According to this opinion, the ultimate aim of man is to achieve Eternal Truth by rising above his limits because Eternal truth is his real nature and internal truth.
Thus perfection can be attained only by achieving it. The ultimate Reality is manifested in nature and the individual. The soul is a part of that ultimate element. It is the spiritual part of man. God is a treasure house of values and ethical values are only a part of it in this way, ethics is based upon metaphysics.
The philosophical school forgets that ethics is a normative science. Its method cannot be exclusively philosophical, although it is closely related to philosophy. Philosophy is concerned with facts and ideals while ethics is limited to ideals.
In Seth’s words,
“Its problem is the interpretation and explanation of our judgments of ethical value, as the problems of aesthetics and logic are respectively the interpretation and explanation of our judgments of aesthetics and of logical or intellectual values.”
The philosophical school bases die knowable ethical ideals upon an unknown foundation. This renders the ethical ideals difficult when they are to be understood. Ethics is concerned with practical life. Thus it is not feasible to base it upon a philosophy which advocates duality between the worldly and transcendental life.
2. Physical or Biological Method:
Those scientists who treat ethics as based upon physical or biological principles use the physical or biological method. Herbert Spencer has made an attempt to extract human ideals from the animal world. In his opinion ethical laws are based upon social laws, social laws upon psychological laws, psychological laws upon biological ones and biological ones upon the physical laws because they are merely the different stages of one evolutionary process.
The supporters of the physical or biological method forget the differences between ethics and physics and biology. These two are positive sciences while ethics is a normative science. It is as near philosophy as it is near science. Thus its method cannot be either exclusively philosophical or scientific.
The search for the first spring of ethical ideals has its own importance but if these ethical ideals are traced to their source in men or animals, it does not serve to explain them. Actually, ethical ideals are self-provided. They have their own specific nature. They cannot be accepted to be sociological or physical phenomena.
3. Historic and Genetic Method:
As is evident from the nature, the historical or genetic method tries to explain the ethical ideas from the evolutionary process or origin. According to it, the work of ethics is to explain the fundamentals of ethical ideals and institutions, and their development this opinion is held by Herbert Spencer, Leslie Stephen, Alexander and other evolutionists.
Giving an economic interpretation of human history, Karl Marx said that the ethical laws are the result of past and present economic structure. The major mistake made by the supporters of the historical method is that they have interpreted the search for origin as the description of the elements.
To know how a thing originated may be beneficial from the factual or scientific viewpoint, but it cannot be evaluated by origin. Values do not originate in facts. The historical description of ethical ideals is not their ethical description the history of origin does not explain the validity of values.
“I ought to speak the truth, for instance does not imply that I have spoken, do speak or shall speak the truth, it asserts no bond of causation between subject and predicate, nor any coexistence, nor any sequence.”
4. Psychological Method:
Taking the ethical laws to be based upon psychological facts, utilitarian philosophers like Hume, Bentham and Mill etc. have upheld the psychological method. According to this school, a psychological analysis should be made when a description of ethical ideals and laws is called for.
In this way, the hedonists derive the ethical laws that man should search for pleasure, from the fact that man does search for pleasure. Cud worth, Clark, Shaftesbury and other intuitionists have credited the psychological method in ethics.
It is their understanding that men have a natural internal conscience for determining duty. Kant too has derived his categorical imperative of duty from this method. The supporters of the psychological method in ethics fail to remember the fundamental difference between psychology and ethics.
While psychology is a positive science, ethics is a normative one. Ethics studies ideals while psychology concerns itself with facts, “the conclusions of psychology are descriptive while those of ethics are directive. Obviously, the psychological method cannot be of use in ethics.”
The psychological analysis of the ethical ideals does not serve to elucidate their meaning. ‘Ought’ cannot be derived from ‘is’ Psychology may find the cause of conduct but it cannot detail their propriety.