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Kant distinguished between knowledge and ethics. 'While the power of representing truth is knowledge', he wrote in 1764, 'that of perceiving the good is feeling and ... these two must not be confused with one another. Kant places he responsibility for moral action within an inner faculty of the mind. Moral duty arose from the nature of the mind itself and appeared as a 'categorical imperative.' Moral judgment derives from an 'inner voice' - what we might call 'conscience' - that was unique to every individual and could never be alienated (transferred) to an external authority.

Locke's also developed the idea of the individual as an autonomous moral agent, but with important difference from Kant. For Locke, human beings are both autonomous agents and socially malleable creatures. He saw no contradiction in this because he saw no contradiction between self-interest and social-interest. In Locke's time, the providential view of Man, in which God had created every facet of the cosmos for the benefit of humanity, was still highly regarded.

Source: Malik, 2000, pp 72 - 73

See knowledge.

Ethics and philosophy --
In philosophy, meta-ethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, and ethical statements, attitudes, and judgments. Meta-ethics is one of the three branches of ethics generally recognized by philosophers, the others being ethical theory and applied ethics. Ethical theory and applied ethics comprise normative ethics. Meta-ethics has received considerable attention from academic philosophers in the last few decades.

While normative ethics addresses such questions as ""Which things are (morally) good and bad?"" and ""What should we do?"", thus endorsing some ethical evaluations and rejecting others, meta-ethics addresses the question ""What is (moral) goodness?"", seeking to understand the nature of ethical properties and evaluations.

Wikipedia contributors, ""Meta-ethics,"" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 31, 2007).