humanitarian ethics

GC: n

S: Bizfluent – (last access: 26 January 2019); ICRC – (last access: 26 January 2019).

N: 1. – humanitarian (adj): As a noun, 1794 in the theological sense “one who affirms the humanity of Christ but denies his pre-existence and divinity,” from human (adj.) + suffix from unitarian, etc. By 1834 as “one who professes the creed that a person’s highest duty is to advance the welfare of the human race,” but the closely allied sense “philanthropist, one who advocates or practices human action to solve social problems” (1842), originally was disparaging, with a suggestion of excess. Compare humanism.
As an adjective by 1834 in the theological sense “affirming the humanity or human nature of Christ;” by 1855 as “having regard for the broad interests of humanity.”
– ethics (n): “the science of morals,” c. 1600, plural of Middle English ethik “study of morals” (see ethic). The word also traces to Ta Ethika, title of Aristotle’s work. Related: Ethicist.
2. Principles of Humanitarian Ethics: Humanist ethics, or humanitarianism, is an ethical approach that places great weight on the condition of human beings everywhere, without distinctions of any kind. This doctrine holds that human needs are basically the same and revolve around the protection of basic freedoms within a context of an economic system that serves the population as a whole rather than groups of well-connected elites.
3. Humanitarian ethics begins from the point of view that human beings can only prosper under specific conditions. Governments and economic systems must be geared to real needs such as food, shelter, work and education. The goal is not merely to prevent atrocities and catastrophes, but to create a social world where the potential of each person is maximized. Potential is stifled, for example, when people do not have legal right to property, are forced to work long hours or do not have a stable home because of war or economic hardship.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 26 January 2019). 2 & 3. EH – (last access: 13 September 2015).


CR: humanitarian, humanitarian action.