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Moral relativism


Consequentialism / Teleology

Actions are right or wrong according to their consequences.
Actions are instrumentally right or wrong (they lead to something good or bad).
e.g. testing drugs on animals. May be considered intrinsically bad, but the
consequences (human health and safety) are good, therefore it could be…

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For ethical relativists, morality is SUBJECTIVE (dependent upon the opinions / values
of the individual or society ­ not absolute) so we should not criticise or try to
influence others.

For absolutists / universalists, morality is OBJECTIVE (fact; absolute; real; not
dependent upon opinions) so we should criticise & pressurise…

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However, surely at least some values are absolute?......

Soft universalism

Perhaps some moral truths exist in all societies.

James Rachels (1941- ).

3 universal values held by all societies:

1) Caring for infants to ensure survival of the group.

2) Lying is wrong.

3) Murder is wrong.

e.g. Old Inuit…

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Individuals are not subject to the rules that bind them. Nothing is intrinsically right or wrong, except the
principle of love.

Love seeks the well being of others even if the course of action is not one of preference.

It is modelled on the teaching of Jesus, and so it…

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However it is also true that Jesus seemed to be prepared to set aside some rules in some cases,
usually because a person mattered more than the rule.
Situation ethics provides an alternative Christian ethic that is consistent with the Gospel representation
of Jesus.
Situation ethics is more consistent with…

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However both of these radical developments are to compromise on one aspect of the radical of
situationalist thinking
Situationalist thinking does seem to have similarities with some more recent moral thinking that is
beyond christian.
Many old morals = over turned, now seem to be living…

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