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· Scripture can be used as a way of moral decision making, the propositional approach help by fundamentalist Christians, regard the bible as the inerrant
word of God, for them it is revealed theology, God has revealed his word to human beings and they give to scripture the status of the Divine Command
Theory, where developing the first horn of the Euthyphro dilemma, (God is good is analytically true), whatever God wills, revealed through scripture, is
· The Divine Command theory maintains objective, universal and absolute moral law with a deontological structure, which as is it the revealed word of
God, must be followed as a source of morality because as a result of the Fall and original Sin, reason is corrupted so one should literally interpret its
teachings in order to act in accordance to God's will. Christians who support DCT often point to the Decalogue or Jesus' reinterpretation of the Old
Testament laws as the Divine command that must be obeyed. It provides an agreed-upon moral framework that settles a lot of questions quite easily
and provides clear-cut definitions of what is or isn't the right thing to do. The 10 commandments provide a clear framework to seek guidance when
making moral decisions, for example, `do not lie, do not steal, do not murder', these teachings are understood to be morally right and any action to the
contrary is sinful, an intrinsic evil.
· Made popular by the Lutheran Protestant Reformation with its cry of sola fide, sola scriptura, the bible was translated into the vernacular, to allow for a
more subjective interpretation of how the individual applies scripture to their lives, without ecclesiastical heteronomy it can be interpreted in a
symbolic, mythical manner, sympathetic towards the non-cognitive approach, where the bible speaks of moral truths, not literal and the individual can
decide to follow this in an existentially meaningful way, following the ethical guidelines of scripture, using the non-propositional truth, for example
Passover; do not really know what actually happened when the people of Israel escaped Egypt and crossed the sea of Reeds, the story has been written
as myth by ritual practice and ethical response; myth of Exodus demands Jew's cultivate an appreciation of freedom, therefore it can be used as a guide
where we should not embark on an action if it undermines others freedom.
· As Matthew Henry advocated `the scriptures were not written to make us astronomers but to make us saints', the bible is not factual, but applying it to
everyday live gives us a moral code. We need something beyond humanity to decide what is right and wrong due to the fall, in the words of Kant a
moral guarantor, as humans left to their own devices leads to dystopia,
· The Catholic church's teachings on sexual ethics, abortion, homosexuality, appeals to specific biblical passages for proof of its position, it is revealed,
· Agape is the hallmark of Christian ethics, `God is love, Jesus' Golden rule, `love you neighbor as you love yourself', the Sermon on the Mount says don't
seek retribution, respond with love, `hate the sin, love the sinner' Augustine, be forgiving allow room for repentance.
· Authoritarian, leading to a stagnant morality, J.S Mills harm principle
· Lacks free will, post enlightenment, with demise in ecclesiastical heteronomy, it is not relevant in a secular age.
· Can blame morality on God, `if God does not exist everything is permitted' Ivan Karamazov, starting point for Sartre's existentialism, act freely and
accept responsibility for our own actions, if we are praiseworthy we must also be blameworthy, if we blame God we are `coward and scum'.
· `so in saying that things are not good by any rule of goodness, but sheerley by the will of God, it seems to me one destroys, without realizing it, all the
love of God and all his glory' Leibniz, arbitrary nature of DCT, no other standard of morality so becomes arbitrary.…read more
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· Aquinas gives great strength to conscience, comprising of synderesis (theoretical principles which ensure good it to be done and evil avoided using
recto ratio) and conscientia (the practical application of synderesis)- we have a duty to follow it as it is the command of God.
· Drawing on Aristotelian teachings of Natural law, Aquinas argued it is our teleological purpose to be rational and use our reason, a priori, which is God-
given because we were created imago dei ex nihilo, then the reason discerned in synderesis, which guides our conscience, should always be used to
allow for eudemonia, as `to dismiss the dictates of reason is just the same as condemning the command of God'.
· Butler believed conscience is a `principle of reflection' that `magisterially exerts itself without being consulted'. In this sense Butler is an intuitionist
believing conscience is god given as an inherent constituent of human nature, it has ultimate authority in moral decision making, but should be guided
by our reflections as autonomous rational beings. As Robert Arrington wrote in western ethics Butler adopts a Trinitarian hierarchy of human nature
where our conscience is placed king of morality as it is a reflection of God's Divine Law and following it would achieve ones end purpose and avoid
succumbing to lower pleasures of our particular affections. Butler believed `had it strength as it has right, had it power as it has manifest authority, it
would absolutely govern the world', however if an individual conscience is crowned king of morality, purely because `it is the voice of God within' then
it collapses into antinomian dystopia, where morality is subjective and based on whims, Stuart Sutherland advocated ` a religious belief which runs
counter to a moral belief is to that extent unacceptable' as it is too idealistic and not pragmatic e.g. Tony Blair Iraq War 2003). Butler exalts conscience
but seems ignorant that a man's conscience may tell him to do the vilest of things, emphasizing the antinomian nature.
· Macintyre recognises that helping to flourish by concentrating on internal goods, butler recognises the purpose of conscience is to harmonize
benevolence and self love in order to guide a person in a way of life that will make them happy and help our characters grow and flourish by
overcoming base goods, then we will be equipped to overcome the tragic plaguing icons of the 21 st century, bureaucratic managers, rich young
aesthete and therapists. If we can overcome seduction of external goods of capitalism, by allowing conscience to guide us, conscience has a strong part
in moral decision making and helps to promote ones virtuous character where fortitude, temperance, honest and justice are honed via conscience.
· Whilst Aquinas believed it is important to follow conscience, it is equally important to inform conscience, there is no moral culpability is a man who
commits an intrinsically wrong act whilst following his conscience, should educate it via magisterium and church doctrine- weakens conscience as does
not value acts in their own right, but rather on grounds of whether conscience was followed. More apparent with deontological structure of Kant, who
believed in `duty for duty's sake approach, grounded in reason we would logically follow good will and thus adopt categorical imperatives. Adopting
maxims would place value in ethical judgments as well as ensuring moral culpability. Although Abrahams willingness to sacrifice his son may be justified
on Thomist grounds(Kierkegaard and his leap of faith) it would never be justified under Kant as it could not be universalised and is clearly treating Isaac
as a means to an end.
· Attracts criticism form David Torevell, conflict between individuals decisions of conscience and authoritative statements made by religion, exemplified
in homosexuality- whilst heavily forbidden by RC church, an individual may believe it to be more agapeistic to accept a homogenous relationship
between two consenting adults is acceptable as it promotes the greatest happiness.
· Significantly conscience given power of veto by Vatican II, with Pope Benedict XVI `over the pope ... there still stands ones own conscience, which must
be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirements of ecclesiastical heteronomy.'
· However religious conscience is worryingly static, defeating moral autonomy and questioning conscience as it suppresses future creativity, diminishing
the chance of being able to create new moral maxims and challenging unjust social norms e.g. resistance against unfair regimes Hitler's totalitarian
Germany, only possible if one goes against collective conscience and act for the greater common good, such as Bentham's Utilitarianism.
· Heidegger, existentialist, conscience consists of two parts, the hubbub (voice of conventional morality) which usually drown the summons (the true call
· Category mistake in understanding conscience as a separate entity, Gilbert Ryle's `ghost in the machine', no sequitur to regard conscience as God given,
independent of reason in a modern world were secularism dominates our society, it becomes obsolete and meaningless. Appropriate to adopt a view
similar to Vincent MacNamara `it is not that I have conscience as I am conscience' placing emphasis on conscience being awareness and an attitude akin
to virtue ethics. In adopting such a view character growth will occur, independent of God and will effectively guide our conscience in moral decision
making within the context of ones environment. This rests of the naive assumption people will choose to overcome akrasia. Such an approach is
tragically optimistic. Conscience and strength are oxymoronic and a better approach would be a social contract theory as fear of a leviathan would
insure moral decision making is impartial and in the interest of the common good.…read more
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· W.D Ross, intuitionist, writing in a Kantian/Platonic tradition, believing goodness is objective but conditional. Similar to
Kant, morality is discerned through reason, a priori, `like principles of mathematics, morals are self-evident'.
· Ross asserts that in order to avoid the rigidity of Kant's moral maxims, one ought to follow prima facie duties, duties which
on first appearance ought to be followed.
· However if a more compelling duty arises in a particular situation, the original duty may be overridden (not dissimilar to
· `besides the duty of fulfilling promises I have and recognise a duty of relieving distress, and that when I think it is right to
do the latter at the cost of the former, it is not because I think it will produce more good thereby but because I think it the
duty which is in circumstances more of a duty'.
· For example take the case of the enquiring murderer- if asked by this person where his next intended victim is, then one
ought not to follow the prima facie duty of `one should not lie' but lie as the importance of non-maleficence is more
important. Yet in a moral situation the prima facie duties- in this case not to lie- is something one ought to follow.
· W.D Ross therefore has the advantage of offering a deontological framework of duties- but has the important quality of
being flexible, taking likely consequences into account as an ethic which is not pragmatic becomes obsolete.
· Proportionalism, advocated by Richard McCormick and Bernard Hoose recognises the importance of reflecting on human
nature to reveal to us general moral principles as a foundation for living e.g. do not lie, do not steal.
· However proportionalists do not believe that Natural Law is always absolutely binding, sometimes the situation will
demand putting natural law to one side for the greater, proportionate good; even though this may unavoidably entail
committing ontic evils.
· E.g. proportionalists who acknowledge that when the Kosovo women, who had been raped by Serbian soldiers in 1999,
were given the morning after pill by the UN, it would cause the evil of a technical abortion, however such action was
morally justifiable because of the greater, proportionate good achieved.
· Social contract theory is necessary as ethical world is entropic and egoism needs to be constrained in a more coercive
manner, John Rawls. If a hybrid ethic worked it would become orthodox, not mainstream as it lacks tradition, which has
stood the test of time. Ultimately where is the foundation sought? Kantian and Platonic within its approach, Virtue Ethics
as Anscombe and Macintyre concede is highly Thomist in its foundation as is the case with McCormick's Proportionalism,
foundations either in consequentialism of deontology. Pope Benedict states secularization and relativism are the greatest
threat to civilization as lack foundations, need to go back to Natural Law to flourish. Does not take seriously the challenges
of egoism thus at best may all suffer from naive philanthropy in an age of entropy, limited resources and excessive
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Hybrid- Virtue Ethics
Virtue ethics is `an ethic of aspiration, not an ethic of duty', contrary to any other normative ethic for it rejects the ethics of dilemma, that is a
consequential approach lacks intrinsic goods essential for humanity, whilst a duty based approach results in perfection of obedience, belittling
the integrity of the individual (Banality of Evil, Hannah Arendt, avoided through cultivating emotions).
· Takes an agent centered approach to morality, recognising the need for habituation in order to allow an individuals character to grow and
mature, focuses on growth of the moral agent, the type of individual one is becoming, rather than blindly following a duty.
· E.g. Kant argues doing ones duty resulted in the case of Eichmann, reason is cold and impersonal as portrayed by William Blake's
Nebuchadnezzar, therefore the Golden Mean needs to be exercised for as portrayed by the example of Milo pressing the Calf, `excess is error,
deficiency is fault'.
· Perhaps one should take seriously Hume's proposal `reason is and ought to be the slave of all passions', `for live is no complete if emotions are
not cultivated' Martha Nussbaum. Susan Wolf claims VE is dull and boring but there is nothing dull about standing up in the face of great
adversity, perhaps if Eichmann had taken more of a VE approach, accepting the four cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and
fortitude the injustice may have been reduced.
· Yet act and agent centered are inextricably bound, this is a false dichotomy as over time acts will become habits through habituation `acts for
habits, habits form character' Aristotle.
· VE appeals to a secular society, rejects DCT, avoiding rigidity of legalistic deontology `divinity and metaphysics ...', however faces same problem
as natural law, what do we do when virtues conflict?
· All too easy to dismiss a deontological approach to ethics but VE appears to be too anti-nomian, expecting too much from the individual, who
needs a deontological framework to flourish as recognised by Anscombe.
· Whilst it could be argued virtue ethics may be a remedy to this fragmented society rectifying the failings of the capitalist meritocracy with its
emphasis on external good by promoting internal goods, perhaps VE is not the solution in a world of limited resources, in a Hobbsian tradition `
life is nasty, isolated, brutish and short' for by MacIntyres own admission a utopic vision cannot be implemented for many years to come, unlike
Kant we cannot postulate God as a moral guarantor to punish the wicked.
· VE does appear objective, since it was pioneered by Aristotle who also popularized Natural law with it five primary precepts, VE has a teleological
approach, yet paradoxically VE is also relative and therefore has the pragmatism of Fletcher's situation Ethics, unlike NL which is too obsolete as
it is too biological.
· Virtue ethics advocated ones autonomy is choosing how to act, through the application of phronesis and selecting appropriate arêtes, however
phronesis appears to come with age, e.g. high teenage pregnancy, perhaps we need role models who can indirectly teach us intellectual virtues
as demonstrated id Macintyre's chess analogy. Kant and Sartre would be opposed to this claiming as ration autonomous agents we should be
able to discern our own morals drawing on cardinal virtues.
· The teleological purpose of VE is Eudemonia, often interpreted as happiness, although Bentham's felicific calculus falls foul of the paradox of
hedonism, if you seek happiness you seldom find it, instead VE, eudemonia is achieved through reason being the executive overcoming Akrasia,
while acknowledging other emotions thereby annulling the perennial tension of reasons and desires, it is this habituation of virtuous actions that
ultimately enable us to become virtuous people as morals have to be adopted through an acknowledgement of consequences over a period of
time, undertaking isolated virtues does not make for a virtuous person `for just as one swallow or one day...' after all `the person who does not
enjoy performing good actions, is not a good person'.…read more
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Shareholder theory, pioneered by Milton Friedman, major purpose of business is to maximise it's profits and so serve the interests of the
· Stakeholder theory, pioneered by Edward R. Freeman, business should be run for the benefit of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
Stakeholders include suppliers, customers, employees, management and the local community.
· The invisible hand, Adam Smith (in the spirit of Hume), whereby rewarding entrepreneurs and high performing executives leads to economic
growth and an increase in a country's GDP, which promotes the general welfare, so becoming compatible with J.S Mills greatest happiness
principle. However to what extent is the corporate ethic of today one of egoism as opposed to conservative Utilitarian thinking which
underpinned Adam Smith's capitalist thinking. Requires moral self restraint and compassion, in practice leads to insatiable greed and
· Corporate social responsibility, advocated by Will Hutton, involves companies accounting to recognise not simply accounting financial
profits/loss but also revealing the full social and environmental costs of their trading, takes seriously the importance of triple bottom line
accounting. Extends beyond legislation, voluntarily take steps to consider all stakeholders.
· Triple bottom line accounting, where a company declares it annual profits and social and environmental costs. It is a shift towards greater
social responsibility and has been adopted to companies such as Shell. Significantly TBL is not obligatory in most cities including London.
· Tragedy of the commons, trade for profit, devoid of virtue and Aristotle viewed those who engaged in it as selfish parasites, exploitative and
avaricious individuals who profited from usury, need fiduciary duties, an obligation to act on another persons behalf for the persons benefit.
· Stakeholder, executives have fiduciary duties to promote interests of all affected parties. Executives must simultaneously promote interests
of all stakeholders and balance their interests appropriately when those interests conflict. Their actions have the potential to harm and
benefit many different groups of people, it is wrong to manage a business solely for the benefit of shareholders as they are just one group of
people, often other groups have a far greater `stake', e.g. employee with a job specific skill and few other options of employment is at
greater risk than a wealthy shareholder with diversified investments. However it involves extremely difficult calculations for which business
executives have little or no expertise, large corporations have many indirect consequences, identifying all stakeholders is incredibly difficult,
even more difficult to identify all the interests and it is not clear how interests should be balanced, interests in question are very different,
financial versus health. Too much power and discretion is given to managers, could use a convenient cover for self-serving actions given
inherent difficulties and uncertainties in balancing interests. Stakeholder sometimes requires corporations to undertake action not required
by law to benefit stakeholders, puts company at competitive disadvantage, however well intentioned. Out of business, loss of job, little
impact on environment.
· Shareholder, Friedman appeals to Adam Smiths invisible hand theory, smith holds that, in the economic sphere, self-interested actions tend
to promote general welfare (yet 21st century capitalism differs from Smith's view, no longer own companies), many people claim one of the
greatest virtues of capitalism is that, through the workings of the invisible hand it motivates greed and economic self-interest which works to
promote general welfare. This statement needs qualifications and seriously understates the need for moral self-restraint on the part of
business people, at the very least business people needs to be honest and avoid conflicts of interest. In `Capitalism and Freedom', Friedman
says that the one and only obligation of business' is to maximise its profits while engaging in `open and free competition without deception
and fraud'. In his later essay `social responsibility of business' he says business' are obligated to follow wishes of shareholders whilst obeying
the law and `ethical customs- the rules of the game'. Debates about the merits of the shareholder theory often turn on disagreement about
the extent to which free market capitalism tends to promote the general welfare. Friedman has 3 main arguments; when business' maximise
their profits with the rules of the game, they promote general welfare, invisible hand, appeals to his idea of free exchange for mutual benefit,
economic transactions between parties who are free and informed are mutually beneficial, thus morally permissible to pursue own self-
interest, therefore do not need to concern other parties; business executives lack expertise/competence required to directly promote
general welfare e.g. try to but reduce profits, counter productive; when corporations voluntary reduce profits by promoting social goals,
violates rights of shareholder.
· Weakness of shareholder is that is permits many things people find objectionable, permits corporations to emit deadly toxins into…read more