moral philosophy

The Western tradition of ethics is called moral philosophy. It is distinct from Confucian, Tao, Buddhist and Shinto ethical traditions, and is not normally compared directly with those ideas. Ideas from Islam and even Judaism are often undervalued as well.

Tests are available on the Internet to determine how your personal moral philosophy compares with that of great philosophers of the Western canon, e.g. the Stoics, Hegel, Kant. By contrast, political philosophy is best tested with the political personality quiz.

Recently, theorists such as Axel Honneth and George Lakoff have sought to reconcile cognitive, linguistic and social theory with traditional moral philosophy, with results like Honneth's "moral grammar" and Lakoff's moral politics". The separateness of political and moral beliefs is also challenged by Bernard Crick whose political virtues emphasized the need to act virtuously in a process even when engaged in "politics as usual".

Rather than focusing on "ideas", the ethics of the Buddhist, Confucian, Tao and other "Oriental" ethical traditions have historically focused on conduct. Despite having roots in the Western culture, so too eventually did Islamic thought, abandoning most of its concern with epistemology and metaphysics in the 15th century as part of the ending of the ijtihad. These issues are discussed more completely in ethics.

Feminism has provided another critique, often focusing on equal power relationships. Carol Gilligan for instance famously argued with Lawrence Kohlberg that to preserve relationships over abstract moral principles was not clearly a poor choice. Kohlberg eventually agreed, said John Reed in a 1998 outline of where their program of researches into moral reasoning had to reach next.