People in all times and places have confronted certain basic questions about the meaning of human existence and the proper way to live. Religion and ethics represent two distinct but related spheres of reflection on these basic questions. This chapter explores the characteristics of human life that make these questions urgent and the ways in which religion and ethics address them. It pays particular attention to the ways in which questions of ethics arise in the context of religious traditions. Finally, descriptive and normative approaches to these questions are differentiated, laying the groundwork for an academic study of religious ethics.