1. It is done by adjusting to a code or a set of moral rules and values.

2.This moral code should not be imposed by the society to the people, but each individual must be free to choose it.

3.Being free when acting is something extremely important when assessing an action from a moral perspective because, if I act freely, then I am morally responsible for what I do or don’t do.

4. Thus, a fundamental condition appears so that we can judge whether an individual behaviour is morally right or not: It is necessary that they know what they do.

5. Finally, since people do not live in isolation, but we are citizens of a society, we are not only responsible for the consequences of our own actions in ourselves, but we also have to calculate their impact on the people we live with.

Moral values: moral values are those human qualities or ideals that we appreciate by themselves and aspire to be universal.

Moral rules: we can define the moral rules as those behavioural patterns, habits or norms that aim to regulate the coexistence of people in society. Generally, they are expressed in the form of orders or imperatives that compel us to behave in a certain way and they have their origin in a series of moral values.

Socrates’ moral intellectualism

he concluded that excellence or areté in the human being must consist in exercising that capacity: reason. Moreover, due to we use reason to acquire knowledge and learn, Socrates ended by identifying the areté in humans with knowledge and wisdom. The best man, the good man, who is at the height of its perfection and its human condition, is the wise man. The most remarkable conclusion of the Socratic moral theory is precisely that knowledge of what is good and right determines us to act in a good and a right way. According to Socrates, no one does wrong willingly. Who acts in a wrong way does it because of their ignorance, because they ignore what is “good”: no one does wrong knowingly.

Sophists’ “moral relativism”

Moral relativism is based According to sophists’ moral relativism, rules and moral precepts governing relations between individuals within a community are mere conventions or agreements lacking universal validity. The immediate consequence of this doctrine is that no action can be considered “good” or “bad” in itself. Everything depends on the “appearance” or “opinion” of individual subjects who examine it.

Aristotle’s eudaemonism

everything that humans do they do it in order to achieve a purpose or a goal. And the ultimate goal of everything we do is happiness. Happiness is the only purpose that is sufficient by itself. Aristotle said that, for humans, happiness consists in perfecting themselves as humans, that is, in developing the most specifically human activity: reason. The one who wants to be happy has to live in accordance with reason, with the intellectual or rational activity. In consequence, Aristotle concludes that the life full of happiness is the theoretical or contemplative life, while wisdom is the virtue that provides true happiness to human being. Although, it must be combined with other virtues. Thus, we say that a human being is virtuous when their will has acquired the “habit” of acting “rightly”, that is, according to a “golden mean” that avoids both excess and defect.

Epicurus’ hedonism

 the purpose of human life is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. However, not all pleasures are equally desirable, or even desirable at all times and in all circumstances. So, Epicurus says that it is necessary to achieve an adequate knowledge of desires and their objects, pleasures, to know what desire should be satisfied in each situation and to know what kind of pleasures must be prioritized over the rest:  

Epicurus introduces a classification of desires. There are three types of desires: 1) Natural and necessary desires. They are those that cause pain if they are not satisfied immediately, while their satisfaction produces pleasure. This kind of desires are closely linked to our survival, such as relieving the hunger, the thirst, the cold… 2) Natural and unnecessary desires. They do not cause pain if they are not satisfied. Here we can include all these craving or caprice which, although are not essential for survival, their satisfaction brings pleasure. 3) Unnatural and unnecessary desires. Here we should include issues such as thirst for power, fame, glory, public recognition, etc.

Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory connected to Epicurus’ hedonism. Not for nothing, utilitarians identify the “utility” or “usefulness” with what gives us “pleasure.

According to Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), the good, morally speaking, is what provides more pleasure to more people. according to Bentham, pleasure and pain are responsible for directing our behaviour and, through them, it is possible to distinguish between good and evil. From this approach, Bentham concludes his “principle of utility” according to which happiness consists in maximising pleasure and minimising pain. This principle allows to introduce again (Epicurus had already done it) an “arithmetic of pleasures”, However, we have to keep in mind that the human being is by nature a social animal, that is, a being who has to live in society, so this calculation must be made in relation to the collective utility.

First, how can we calculate the degree of pleasure of each individual in a objective and clear way, being the experience of a pleasure something personal and subjective? Moreover, how can we “add” experiences that, being so personal, are hardly comparable? 2) Another important problem was related to the quality of the different types of pleasures. It seems that humans give more value to some pleasures than others, so perhaps it should be necessary to stablish a classification of the different types of pleasure according to their quality (not only according to their quantity).

Kant’s “ethics of duty”.

Material ethics have a moral content. These ethical theories assume the existence of a final or “supreme good” or purpose (happiness, pleasure, utility…) and, from this purpose, they derive their moral content.

On the other hand, formal ethics lack moral content. Therefore, it is said that formal ethics are “autonomous”.