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Introduction to Ehtical PHilosophy, theories, and Approaches

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Shaun Wheat

on 19 March 2015

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Transcript of Introduction to Ehtical PHilosophy, theories, and Approaches

Introduction to Ethical Philosophy, Theories, and Approaches
Chapter 1, Butts & Rich
Ethics is a systematic way of examining the moral life to discern right and wrong.

Ethics is an active process rather than a static condition that must be justified through logical theoretically based arguments.

Feelings and emotions do not provide a good foundation for ethical decisions.
Morals are specific beliefs, behaviors, and ways of being derived from doing ethics.
Immorality means that a person’s behavior is in opposition to accepted societal, religious, cultural, or professional ethical standards and principles.
Amoral is a term that people use to refer to actions normally associated with morality that are done with a lack of concern for good behavior.
Nonmoral is used if the standards of morality, essentially do not apply.
Important Features About Morality and Ethics
• No one can avoid making moral or ethical decisions
• Private morality does not exist
• Moral decisions matter because, every decision affects someone else’s life, self-esteem, or happiness level.
• Definite conclusions will never be reached in ethical debates
• Cannot exercise moral judgment without being given a choice.
• People use moral reasoning to make moral judgments or to discover right actions.
Three Types of Ethical Inquiry or Study
Normative ethics
Descriptive ethics

Normative Ethics
Normative ethics
is an attempt to decide or prescribe values, behaviors, and ways of being that are right or wrong, good or bad, and admirable or deplorable
– Common morality consists of normative beliefs and behaviors that the members of society generally agree about and that are familiar to most human beings.
Meta-ethics (“about ethics”) is concerned with understanding the language of morality through an analysis of the meaning of ethically related concepts and theories, such as the meaning of good, happiness, and virtuous character

Descriptive ethics is an approach used when researchers or ethicists want to describe what people think about morality or when they want to describe how people actually behave, that is, their morals.

Ethical Perspectives
Ethical Relativism
- belief that it is acceptable for ethics and morality to differ among persons or societies
Ethical Subjectivism
- "individuals create their own moralities and there are no objective moral truths - only individual opinions."
Cultural Relativism
- "moral evaluation is rooted in and cannot be separated from the experiences, beliefs, and behaviors of a particular culture, and hence, that what is wrong in one culture may not be wrong in another"
Ethical Objectivism
- belief that universal or objective moral principles exist
Values & Moral Reasoning
are something of worth or something that is highly regarded
is the use of abstract thought processes to think creatively, to answer questions, to solve problems, and to formulate strategies for one’s actions and desired ways of being
Moral reasoning
pertains to reasoning focused on moral or ethical issues
Christians still base much of their ethical reasoning based on philosophy generated in the Middle Ages.
Augustine believed that one has a duty to love God, and moral reasoning should direct one’s senses in accordance with that duty
Aquinas believed that people have a desirable end goal or purpose, and that developing excellence of character (virtues) leads to human happiness and good moral reasoning
Virtue Ethics
Virtue ethics emphasizes excellence of one’s character and considerations of what sort of person one wants to be
Aristotle’s approach to virtue ethics is grounded in two categories of excellence: intellectual virtues and character or moral virtues
Plato designated the four virtues of prudence (wisdom), fortitude (courage), temperance (moderation), and justice as cardinal virtues, meaning that all other virtues hinge on these primary four

Natural Law Theory means that the rightness of actions is self-evident because morality is determined inherently by nature, not by customs and preferences

Often associated with Judeo-Christian ethics.

Natural Law Theory
Ethical Theories and Approaches
Ethical Theories and Approaches
(“study of duty”) is an approach to ethics that is focused on duties and rules.
Kantian deontology
prescribes that each rational being is ethically bound to act only from a sense of duty; when deciding how to act, the consequences of one’s actions are considered to be irrelevant
In relation to moral actions, Kant believed duties and laws are absolute and unconditional.
Kant's categorical imperatives are a universal and unconditional framework of rules that should be used as a guide to know the rightness of actions and one's moral duties.

, as distinguished from deontologists, do consider consequences to be an important indication of the moral value of one’s actions.
Teleology / Utilitarianism

Rule Utilitarians - Believe that there are certain rules that when followed generally create the best consequences for most people. (don't kill, don't break promises, honesty)
Act Utilitarians - Believe that each action in a particular circumstance should be chose based on its likely good consequences rather than following a moral, universal rule

Ethical Theories and Approaches
Prima Facie Duties
A prima facie duty is a duty that is binding (obligatory) all things being equal, unless it is overridden or trumped by another duty or duties. Another way of putting it is that where there is a prima facie duty to do something, there is at least a fairly strong presumption in favor of doing it.
Examples - fidelity, reparation, gratitude, non-maleficence, beneficence, self improvement, justice.
Rule-based criteria for conduct that naturally flow from the identification of obligations and duties.

provides guidelines that can be used to make justified moral decisions and to evaluate the morality of actions

Principles of Biomedical Ethics
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