Ethical Theories Revision (table)

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  • Created on: 18-02-13 18:58
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Philosopher and theory Theory outline Strengths and
Weaknesses
Natural Law Based on observation of the S: Simple, clear guidelines,
Thomas Aquinas natural world, of the don't have to think just
Deontological function of human beings in follow rules.
Universal order to flourish W: Immoral outcomes, goes
Absolute (eudemonia). A natural against modern thinking e.g.
order in our world which HIV in Africa due to Popes
should be followed by rules and homosexuality ­
everybody, determined by "nor homosexual
some supernatural being. offenders...will inherit the
Kingdom of God: 1
Corinthians 6:9.
Kantian Ethics Based on a priori reason, S: Straightforward, applies
Immanuel Kant not observation, according to everyone, fair to
Deontological to the categorical everybody.
Universal imperative W: Abstract so not easily
Absolute (universalisability). applied, the outcome is not
Non-consequentalist considered.
Act Utilitarianism Bentham argued that one S: Common sense
Jeremy Bentham should maximize happiness philosophy which people are
Teleological for the majority ­ ""the able to apply in the 21st
Consequentalist greatest pleasure for the Century. Fair and suits a
greatest number". Focuses democratic society.
on the beneficial W: Can justify virtually any
consequences of the results act if it results in the most
of an action. happiness for the greatest
number e.g. gang rape.
Impractical to measure
every decision with Hedonic
Calculus.
Rule Utilitarianism Agrees with principle of S: General rules so no need
John Stuart Mill utility however focuses on to evaluate every individual
Teleological qualitive pleasure rather case. Can be universally
Consequentalist than quantitive. applied.
Distinguishes happiness into W: Sometimes rules should
higher and lower pleasures. be broken. (Axe murderer
asking where children are ­
should you lie?)
Preference Utilitarianism Takes into account the S: promotes equality: 'our
Peter Singer views of minorities. preferences cannot count
Teleological Concentrates on minimising any more than the

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Consequentalist suffering rather than preferences of others'.
Eudemonistic maximising pleasure. There Cares about the minorities
is a far greater agreement preferences.
about what causes pain that W: Requires considerable
what gives pleasure:
pleasure is more down to thought/assessment. It
personal preference than relies on accurate
pain is. predictions of the outcome,
which isn't possible.…read more

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