Traditional attempts to ground ethics may be seen to be governed by the intent to preserve established values even when they seem to be most rational and critical. This essay probes the connections of some of the most prominent justifications of ethical theories to the prevailing morality of the dominant social order. This claim is examined in relation to the ethics of Aristotle, Kant, G.E. Moore, and emotivist ethics represented by A.J. Ayer. Even the descriptive account of ethics offered by Toulmin reveals its social premises, as does the approach of ordinary language philosophy (H.D. Aiken). The way out oft this theoretical impasse lies in turning to the empirical knowledge of human wellbeing as informed by the behavioral and natural sciences.