Existentialism is a philosophical theory that emphasizes individual existence and freedom. It emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries in response to the increasing isolation and alienation of individuals in modern society.

At its core, existentialism is concerned with the fundamental nature of human existence. It rejects the idea that there is any inherent meaning or purpose to life, and instead asserts that each individual must create their own meaning through their choices and actions.

Existentialism has had a significant impact on ethical theory, particularly in the areas of personal responsibility and moral decision-making. In this article, we will explore the key principles of existentialism theory in ethics.

Personal Responsibility

One of the core principles of existentialism is personal responsibility. Existentialists believe that individuals are solely responsible for their own choices and actions. They reject the notion that external factors or societal norms can dictate what is right or wrong.

This emphasis on personal responsibility means that each individual must make their own choices, even when faced with difficult or challenging situations. Existentialists argue that it is only through taking full responsibility for our lives that we can achieve true freedom.

Moral Decision-Making

Another key area where existentialism has influenced ethical theory is in moral decision-making. According to existentialists, there are no objective moral standards or rules governing human behavior.

Instead, each person must define their own moral code based on their own experiences and values. This means that ethical decisions cannot be made based on external factors such as laws or religious doctrine.

Rather, they must be made based on a deep understanding of one’s self and one’s place in the world. This requires a willingness to engage in self-reflection and introspection, as well as a willingness to take risks and make difficult choices.


Existentialism theory in ethics emphasizes personal responsibility, individual freedom, and moral decision-making based on one’s own experiences and values. It rejects external standards and encourages individuals to create their own meaning in life.

While it may be challenging to fully embrace these concepts, existentialism offers a unique perspective on what it means to be human. By emphasizing personal responsibility and self-reflection, it encourages individuals to live more authentic and fulfilling lives.