The paper focuses on three problems: the first one concerns the ambiguity of the term "ethics" itself. The second one concerns the attempts to define the position of ethics in contemporary society. The third one embodies the relationship between philosophical and applied ethics. Attention is paid to confusions, which were brought about by the obscure use of the term "ethics", and to their consequences for the meaning of morals, as well as for the morals itself in its normative form, and finally for the application of morals in various professional spheres. In the second part of the paper the basic dilemma is examined: Do we live in the time of the renaissance of ethics, or can the scepticism concerning ethics and its possibilities be justified? Shall we have to face a sort of "ethical vacuum"? The third part is a critique of the conceptions making the applied ethics superior to the philosophical one.