Religious Ethics AS


  • introduction to ethical studies
  • moral relativism and absolutism
  • explanation of the key specified ethical approaches (Kantian, Utilitarian, Natural Law and Christian)
  • practical application to ethical issues (abortion, euthanasia, genetic modification and war)
HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Morag
  • Created on: 29-04-13 13:10
Preview of Religious Ethics AS

First 480 words of the document:

Religious Ethics Revision
Key ethical terms
Descriptive ethics- describing people ethical behaviour and giving reasons for it. Empirical
study- observed
Normative ethics-`ought' or `should' a norm is a rule or standard, what you should do. Ethical
theory and practical/applied ethics
Meta-ethics- Beyond ethics. Concerned with the meaning of ethical terms
Practical/Applied ethics- Linked with normative ethics, applying ethical theory to situations
Deontological- Ethics based on rules or duties. Imperatives
Teleological- Ethics which look to the `ends' of the action. Linked to consequentialist ethics
Consequentialist- Teleological- ethics which aim to bring about the best consequences
Relativist- Ethics which states that right or wrong is not fixed but dependent on
situation/culture etc
Absolutist- Ethics which states that there are fixed rights or wrongs which aren't dependent
on situation or circumstance
Objective- Not dependent on the point of view of the observer or individual
Subjective- Dependent on the point of view of the observer or individual
Why should I be moral?
Why does this question arise?
There often seems to be a conflict between what I want to do and what I should do
and this is why the question arises
Morality as a social contract
Being moral is about living in society. It results from an agreement or contract to live
by the rules useful to society as a whole
Agreeing to live by the rules of morality- and then doing so- solves the problems
that acting on rational self-interest raises
Knowing that someone else will act morally means that we do not need to fear them
harming us or breaking their word
We can argue that an agreement with other people to act morally is in one's self
Hobbes, Rousseau, Rawl, utilitarianism, rational egoism
It is only worth signing up to if it does in fact produce cooperation, which can only be
achieved if the agreement is fair. No one wants to sign up for an agreement which
benefits other people more than it benefits them
No evidence of such a contract
Living in society is not voluntary
Protected from harm
Able to achieve more benefits for ourselves through cooperation than we could
No commitment to belief in God or any particular view of human nature
Respects autonomy and equality and protects the freedom and security of the
Morality as constitutive of self-interest
When we start to reflect on what is really in our self-interest, it becomes difficult to
describe what this is without referring to what is morally good
Argued by Plato's argument of the moral soul

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Plato's argument is psychological: if you act immorally, you mind (or `soul') will not be
at peace, but at war, with itself
No one who is rational and self-interested would act morally if they can get away
with cheating. Plato responds saying that acting unjustly causes us to experience
internal conflict and so to do so is not in fact rationally self-interested
Plato says our souls consist of `desiring' and `rational' parts and that we are happier
when there is no conflict between them.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

Raises the question of where morality comes from and what authority moral
demands have
What is the point of behaving to my detriment?
Corresponds with our intuitions of what being moral is
Allows for altruism
Moral relativism
Greater understanding of other cultures
Allows for the development of competing ethical theories- utilitarianism,
intuitionism, egoism, emotivism
Promotes social cohesion, less social conflict
An empirical fact- it is the case that other cultures have different moral values
No criticism or real evaluation of practises such…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

A real good is something which is good- something that is in line with God's purposes
in nature
Natural Law Theory doesn't say that anything that is `natural', i.e. occurs in nature, is
good and that anything `unnatural' is bad, the key idea is God-given purpose
Some ideas about purpose discernible in nature seem to accord with common sense
and science- e.g. reproduction
There is a strong sense of intrinsic right and wrong
In some areas of ethics- e.g.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

You must universalise your maxims without contradiction and only if this is possible is
it a categorical imperative
Kant uses promise-keeping as an example:
o I cannot constantly will that promise-breaking for my own self-interest
should be a universal law.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

Ethical theory developed to establish whether something is good or bad according
to its benefit for the majority of people
Utility here means the usefulness of the results of actions
Often expressed as `the greatest good of the greatest number'
`Good' is defined in terms of pleasure or happiness- an action is right or wrong
according to the good or bad that results from the act and a good action is that which
is most pleasurable for the most
Quantitative as it focuses on the…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

Equal consideration of equal interests
An interest is something through which one is or can be affected
Utilitarianism states you have an interest in things that affect your happiness
Interests are defined by the preferences of the bearer of the interests
Preferences are subjective
The bearer is any organism that can be affected by pleasure or pain
Focuses on the minimisation of pain since there is more general agreement about
what causes pain that what brings happiness or pleasure
Addresses the issue of Bentham's…read more

Page 8

Preview of page 8

Here's a taster:

Not necessarily inconsistent with consequentialist thinking but `happiness' and `good'
are defined in objective terms as having their origin in God's will
`happiness' cannot be understood in terms of pain or pleasure, or subjective
preferences, or happiness in earthly life
The key principles are:
o Jesus is the model or paradigm of Christian morality
o The Christian virtues
o The sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person
o The beatitudes
A virtue is a disposition which is well entrenched in…read more

Page 9

Preview of page 9

Here's a taster:

War and peace
The crusades
Pope roused the people and urged them to come forward and fight
Proclaimed holy war against Islam for the holy city of Jerusalem in the name of God
1096 between 60,000 and 100,000 people walked to Jerusalem.…read more

Page 10

Preview of page 10

Here's a taster:

Not many wrongs that only violent measures can set straight
More complete than just war theory
Grounded in faith, hope and realism
Arguments from religious authority
Jesus taught that his followers should not return evil with evil
Jesus' teachings follow from the old testament prophets
In the early church, Christians were forbidden to bear arms
Arguments from reason
Pacifism is not the same as passivity or surrender
War is an intrinsically immoral activity
Pacifism is optimistic about human nature but also realistic- war breeds more…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all resources »