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At the turn of the 20th century, moral theories became more complex and were no longer concerned solely with rightness and wrongness, but were interested in many different kinds of moral status.During the middle of the century, the study of normative ethics declined as meta-ethics grew in prominence.A self-aware person will act completely within his capabilities to his pinnacle, while an ignorant person will flounder and encounter difficulty.

For example, "Is it ever possible to have secure knowledge of what is right and wrong? Meta-ethics has always accompanied philosophical ethics. For example, Aristotle implies that less precise knowledge is possible in ethics than in other spheres of inquiry, and he regards ethical knowledge as depending upon habit and acculturation in a way that makes it distinctive from other kinds of knowledge. This made thinkers look again at second order questions about ethics.

Earlier, the Scottish philosopher David Hume had put forward a similar view on the difference between facts and values.

Non-descriptivists and non-cognitivists believe that ethics does not need a specific ontology since ethical propositions do not refer. Realists, on the other hand, must explain what kind of entities, properties or states are relevant for ethics, how they have value, and why they guide and motivate our actions. It is the branch of ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking.

Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because normative ethics examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts.

The ontology of ethics is about value-bearing things or properties, i.e.

the kind of things or stuff referred to by ethical propositions.

Virtue ethics describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior, and it is used to describe the ethics of Socrates, Aristotle, and other early Greek philosophers.

Socrates (469–399 BC) was one of the first Greek philosophers to encourage both scholars and the common citizen to turn their attention from the outside world to the condition of humankind.

Hence, normative ethics is sometimes called prescriptive, rather than descriptive.

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