First 708 words of the document:
Shannon Yiadom, 12 Ursula
Explain what is meant by moral absolutism (25 marks)
Moral absolutism is the belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be
judged and that certain actions are either right or wrong regardless of the situation. This means that
actions are either moral or immoral regardless of the beliefs of an individual. For example, in all
circumstances for a moral absolutist war, slavery and the death penalty is wrong regardless of the
beliefs of a culture that these things are practised. Even in circumstances where lying is involved,
moral absolutism would still say it's wrong even if it is for something good; it is considered
intrinsically wrong. With moral absolutism, there are set absolute laws that are universal and always
true. Every human being has an obligation to adhere to these laws.
Moral absolutism agrees with the theory that some actions are moral or immoral regardless of the
circumstances that come with these situations. In moral absolutism, the Ten Commandments are
considered not to be broken no matter what. For example, one of the Ten Commandments `Thou
shall not kill' should not be broken and is applied to situations such as the death penalty or abortion.
This links to the divine command theory. This is a meta-ethical theory which proposes that what is
moral is determined by God and that to be moral is to follow his commands. This theory claims that
morality is ultimately based on God and the right action is the one that God requires. The divine
commands vary in religions but in the end, they all have in common that moral obligations depend on
Natural law is sometimes described as being deontological because it leads to a set of rules that
people have a duty to follow. It is an absolute theory of ethics and was developed by Thomas
Aquinas. Aquinas says that the natural laws are universal and unchangeable and should be used to
judge the laws of particular societies. These laws are absolutist. Aquinas said that we should try to
fulfil our God-given purpose which is teleological which is concerned with our `end'. Worshipping,
reproducing, living orderly our all primary precepts and are teleological as they are the aims to which
our actions should end. These precepts are absolutist and Aquinas believed that we were all made by
God with a shared human purpose.
Kantian ethics are deontological revolving around duty rather than emotions or goals. Kant says that
we should act according to maxims that we would want to see as universal laws. These laws are
absolutist; they are not verified through experience but we can work them out logically prior to
experience. The consequences of our actions are not important to whether they are right or wrong.
For example, evil actions may have unintended good consequences and someone might act bravely
without any guarantee that the consequences will be good. The only good thing is a good will that
does what is logically the right thing to do.
A criticism m of moral absolutism is how we come to know what absolute morals are. For morals to be
truly absolute, they would have to have a universally unquestionable source which could be seen as
impossible. Also, as there are a vast variety of moral opinions that exist between different societies,
how can we know what if there is a true single morality? Although, there are some advantages such
as when all laws are moral, we have a solid foundation for moral justice. There are no exceptions as
people are treated equally. Also, there is no moral confusion as to what is right and wrong. We don't
have to second guess because the right thing to do is to keep to the law.
Absolute morality presents us with the ability to condemn immoral behaviour and it means that we
know here we stand on moral issues. It provides us with a sense of order and direction but in some