topics studied in AS ethics

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  • Created by: Natalie
  • Created on: 13-01-09 16:29

D V T & A V R


  • actions intrinsically right or wrong!
  • absolute law!


  • actions arn't intrinsically good or bad it's the results/outcome that matter
  • Utiltarianism and situation ethics- most loving outcome
  • telos-end/purpose ethics
  • Problem: can't always predict outcomes do the ends justify the means?


  • Plato- good absolute
  • Moral commands- ethical absolute- morals are objectivly true


  • morals dependent situation- subjective
  • Aristotle- behave between extremse
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Kantian Ethics

Kantian Ethics

  • deontological and absolute- based on duty (act moral=duty)
  • knowledge can be prior analytic(e.g. 1+1=2)necessarily trueor posterior synthetic (the man is hiding) empirical testing
  • freedom- only when free can we be accountable for doing/not doing our duty
  • moral law- prior synthetic- moral statements, prescribe action, not concerned withconsequences
  • good will- duty- not our duty to do things you can't do- ought implies can- duty is realistic
  • categorical imperative- universal law- treat people as ends in themselves live in the kingdom of ends- summon bonnum
  • Don't be distracted by emotions, being moral is duty
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Natural Law

Natural Law

  • helps direct action towards God
  • logos-rationality e.g. natural law needs reason!
  • intention and act that matters, both the exterior and interior acts
  • justice=independent
  • naturally right and wrong

Thomas Aquinas-

  • God created the world with a purpose
  • everything- final cause (look at final cause first)
  • causes lead to God's ultimate purpose- we know our final cause through reason- reason is God's gift to humans
  • primary precepts- self preservation, reproduction, knowledge, ordered society, worship God, work out the secondary precepts (e.g. pray) through reason
  • Virtues natural/cardinal e.g. hope, faith, prudence find theses through the scriptures
  • Believed humans naturally led towards destiny- real and apparent goods, humans naturally have a good nature, doing wrong is an error in reason
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Utilitarianism - the principle

The Principle of Utility

The basis was creted by Francis Hutche and David Hume

The greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount!

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Act Utilitarianism

Act- Jeremy Bentham

  • Pleasure= sole good & evil
  • Justice etc are instrumentaly good can lead to goodness
  • Hedonic calculus, measures intensity, duration, certainty etc of pleasure , practical
  • Can be applied to every situation GG4GN! e.g. one situation OK to lie, another it's not OK to. Positive- it's flexible! Problem- can potentially justify anything e.g. sadistic guards
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Rule U

Rule- John Stuart Mill

  • quality of pleasure - formed higher and lower pleasures, lower ps= needs/wants e.g. food/wants, higher ps= intellectual/demanding e.g. poetry/opera however the two ps need each other- without food wouldn't be able to enjoy opera etc
  • communal rules- greatest good
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Preference U

Preference- Pete Singer

  • considers most peoples preference - the maximum number of people who have preferences
  • preferences are not just about pain/pleasure!
  • interests and preferences are affected by outcomes and actions
  • Rationality- dolphin and chimp can rationalise but an orphan baby can't rationalise, therefore you should save the dolphin/chimp over an orphan baby- Singer said kill a 28 day baby
  • Problem: doesn't consider potential
  • But answers simplistic theory
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Strength and Weaknesses of U

Strenghts and weaknesses of Utilitarianism


  • reasonable!
  • deals with consequences- flexible
  • Just- democratic GG4GN
  • not cold- deontological theories
  • Avoids moral conflict


  • Contradictory!
  • relies to much on predictive value
  • quantative measure
  • justice
  • simplistic pleasure/pain
  • hedonic calculus complicated, could it be applied to real life?
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