clare Palmer’s work in applied ethics explores issues relating to the environment, animals and technology. She’s currently working on projects relating to wildlife ethics and farm animal welfare.
  • Martin Peterson is the holder of the Sue and Harry E. Bovay Chair in the History and Ethics of Professional Engineering. He is the author of The Ethics of Technology: A Geometric Analysis of Five Moral Principles, Oxford University Press 2017.
  • Linda Radzik‘s work in applied ethics focuses on moral choices that arise in everyday life, especially the decisions individuals make in the aftermath of wrongdoing. She also has interests in criminal justice ethics.