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THE MOST COMMON ETHICAL THEORIES

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  1. THE MOST COMMON ETHICAL THEORIES Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  2. Lecture # 3 Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  3. THE MOST COMMON ETHICAL THEORIES • Ancient Greek – Plato • Medieval – Thomas Aquinas • Immanuel Kant • Rawl Theory Justice • Egoism • Utilitarianism Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  4. Theories of Ethics – Summary Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  5. 1. Ancient Greek – Plato • Plato believed our natural desires are greedy and depraved. • Thus, they must be held in tight check by the powers of reason. • He compared the human soul to a city-state made up of ruler-guardians, guardians, and the peasants/artisans. • Every reality is an archetype/ standard/ model of a corresponding eternal form. • The goal of life is to actualize one’s true nature together with one’s many innate (essential) potentialities. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  6. 4 primary integrated virtues • Wisdom: corresponds to reason • Courage: corresponds to the will • Temperance: corresponds to desire • Justice: links individual to society Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  7. Created Social Order • There are three parts of the soul and three corresponding divisions in the social order. The social order is constructed as follows: SOUL SOCIETY Reason Philosopher-King Spirit Auxiliaries/Guardians Appetite Craftsmen/Artisans/Traders Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  8. 3 parts to a person-Plato The soul is divided into three parts • Appetite • Spirit • Reason Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  9. Appetite • In cases where appetite rules, individuals are at the mercy of the their biological or material whims. Alcohol addiction fits this profile. • Individuals who are addicted to self-destructive patterns of behavior are apt to feed their appetites at the expense of other life pursuits. Conclusion: Desire is determinative; these are cravings of the highest degree. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  10. Spirit • The emotional, passionate side of our character is centered on the idea of status on a social level. • Ambition, desire for honor and glory, moral indignation, and cravings for admiration, all fit under the umbrella of spirit. Love relationships fit into this category as well. • Our interactions with others provide core experiences that influence our emotional development. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  11. Reason • The intellectual, thinking part of the soul that must weigh options, decide between alternatives, and "suppress dangerous urges.“ • Plato clearly puts reason in control of the soul because it acts as good counsel seeking understanding and insight before acting. • Rational individuals possess a strong contemplative faculty. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  12. Virtue ethics-Aristotle Virtues are ways in which we embody ideals. It is a distinctive approach whereby we focus on; • Human character asking the question, “What should I be?” • Ethical life involves envisioning ideals for human life • Embodying those ideals in one’s life. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  13. Types of virtue-Aristotle There are 2 types of virtue: Intellectual virtues: Excellences of the mind (e.g., ability to understand, reason, & judge well); Moral virtues: Learned by repetition (e.g., practicing honesty we become honest. To be virtuous requires knowledge, practice, & consistent effort at character building. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  14. Lecture # 4 Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  15. 2.Natural Law Theory-Background by Thomas Aquinas • Natural law theory has it’s roots in the work of Aristotle who wrote in the fourth century BCE. • Natural law theory was developed by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. • Natural law became a central feature of catholic moral thinking. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  16. Cardinal Virtue Prudence: • First cardinal virtue, because it is concerned with the intellect. • Allows to judge correctly what is right and what is wrong in any given situation Justice: • Second cardinal virtue, because it is concerned with the will. • It is "the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due • Justice is connected to the idea of rights Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  17. Cardinal Virtue….contd Fortitude: • The third cardinal virtue is fortitude it is commonly called courage. • Fortitude allows us to overcome fear and to remain steady in our will in the face of obstacles, but it is always reasoned and reasonable; the person exercising fortitude does not seek danger for danger's sake. Temperance: • It is the fourth cardinal virtue whereas temperance is the restraint of our desires or passions. • Attempts to keep us from excess, and, as such, requires the balancing of legitimate goods against our inordinate desire for them. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  18. Aquinas describes the essence of law: • Law is a rule and measure of acts whereby man is induced to act or is restrained from acting: for law is derived from liger (to bind), because it binds one to act. Now the rule and measure of human acts, as is evident from what has been stated above, since it belongs to the reason to direct the end, which is the first principle in all matters of action according to the Philosopher (Aristotle). Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  19. 4 Kinds of Law Aquinas defines “law” in general as “an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.” The four kinds of law are: • The Eternal Law • The Natural Law • The Human Law • The Divine Law Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  20. The Eternal Law • Divine reason and wisdom comprise an eternal law – a law governing the whole creation, a law not made but eternally existing and therefore unknowable to humans entirely, yet the source of all true law on earth. Divine Law • The revealed truths such as the ten commandments and the Sermon on the Mounts that supplement and corrects human fallibility and frailty. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  21. Natural Law • Natural Law – The practical reflection or sharing in “eternal reason” that provides humans with objective, changeless, universal rules or general principles of action for ethical and political life. • Human Law: True law that is derived from natural law. A rule of state that is at odds with natural law is no law at all. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  22. Ruler-ship and the Natural Law • Natural law should be discovered by the ruler’s reason and applied. • It is the natural capability of practical reason to discern the natural law and thereby, do good and avoid evil. • A ruler needs broad experience and understanding of the political, economic and social context of his or her society to establish just punishments. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  23. Ruler-ship and the Natural Law…contd • Human law is just and reasonable only if it meets these five criteria: • Lawmaking must be transparent. • It must not exceed the authorized power of the lawgiver in a particular society. • It must lay only reasonable burdens regarding equality of proportion (such as a graduated income tax based on the ability to pay). • It must be consistent with the principles of subsidiarity • It must not be oppose to eternal law. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  24. Natural Law : 5 Primary Precepts These are : • Self-preservation/preservation of the innocent • Continuation of the species through reproduction • Education of children • To live in society • To worship God Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  25. Strengths of Natural Law • Universal Application • Values • Human • Life has a positive goal • Emphasis on the Sanctity of Human Life • Emphasis on right character • Emphasis on social harmony • Casuistry – means case based reasoning Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  26. Weaknesses of Natural law Theory • does not allow for negotiation • we have gained our natural instincts through evolution, not through God and so we do not need a God-based theory. • observe differences between cultures, which rejects the notion of a single natural purpose for all humans. • seen as a relativist theory Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  27. Lecture # 5 Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  28. 3. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804): A German philosopher with a non-consequentialist approach to ethics. • The moral worth of an action is determined on the basis of its intrinsic features or character, not results or consequences. • Believed in good will, that good actions proceed from right intentions, those inspired by a sense of duty. • The categorical imperative: Morality as a system of laws analogous to the laws of physics in terms of their universal applicability. • The morality of an action depends on whether the maxim (or subjective principle) behind it can be willed as a universal law without committing a logical contradiction. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  29. Formulations of the categorical imperative • Universal acceptability: To determine whether a principle is a moral law, we need to ask whether the command expressed through it is acceptable to all rational agents. • Humanity as an end, never as a means: We must always act in a way that respects human rationality in others and in ourselves. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  30. Kant in an organizational context • The categorical imperative provides a solid standard for the formulation of rules applicable to any business circumstances. • Kant emphasizes the absolute value and dignity of individuals. • Kant stresses the importance of acting on the basis of right intentions. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  31. Criticisms of Kant’s ethics: • Kant’s ethics is too extreme insofar as it excludes emotion from moral decision making and makes duty paramount. • Kant fails to distinguish between excepting oneself from a rule and qualifying a rule on the basis of exceptions. • It is not always clear when people are treated as ends and merely as means. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  32. 4.Rawl Theory Justice • Rawls’s social contract: A moral theory that says each person is presumed to have entered into a social contract, with all others in society, to obey moral rules that are necessary for people to live in pea • Rawls’s Distributive Justice Theory • Fairness is considered the essence of justice. • The principles of justice should be chosen by persons who do not yet know their station in society. • This “veil of ignorance” would permit the fairest possible principles to be selected. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  33. Two major criticisms • Establishing the blind “original position” for choosing moral principles is impossible in the real world. • Many persons in society would choose not to maximize the benefit to the least advantaged persons in society. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  34. Ethical Relativism • A moral theory that holds that individuals must decide what is ethical based on their own feelings as to what is right or wrong. • There are no universal ethical rules to guide a person’s conduct. • If a person meets his or her own moral standard in making a decision, no one can criticize him or her for it. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  35. Ethical Relativism…contd • A criticism of this theory is that an action usually thought to be unethical would not be unethical if the perpetrator thought it was in fact ethical. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  36. 5. Egoism • Egoism: The view that morality coincides with the self-interest of an individual or an organization. • Egoists: Those who determine the moral value of an action based on the principle of personal advantage. • An action is morally right if it promotes one’s long-term interest. • An action is morally wrong if it undermines it. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  37. Types of egoism: • Personal egoists: Pursue their own self-interest but do not make the universal claim that all individuals should do the same. • Impersonal egoists: Claim that the pursuit of one’s self-interest should motivate everyone’s behavior. • Psychological egoism: The theory of ethical egoism is often justified on the ground that human beings are essentially selfish. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  38. Objections to egoism • The theory is not sound: The doctrine of psychological egoism is false – not all human acts are selfish by nature, and some are truly altruistic. • Egoism is not a moral theory at all: Egoism misses the whole point of morality, which is to restrain our selfish desires for the sake of peaceful coexistence with others. • Egoism ignores blatant wrongs: All patently wrong actions are morally neutral unless they conflict with one’s advantage. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  39. Lecture # 6 Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  40. 6. Utilitarianism • Definition: The moral theory that we should act in in ways that produce the most pleasure or happiness for the greatest number of people affected by our actions. • The principle of utility: Actions are morally praiseworthy if they promote the greatest human welfare, and blameworthy if they do not. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  41. Six points concerning utilitarianism: • In choosing between alternative courses of action, we should consider the net worth of happiness vs. unhappiness produced by each course of action. • We should give equal consideration to all individual preferences, then calculate the net worth of the various kinds of pleasures and pains. • Anything can be morally praiseworthy in some circumstances if it promotes the greatest balance of pleasure vs. pain for the greatest number of people. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  42. Six points concerning utilitarianism …contd • We should seek to maximize happiness, not only immediately, but in the long run. • We should avoid choosing actions if their consequences are uncertain. • We must guard against bias in our utilitarian calculations when our own interests are at stake. So it is advisable to rely on rules of thumb. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  43. Rule utilitarianism: • This modified version of utilitarianism aims to avoid the criticisms directed at the classical account of utilitarianism known as act utilitarianism. • Rule utilitarian's maintain that the utilitarian standard should be applied not to individual actions but to moral codes as a whole. • Moral discriminations must be based upon the principles of an optimal moral code. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  44. Pluralistic Moral Code Rule utilitarians argue for a pluralistic moral code on three grounds: • People will make mistakes if they try to calculate the results of every given action in advance. • Important rules will be undermined if all individuals were act utilitarians. • It is too demanding for individuals to ask them to promote total well-being. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories

  45. Criticisms of rule utilitarianism • By sacrificing the priority of the principle of utility, they tend to overestimate the value of rules. • They are still bound by the consequentialist approach to morality, which is to evaluate the worth of various acts in terms of their results. • Therefore they fail to acknowledge the independent value status of moral and human rights. Ms. Hina Gul, Ethical Theories