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The Grounds of Ethics

  • Something can only be held morally responsible for an event if the something is an agent
  • The agent must also have the capacity to understand what they are doing, plus the consequences of their actions
  • Actions also need reason - they cannot be done out of desire or fear
  • Desire and fear come over us
  • We make decisions based on pain and pleasure
  • If we know the consequences of an action are going to be painful, chances are that we don't make that decision
  • Pleasure is represented as good, pain is bad
  • Pain makes people worse off and pleasure makes people better off
  • Pleasure and happiness are considered to make life better for people - ahead of life, money and knowledge
  • If pleasure and happiness are desireable, why do those who follow 'different sexualities' considered to be deviant or unnatural?
  • There are differences in what is regarded as morally acceptable pleasures
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Consequentialism - Baggini and Fosl (2007)

  • The wrongness in actions is determied by the consequences
  • Someone would think about the consequences of an action before doing it, weighing up whether or not the consequences of the action make it worth it or not
  • But just because a bad action has little to no consequences does not make it right, because the action is still wrong
  • There could be consequences
  • Drunk-driving is wrong no matter what, but if someone does it and has no consequences - it makes it okay according to consequentialism 
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Deontological Ethics - Baggini and Fosl (2007)

  • In this view, morals are bound up with duties and responsibilities
  • Regardless of the consequences
  • Duty rooted in principle must be the sole source of moral action
  • There are problems with this because someone's duties or responsibilities may cause bad consequences
  • For example if someone feels they have a duty to protest against violence in a war, their consequence could be death
  • This is Kant's model of ethics
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Virtue Ethics - Baggini and Fosl (2007)

  • Virtues regard characteristics of people
  • It is not focussed on how one should act, but what kind of person they should be
  • Right actions are defined by the virtues of those who performed the act
  • Habits are linked with virtue ethics because how a person’s character forms is based a lot on their habits
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