Ethics A2

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Meta Ethics (1)

-3 Kinds of ethics:

1. Normative Ethics: prevelant towards the end of the 19th century, decides what is good/bad and what behaviour is right/wrong, and decides how people ought to act and what moral choices should be made and how rules apply, may come from an established group (Christanity) or a philosophical/ideological viewpoint, considered the "traditional" way of doing ethics

2. Descriptive ethics: comapares different ways in which people and socities have answered moral questions, can be described as moral sociology/anthropology

3. Meta-ethics: seeks to explore the meaning of words used in ethical situations, does not provide guidelines and looks at the meaning/function of moral language, meta means "beyond/after" and the notion of meta-ethics includes a removed view from the whole set of ethics, early 20th century American/British Philosophers argued that if we want to understand morality, we must anaylse the meaning of key moral terms we use

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Meta Ethics (2)

-Cognitive meaning: descriptive component of ethical statements, links subject matter concept with some moral quality, qualities often natural such as pleasure/happiness

-Non-Cognitive meaning: accomplish-oriented part of ethical statements, prescriptive element in the sense that you are prescribing specific beahviour,also expresses emotion about behaviour, non-natural qualities are more spirit-like, endorsed by God or some kind of universal truth

-R.M Hare argues accomplish-oriented component is the primary meaning (same for everyone) whereas the descriptive component is secondary (changes based on religion/philosophy)

-David Hume came up with the concept of Hume's Guillotine (writers make claims of what ought to be based on statements of what is, not obvious how they get to that transition) and when combined with Hume's Fork (all items of knowledge are based on on either logic/definition or observations) renders such statements of dubious validity

-G.E Moore puts foward his own version: open-ended argument, which is intended to refute any identification of moral properties with that of natural properties

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Meta Ethics (3)

Cognitivism: Broad meta-ethical view that ethical sentences express propositions and can therefore be true or false, covers theories like Moral Realism (ethical sentences express propositions about mind-independent facts of the world), Moral Subjectivism (ethical sentences express propositions about people's attitudes/opinions) and Error Theory (express propositions, but all wrong despite nature)

-Crispin Wright argues against J.L Mackie's Error Theory and Non-cogntivism as clumsy language compared to sophisticated cognitivism, and same point is expressed in the Frege-Geach Objection named after Peter Geach:

1. It is wrong to tell lies (moral stance)

2. If it is wrong to tell lies, it is wrong to get your little brother to tell lies (no moral stance), point where expressivism fails as it cannot explain langauge in this context

3. Therefore, it is wrong to get your little brother to tell lies (moral stance)

-John Skorupski defends cogntivism by distinguishing between receptive awareness (outside normative matters) and non-receptive awareness (normative matters)

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Non-Cognitivism: view ethical statements do not express propostitions and therefore can't be true or false, denies idea that moral judgements can be objectively true because they describe some feature of the world, and if this is possible it means individuals cannot know something is true and therefore moral knowledge is impossible, utterances like "BOO!" should have meaning behind them explained, not evaluated for being true/false

-Being a broad thesis, covers many theories like Emotivism (ethical sentances are emotional expressions of one's attitude intended to influence actions of listener), Universal Prescriptivism (ethical statements are universal imperatives, prescribing behaviour for all to follow) and Quasi-Realism (Simon Blackburn's meta-ethical view that ethical sentences do not express propositions but instead project emotional attitudes as though they were real properties)

-Problem with this theory is the embedding issue: if non-cognitivsts argue that the meaning behind "lying is wrong" is the same as expressing disfavour through "Boo lying!" this does not seem to be a good explantion of what the very same words mean in many different embedded contexts

-Peter Glassen criticises it arguing that moral judgements in world not clearly defined/observable, so how does one know based on linguistics when an ethical statement is made?

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Ethical Naturalism (1): 17th century led to theory of ethics linking morals with scientific knowledge, view that morals can be defined/explained using "natural terms" like in science/maths and that morals could be based on the same kind of observation as used in science, logic faculty and sense perceptions are the tools that moral person uses to conclude ethical truths, can be derived from non-moral premises, when I observe somethings wrong, it's a moral fact of  the universe

-Different kinds of naturalists: 

1. Theological naturalists: St.Thomas Aquinas, goodnes linked to will of God as seen in nature, God's will defines morality (murder is wrong because God says so) non-ethical element is God

2. Hedonic naturalists: R.B Perry, see goodness as fact of pleasure/happiness, his book Realms of Value (1954) "good is an object of favourable interest", happiness is non-ethical element

-Naturalists don't believe good exists on its own, Charles R. Pidgen writes they refer to all sorts of facts including metaphysical and sociological

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Ethical Naturalism (2):

-F.H Bradley in Ethical Studies (1876) argued moral perspective was recieved from self-realisation of position in society, must realise true self which we learn in family/community and adopt values/sound criticisms of our society, oppossed individualism

-Trying to improve "good self" in opposition to "bad self", criticisms from other societies offer moral reform which can be channelled within, to be a good person must know station/duties and be a hard worker, once station is decided you have a duty to work there

-Believed religion could be a tool to do this and opposed Kant's ideas of duty for duty's sake as it doesn't guide us in morality /human satisfaction

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Naturalism Strengths and Weaknesses:


1. Can be verified empirically, based on what is natural, everyone can experience it

2. Presents a solid ethical guideline to follow, non-negotiable and objectively true for all

3. Natural is universal so supports idea that morals are universal

4. Fits well with theories such as Utilitarianism/Natural Law


1. Does not take into account cultural differences

2. Too simple, cannot cope with conflicting duties (euthanasia dying friend and break law?)

3. Commits the Naturalistic Fallacy

4. Leaves us with an open-ended question

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Intuitivism (1): founded by G.E Moore who criticised naturalism in his work Princip Ethica (1903), asserts moral judgements are based on an infalliable knowledge of good things  and any disagreements are over the course of action and not the good things which are self-evident, he explained differenced between complex ideas that can be broken down, and simple ideas that cannot be broken down, used the example of horse for complex (equine, quadraped) whereas Good or the colour yellow are simple concepts that cannot be broken down further

-Puts fowards two criticisms of naturalism, Naturalistic fallacy (defining goodness as the greatest pleasure or most happness propagates a fallacy, because such a definition isn't possible as it confuses property of goodnes with other non-moral properties the thing happens to possess, confuses moral judgements with factual judgements) and the Open-Question argument (if a naturalist claims that goodness consists of things that lead to pleasure, we can identify a thing that leads to pleasure and still ask the open question "But is it good?")

-Moral agents don't use naturalistic empirical ways, Moore argued recognise good things intuitively, and what is right or good is what brings about this end, however he is criticised for asserting many things about goodness/indefiniability and yet can't prove it

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Intuitivism (2):

-H.A Prichard: proposed justifying moral obligations by reducing to interests was mistake, as moral obligations present themselves directly to our intutions, two kinds of thinking reasoning (collect together the facts) and intuition (decide what you do with them), ethical dilemmas happen when conflicting obligations, but instead of linking to an instrinsic truth must instead consider obligations, not everyone will be able to intuit moral truth, criticism of theory is that it does not explain which explanation is more enlightned when people draw different conclusions

-W.D Ross: Developed set of basic moral principles which daily activities could be deduced, theories like Utilitarianim/Natural Law have the same system, Ross developed "Prima Facie" (first appearence) duties, believed obligations were clearly apparent, have to follow prima facie duties unless soemthing else overrides it, set up seven foundational prima facie duties; fidelity (keep promise), reparation (make up for wrongs), Gratitude (be grateful), Non-Injury (not harm others), justice (distribute benefits/burderns fairly), Beneficience (do good to others), self-improvement (promote own good), argued there can never be a true moral dilemma as one of these duties outweighs the others, Ross believed what is obligatory/right was indefinable like good (Abortion-people don't know what is good though?), differetiated between actions that are good to do and actions that are right to do (intention), allowed for personal nature to override duty/obligation (e.g telling to truth to murderer after father in Kant's example, Ross allows lie)

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Intuitivism (3):

-Robert Audi defends intuitivsm against moral particuralism (view no moral principles exist and moral judgements can only exist when an individual decides the solution), argue absolute prima facie duties strength may vary from situation-to-situation and it's valence (whether it is in favour or against or not at all) and this makes it inadequate to deal with moral dilemmas

-Audi gives an example of this in his car bomb when going to pick up a friend example, as while it would seem as though the prima facie becomes relative because the individual deals with the bomb first, but later explains to his friend what happens so in fact this is not reversed

-Particularist can accept this, but argues in cases like Schadenfreude (taking pleasure in another misfortune) or Sadism (inflicting pain on another) seems as though the valence is reversed

-Audi defends this by arguing that in the ethical decison-making process there are two qualities which explain these, organic value (taking pleasure in an action will add nothing to the moral stancepoint, or worsen it) and intrinsic value (always count in favour of the physical action), and when combined it explains why the act goes in the same way, while explaining cases like Sadism

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Intuitivism Strengths and Weaknesses:


1. Explains why different socities share the same moral values (murder is wrong)

2. Does not require God as a source of ethical principles, also allows for cultureal differences

3. Pritchard promotes moral autonomy by personal introspection, don't blindly follow moral laws

4. Vardy claims Ross distiguishes between "right" and "good", key for later ethicists like Kant

Weaknesses: 1. J.L Mackie argues there is no link between what is right and what a person ought to do

2. Developed to avoid naturalistic fallacy, but non-empirical checking of morality make no sense

3. Nietzche "ethical colour blindness", good means different things to different people

4. John Dancy, Ross-moral beliefs help us to act with external things like desire (externalism), but argues that moral beliefs can be enough to act (can you not act if it is wrong, (internalism)

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Emotivism (1):

-1920s Vienna Circle developed Logical Positivism, sought to give an account of ethical language that was scientific rather than natrualistic/intuitive, used a process of verification which excluded the possibility of moral facts, statement can be proved true or false if someone is someone checked the facts to which I refer, if there is no possible evidence for or against a statement's truth, then it is meaningless

-Shows influence of David Hume who believed that sentiment was the source of right and wrong, Hume believed that feelings rather than reason was why people acted, everyone has the capicity for compassion, showed this in the is-ought dilemma, Wiggenstein's view of language in his work Tractatus also influenced the logical positivists

-Developed into A.J Ayer's work Language, Truth and Logic (1936), two kinds of proposition; truth by definition (logic, math) and truth through sense experience (proved by external facts), where do moral statements come in; known by definition than they are mere tautologies nothing more, on other hand how can you point to fact that prove moral statements (is-ought) and so Ayer also held all moral statements were meaningless

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Emotivism (2):

-A.J Ayer: argues around Logical Positivism by saying that ethical statements do not express fact but instead express emotion of the person who made it, call something good (like it) or bad (dislike it) translates into into grunts, screams or cheers to arouse feelings, often referred to as "boo-hurrah theory" (example, to say "hurrah to charity" means we are feeling positive about it), Ayer did not believe ethical statements expressed views, just express feelings as one says "ouch" when they step on a pin, in the same way moral statements are meaningless, simply said to stimulate action/arouse feelings, so two people can examine facts and can come to two very different moral conclusions but neither is right or wrong because there are no facts to seperate them, one has to accept that each is using moral judgements to express their emotions

-Rudolf Carnap: had a similar view, although believed they were commands rather than expressions of opinion, arguing that if we maintain that ethical claims are commanded by God, we are effectively taking a line, providing a rational reason for them being commands

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Emotivism (3)

-C. L Stevenson: adapted Ayers view of people expressing emotion towards each other as people disagreeing over attitudes, argued moral judgements contain two elements; an expression of an attitude based on belief and a persuasive element which seeks to influence others, moral statements are not just expressions of emotion but attitudes based on fundamental beliefs (e.g capital punishment is wrong based on attitude stemming from a moral/religious/political belief), noted that many moral disagreements were not moral disagreements at all, often principles are agreed upon but it is the best course of action which is disputed, real moral disagreements only exist where people consider a certain action/process to be wrong, ultimately considered moral statements as a result of subjective opinions and/or beliefs

-Stevenson improved on Ayer by exploring the use of the word "good" (complex words with a variety of different uses) which Ayer never explores, and also adressed the way in which ethical statements can motivate people, which Ayer again never did, James Rachels argued Stevenson's theory is one of the most advanced and plausible versions of ethical subjectivism

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Emotivism Strengths:


1. Ayer's theory lacks problems of metaphyical/speculative nature (based on observation of behaviour rather than a God/timeless forms)

2. Took seriously the importance of language in ethical studies/forced philosophers to consider the meaning of ethical statements

3. Stressed the importance of each person's individual feelings

4. Raised fundamental questions on normative ethics (based on moral statements being facts)


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Emotivism Weaknesses:


1. G.I Warnock argues to claim "murder is wrong" is to make a factual statements which can be debated, is this is not the case morality would shift with emotion, causing extreme relativism 

2. Reduces moral expressions to either expressions of opinion or worst shouting matches, Vardy and Grosch that emotivism debate leave "just so much hot air and nothing else

3. Vardy argues "ethical non-theory" deals with emotion and not ideas of actions being ethical

4. James Rachels criticises it by arguing that the way in which moral statements are used is not just expressing emotion as Ayer suggests, moral judgements have reason as an intergral part in them otherwise they are arbitrary statements

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-R.M Hare in his works The Language of Morals (1952)/Freedom and Reason (1963) set out to produce a theory which sought to make moral objectives, Hare set out to attack Hume's is-ought distinction by arguing all ethical language is essentially prescriptive, role of ethical statements is to say what ought to be done and such prescriptions are moral because they are universal

-Argues all other philosophical explanations have focused on what we are doing when we are making ethical judgements (expressing emotion? Stating truths?), argues Prescriptivism is superior because it says "you ought to do this" and everyone should do the same in similar situations, prescprtive ethical statements do not express facts/emotions but imperatives

-Argues when we use the word good do in a set of standards (good chair, good person) and this means the word good always has a descriptive meaning, if we use it in a moral context again comparing it to a set of standards but also commanding that person to do it, means word also has a prescriptive meaning, can happen with any words that command/describe like "murder", like emotivists saying there is a difference between descriptive/prescriptive meaning but when we apply it to ethical contexts prescriptive meaning, and also holds that to achieve consistency in moral judgements when we prescribe something, we ought not to do it ourselves

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Prescriptivism Strengths and Weaknesses:


1. Moral commands are universalised, meaning applicable to all

2. When we comment on a moral issue, we often want to share our opinion

3. Solves issues of emotivism that moral statements are meaningless (they are prescriptions)


1. J.L Mackie disagrees with Hare's absolutist approach and argues that morals aren't universal, relative reasoning that J.L's preferences may be different to other, Hare does not work in practice

2. "Do unto other as you would have yourself" doesn't work, as what we want done to use might be different to what other individuals would want

3. Hare recognised issue in Chapter 6 of Freedom and Reason with a genocidal fanatic, "putting youself in someone else's shoes" contraint does not stop 21st century terrorism as proven

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Free Will and Determinism (1)

-Autonomy/Free will: self-rule/self-government of an individual, many philosophers hold you are only responsible for your actions if you have the free will to commit them

-Determinism: belief that choices are influenced by factors besides the individual, hard determinism (no free will in moral situations and all moral actions are because of uncontrollable prior causes, so therefore people cannot be morally blameworthy) and soft determinism (belief that some actions are still determined but we still have responsibility) fit into this system

-Libertarianism: belief humans are free to make moral choices, therefore are morally responsible

-Predestination: belief that God has decided who and who will not enter heaven

-Liberty of indifference: genuine freedom to act according to independent choices that are not wholly determined by eternal constraints such as hereditary, background or education

-Liberty of spontaneity: freedom to act according to one's nature, the ability to do what one wishes to do, although what they wish to do is determined by their nature, and in turn this is shaped by external constraints such a hereditary, background and education

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Free Will and Determinism (2)

Hard Determinism:

-Theory of Universal Causation: all forms of hard determinism based on this theory, belief that all human actions/choices have a cause, therefore all events are casually determined and theoretically predictable, all that you need to know is the cause of the choice/action

-The Illusion of Moral Choice: illusion of moral choice is a result of what causes these choices, leading us to believe there is no cause

-Argue that there are causes for all actions which can be observed in nature, and that it is much like a cause-and-effect relationship for humans as it is in science

-Also claims based on this that if you cannot control your choices/actions, you cannot be held accountable for your moral behaviour, and this has key ramifications for the justice system

-Can be split into 6 key areas: Physical Determinism, Philosophical Determinism, Psychological Determinism, Theological Determinism, Biological Determinism and Scientific Determinism

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Physical Determinism:

-Doctrine that prior physical conditions alone are enough to determine later physical conditions, extends to the laws of physics to the human mind, if laws of physics can explain the motion of the heavens as the result of natural laws, the same laws might explain human beings, including the individual mind

-Swineburne: argues that for every physical state at some earlier instant a set of conditions jointly sufficient for it's occurence came about

-J.R Lucas: argues physical determinism is based on many discovered physical laws of nature (Locke/Newton) and when combined with the claim that all other features of our world are depedent on physical factors, it is the most important version of determinism-suggests that quantum mechanics is the key argument for free will against this, as it breaks way from the scientific laws which supports physical determinism

-Stephen Hawking: claims that the findings from quantum mechanics suggests humans are sorts of complicated biological machines; although our behaviour is impossible to predict in practice, "free will is just an illusion"

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Philosophical Determinism (1):

-John Locke: analogy of a sleeping man locked in a dark room, and upon awakening decides that he will remain in the room, unaware that it is locked, in reality the man has no freedom to choose (he cannot leave the room) however his ignorance of his true condition (locked in a room) leads him to believed that he does have the freedom to choose to stay there, and this puts across that beings, unaware of their actions being causes by prior causes, believed they have free will

-David Hume: can observe patterns in physical world and can also be found in the decisions we make, and our decisions thus are casually determined (like the physical world), and theoretically then we can know the future if we know all the causes and their effects in the universe

-Benedict Spinoza: there is no free will, as what the mind will is determined by an infinite set of causes, means that we cannot be held responsible for our actions if they are casually determined (Adolf Hitler as responsible as the casual church-goer), and this removes our "right" to punish criminals as they cannot be held accountable for their actions, punishments would be a failed attempt at tackling the problem of injustice

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Philosophical Determinism (2):

-Baron d'Holbach: argues against the concept of free will for a number of reasons:

1. Born without our consent, likes/dislikes are produced from external sources

2. The will is nothing more than a "modification" of the brain

3. Humans always act on the strongest desire, and stronger desires always replace weaker ones

4. Absurd to insist we are free, as to be free would to be act without any motive at all, and this is impossible

5. If you persist in saying you are free, you are just being ignorant of the causes of your actions

-Ted Honderich: claims everything is externally/internally determined, denies any choice and therefore disagress for claiming moral responsibility for your actions (means punishment is worthless, although it makes sense to punish when someone is a danger to society), Honderich argues that the concept of free will is meaningless, so whether or not it is compatible/incompatible with the concepts of hard/soft determinism is also entirely meaningless

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Free Will and Determinism (6)

Psychological Determinism (1):

-Key element to nature-nurture debate, our characters are determined by our upbringing and experiences from influences like society, culture and environment, psychology makes the claim it can predict and explain certain types of behaviour, and also be able to control it

-John B. Watson: believed humans respond in certain ways to certain stimuli, if you can control the stimulus you can control the response, famously boasted about "begger-man to specialist"

-B.F Skinner: Different to Watson in that he used incentives rather than fear to control people's behaviour, his theory of Operant Conditioning is based on the idea that learning is a function of change in overt behaviour.

-Changes in behaviour are the result of an individual's response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment, a response produces a consequence and when particular stimulus-response pattern is reinforced (rewarded) the individual is conditioned to respond

-A reinforcer is anything that strengthens the desired response, negative reinforcers are stimuli that result in an increased frequency of response when withdrawn

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Psychological Determinism (2):

-Ivan Pavlov: studied digestive processes of dogs, and found a close link between salivation and the action of the stomach, and that external stimulus affected this, ringing a bell each time they were food eventually made them salivate just from the ringing of the bell, result of a condtioned reflex that had to be learned as opposed to an innnate reflex, also found that conditioned reflex could be repressed if stimulus proved wrong (ring bell and no food, dogs stop salivating eventually), and he believed that this explained the behaviour of psychotic people

-1924 Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold murder Bobby Franks with a chisel and face capital punishment, Clarence Darrow defended the youths by focusing his arguments on lack of moral responsibility (believed criminals need to be brought to justice, but not to assume that they are automatically responsible for their actions), Darrow argued was a result of their rich background and private education (recent case of Ethan Couch 2013, killed 4 joyriding affluenza)

-Sigmund Freud: challenged the idea that we are in control of actions/thought processes, theory argues that we are programmed by instinctive psychic structures in our unconscious mind, which exert pressures on us to fulfil our basic desires, superego internalizes societal/parental taboos and we need this to live in a law-abiding society

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Free Will and Determinism (8)

Theological Determinism (1):

-Moral choices can be casually linked to an uncaused causer (cosmological argument) and this is God, if he is omniscient and omnipotent we cannot have free will and our actions are pre-determined by him, Thomas Aquinas: "man chooses not of neccesity but freely", in traditional Judeao-Christian view man is autonomous but morally repsonsilbe to God, but God having certain characteristics (ominscience) begin to contradict free will and could be argued against it

-St. Paul: started the idea of Predestination (God chooses who is/isn't saved) as he believed God chooses who is saved, and we cannot question God's right to chooses as none of us deserve to be saved, people seek justification/salvation but we can only seek this through God's grace, for St.Paul freedome extends to not being bound to the Old Testament rules and to chooses to accept God into your life or sin, humans are free to choose how to live their lives but the ultimate decision of where they end up is God's decision

-St.Augustine: argued human will is so corrupt because of "the Fall" that no human can perform a good action without the grace of God/saving acts of Christ, believed in predestination, and because no one knows who has been chosen we should all lead good lives, argues free choice comes from life you live, distinguished 3 types of events; those where the cause is hidden, those caused by God and those caused by us

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Theological Determinism (2):

-Martin Luther: believed that the elect are predestined to salvation and Christians are among this group, however disagree with those that make predestination the source of salvation and that individuals can be pre-destined to damnation, instead taught eternal damnation is the result of the unbelievers sins, rejection of forgiveness and unbelief

-Jean Calvin: influenced by St.Paul/Augustine, argued nothing anyone could do to change their destiny; 5% were saved while the other 95% were damned, everyone deserves to be punished but the measure of God's goodness is that he saves some, God's justice is beyond human comprehension and should not be questioned, Calvin argues there is no such thing as free will

-Karl Barth: swiss theologian that had a big impact on Christian theology of the 20th century, Barthians espouse a view that predestination only applies to God himself, humanity is chosen in the salvation of Christ at the permenent cost of God's hiddeness/transcendence, thus the redemption of mankind is a devoutly hoped for possibility, but the only inevitability is that God has pre-destined himself in Jesus Christ to be revealed and given for salvation

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Free Will and Determinism (10)

Biological Determinism (1):

-Idea human behaviour is innate, determined by genes/brain size or other biological attributes, theory stands in contrast to notion that human behaviour is determined by social forces, and inherent to biological determinism is the denial of free will, and lack of moral responsibility for moral agents, also played an important part in shaping the nature-nurture debate

-Carlos Linnaues: dividied the human race into four categories (red, yellow, white and black) and through this started the trend of white superioity in biological determnism

-Samuel Morton undertook a study of human skull sizes in order to prove superiorty of white group, and later Arthur de Gobineau wrote an essay "Ayrans" to prove this concept

-Darwin refers to "civilized" and "savage" races as different in On the Origin of Species (1859), but does so aside from his argument of natural selection, although the concept of social darwanism was born from this

-In Descent of Man (1871) Darwin argues natural impulses are always stronger than social impulses but softened view by suggesting men would learn to regret their actions and develop a conscience from this, his unpublished notebooks he calls free will a "delusion"

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Biological Determinism (2):

-Herbert Spencer coined phrase "survival of the fittest" in order to argue for both the superiority of white groups and also to support segregationist policies, and this kind of pseudo-science provided a scientific basis which allowed racism against non-whites

-Eugenics policies based on these ideas, Nazi Germany an obvious example of this but Canada/Belgium sterilized mental patients in the 1920s, and the USA "selective enforcement" prevented white women having black or asian babies in the 1900s

-Robert Wright: in the Moral Animal declares "free will is an illusion, brought to us by evolution"

-Biological determinism still key in debates today over sexual oritentation, genetic research and international policies, most scientists accept instead that social forces over biological influence people

-Ashley Montagu supports this idea by arguing that many writers in the 1940s/1950s began to question the validity of race as a concept in biological determinism

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Scientific Determinism (1):

-Science is mechanistic based on the theory of universal causation, every physical event has a physical cause and if we consider our mind as physically chemical impulses in the brain then it must be pre-determined

-Isaac Newton invented the three laws of motion:

1. A body in a state of rest stays this way and a body moving in a straight line continues to do so unless acted upon by an external force

2. Rate of change in momentum of a body is proportional to the force that is applied to it, and it acts in the same direction

3. Action and reaction are equal and opposite

-Pierre LaPlace: mechanistic view of the world and first to present scientific determinism, argued if it was possible to know at any one time both the position and speed of all particles in the universe, it would be possible to know them at any other time (past/present/future), and the concept of the universe state at one time determining the universe states at all other times is central to this kind of determinism, implies we can predict the future

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Scientific Determinism (2):

-Challenged by Heisenberg Uncertaintity Principle: says it is not possible to measure both the position and speed of a particle at the same time due to the effect of photons which has a significant effect on a subatamoic level, suggests there is no inter-determinancy in nature, however just because we cannot measure it does not mean it can't be known

-Chaos theory coupled with the Heisenberg Principle: Since Heisenberg's work it has been accepted that, at the most fundamental level of the material world, events occur randomly and by chance, and Chaos theory proposes that a quantum event at this funamental level can lead to bigger events, theory also called the "butterfly effect" e.g buttefly flapping it's wings in Beijing could cause a hurricane in New York sometime later

-Gaia Hypothesis: theory by James Lovelock that the world changes, adapts and amends itself in order to survive and the human race is of little significance, humans do not control nature as nature is in control

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Strengths of Hard Determinism:

1. We are all a product of our genes, upbringing and surrondings

2. Determinists take this into account and clearly the criminal justic system does as well in some cases

3. Seems true that there is a prior cause for everything, including our actions and our choices, since our character is a product of other choices

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Weaknesses of Hard Determinism:

1. Cannot blame or praise people for their actions

2. Eradicates moral responsibility, no blame for even the most cold-blooded actions

3. Wrong to punish for retribution

4. All terrible things in the world had to happen, although very pessimistic criticism

5. If our actions are determined, we can't deliberate rational, decision-making is an illusion

6. Mechanical views of the world, challenged by writers of quantum mechanics, as a fundamental concept is that of randomess or indeterminancy

7. Libertarians argue that determinists confuse things and that a mechanical view of the world is incorrect

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Free Will and Determinism (16)

Libertarianism (1):

-When a person chooses between right or wrong they are a free agent and freely choose their actions, Libertarians believe we are free to act and are morally responsible for their actions

-Libertarian distinguihs between the personality (governed by casual laws that explain why individuals are more likley to choose certain actions over others) and the moral self (ethical concept that comes into play when making moral choices, and this is often a person deciding between duty and self-interest) in order to support their argument

-Plato argued that human destiny was not given but chosen for themselves, and Hume's views can be argued to be in support of this as he argued that individuals have free will to some extent, as we can choose whether or not to move or stay where we are

-Peter van Inwagen: gives an analogy of libertarianism vs determnism: libertarianism is like travelling down a road and choosing which turnings to take, whereas determinism is travelling down a road with no turnings, just one fixed path

-R. Taylor: "I deliberate in order to decide what to do, not to discover what it is I am going to do."

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Free Will and Determinism (17)

Libertarianism (2):

-Libertarian assumes we have free will in situations of moral choice, and commonly uses 3 arguments to support this claim:

1. Experience: We have direct experiences of decision-making everyday (e.g tea or coffee?)

2. Act of decision-making: Moral free will can only take place if we have multiple options open to us (e.g being locked in a room allows no option for free will, does not prove it doesn't exist)

3. What is necessarily/contingently true: argue that things are necessarily true (all bachelors must be unmarried) and that they are also contingently true (Ms Francome has hazel eyes, cna be proved true/false) and this was in response to determinists arguing that just because people believe they are free does not make it so

-Heisenberg's principle supports Libertarianism, as it argues that the location and the momentum of sub-atomic particles cannot be known, better to see events a statistical probabilities as opposed to general laws, some events are just unpredictable-however Honderich criticises this view saying the randomness only works on a sub-atomic level and not on human behaviour

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Free Will and Determinism (18)

Libertarianism (3):

-C.A Campbell: argued an act of deciding whether or not to resiste temptation or rise to duty, it is an act that is free in a sense that it comes from the moral self, and that it could be referred to afterwards "could have been" or "could be"

-Rob Cook: wrote reason show determinism wrong because fundamental to reason is freedom of thought, therefore if determinism it true it cannot be philosophicall established to be true, and it could be argued therefore that the theory of determnism renders itself irrevalent

-Robert Nozick: argues that human beings become agents through reflexive self-awareness, and they express their agency by having reasons for acting, to which they assign weights, and argues that like a judge at court not only applies the law but also uses judivcinal discretion, moral agents not only discover weights but assigns them; not only weight reasons but also weights them

-John Paul-Satre: believes choices was free if it could have been something other than it was, absolute freedom comes with unlimited moral responsibility, so complete freedom the consequence is 100% moral responsibility, "man is not free not to be free", as it doesn't matter what you choose (moral repsonsibility dealt with that) but the fact you could choose at all

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Free Will and Determinism (19)

Libertarianism strengths and weaknesses:


1. Recognises that people have a sense of decision-making and freedom

2. Plenty of people with terrible backgrouds have gone on to do good things

3. Allows for moral responsibility (workable CJS?)


1. Sense of freedom is an illusion and ignorant

2. But are we uncoerced when making decisions, what criteria is used when making decisions?

3. What about our past experiences, emotions and beliefs

4. It doesn't account for human action

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Free Will and Determinism (20)

Soft Determinism (1):

-View that free will and determinism are not incompaitble concepts, but rather cannot exist without one another, misconception of two being incompatible is because confusion of what is meant when we say we are free, incompatible with fatalism but not determinism

-All actions governed by causes, and there are two kinds of causes:

1. Internal causes: leads to voluntary actions of free will, the results of one's own wishes and desires e.g leaving your country freely with the desire to go abroad

2. External causes: leads to involuntary actions of compulsion contrary to one's wishes or desires e.g leave your country because you are being forced out by the government

-This distinction is why determinism requires free will, according to soft determinists when we say a person acted freely we mean they did not act under compulsion or external pressure but as free agents, even though the actions were just as much caused by those that are not free

-Soft determinists defines freedom as liberty of spontaneity, the freedom to act according to one's nature which is determined by external factors like background and education

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Free Will and Determinism (21)

Soft Determinism (2):

-Thomas Hobbes: said freewill and determinism are consistent with each other, our actions come from our free choices, but these actions are also part of a chain of cause and effect, our freedom is linked to our will (i.e what we would do if we decided to do it), we are caused/determined by our situation, but if we are free to carry our wishes out then we are free in that sense of the matters, freedom means you are able to express your true desires if you want to

-Arthur Scopehauer: argues man is free when he chooses what he wants to do, but not in what he wants, background often dictates things that we value (e.g Amish community have traditional values and younr people are allowed to go and experience the wider world, some young people choose not to return but there is enormous pressure for them to return)

-John Searle: argues for soft determinism, argues there is a gap in our minds through process and action, and thus we switch from being determined to acting freely

-Michael Palmer: criticises soft determinism by arguing that there is no differention between internal/external causes to humans factoring in their own choices/desires, and therefore everything is determined

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Free Will and Determinism (22)

Soft Determinism (3):

-Immanuel Kant: taught that we are free within our own will to perform unimpeded acts, whilst believing that anything that was an object of knowledge was determined, thought looking outside of understanding our own will was irrational, understanding of our self-awareness and world around us implies we are free (if we claim not to be free, face a problem of who orginates our actions?)

-Kant notes 2 kinds of reason; Pure reason (knowledge and scientifically explicable world-external) and Practical reason (actions of will-internal), Kant attacks hard determinism and states there is no reason behind an act of will, he stated that pure reason it determined by external factors, while practical reason is not determined and allows us to make decisions freely, hard determinists would criticise soft determinists arguing that our personalities are so because of a myriad of causes

-Peter Vardy:argues most people are not free and  are constrained by their background/cultural condition, but freedom is possible if they struggle to understand the effects of their genetic dispositions on their tendencies/inclinations and many will not achieve this, and while these people may never wish to be free it clearly shows a close link between freedom and wisdom

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Free Will and Determinism (23)

Soft Determinism Strengths:

1. Most of us accept certain elements of our lives are determined but that we still have ultimate free will

2. It provides a fair and logical case for seperating internal/external causes

3. Allows for both moral responsibility and that our actions were determined

4. Allows for creativity in our choices, so not all our choices are results of existing habits/desires

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Free Will and Determinism (24)

Soft Determinism Weaknesses:

1. Hard determinists would argue that soft determinism fails to understand the different degress of deteminism in our lives

2. Libertarians would argued that soft determinism fails to understand the different degrees of freedom in our lives

3. Difficult to determin what is determined and what is freely chose

4. Complex nature of people and the role of physics, genetics and psychology make deciding what is and isn't a determining factor very hard

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Conscience (1)

-The Oxford Dictionary defines Conscience as "a moral sense of right and wrong, esepcially as felt by a person and affecting behaviour or an inner feeling as to the goodness or otherwise of one's behaviour"

-Therefore we have the idea that conscience both directs and reflects behaviour, everyday use of the term "conscience" refers to an inward principle, which decides as to the character of one's own actions, warning against and condeming actions that are wrong, and approving and prompting us to make the right action, it is often seen as a moral faculty capable of making us pass judgement on ourselves

-Teaching of the Bible suggests that our conscience was given to us by God, St.Paul supports this in Romans 2:12-15, as well as arguing that conscience was an awareness of good and bad and it can sometimes be weak and therefore mistaken

-St. Jerome saw conscience as the power to distinguish good from evil, and St. Augustine saw conscience as the voice of God speaking to use from within, the law of God in our hearts to understand right from wrong and by doing so brings us closer to unity with God

-Traditional Christian teaching based on the fact everyone knowx right from wrong as God has given us this ability and everyone can follow divine law

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Conscience (2)

Aquinas (1):

-Believed that the conscience was a device of faculty for distinguishing right from wrong using reason, he believed that it is a natural part of mental activity and provides an individual with moral guidance

-Argued there were two parts to making a moral decision:

1. The Synderesis: This is right reason, the awareness of being able to do good and prevent evil, and with the Synderesis rule (subconscious will to do right) we can grasp the basic purposes of human life (for Aquinas the Five Primary Precepts)

2. The Conscienta: This distinguishes between right and wrong and applies this knowledge and makes the moral decision

-Conscience therefore is far from "the voice of God" but neither is it learnt, as we must learn to use our moral judgement more effectively, and conscience is a result of this reason, and for many Christians Aquinas' approach does not sit well with beliefs in God's Divine Revelations, or those who believe in learning rules from the Bible

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Conscience (3)

Aquinas (2):

-Although he thought that people basically tended toards the good, he also believed that sometimes working out what good and evil things were was the main problem, and Aquinas believed there two ways of behaving badly; to do something that is known to be wrong and going against one's conscience

-Aquinas thought that the reason people sometimes did evil deeds as because they had made a mistake and their conscience was mistaken, he believed that those who did wrong created an apparent and not a real good, and believed that the error should be treated in one of two ways:

1.A factual mistake where the individual did not know the general rule applied to the situation (this makes it not their wrongdoing)

2. A mistake that was born of ignorance (this makes it their wrongdoing)

-For Aquinas conscience is the act of applying knowledge of good and evil to what we do, and conscience derives it's authority from God, and he does supernaturally reveal his will, conscience is not the doing of good or not but the realisation we might have done good or not, therefore one cannot do the right thing if one does not know what the right thing is

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Conscience (4)

Aquinas (3):


-Shows how all humanity can reason right and wrong and yet make wrong decisions and as such retain a degree of accountability unlike Butler's conscience theory

-Agrees with Piaget's idea that conscience is manufactured from experiences and conditioning as Aquinas argued that children do not hace a fully developed conscience


-It can be argued that following our conscience can lead us to make a moral decision and that reason can also result in us making a different decision, even though if Aquinas was right we would all make the same conclusions

-Butler would argue that conscience should be followed no matter waht, unlike Aquinas who claims conscience can be mistake or misguided

-Many Christians don't agree, argue moral knowledge comes from Bible/God's revelations

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Conscience (5)

Butler (1):

-Joseph Butler believed that humans share a human nature and that morality is simply a matter of following human nature, and saw conscience as the final moral decision maker

-"There is a principle of reflection in men by which they disyinguish between approval and disapproval of their actions...This principle in conscience" Sermon 1.8, Butler

-According to Butler humans are motivated by two basic principles:

1. Self-love: selfish interests

2. Benevolence: concerned with the well-being and happiness of others

-Butler suggests that conscience adjudicates between the two interests and it behaves as a guide, the conscience is a gift from God and has the absolute supreme and ultimate authority in ethical judgement and its role is to show the way towards good, and it then directs us towards focusing on benevolence and away from self-love

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Conscience (6)

Butler (2):

-For Butler conscience is an intrinsic part of human nature, and to dismiss morality (as psychologists like Freud and Piaget does) is to deny that intrinsic part of human nature

-Butler also believed that the conscience is our guide to moral behaviour, put there by God and must be obeyed, and he believed that if the conscience instructs us to act in a certain way then you should not even consider alternatives, as it is adequate justification to behave in that way

-You must obey conscience unquestionably, Butler's theory does not allow for the possibility that conscience is weak, variable, misinformed or even defective

-Butler did not see mistakes made by conscience as a serious problem, as he believed that in a moral dilemma most people will see intuitively what is the right thing to do

-Conscience will harmonise self-love and benevolence, they may take some sorting out which is why in moral dilemmas on the surface we seem uncertain on what to do

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Conscience (7)

Butler (3):


-Some Christians will agree with Butler's ideas about the conscience, as it is a valid moral argument for the existing believers, as rational evidence supports the idea that God exists

-G.E Moore also wrote that while good cannot be defined, people knowas what it means by implying some kind of innate sense or intuition, also suggests that there might be some sense of inner good and evil in what Butler describes as conscience


-Idea that conscience has absolute authority can be used to justify any action and raises serious issues surronding evil and God (e.g Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire Ripper murdered 13 women on the belief that he was acting upon God's word)

-Aquinas also argues that conscience may be mislead/misinformed even though some of his ideas about the conscience complies with Butler's theory of conscience

-Ideas of morality vary and this could lead to moral anarchy, questions following conscience

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Conscience (8)

Newman (1):

-Cardinal John Henry Newman was an intuitionist like Butler, and when people follow thier conscience they are to an extent following a divine law of God

-He believes that the "voice" of our conscience is the voice of God, giving us moral direction which is more than just reason, for Christians conscience is simply more than "law of the mind"

-For Newman following conscience and the guilt and shame we feel from making an incorrect choice is ignoring our conscience, and following conscience was even more important that listening to the Pope's teachings, and we do not learn our right and wrong from our parents or religious leader or even scriptures

-Conscience is the law that speaks to the human heart written by God, and conscience does not invent the truth, but at it's very best detects the truth

-When challenged to explain how children develop, a follower of Newman would argue that a younger child cannot sense God's direction clearly, and it is our ability to "hear God's voice" that develops as we grow

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Conscience (9)

Newman (2):


-Simple/easy, the conscience is always right so you can't make a wrong decision by following it, overcomes weakness of Aquinas' theory being complicated by individuals having to apply reason

-Overrides potentially complicated influences of other factors in an ethical dilemma so there is no issue of knowing what to follow


-Some people may use this to their advantage and lie, and say their conscience "told them" to do something wrong

-Does not explain how we know what our conscience is, or how to use our intuition

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Conscience (10)

Freud (1):

-Sigmund Freud saw conscience as a construct of the mind that sought to make sense of disorder and to deal with the conflict that guilt brings, and he believed that during our early upbringing we accept certain values and beliefs, which may at some stage be rejected by our moral reasoning

-Freud believed that the human personality consisted of 3 different areas:

1. ID: Primative basic needs and feelings, libido, selfish desires, irrational and emotional

2. Ego: Awareness of not always getting what we want, negotiates between the ID and the Super-Ego

3. Super-Ego: Last to develop, stores rules/morals/conscience embedded by authority figures, also the part that is closely linked to the feelings of guilt that conscience brings

-Freud did not believe in any absolute moral laws and believed our moral codes were shaped by our experiences and are culturally dependent which accounts for the varities of moral codes

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Conscience (11)

Freud (2):


-Piaget also believed that the conscience is manufactured from experiences and conditioning

-Psychology from Freud has empirical evidence to support it, and has even developed his ideas into a two-level conscience, like Piaget theory is based on research unlike Aquinas/Butler

-Cultural relativism takes into account other practices/beliefs, applicable theory


-Much of Freud's work has been criticised, like the Oedipus Complex as his research was based on small samples, and furthermore 3-6 children do not have sexual feelings, unrealistic

-Genetic Fallacy: Understanding the psychological/scientific evidence of how things originate does not dismiss the religious arguments

-Freud argues Christian conscience is bad for mental health, William James points to famous individuals inspired by their faith, such as Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa

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Conscience (12)

Piaget (1):

-Jean Piaget was a child psychologist who theorised that children go through different stages in their understanding in the world, and it is not until the age of 10 that young people have a fully developed sense of morality, according to Piaget a child's moral development and growth and the ability to reason morally depends on cognitive morality

-Piaget suggested two stages of moral development:

1. Heteronormous morality: between the ages of approximately 5-10 when the conscience is still immature, rules are not to be broken and punishment is expected if rules are broken

2. Autonomous morality: from 10+, children develop their own rules and understand how rules operate and help in society

-Piaget's approach suggests that the development of conscience is somehting that is learnt from external influences but is also naturally occuring, this scientific approach is arguablly plausible as it is based on observations that can be tested (e.g lying at 6-years old is wrong because it makes "mummy cross", older than 6 lying is wrong because it is an immoral action)

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Conscience (13)

Piaget (2):


-Can be appreciated by all: theists can say that God makes conscience develop, whereas others can appreciate that it's a biological/psyhcological process

-The intention of conscience is to form a functional society


-Although Piaget believes that moral sense is developed alongside other cognitive attributes and explains the origins and development of the conscience, however it still falls foul of the Genetic Fallacy: Understanding the psychological/scientific evidence of how things originate does not dismiss the religious arguments

-Argued there are 3 stages of development including theonomous morality which Piaget fails to mention, based on the understanding of God including situation ethics where agapeic love is theonomous, religious believers will argue they  obey his rules because of agapeic love of God, not just fear of God

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Conscience (14)

Kohlberg (1):

-Lawrence Kohlberg followed on from Piaget's work and extended it by employing a more carefully coding of children's responses to a moral dilemma, due to the methodological problems with the moral comparison technique, Kohlberg developed the moral dilemma technique; a story about a person with a choice ot two outcomes, both of which are morally unacceptable

-Participants had to say whether the actions were right and to justify the answer given or suggest and appropriate punishment, as he aimed to find out how as children grow up their moral judgements change

-To do this he studied 72 middle and lower class boys in Chicago (10,12,16 years old) and each boy was interviewed for an hour first by reading the moral dilemma story (1 out of a possible 9) and then asking them to make and explain moral judgements described within the story

-He found clear differences between the older and younger respondents, younger ones were likely to make judgements based on the likelihood of rewards/punishments whilst the older ones were more likely to refer to intentions and the importance of being accepted in society

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Conscience (15)

Kohlberg (2):

-He concluded that moral judgements become more sophisticated during adolescence, and this led him to develop his theory of moral development:

Level 1: Pre-conventional morality-seen in preschool children/most elementary students

Stage 1: Punishment avoidance/obediance: make decisions based on themselves, will obey rules if they established by powerful individuals and will only disobey if they believe they won't be caught, Stage 2: Exchange of favours: recognise others have needs, may satisfy them if their own needs are met, still focused largely on consequences on themselves

Level 2: Convetional morality-seen in some junior high students, most high school students

Stage 3: Good boy/girl: people take actions based on what will please individuals with a higher status, conerned with maintaing relationships based on trust/loyalty and take other perceptions/intentions into account when making decisions, Stage 4: Law and Order: people look to society for guidelines about right/wrong, and know they need to follow them in order to keep society running smoothly

Level 3: Postconventional morality: seen in most adults, stage 6 rare in adults

Stage 5: Social contract: people recognise rules represent agreements among many individuals about behaviour, seen as being able to protect individual rights and maintain social order, Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principle: "hypothetical ideal stage", indviduals adhere to a few universal principles and disobey laws that go against these

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Conscience (16)

Kohlberg (3):


-Moral reasoning develops through invariant/irreversible stages; Lawrence Walker studied both sexes rangin from 5-63 years using Kohlberg's method, and the findings support Kohlberg's theory showing that the particpants moved stages

-Laura Berk also tested Kohlberg's stage sequences across other cultures and found that the cildren progressed from post-to-pre conventional levels and therefore can be applied to other cultures (could be argued though that the scoring system may only reflect western values)


-Research shows that moral development does not proceed through distinct stages, as in the Walker study 6% seemed to slip back stages of development

-Carol Gilligan thought Kohlberg had neglected female moral development because his stages were derived from interviews with males and do not accurately describe moral development in females, she suggested the women's answers were more empathetic while men were more focused on law and order

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Conscience (17)

Fromm (1): 

-Erich Fromm was a German psychoanaylst that escaped from Nazi Germany, and distinguished between two kinds of conscience, each with it's own characteristics:

1. Authoritarian Conscience:

-He believed that all humans are influence by authority figures; parents/teachers/church leaders, and they create moral laws and punishments for those who break them

-Construction of conscience involves the perfection of character being projected onto an external authority (parental/religious/state authority) and this projected image is "internalised" into and individual's consciousness, and this leads to the personification in the external authority as that "perfect character"

-Conviction is so strong individuals lose capacity for rationality/reasoning and this leads to rigid thinking, and an authoritarian conscience therefore is good at controlling people, a good authoritarian conscience should produces feelings of security and well-being, whereas the guilty one leads to fear and insecurity as going against authority implies you will be punished

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Fromm (2):

2. Humanistic Conscience:

-Fromm defines this as the "real conscience", conscience is our true selves which tell us how to live our lives properly so we can become who we really are

-Authority tries to break an individual's will, but some will always refuse to conform and stand against authority, and from fighting for freedom the humanistic (real) conscience occurs, and break from external authority and are capble of judging individuals on their functions living as human beings and their success of failure in the art of living and guide us to our true selves

-Conscience is naturally flexible valuing system which allows for the protection of personal intergrity during the process of adaption to changing social conditions, such self-knowledge is neccessary for rational evaluation of the ever-changin social environment

-Fromm compares development of this to a seed; only in later life will they manifest in the right conditions for a spiritual growth and development, in true conscience we are able to preserve the knowledge of our aim in life and the principles we have discovered ourselves, as well as those we have learned from others and thus, we live in integrity

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Conscience (19)

Fromm (3):


-Scientific developments do seem to require going against ther authority of Christanity historically

-Aims to develop individuals into their true selves, similar to the thrust of virtue ethics

-Disobediance often seems to be an intrinsic part of human nature, state not always right


-Freud argues that we feel guilt when we have done something wrong (that goes against society's norms), therefore obeying conscience is good-it keeps us as good members of society

-According to Aristotle, "good is the same for the individual and the state", so according to Virtue Ethics disobedience is not virtuous and does not improve an individual

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Conscience (20)

Modern understanding of conscience:

-Vincent MacNamara: argues it's misleading to describe conscience as a "voice" and this implies it is some kind of special faculty individuals possess, better to see conscience in terms of an attitude/awareness people have that there is a moral path to be followed through life and that true human living does not revolve around profit/pleasure

-Richard Gula: Argued to consider conscience as a series of laws was misleading, highlights vision and choice as two key aspects of conscience, sees conscience as the ability to act within a structured Christian framework, seeing life as a Christian vision to strive towards

-Timothy O'Connell: Sees conscience as having 3 important aspects:

1. Our general sense of personal repsonsibility for who we are/what we become

2. Our obligation to search out good, using resouces (moral reasoning/community like church)

3. The concrete judgement a person makes so that as good as they see it must be done

-Final level is infalliable and must be followed, second level people can disagree with their judgements/make wrong judgements, moral values discovered by moral reasoning

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Conscience (21)

Conscience as a moral guide (1):

-Humans want to see conscience as an objective reality as they want to believe they have within a sense of right/wrong and conscience gives hope the human condition can be improved

-Christian approaches give conscience a large role in moral decision making and expect that people should following the urging of their conscience, whereas secular approaches suggest more caution is required before using conscience and following it's directions unquestioningly

-If the psychological approaches are correct then our conscience can't be an accurate guide to be followed without question or reason because it may be repressed guilt/social conditioning that is guiding us

-The Roman Catholic Church teaching on conscience reflects both Aquinas/Newman, maintaining that conscience is the law that speaks to the heart and a law written by God, obediance to conscience sustains human dignity and human beings are judged on it

-Today Catholics are urged to inform consciences before acting on them, but many Catholics struggle with certain aspects of church teaching (such as using artifical contraception which is ignored) come into conflict with their informed conscience, which in theory is impossible

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Conscience as a moral guide (2):

-Henry David Thoreau: wrote conscience should not take over our lives anymore than our head/ heart does, and it can be diseased like these two other areas (e.g incorrect/misinformed)

-Jean-Jacques Rosseau: wrote that conscience was the best guide of what is right and what is wrong, and it is only when we try to oppose it do we find reasons to argue against it

-Jeremy Benthem: argued that conscience was an inhibition when it comes to the issue of the greatest good for the greates number, argues hermits (whose conscience leads them to reject wealth and live as paupers) are condemned because they have a misguided sense of pleasure, conscience is therefore a false understanding of what pleasure

-Richard Dawkins: argues that humans are controlled by genes which exist to help the human species survive, Dawkins argues that the evolutionary processes create morals, and therefore conscience is nothing more than a biological process

-Richard Rorty: Relativist, maintains there is no such thing as a set of universal moral values and thus conscience is simply a person's set of guilt when they go against their moral inclinations or that of their group

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Virtue Ethics (1)

Introduction to Virtue Ethics:

-Virtue: a positive characteristic that suggests moral excellence/goodness (opposite is vice), doesn't focus on guidelines of right/wrong but instead focus on indviduals becoming better people by improving virtues, and it is largely agent-centred morality rather than act-related

-Greek word for virtue is arete meaning "excellence", a virtuous person is someone who does this excellency all the time, virtue ethics is neither entirely relativist/absolute as it is about who wer are rather than how to be moral, but it can contain characterstics of teleology/deontology/absolutism/ relativism, rejects the other ethical theories basic principles 

-Virtue ethics instead focusing upon defining good people and the qualities that make them good, rather than good actions/consequences, roots of the theory originated in the Greek literature of individuals like Aristotle, but was soon revieved by modern philosophers

-Most notable revivist was Alasdair MacIntyre in his work Ater Virtue, a Study in Moral Theory (1981), and argued that modern society had lost it's moral wisdom, and he looked back to Greek stories of people like Achilles and Odysseus in that a man's identity is defined by what he means, by judging his vices/virtues-Ancient Greek based on a heroic society, virtues like courage and fidelity important for friendship and so displaying this makes you a good person

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Virtue Ethics (2)

Aristotle's Virtue Ethics (1):

-Aristotle in Nicomanchean Ethics argues that whenever we do something, we do it to gain an end, and that the ultimate end of all ends if the chief good, the greatest good and while this is teleological there is another important principle in that in order to achieve this end we must practice (like archers at a target) and by doing this we improve our virtues and so live a happy life

-12 moral virtues by which we cultivate to become virtuous, but they suffer between a vice of excess and defiency and Aristotle believe the virtues lay between these to vices, examples are:

Vice of Defiency:                                     Virtue:                                   Vice of Excess:

Cowardice                                             Courage                                        Rashness

Illiberality                                             Liberality                                        Prodigality

Surliness                                           Friendliness                                   Obsequioness

Shamelessness                                   Modesty                                       Bashfullness

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Virtue Ethics (3)

Aristotle's Virtue Ethics (2):

-Although all 12 could develop into virtues, only a few will do so and in order to cultivate them we must find the mean, controlling our behaviour/emotions in different situations so we act in an proprotionate way and by doing this achieve the Golden Mean which is when we have a balance of a quality that leads to it's virtue

-Aristotle believed that virtuous behaviour could become habit, but at no time should we forget that we're behaving virtuously because it is right and by the same measure we know how virtuous we are if we respond in a virtuous manner spontaneously in ethical situations

-He believed that every action went towards an aim, and that we do that to accomplish a greater thing, and he believe ultimately everyone was subordinate to happiness, and there were 3 main forms of happiness in Aristotle's virtue theory:

1. Happiness of life as enjoyment

2. Happiness as a member of society

3. Happiness as a philospher (Aristotle's personal favourite)

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Virtue Ethics (4)

Aristotle's Virtue Ethics (3):

-The greatest good is living a continual full and happy life, also known as Eudaimonia which is a combination of the three kinds of happiness, which Aristotle presumes everyone wants to achieve and while he acknowledge the different virtues different cities may hold he did not believe there was an platonic good outside this world but that good existed in this world

-Supreme happiness he mentions is one for the community not just individuals, and only human souls are able to reach Eudaimonia because of their ability to reason/move/find food unlike animal and plant souls which lack reason

-Aristotle distinguished between 4 kinds of people (3 below the top need help!):

1. Virtuous people: enjoy doing good so no moral dilemma

2. Continent people: do the virtuous thing most of the time but have to overcome moral dilemmas

3. Incontinent people: face moral conflict, but usually choose a vice

4. Vicious people: do not even attempt to be virtuous at all

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Aristotle's Virtue Ethics (4):

-Aristotle distinguished between two types of virtue:

1. Intellectual virtues: characters of thought and reason, they are developed by training and education, these are developed in the rational part of the soul

2. Moral virtues: characters of virtue, they are developed by practice and habit and these are developed by the irrational part of the soul, 12 virtues which make up Aristotle's table

-Recognised virtues will only develop in a minority of people but also argued that balance between intellectual and moral virtues was essential

-The doctrine of the mean therefore helps people to work out the correct action they should take, and people need to be educated in the virtues and the development of morals and they need to practice using the doctrine of the mean to help them work out the correct thing to do

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Aquinas' Virtues:

-By late middle ages Aristotle's virtue theory was the definitive account of morality, so far that it was endorsed by Saint Thomas Aquinas and in medieval discussions the particular virtues described by Aristotle become known as the Cardinal Virtues:

1. Prudence: also known as pratical wisdom is the capacity to deliberate well about what is good/advantageous for one's self in pratical affairs

2. Justice: is a social as well as an individual virtue, it is the excellence of the soul that distributes each according to his merits and a characteristic that enables the individual to direct his will appropriately to relate to others

3. Courage: also known as fortitude, is a characteristic that enables the individual to regulate pain and strive towards the mean between cowardice and recklessness

4. Temperance: a form of self-control; a characteristic that enables individuals yo strive towards the mean between insensitivty and self-indulgence

-If these virtues are cultivated and put into practice then your life will become happier and more fruitful and you'll be one step closer to Eudaimonia

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Alasdair MacIntyre's Virtue Ethics (1):

-Believed we live in ethical confusion in modern-day society and that a hidden catastrophe had undermined moral reasoning, asserts in his book After Virtue (1981) that we need to return to an Aristotelian intellectual and moral virtues in society (medicine/politics/education/commerce)

-Identifies some archetypal characters that evolved in a society lacking virtue:

1. Bureacratic Managers: political bureacrats/media moguls/directors of companies, focus on profit not principle and view themselves as morally neutral characters so as to maximise efficiency

2. Rich Aesthetes: pursue greater pleasures (ageing rock-star fits the bill) and allows people to live out their fantasises on our behalf in a celebrity-obssessed culture lacking virtue/meaing

3.The Therapists: charge the rich huge amounts to listen to their diminishing and self-justifying existences, meaningless echoes of meaningless lives, society we have created teache sus to value others less and ourselves more

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Alasdair MacIntyre's Virtue Ethics (2):

-MacIntyre notes how different societies=different virtues developed, look at Homeric society which prided physical strength and courage at a time when strength and cunning was needed in war, but as the polis (cities) became more civilized shifted to Athenian virtues (friendship and wisdom)

-For MacIntyre it was enlightnment in the 17th/18th century when natural science was seen as important for discovering the truth which led to the decline of virtue ethics

-Individuals like Hugo Grotius criticising Aristotle for failing to explain basic moral concepts like truthfulness and justice and that they were fixed in natural laws, whereas people like Kant and Hume sought a single rational explanation for morality

-MacIntyre argued despite this, virtues have lived on and society depends onf the virtues form people exhibiting them to live on, and living a virtuous life depends on getting into the habit of being moral and this gives life an overall meaning/purpose

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Alasdair MacIntyre's Virtue Ethics (3):

-Underneath the virtues must be the good will of the person, as to be virtous one must do things voluntarily rather than involuntarily, an act is not virtuous if not intended

-Used the idea of internal/external goods, a version of which is seen in natural law; an internal good is specific to the activity itself (giving money to charity helps others and develops a sense of satisfaction) whereas an external good is a good that is not specific to the act (giving to charity may inspire others to do the same)

-Also warned being virtuous does not prevent you from being open to vices, gives example of a violinist who could be viscous or a chess player who could be mean spirited, and these vices would prevent people from achieving maximum virtue

-MacIntyre suggests three most important virtues are justice/courage/honesty and we can only achieve morally excellence through practising these three, and these are the core virtues which help to prevent organisations/institutions from becomin morally corrupt, as they spread tradition/culture/morality, and if they are corrupt vice becomes widespread

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G.E.M Anscombe:

-Argued that modern moral philosophy was misguided and that the mistake had been to associate good with actions rather than people, and she believed that we should return to Aristotle, MacIntyre agrees with this arguing that modern ethics has lost sight of its roots

-Anscombe argues all moral theories are based on the concept of moral duty, and claimed that this approach was flawed and that we need to look at the character of people, believes it is flawed because the obligation of the duty only makes sense if you believe in God or an ultimate being which will judge, and without this belief there is no real reason to follow moral duty

-Argued that the way forward to develop characteristics which lead to Eudaimonia, not dependent on any notion of God

-Her essay Modern Moral Philosophy (1958) is credited with reviving the Western study in Virtue Ethics, so inspire MacIntyre to write his work

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Phillippa Foot:

-Foot argued that although virtue ethics cannot gurantee happiness it can be an important part in achieving it, and argues it is not a new or seperate approach to ethics but plays a vital role in the moral theories of other like Kant and Aquinas, put together a modern version of virtue ethics, arguing that the wise person direct their will to what is good

-A good is something that is both intrinsically/extrinsically good (e.g giving to charity is intrinsic good, inspiring others through this act the extrinsic good), the wise/virtuous person also knows there are particular ways of obtaining certain good, and it is these ways of obtaining good that are virtues

-Also argues virtues and skills are different things, as you could make an intentional mistake with a skill that would not damage your character/reputation (e.g teacher who spells the word wrong on purpose to draw students attentions to it), however if you act in a non-virtuous way deliberatley your character and reputation will suffer

-Characterises virtues as "correctives" in that they correct deviant behaviour, and she likens humans to planks of wood left out to season, in that they naturally warp and need continous straightening in order to be straight, and virtues do exactly the same for human character

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-James F. Keenan: summarizes virtue ethics in 3 questions (who am I? who ought I become? and how do I get there?) and argues that in order to develop virtues and avoid vices of excess and deficiency self-knowledge is critical and Keenan likens this to good parenting, in that good parenting is knowing how children grow according to their own strengths and weaknesses

-Richard Taylor: argues that religious ethics has lead people away form using their reason and that virtue ethics is a way of encouraging people to achieve personal excellence, and argues that Christianity has prevented this as central to this religion is the belief that the poor/weak/stupid/evil will got heaven if they accept Christ into their lives, argues this does not encourage people to become better people but simply encourage blind faith

-Michael Slote: based on common sense ideas and intuitions about what counts as virtue, prefers to use the term "admirable" rather than "excellent" or "good" which needs quantifying and explaining, virtue to Slote means "an inner trait or disposition of an individual", makes a key distinction between:

1. Agent-focused: what it is to be a virtuous person/inner dispositions (Aristotelian Ethics)

2. Agent-based: evaluate actions based on inner life/motives of people that do such actions, we can identify virtues like compassion by looking at people we admire (e.g role models)

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Rosalind Hursthouse:

-Argues that many believe a problem with virtue ethics is that it does not distinguish right actions from wrong ones when facing a dilemma, only establishes the traits of good/bad characters, argues those facing a moral dilemma should determine how a person with a virtuous character would act in the same situation, summed up as follows:

P1: A person may choose between different course of action

P2: An action is right if and only if the action is what a virtuous agent would characteristically do under the circumstances according to virtue ethics

P3: A virtuous agent is one who acts virtuously, one who has and acts according to virtues

P4: A virtue is a character trait that an agent needs for Eudaimonia

C: Therefore, virtue ethics allows a person to determine right course of action in any situation

-Attempts to dispel criticism of argument that virtues cause conflict by arguing that it only arises from a lack of moral wisdom, and then a virtuous person must be consulted in order to discover which virtue is the right one to follow, however issues with this is she presumes virtuous person is always on hand, that every action they commit is perfect and that different virtuous people may embody different virtues

-Wrote a book on how virtue ethics can deal with abortion, but not problems like euthanasia, and she also provides a criticism of Aristotle in that he did not include women/slaves in his original virtue theory, so it is a highly dated origin

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Martha Nussbaum:

-Nussbaum attempts to demonstrate how a virtue-based approach to ethics responds to accusations of relativism, and she interprets Aristotle's virtues as absolutes claiming that justice, temperance, geneorsity etc are essential elements of humans flourishing across all societies and throughout time, this is a sharp contrast to the general attitude among modern virtue theorists, who argue that relatavism is a key aspect of virtue ethics

-She puts much emphasis on Aristotle's conception of a virtuous life, a life which is grounded in shared experiences of one's status as a member of the human species and from this she draws the concept of "spheres of life" or areas in which experience is grounded in such a manner as to be characterized as general and specific, universal and particular at the same time, and this allows for her conclusion that disagreements on death/pleasure/pain are nothing more than arguments about "the same thing"

-Virtue of Autonomy: in cases of sever political oppression one does not posses "grounding experiences" which makes free action possible, and as such must consider autonomy a virtue and also recognize there are cases in which one does not have the oppurtunity to act on it

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Examples of Virtuous people:

-Virtue is achieved through doing, so some way of learning how to be virtuous is to follow the example of virtuous people (e.g Socrates, Martin Luther King Jnr, Nelson Mandela, Jesus)

-Not perfect people as they challenge us to go beyond mainstream to aspire to "moral heights" and virtuous people are not perfect humans are prone to moral weakness, Robert Adams uses the term "moral frailty", and this seems to contradicts Aristotle's ideas of virtue as being about strong robust character traits but life is not like that as human characters are complex, and Adams also points out that an important dimension of some modern virtue ethics is the Christian tradition that all humans are sinners

-Other like John Doris insist that virtues must be robust (kindness, courage, justice) and this has led to some critics arguing that no one person can ever be fully virtuous, and another issue is that the lives of the virtuous people ignore the situation they faced, hard if not impossible to be virtuous in a racist/tyrannical society

-Takes a strong character to be virtuous in Nazi Germany, virtue ethics has been criticised for not taking into account the moral situation, Adams calls this the Priest and Playboy Factor, the environment in which a priest lives is more conducive to virtue than that of a play boy

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Strengths (1):

1. Virtue ethics can appeal to be secular and religious morality, an atheist can aspire to be like Jesus without believing that he was Son of God as altruism is a virtuous thing to aspire to

2. Virtue ethics does not have a set of rules or guidelines that must be followed like other ethical systems, focuses on becoming a better person and providing a way to do that

3. Avoids the inequalities that absolutist ethical system cause and the dubious morality of actions that relatavism can justify, only true if human good/flourishing if promoted (Eudaimonia)

4. It is a logical theory as it focuses on practical reasoning and the traits that will help bring society together

5. Unlike most other modern ethical theories it puts emphasis on examing the character of the moral agent

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Strengths (2):

6. Encourages us to become better people and improve ourselves by aspiring to the virtues of other people such as Martin Luther King, character is vitally important as we develop these traits we will no longer require ethical theories to follow and therefore we will make decisions based upon our virtues that are fully morally character

7. Martha Nussbaum has argued that virtue ethics is a very compassionate and caring way of doing ethics, as it takes the whole person into account

8. It allows individuals to make ethical decisions based on their own moral well-being and not simply on what is legaslly right, a virtuous person is distinguished from someone who merely obeys the law

9. It rejects simplistic rules/maxims as a basis for morality, it regards morality as complex as moral truths cannot be found in statements such as "the greatest good for the greatest number"

10. Virtue ethics allows for virtues to vary between different cultures

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Weaknesses (1):

1. Critics feel that virtue ethics could be harking back to an apparent "golden age" of ethics, a sort of romantic nostalgia: not all old ideas were necessarily good ideas and modern ethical theories have their worth

2. Susan Wolf claims if everyone is virtuous there would be no variety/excitement, need negative traits in order to admire the positive ones, everyone virtuous a sense of boredom/apathy might become prevalent in society

3. If society is to develop along the lines of MacIntyre's belief, how do we decide what are the most important virtues to develop and what type of things are virtuous, it requires some sort of value judgement to be made about the importance of virtue

4. Virtue will sometimes clash with each other, which one is more important in each situation?

5. When does a virtue become a vice, is there a definitive point where it crosses over or is it purely subjective-Aristotle argued that it would depend on the situation and is not a fixed point, yet this is still subjective and lacks precision

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Weaknesses (2):

6. Aristotle's teachings on virtue were aimed at more masculine attributes like bravery and comradeship rather than more feminine virtues like empathy and compassion

7. Virtue ethics are difficult to apply to moral problems because it doesn't provide a method for knowing what do except be virtuous, it provides no answers but instead encourages us to focus on practical reasoning/widsom given to us by virtues to know what we ought to be doing

8. It assers that there are character traits and this assumption is difficult to support and is rejected by many psychologists, Gilbert Harman regards character traits as "illusions"

9. Robert Louden criticises virtue ethics for its concentration on the individual and asserts that it does not attempt to resolve big moral dilemmas, as it may help the moral agent become virtuous but it does not give any answer when that person is faced with an ethical crisis

10. Louis P. Pojman argues there are some things which are always wrong, sugesting that torturing innocent people for fun is wrong under all circumstances, any ethical system needs certain rules that cannot be broken

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Environmental and Business Ethics (1)

Introduction to Environmental Ethics:

-"Environmental Ethics" covers a wide range of concerns, such as preservation of endagered species/habitat, pollution effect and also concerned with the attitude towards biological and geological dimensions of the planet, how it impacts humanity and whether it enhances/diminishes the well-being/diversity of other forms of life

-Exponents of environmental ethics argue the following:

1. Delicate and interconnect systems that nurture and sustain life providing clearn air, water and soil are breaking down through pollution and abuse

2. Deforestation and emissions of "greenhouse gases" affect the atmosphere and threaten to disrupt life on earth

3. World's finite resources are being depleted at an unsustainable rate because of our way of life/increasing population

4. The reduction of non-renewable natural resouces threatents the international stability as well as local inhabitants who depend on them

5. 80% of the world's resources are owned by the 20% of the world's richest population, while 20% of humanity lacks clean water/food/shelter/clothing

6. Industrialisation and tecnological/scientific development (often for commerical gain) has led to the destruction of grasslands/forests and over-exploitation of oceans and the exstinction of species reduces biodiversity

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Christian approaches (1):

-Dominion: Belief that God has given humankind authority over the earth and all plants/animals, found in Genesis 1-26: 'Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

-This extract suggests a very anthropocentric view (belief that humanity is central and more important) and one that has it's roots in Aristotle's teachings: "She (nature) has made all animals for the sake of man"

-Aristotle's ideas influenced Aquinas, who supports dominion in his Natural Law theory by arguing that humans have a higher telos and therefore take precedence over the environment, and destruction and control of the environment is justified if it is done to fulfil the Primary Precepts

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Christian approaches (2):

Dominion Strengths:

-Does not advocate damage to the environment

-Use this power in order to protect the environment-e.g breeding endagered animals in captivity

Dominion Weaknesses:

-Deep Ecology would criticise it for being too anthropocentric, non-religious wouldn't follow it

-Peter Singer notes that Aquinas did not recognise sin against the environment and that the main Western view has been that the natural world exists for the benefit of humans and in this view nature has not intrinsic value and its destruction is not sinful

-Pope John Paul II argued that man, instead of co-operating with God in the work of creation, man set himself up in God's place and this provokes a rebellion on the part of nature which more tyrannised than governed by man

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Christian approaches (3):

-Stewardship: Belief that God has given human responsibility to care and look after the enviroment, based on Genesis 2-15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and keep it."

-Supported by Scott I. Paradise, argues that dominion needed to be revised due to it's anthropocentric focus, and that stewardship presents a more positive environmental ethics as religious ethics is theocentric (God is at the centre) as God is the underlying reason for morality including environmental ethics, and it is only anthropocentric in the sense of Christian agape in looking at how improving the environment can also affect the ease/quality of human life, also geo/biocentric in that a creation of God must be preserved as it is good in itself

-Also supported by Roger Crook, argues these latter obligations have authority because of God, and the value of the environment comes from the relationship with God, viewed as his sacred creation, Crook also argues that science/technology are not bad and are compatible with stewardship, as humans maniuplate nature more than anything else they have an extra-special responsibility to care and look after it

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Christian approaches (4):

Stewardship strengths:

-Emotional and responsible method of looking after the environment, don't have to be religious

-Aquinas supports this, argued the diversity of life on earth reveals the richness of God's nature and therefore Christians are bound not to degrade/damage nature that can bring glory to God 

-Not oppressive towards nature like Dominion is, more respectful, makes up for it's shortfalls 

-Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (2002) rules for the environment based on the concept of Stewardship, practical theory which can be used by modern-day Christians

Stewardship weaknesses:

-Deep Ecology would argue that it is still anthropocentric, not done for the environment but for human relationship with God and to help each other out because of agape

-Lynn White argues that Christian beliefs led to the ecological crisis of today, and only by rejecting and re-thinking all aspects of Christian views on the environment can it be solved

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Christian approaches (5):

-Another approach is Creation Spirituality, the leading philosopher of this being St. Francis of Assisi, who argued that God communicates to us through the natural world and it is a sin to destroy, as the natural world is inherently good and a sign of God's goodness therefore we should all respect it, as all creatures have the ability/duty to worship God thus should do so as it is intrinsic to do so

-This view is also supported by the Bible, Genesis 1-31: "God saw everything that he has made, and indeed, it was very good"

-Strength: John Paul II used his example on World Environment Day 1982, arguing that this approach reminded Catholics not to act like "predators" to the environment, but to "take responsibility" for it, still revelant today and acts as inspiration to other Christians

-Weakness: Some would argue creatures do not have the ability to worship God and respect him in the same way as humans can, also still anthropocentric

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Christian approaches (6):

-Rapture and End-time theology: humans have dominion and the genesis creation story teaches that man is superior to nature and can use its resources unchecked, as those who believe in the end-time theology are not concerned with the end of the Earth and the natural world is irrelevant because it has no future, and the destruction of the environment is welcoming and should be helped along as it is the sign of the apocalypse and the second coming of Christ

-Pastor John Hagee argues the environmental/social crisis of today are potents of rapture, when born again Christians both living and dead will be taken to heaven and non-believers left behind will have 7 years of suffering, culminating in the rise of the Antichrist

-Strengths: This threat might motivate people to change, has biblical support from the Book of revelations

-Weaknesses: Very destructive method of caring for the environment and highly fatalistic, rejected by the majority of Christians, the poltically influential Evangelical denominations within America now engaging in "creation care" in response to end-time theories

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Deep Ecology (1):

-Beyond religious attempts at an environmental ethics, there has been a great deal of work to produce a secular-based approach that recognizes the value in all life forms and perhaps even the geological and biological systems and diversity of planet earth, and rejects anthropocentric ethics, and this is referred to as Deep Ecology

-Aldo Leopald led this attempt in 1949 calling for a new ethic to deal with man's relationship to the land and to the animals and plants that thrive upon it, and sought to enlage boundaries of the moral community to include soil/water/plants/animals or collectively the "land"

-Arne-Naess: two movements in ecology:

1. Focused on pollution, the depletion of natural resources and the usefullness of the earth for humans (anthropocentric)

2. Concerned with richness, diversity/intrinsic value of the natural world (deep ecology)

-Naess argues every being (human/animal/plant) has an equal right to live and blossom, and he rejected any ideas that humans were more important because they had a soul, use reason or have consciousness, rejected the idea that nature serves to exist humans and stewardship

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Deep Ecology (2):

-Naess and Sessions 8-fold ecology platform:

1. Well-being/flourishing of human and non-human lives on earth

2. Richness and diversity of life-forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves

3. Humans have no rights to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs

4. Impact of humans in the world if excessive, and the situation is worsening

5. Human lifestyle/populations are the key elements of this impact

6. Diversity of life, including cultures, can only flourish if we reduce human impact

7. Basic ideological/technological/political structure must therefore change

8. Those who accept the foregoing points have an obligation to participate in the attempt to implement the neccessary changes to do so peacefully and democratically

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Deep Ecology (3):

-Naess proposes that humans should:

1. Radically reduce the earth's population

2. Abandon all goals of economic growth

3. Conserve diversity of species

4. Live in small-self reliant communities

5. "touch the earth lightly"

-This eco-humanism falls under Marshall's theory of Libertarian Extension, in which all ontological beings have an ethical worth on the basis they exist

-Daniel Quinn showed the anthropocentric myth that underlies our current world, and gave an anaology of a jellyfish having an equivalent jellyfish-centric world view

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Deep Ecology (4):


-Recognises the intrinsic worth all species have, sees them as equal worth to that of humans

-Deep ecology supported by Karen J. Warren, who extends the argument by arguing that the domination of women has been tethered conceptually and hierarchically to the domination of nature, and argues that hierarchial classification in general (like racism and specieism) are all forms of discrimination and are no different form sexism, and therefore anthropocentrism is just another form of discrimination and should be abolished

-Modern examples of deep ecology groups are the Green Movement/Green Party, the first Green Party MP in 2010 for Brighton suggests Deep Ecology is not an outdated belief

-Recognises how each part of the environment is interconnected and affect by the harmful actions of humans over the years

-Promotes a non-violent egalitarian approach to resolving these issues, something many argue society struggles with today, so by improving the environment we may also improve humnakind

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Deep Ecology (5):


-For something to have rights it must have reasons for existence, do plants have a reason for existence, as our reason for them is food and oxygen but do they have reasons of their own?

-If followed to the extreme Deep Ecology could lead to the destruction of the human race, but this weakness is hyperbolic/far-fetched and unlikley to happen

-Earth summits such as Kyoto have proved not to be very effective raising questions about the practicality of Session's ideas

-Deep Ecology is arguably misanthropic (human-hating) and discourages a growing population, however Deep Ecologists would argue that by decreasing the population the value of each individual increases

-Social Ecologist Murry Bookchin supports the misanthropy claim, citing evidence of deep ecologists like David Foreman asserting human beings as a pathological infestation on the earth

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Shallow Ecology (1):

-In this theory plants and animals only have an instrumental value and not an intrinsic value, they are useful because they are useful to us, theory is anthropocentric (human-centred), humans have an intrinsic value (only humans have true moral worth/standing)

-Michael La Bossiere suggests that this approach can be justified as a part of the natural order of evolution; if a species becomes naturally extinct due to humanity's actions then this is acceptable-not suggesting that humans should actively do this, but if it becomes naturally extinct because of human actions than this is acceptable

-Stern Report (2006): written by British Economist Stern delivered a 700 parge report about climate change and global warming, 2 options for the government either spend 1-2% of our gross domestic product (GDP) on climate change now or expect a grave economy crises with our GDP lowered by 20% in a few decades

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Shallow Ecology (2):

-According to these kinds of ethics, nature and the environment have value only so far as they are benficial to humans, they have no value in themselves and this implies that if there is no benefit or harm for humans they have no value and therefore if humanity benefits from the destruction of an environment, then destruction is justified

-This theory has grouding in some naturalistic concepts of human rights, argue that it is a necessary fundamental premise to defend universal human rights, since what matter morally is simply being human

-Mortimer J. Adler: stated that denying what is now called human exceptionalism could lead to tyranny, writing that if we do not possess a unique moral status, the intellectual foundation of our liberties collapses, arguing we would start killing people as we would animals that we currently make clothes out of/kill them if they bear disease

-Wesley J. Smith: has written that human exceptionalism is what gives rise to human duties to each other, the natural world and to treat animals humanely, as we are the only species who have evolved morality in deciding what is right and what is wrong

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Shallow Ecology (3):

-Conservation: Ethic of resource use, allocation and protection and primary focus on maintaing the health of the natural world such as its habitats and biological diversity, secondary focus on material conservation and energy conservation which are seen as important to protect the natural world officially more than 10% of the world is protected in this way

-Conservation expressed through 4 Rs: Rethink, Reduce, Recycle, Repair and this social ethic relates to local purchasing, moral purchasing and the sustained and efficient use of renewable resources, moderation of destructive finite material, prevention of harm to air/water quality and principal value underlying most expressions is that the natural world has intrinsic/intangible woth along with the utilitarian value

-Strengths: humans caused the damage and so should atone for it, humans possess the resources to be able to help, human way of life will change drastically if we don't conserve

-Weaknesses: Costs a lot of money to do, humans tampering with natural course of events could cause unseen damage, could be trying to save something that can't be saved

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Peter Singer:

-Singer does not fit into either category of deep/shallow ecology, against specieism because "specieism draws an arbitrary line", and he cites the example of animal experimentation for cosmetics etc. and argues that animals suffer pain for relatively small human benefit

-He uses the example of an antelope and human caught in a trap, if you're walking in the woods with your close friend, Singer supposes if your friend was to get caught in an animal trap you would obviously go to help him/her, however if there was an antelope nearby Singer would save it first arguing that he can reassure his friend that he will help him after, as being a fellow human he has reason whereas the antelope cannot

-Singer's theories are more sentient-being centred rather than anthropocentric, also criticizes Christian approaches arguing that they have led to significant world harm, whereas stewardship is okay in his view

-Singer also preserves wilderness so long as it maximises human welfare, he argues that World Heritage wilderness should be preserved, as there is a beauty in certain areas of wilderness which should be cared for

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Gaia Hypothesis (1):

-Created by scientist James Lovelock who suggests that organisms co-evolve with their environment, and that it regulates itself, and there is evidence to support this include oxygen level staying the same in-between two extremes (12%), the earth's temperature staying the same and the salt content not decreasing over the space of millions of years (3.4% salt) contrary to the result considering the factors effecting it

-Word "Gaia" first used by William Golding comes from the name of the Greek goddess of the Earth, all the life forms of the planet are a part of Gaia, looking at Earth from space, Lovelock saw not so much a planet of diverse life forms as a planet transformed by a self-regulating living system; it was almost a living being

-He examined the fossil evidence which showed that climate change had in fact taken place within a very narrow range so that life was never destroyed, God could be an explanation for the existence of Gaia and for maintaing her in existence

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Gaia Hypothesis (2):

-This theory opposes Darwinian idea of the survival of fittest, whereby species evolve to suit the conditions available and sayst that the conditions on Earth are actually managed by Gaia herself, the world is not a result of chance but of self-engineering

-Humans are just a part of Gaia, and Gaia herself would survive without our presence, this theory challenges humans to change their perceptions and see themselves as a whole so abusing Gaia risks our chance of survival

-The earth then is a unified holistic entity with ethical worth, and in the long run the human race has no particular significance, but we are all part of it and all organisms on Earth are co-dependent

-In his later book The Revenge of Gaia he argues that increasing global temperatures and more climate disasters means the planet might not be able to recover as he previously believed, and stresses to the reader that nuclear energy must be used to meet energy demands, as the time taken to experiment with renewable energy technology would take too long

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Gaia Hypothesis (3):

-Stephen Jay Gould: argues Gaia is merely a metaphorical description of earth's processes

-Richard Dawkins: claims that life coming together for a mutual advantage is inconceivable and basic evolutionary theory disproves this completely, this scientific theory of natural selection means species adapted to altered conditions will survive

-Lynn Marguils: argues Dawkin's perspective and Gaia hypothesis are compatable when looking at symbosis, this is when two organisms have a mutually beneficial relationship, and perhaps unintentionally, help each other survive

-Peter Vardy and Peter Grosch: notes that Lovelock's Gaia sees the ecosystem as an entity in it's own right, which must be considered in any moral deliberation

-Peter Singer: Maintains that all life forms have value, but it is only justifiable to give intrinsic value to sentient life forms, as plants and organisms cannot truly be said to desire or flourish or have experiences and therefore Lovelock's descrption of the planet uses romatic language to confer sentiency where it does not exist

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Applied theories: Natural Law (1)

-One of the central principles is the idea of doing what is "good" and avoiding what is "evil", this principle implies that exploitation and abuse of the environment would be wrong as it is something evil, however humans are higher and have a higher purpose hence for thsoe reasons we are allowed to control and use the environment just not exploit or abuse it

-Some Natural Law thinkers even controlling the envronment is wrong because the telos of the natural world gives it intrinsic worth, however this clashes with the telos of humans and the primary precepts like reproduction and living by using the environment

-Some acts of destruction can be justified because if by destroying habitats one is able to provide shelter for humans then the principle of double effects say that consequence of the two must be weighed and it seems fine to suggest animal lose their home for humans

-Also  important that we protect species because it is God's divine creation and by protecting and caring for them we are able to appreciate the creator and fulfil the primary purpose of worshipping God

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Applied Ethics: Natural Law (2)


-Can lead to some positive changes in our society

-Does not have radical/dangerous outcomes, and is clear and easy to use

-For theist obviously it is a benefit that they take God's creation into account


-Some rules in this theory don't work e.g pollution is seen as evil as it destroys God's creation and causes harm to some humans (asthma), this theory suggests that pollution should not be committed to any degree however this is not realistic

-Not universal, does not make sense why atheist should follow suit

-Sometimes it is important to exploit people/nature to promote long-term happiness which Natural Law dismisses

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Applied Ethics: Natural Law (2)


-Can lead to some positive changes in our society

-Does not have radical/dangerous outcomes, and is clear and easy to use

-For theist obviously it is a benefit that they take God's creation into account


-Some rules in this theory don't work e.g pollution is seen as evil as it destroys God's creation and causes harm to some humans (asthma), this theory suggests that pollution should not be committed to any degree however this is not realistic

-Not universal, does not make sense why atheist should follow suit

-Sometimes it is important to exploit people/nature to promote long-term happiness which Natural Law dismisses

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Applied Ethics: Kantian Ethics (1)

-Idea of universability is that we should do something that we believe everyone else should be morally obliged to do as well, therefore it is not in the best interests of humanity to exploit the environment as this would suggest that everyone has on obligation to do

-Kant's beliefs that morality only applies to rational beings seems to contradict this approach, however he believes that if we mistreat and exploit animals then we are likley to do the same to other humans who are rational beings, therefore he suggests to treat them with respect

-Kant's ethics would suggest that humans have a moral responsibility to protect the environment and not to destroy it, as this could lead to exploiting other rational beings in similar ways

-Neo Kantain Paul Taylor suggests that animals/plants should be affored moral rights as they aren't rational beings, but instead ought to be given legal rights so that they are protected and preserved, and this approach would seem to satisfy Kantian ethics

-First formulation of the categorical imperative (universal law) would forbid abuse of environment/animals, as it seems illogical to want everyone to act in the same way

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Applied Ethics: Kantian Ethics (2)


-Protects animals rights in order to not degrade rational beings

-Doesn't allow exploitation of the environment as we are using it as a means to an end

-Affords intrinsic value to the natural world in order for individuals to possess good will


-All elements of it are anthropocentric, the animals and environment are afforded certain statuses purely in order to improve rational beings in Kant's theory

-Does not give animals and plants moral right, at best legal rights so that they are protected, Deep Ecologists would have an issue with this aspect of the theory

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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (1)

-Quantative utilitarianism looks at the situation and weighs up whether the moral course of action is the maximisation of higher pleasures for present and future generations, and Benthem therefore would weigh up the amount of pain and pleasure potentially involved in each decision

-Qualitative utilitarianism by Mill puts the enjoyment and study of nature at the top of his list of higher pleasure, and therefore environmental preservation is imperative for future generations

-Preference utilitarianism by Singer looks instead at the preference satisfaction levels of different groups, and in his book he writes about building a hydroelectric damn being built in a beauty spot, in that the cheap electricity, created employment and economic growth of the dam would outweigh the disappointment and loss of walker and rafters

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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (2)


-Gets over "live for today" proposal by replacing it with a more suitable motive

-Takes into account pleasure of future generations

-Allows realistic exploitation of the environment for humanity compared to other theories


-Cannot always know the exact result (even more difficult with the environment because of interconnectedness)

-Environment has no intrinsic nature and only has instrumental value as far as humanity is concerned

-Consequentalist so only looks at ramifications for humanity and their pleasure and pain

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Applied Ethics: Virtue Ethics (1)

-A follower of virtue ethics would consider how an environmentally virtuous person would act and what sort of virtues such a person would develop

-These virtues such as sustainability, should be developed in order to assist the development of the polis or community, but there is no one way to develop these environmental virtues.

-When considering the environment as a whole, and as a community, virtue ethics would say that we should care for animals in order to encourage community to flourish

-According to MacIntyre, if compassion is an appropriate virtue towards a suffering human being and there is no difference between human suffering and the suffering of non-human animals then one should extend compassion to non-human animals who suffer

-Following the ideas of virtuous role models is another important aspect.

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Applied Ethics: Virtue Ethics (2)


-Offers an alternative to other theories that are anthropocentric, tries to look at it in a more objective way

-Focuses on virtuous individuals (like Lovelock or St.Francis of Assisi) and tries to establish the virtues of compassion and pragmatism they showed in their environmental ethics


-Too vague to be applied effectively, guidelines to vague in complex issue of environmental ethics

-Issues with needing virtuous people to base virtues on (e.g might not always be on hand, not perfect all the times themselves anyway)

-MacIntyre's argument in particular suffers due to clash of virtues/which virtues to in certain situations

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Introduction to Business Ethics:

-Many of the ethical issues in business are covered by codes, employers for example should treat their workers well, train them and develop their careers and take care of health and safety issues

-Businesses also tend to have an environmental policy that aims at sustainability, however just because a business has a policy does not mean that it will always behave in an ethical way e.g child labour and sweat shops

-A business cannot aim to be ethical if it ignore unethical practices by its suppliers such as:

1. Child/forced labour or violation of basic rights to workers

2. Production in sweatshops or other hazardous environments or ignoring health and safety

-An ethical business has to be concerned with all the businesses that operate in the supply chain, so this includes the suppliers,contractors,distributors and sale agents.

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Employers and Employees:

-When a business behaves unethically, an employee may decide whether to inform the authorities or not and this is known as whistleblowing, famous example is Edward Snowden of 2013 who revealed NSA programmes including PRISM surveillance programme (spied on business and people to make sure they weren't being illegal) and has now fled to Europe

-If someone finds a company to be acting unethically, do they have a responsibility? They may lose their job and not be compensated for this, they may also harm risking the business and ultimately many of their friends and co-workers

-In the stakeholder theory it is generally accepted that the most undervalued member of the circle is the employee, the employee is to a certain extent only another commodity of the business

-There are several large companies that have ethical business approaches towards their employers, most famously John Lewis and the Co-operative

-Psychologists suggest that investing in and valuing employees has a positive effect on their well-being and also the well-being of their company

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Does ethical behaviour help a business:


-Higher revenues, demand from positive customer support

-Improved brand and business awareness/recognition

-Better employee motivation/recruitment

-New sources of finance e.g ethical investors


-Higher costs e.g sourcing from Fair Trade suppliers rather than the cheapest

-Higher overheads e.g training and communication of ethical policy

-A danger of building up false expectations of customers

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The purpose of business:

-Some believe the key purpose is to maximise profit for the company and shareholder. This view is held by Milton Friedman who famously said: “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”, Ted Snyder supports Friedman in the belief that profit is more important than principle but he believes businesses do have an element of social responsibility

-If a business believes it can make more profit by employing someone who is younger, most of us would say this is unacceptable as it is ageist, yet it is perfectly legal and possible to do so, while others believe the purpose is to be morally responsible to stakeholders and have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

-Adam Smith proposed a system of political economy to reach "perfect liberty" which meant wages determined by the market and enterpise free from government control (laissez-faire capitalism), in the context of moral sympathy towards others in the community, and he believed that free market competition encouraged entrepreneurs and that the benefits would flow through the community

-Karl Marx opposed capitalism as a system that concentrated wealth in the hands of those who owned the means of production by exploiting the workers

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Business Ethics examples (1):

-Ford Pinto: The design and production of Ford Pinto cars were rushed to sell the car for under $2000, which resulted in a fault with where the engine was, it would have meant recalling all the cars and spending between $10 - $20 on each car with an overall bill estimated at $137 million

-Ford calculated the number of accidents resulting from this fault would be 180 deaths, 180 serious burns and 2,100 vehicles lost and the cost in law suits would be an approximate $49.5 million, so it other words it would be cheaper to not recall the cars and to pay out when people started dying.

The Co-operative Bank: They launched their ethical policy in 1992 after extensive consultation with customers and was a first among UK high street banks, and it allows customers to have a say on issues that matter to them

-There are over 33,000 McDonalds in over 118 countries and 11,139 Pizza Huts in the world

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Business Ethics examples (2):

-Primark: Use of child labour was ‘outed’ in 2008 in a documentary, Primark halted all business with these suppliers, cancelling millions of pounds worth in orders and stated that suppliers had deceived Primark, since 2008, they have implemented a new ethical code and appointed an Ethical Trade Director to train and check up on new and existing suppliers to prevent there being future problems, and only now is Primark slowly regaining its lost reputation

-If customers do not buy a business’ products then it will not make profit, therefore it is within the businesses best interest to listen to its customers

-Nevertheless, consumers may find it harder to make a difference against large multi-nationals than a local butchers for example.

Nestle: the corporation has been criticised over a period of 30 years concerning its policy of providing powdered milk for sale in less developed countries where water is not usually clean enough to drink, the controversy is though that they give the milk initially for free and then once they were on the milk and breast milk had dried up, Nestle began to charge for it

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-A stakeholder is an inidivdual or group who has a stake in the success or failure of the company, and they can be internal or external but any business is accountable to its stakeholder

-Individuals affected by the fate of a business include:

1. Employees

2. Shareholders

3. Managers

4. Customers

5. Suppliers

6. Local communities

7. Government

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Globalisation (1):

-“The reduction of difference between one economy and another so trade all over the world becoming increasingly similar and connections are increased”

-It is now possible to buy a McDonalds or Coco-cola whilst in Chile, Croatia, South Korea or Singapore

-Globalisation has brought ethical problems such as justice towards poorer countries as trade is not always fair and wages in LEDs are much lower and safety may not be upheld: Bhopl disaster 1984 where there was a gas leak in India due to lack of safety, over 2,000 died immediately and in the weeks that commenced over 12,000 others died.

-A child born in the UK, America or France will consume, waste and pollute in a lifetime 50 times more than children in developing countries

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Globalisation (2):

-Environment damage is a consequence of business growth as growth leads of energy demands, is there an ethical responsibility for business to consider impact on the environment?

All businesses impact the environment-they emit pollution, produce waste and use resources

-Every year there is a prestigious award, the Business Commitment to the Environment Award and in 2007 the Co-operative were one of its winners due to their response to climate change, due to 86% reduction of C02 emissions and use of 98% green energy.

-Anglo American Mining company: one of the 20 largest UK based companies heavily involved in mining which has an immediate impact on the environment and so it tries to have a positive effect in 3 areas:

1. In the area it is located, it tries to be cautious by reducing noise pollution

2. In the area immediately surrounding, it is active in conservation and improvement

3. In the wider region it contributes financially to help generate new businesses

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Applied Ethics: Christian view (1):

-Consumers: Leviticus 19: "You shall not cheat in measuring length, weight or quantity"

-Employers and Employees: Workers must be treated well: "You shall not keep for yourself the wages of a labourer until morning" Leviticus 19-13, must not exploit workers to poverty (Amos, Hosea)

-Globalisation: accumulation of wealth for its own sake immoral, but Christians talk about catholicity and oecumene, meaning universal nature of the Church, so breaking down global barriers is good

-This enhances the sense of global family, ensuring God's love is applied in the world e.g through poverty relief form groups like Christian aid and defence of rights like Amnesty International

-Amartya Sen: hunger and starvation caused by lack of money, globalisation will help to work against this, but multi-national corporations have been known to exploit their workers, John Cobb: globalisation exploits the poor, destroys human communities and devestates the natural world


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Applied Ethics: Christian View (2)

-Whistleblowing: honesty is important, 10 Commandments; "Thou shalt not bear false witness" (lie), compaines must be honest; if not employers need to be honest and whistleblow

-Ethical Business:Trust and honesty, love thy neighbor, treat others as you would have yourself (Golden Rule), uses New Testament and Jesus' teachings more frequently

-Protestant social teachings pulled in 2 different directions, first the individualistic approach was concerned with the individual’s calling and personal integrity; so a business man could be praised for his charity, the second was a concern about the competitive individualism of capitalism and the great social inequalities that it brought about , so social solutions were offered

-Catholic thought is not seen to be individualistic and very early on addressed the problem of modern industrial life, the encyclicals: Rerum Novarum (1891), Laborem Exercens (1981) and Centestimus Annus (1991) all work through fundamental workers rights and the idea of common good is a basic value in Catholicism and has led to the Catholic church to criticise communism and free market capitalism which acts against the poor and leads to selfish pursuit of wealth

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Applied Ethics: Christian view (3):


-Encourages decrease of poverty/human rights abuse through globalisation in business

-Weber: Protestant ideology cradled capitalism/business creating what it is today

-Can work in tandem with stewardship to control damage done to the environment


-Many ideas are supported by the Bible, this can be criticised due to its contradictory nature

-Protestant criticism; individualistic approach is bad, encourages ignoring the reactions and effects on others bad business may have

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Applied Ethics: Natural Law (1)

-Consumers: Germain Grisez argues corporate finance is not virtuous, Aquinas was opposed to usury because it went against the Primary Precepts, leads to exploitation of consumers which goes against a harmonious society

-Employers and Employees: businesses should work in harmony like organs in a body, the end of a business is to produce profit and the final end is happiness, and it must fulfil the happiness of all constituent parts including staff and management, Encylicalm Rerum Novarum supports the rights of employers to join the Trade Unions

-Globalisation: Largely agrees because supports religious ideas of catholicity and oecumene (univeral church, fostering an international Christian family)

-Whistleblowing: Issues such as exploitation of workers, exploitation of the environment etc are wrong, therefore whiste-blowing to draw attention to these kinds of issues is morally right

-Ethical Business: Examines it in terms of telos of virtues and eudaimonia, certain industries go against this telos if they exploit other e.g sex industry or arms trade, god-given natural rights protect workers and consumers from such issues

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Applied Ethics: Natural Law (2)


-Concept of human prospering as the ultimate end of beings, this is seen in terms of moral/economic betterment, the two of which are clearly connected in Natural Law

-The concept that work should be uplifting, this means the workplace ought to be a moral environment

-Natural Law also considers what kind of work is moral and what kind of work is not


-Idea of harmony in society despite competing business ethic and idea that you can treat staff well and still have low consumer prices, clashes are inevitable in business and this is unrealistic

-Work has no intrinsic moral basis, simply a way to earn a living, therefore to argue work should be uplifting is flawed, impossible to create a society where every job is inspiring

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Applied Ethics: Kantian Ethics (1)

-Consumers: Can't treat people as a means to an end, busnesses have a duty to their customers

-Employers and Employees: Can't treat people as a means to an end, employer and employees have duties to each other and to themselves

-Globalisation: Making of money for its own sake is morally wrong, but other see globalisation as the first step to Kingdom of Ends

-Whistleblowing: Would look at duty and universalizability, but whistle-blowing is hard to analyse in this way, you have a duty to yourself but also to others, but it is morally good if information involves corruption or breaking the law

-Ethical Business: Lying is wrong as it goes against universalizability, don't use people as a means to an end, fulfil key obligations to duty

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Applied Ethics: Kantian Ethics (2)


-Duty to customers and employees is supported by legislation for businesses in today's world

-If all stakeholders are intrinsically valued in themselves, it is possible to provide a good basis to ensure that equality and trust are central to moral and ethical business approaches

-Using the principles of Kant allow an excellant platform to explore issues of globalisation


-Putting people over profit is a good moral idea, but is not very realistic of companies

-Kant's theory is deontological, arguably does not consider the consequences of actions

-Joanna Rozpedowski says globalisation is Utilitarian not Kantian, unrealistic to expect a global economy to be any more or less ethical than any kind of economy

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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (1)

-Consumers: (Benthem) all the pleasures of the consumers should be met as they are the biggest stakeholder and so a business should do what they want e.g lower prices/customer service

-(Mill) consumer happiness is important but should not override pleasures of the employees

-(Preference) mid-point should be found between consumer's material preference/employees welfrare preference, e.g Ford Pinto; consumers happy with compensation and the stakeholders were happy because it was cheaper than recalling the cars even if it did cause accidents

Employers and Employees: (Act) ok to exploit workers if brings greatest good for the greatest number

-(Rule) differentiates between material pleasures of the consumer and the higher pleasures of taking care of employees, Code of Conduct for treatment of employees

-(Preference) keeping employees happy is one of a company's preferences because it improves motivations and productivity, maximisation of welfare, Worker's rights to be sustained and developed as long as this maximises society's welfare, supports TU and right to strike

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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (2)

-Globalisation: Divides Utilitarians as they disagree over whether it will maximize human happiness/welfare

-(Benthem) it benefits developing countries such as China and so the maximal number of people will benefit as they become the factories of the world, (Mill) would forbid child/slave labour, (Singer) intrinsic human worth prevents humans from being exploited

-In terms of other issues like deforestation, environmental harm and mass tourism Benthem would say this was acceptable, whereas Mill and Singer would find it a problem

-Whistleblowing: Looks at the maximisation of welfare that comes from revealing information, has a benefit to society as a whole, openness and accountability of all businesses is good for society, produces pleasures for consumers, employees and the market

-Ethical Business: Greates good for the greatest number, but respect and human autonomy is highly important

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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (3)


-Adam Smith's theory is a utilitarian approach to business ethics

-What makes people happy work in terms of business, e.g financial stability makes the most people happy, sustainability/rights for workers seen as good because it makes people happy

-Egalitarian theory recognizing all stakeholders as worth the same (except in Act Utilitarianism)


-Not always possible to predict or calculate the consequences of the action

-The majority can exploit the minority, therefore sweat shops/exploitation may be accepted

-Doesn't take into account motive, unintended consequences could justify an evil act

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Applied Ethics: Virtue Ethics (1)

-Consumers: A virtuous business will treat it's consumers with respect and honesty

-Employers and Employees: Manuel Valaquez says the exectuive of a compnay must have certain virtues (courage, compassion, fairness, honesty etc) and should integrate these into their working life, the manager of a company can be very powerful and this power can be abuse, so a virtuous boss therefore will make virtuous decisions

-Globalisations: Questions if the aims of effects of globalisation are virtuous 

-Whistleblower: Would examine the character traits of the whistle blower, and asks what type of person they are and what sort of virtues do they have/could develop through this act

-Ethical Business: Valaquez's virtues should be part of the policies integrated into an ethical company

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Applied Ethics: Virtue Ethics (2)


-Virtues like Vazquez's virtues are critical building blocks upon which to construct a stable society

-Aquinas' stresses that virtues are "habits productive of good action, directed at work well done"

-Insists on care and respect for the worth of the individual rather than an abstract mass market


-Is it practical to have virtues as opposed to rules and regulations, how could we develop acode that was dedicated to embodying virtuous behaviour, the development of virtue in stakeholders and the ultimate aim of well-being concerned for all?

-Why would someone become an eutrepreneur/take a huge risk where reward is only chance of Eudaimonia, and Aristotle himself pointed out that not everyone can fufil their potential virtue so makes it hard for business to survive on the basis of corporate social responsibility

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Sexual Ethics (1)

Sex in Ancient Greece:

-Pythagoreans: influenced Plato, believed that humans should refrain from physical activities and live an ascetic life, in this way the soul (which is imprisoned in the body) is freed to a new form

-This dualism between the physical and spiritual may be seen in Plato's model of the soul as the charioteer with his two horses; the beautiful white horse that is the model of self-control to the spoken word, and the ugly black horses that needs controlling via the whip, the desire needs controlling but is allowed to exist; the charioteer needs both of his horses

-Cynics: saw no point on controlling sexual desire/pleasure and saw no shame attached to the act, allowing them to perform it in public

-Stoics: reacted totally against this, advocated overcoming any emotions that threaten self-control, sex became linked to reproduction and the continuation of the huamn race

-For the Greeks sexuality is naturally excessive and so the moral problem is not whether it is right or wrong but how to control it, and this did not involve laws which prohibitied certain sexual act, but required internal self-discipline

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Sex in the Old Testament:

-Creation story: there is equality between men and women; Eve does not tempt Adam within the garden of Eden as this is poor translation, rather he made his own choice to eat of the tree of knowledge than be tempted by a women

-Genesis: Adam was an asexual creature, not male as poor translation suggests, therefore this means both man and women were created at the same time

-Old Testament provides the song of songs where it celebrates sex, also includes stories of love through incest, seduction and sexualr revenge

-In the Old Testament sex is for procreation and given by God, however there are many contradictions as it is said sex should not be practised in sinful ways, adultery was wrong and sexual activities with non-Israelites was also wrong

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Sex in the New Testament:

-Jesus himself said little about sex, giving very few rules and instructions, and he seems to have left the issue open, even in his teachings about marriage and divorce it is not possible to be sure exactly what he said or what he meant

-Jesus is quoted as saying "Whoever divorces his wife and (kai) marries another, commits adultery (porneia) against her (Mark 10.11), and the wording here is not easy to translate into English; the word kai could mean "in order to" not just "and" so depending on what the word means, the understanding of what Jesus meant changes

-Similary with the word porneia, he could of meant a women who is not a virgin on marriage, cold mean adultery in which case a man could divorce her for adultery but she does not have the same right, or it could mean fornication which in the Old Testament means chasing after other gods, divorce is allowed if the partner is a non-believer

-However, it is clear that Jesus is challenging the view of the wife as the husband's property, he is talking more about equality than about sexual relationships, but what is clear is that Jesus is setting an ideal and divorce falls short of it

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Ancient Christian philosophers views on sex (1):

-St. Paul: influenced by Greek idea, at the time believed Jesus was returning their lifetime so the Corinthians in Greece were worried about what to especially about sex and marriage, so Paul released a letter informing them of what to do

-He said that those who are not married should stay that way and those who were married should also; they should not concentrate on the physical world and not be distracted by sex but instead should concentrate on the spiritual world, promoting celibacy

-Argued man is in charge of the household and in charge of the women, sex outside marriage is just as bad as having it with a prostitute

-Pelagius: sexuality is a gift from God and should be a blessing and a joy as it comes from God, no negative view of the human body as he believed you could control sexual desires through then use of will, and sex is only evil if it is abused and should have sex only within marriage

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Ancient Christian philosophers view on sex (2):

-St Augustine: emphasises the dualism of the body (negative aspect) and the soul (positive aspect), he had an intense dislike for the body and its needs and his total pessimism in this respect infiltrated the church

-Sex is necessary for reproduction/procreation, sex is a necessary evil and should be restricted to marriage and even then it is still dangerous, women tempted men away from their reason through pleasurable sex as women are manipulated by the Devil, shown within the Fall of Adama and Eve as before this point sex was just used for procreation, no pleasure was to come from it

-If a man has pleasure during sex then he is treating the women like a whore, sex is sinful and wicked and should only be a duty, however is positve about family life and marriage, sexual desire is a constant reminder of mans fall and in original sin

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Christan views today (1):

-Marriage is seen as the norm for lay people, and most churches hold that sex outside marriage, adultery, masturbation and homosexuality is wrong, either from a scriptual standpoint or one inspired by Aquinas' Natural Law Theory

-Christianity saw the purpose of marriage as fidelity (fides) to one another, procreation (proles) and the union of the parties (sacramentum), two key ways to establish the purpose of sex:

1. Scriptual: Bible interpreted sex for procreation, in Genesis God sent forth man to multiply and this matched the view ascribed by Natural Law

2. Natural Law: proponents believed by indentifying what the function of the human being was, he could see what should and should not be done, sex leads to reproduction and so that was the purpose of sexual organs, and they should not be used for anything other than reproduction and contraception was forbidden as preventing God's purpose, sexual activies that did not lead to reproduction (oral sex, anal sex, masturbation) were also forbidden

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Christian views today (2):

-The use of contraception is prohibited by the Roman Catholic Church as it prevents God's purpose from taking place, and as children require a stable environment marriage is necessary, extra-marital and pre-marital sex undermines the family, and risks bringing children into an insecure environment

-More recently greater emphasis on the unitive element of sex, during the 20th century Church theology shifted to develop and understanding of sex rooted in love, and an example of this is clear in the Anglican Churche's document Marriage and the Church's Task (1978) in which it states "The polyphony of love finds expression in the lover's bodily union"

-Jack Dominion (catholic psychologist) studied marriage/sexuality, and believes a new definition of sex is needed, arguing sex is a personal expression and it communicates recognition and appreciation between the partners, confirming the sexual identity of the man/women completely, brings couples reconcilliation and healing after dispute/hurt, celebrates life and provides profound meaning, and it's a profound way of thanking each other for the loving partnership they have

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Christian views today (3):

-Dominion argues the sexual act is a model of total unity between two people, which reflects the idea of sex in Genesis restated by Jesus and St Paul, and Dominion seperates childbirth from this, arguing this dimension of love is always present with or without children

-Formally Catholicism maintains that the life-giving dimension of sex is the primary function, but Dominion argues that Christianity has made a fundamental error by stressing the biological aspect of sex and this has had the effect of trivialising the act of sex as a personal expression of love

-Catholic/Protestant/Orthodox churches continue to maintain sex as a practice exclsuively for those who are committed to personal loving relationships, however teenagers have sex more frequently due to the availbility of contraception before they are married, and this has traditonally been referred to as living in sin

-Dominion has observed however that where the relationship is committed, loving and permanent the criteria are met and arguably the lifestyle is morally acceptable by traditional Christian standards, although mainstream churches reject this view

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Sexual Ethics (9)

Libertarian approach to sexuality (1):

-View that sex is morally permissible if there's a mutual agreement or consent between the participating parties, also known as a contractarian view

-No need to link sex either to marriage or reproduction because there is no traditional or religious view of the function of sex

-Human autonomy and freewill are the most important principles and values in sex

-Does not allow sexual crimes like **** because it goes against the freedom principles, and does not allow for sex with minors because they can't truly be said to have free will, and sex from deception is also not allowed as an individual cannot have free will if information is kept from them which otherwise might affect their choices

-May also adopt the "Harm Principle", which is to ensure that no harm is done to either parties or any third parties, example is that if the sex is adulterous and the betrayed spouse finds out and is subsuquently hurt, then that action is out of the question

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Libertarian approach to sexuality (2):


-Allows consenting adults to do as they please

-Promotes freedom

-More tolerant and permissive of different sexual lifestyles and activities

-Allows a variety of different types of sexual partners


-What happens if there is an imbalance of consent?

-Raymond Bellioti: example of Rocco who freely agrees to have his middle finger cut off for $5000 in order to feed his family, all agreed to out of free will but clearly there is a moral dimension in this case which libertarianism can't account for

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Feminist approaches to sexuality (1):

-Criticise both traditional Christian views and liberal ones, Christian view based on womens' cultural role as child-bearer and submissive companion, Hebrew view as women being created for man, the property of man and in all other senses secondary to man

-The socially constructed role of mother and wife effectively disempowers women by restricting their status in society and socialising them to meet the desires of men, and Christianity relies on Natural Law but this is the product of social conditioning and not nature, and the result has meant that for hundreds of years women have had little access to politics/wealth/free choice

Tthis situation has affected sexual relationships, sexual behaviour assumes male dominance and female submission, most sexual crimes are committed against women and in some Protestant Christian Churches the role of women is limited to that of home-maker and child-raiser

-Liberal approaches are criticised because they assum a level playing field of equality, where in fact feminists argue that a patriarchal society prevents freedom, there is immorality in women having sex in the setting of an unbalanced social statues/socially-defined role, issue of socialisation of women so that they are unaware of what they want

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Feminist approaches to sexuality (2):

-Some feminists such as Catharine Mackinnon argue sexuality must be reimagined and and remade before moral sexual relationships become possible, more extreme feminists like Jill Johnston argue there should be a separation of men and women and purely sex amongst women so that the power of men is undermined


-Core value of feminism empowers women to strive for equal equality not just in the sexual arena, but many other areas too based on ideas of sex and gender (workplace, home etc)

-Very accepting of a variety of different sexual lifestyles (strong supports of LGBT)


-Raymond Bellioti rejects feminist idea that women are incapable of deciding for themselves, as if women are indeed socially conditioned to freely enter intom relationships, then this is justification for paternalism, in addition he sees no problem with a women accepting a sociall-defined role if she chooses it and finally he challenges the assumption that sexuality is fundamental to the human person and therefore a significant as feminists argue

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Sexual Ethics (13)

Premarital sex (1):

-For many people this subject has become blurred in recent years, due mostly to the changes in social/cultural attitudes in the last 30 or 40 years, and phrases such as "living in sin" just don't have same impact/meaning for western societies as they did in the latter part of the 20th century, yet they still provide insights into religious attitudes/more conservative approaches

-Crux of the issue rests on whether sex should only take place within the marriage relationship or whether there are other factors which are more pertinent

-Traditional Christian perspectives: principle teachings of the Bible suggest that sex is for married couples only and also reserved soley for heterosexual relationships, Paul's teachings in the Corinthians do not mention the possibility of same-sex marriage relationships but emphasises the role of mena and women as complimentary

-Roman Catholicism teaches that the joy and purpose of sex is to be found within the bonds of marriage and not outside them, having sexual intercourse is part of the promise and commandment of God as found in Genesis, conservative Protestants share this view and emphasise the security of marriage in ensuring that the consequences of sex (pleasure orprocreation) are morally acceptable

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Sexual Ethics (14)

Premarital sex (2):

-Liberal Christian perspectives: encourage people to marry before having sex, however they realise that emotions/desires get the better of humans, and if the relationship is committed and strong then some Christians wouldn't condemn it if the intent is not to be promiscuous or to undermine the unity that sex can provide, this is not explicity supported by the Bible but ensures that the principles of a sexual relationship outlined by the Bible are met

-Secular approaches: do not see any reason why sex must be reserved for within the marriage state, would believe that sex is an individual couple's decision and does not require and institution such as marriage to authorise or validate, marriage is no longer required for a number of reasons:

1. Women are no longer reliant on men for financial security

2. Legal rights that were only given to married couples are now given to cohabiting couples/civil partnerships

3. No longer social stigma attached to children of parents who weren't married (e.g bastards)

4. Marxists criticise marriage for helping capitalism, Feminists for helping patriarchy

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Extramarital sex (1):

-Means adultery, and this is still a taboo subject of sorts, as we would publicly seem to denounce it and yet privately we are more likely to accept it as a fact of life, in legal terms adultery is still one of the primary reasons for suing someone for divorce, under the heading of "irreconcilliable differences", and it has therefore been as much an issue today as it has throughout history

-Biblical teachings are specific and say that adultery is wrong and can be punished by death (Old Testament), yet in famous encounter with an adulterous women who was about to be stoned, Jesus intervened and saved her life

-Ten Commandments "Thou shall not commit adultery", therefore there must be a moral or ethical reason why it is forbidden, Christian teaching emphasises the bond of marriage as a sacred union that has been joined toether by god and within that union sex may take place and be acceptable, but having sex with someone else outside this marriage are betraying those vows and the union of marriage

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Sexual Ethics (16)

Extramarital sex (2):

-Some Christians view people who divorce and remarry as having an adulterous relationship because they made sacred vows to their first spouse and now they are having sexual realtions with another person

-They see the joining of two people as a permanent arrangement that cannot be broken by anything except death

-Extramarital sex is divisive and very much viewed in a negative light by most societies, and even by participants in adultery it is clandestine and seen as deceitful and almost "dangerous", as marriage is based on trust, having sex outside of marriage betrays and makes a mockery of that trust

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Homosexuality (1):

-In Western society (especially UK) increasing acceptance of homosexuality with no moral issue over it, but stigma still remains attached to it, such as attack on homosexual (nail-bombing in gay Soho London district), early 20th century it was a crime and considered a mental illness, and even back in medieval times homosexuals were burnt at the stake

-Since the Wolfenden Report (1957) and it's recommendations for the Sexual Offences Act of 1957, no criminal sanctions for consenting adults in private who have reached the age of consent, and as of March 2014 gay marriages is now legal which brings new host of concerns and ramifications for the Christian Church

-Many homosexuals see this stigma coming from the underlying Judeo-Christian traditions of Uk society, as Christianity view homosexuality as wrong on many levels:

1. No possibility of life arising from the sexual union so wrong on a natural law basis

2. Many homosexual sex acts up until recently had taken place outside of marriage, so sinful

3. Specific scriptual sources have implied a divine command against homosexuality

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Sexual Ethics (18)

Homosexuality (2):

-Bible sees homosexual acts as freely chosen and is predominately concerned with male behaviour only, Leviticus 18:22 "You shall not lie with as with a woman: that is an abomination" and is punishable by death, and in Genesis 19:4-11 God destroys Sodom, which can be interpreted as resulting from his displeasure with homosexuality

-Many Christians use Genesis 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" and this is understood as a definition of human relationships in heterosexual terms, and is later quoted by Jesus and St.Paul

-These biblical texsts have been used as a basis for the condemnation of homosexuality and homosexual acts in particular, God commands that its wrong and so to behave in that way is sinful, there has also been a tendency to see homosexuality almost as a medical condition to which sympathy should be given and for which a cure should be possibly found

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Sexual Ethics (19)

Homosexuality (3):

-Protestant Churches have a biblical basis for their teachings on homosexuality which leads them to condemn this activity, and the worldwide Anglican community has debated the isse of gay priests/marriages, and argue that such issues call into question the authority of the Holy Scripture, and in it's Book of Discipline (1996), it considers both heterosexual and homosexual individuals of sacred worth, even though homosexuality is incompatible with church teachings

-However, John Boswell is critical of this arguing that other rules from similar texts are not so emphatically enforced, for example that the Bible condemns hypocrisy and greed but no one died at the stake in medieval times over it

-Gareth Moore argues that Christians use the Bible selectively to reinforce prejudices in order to attack minorities they don't like, citing examples of Christians ignoring the suggested punishment of beheading for homosexuality and ignoring Leviticus 19:19 forbidding the wearing of garments made of two different kinds of material

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Homosexuality (4):

-Moore argues St. Paul's criticism of homosexual life comes from his assetion that homosexual lifestyle is the product of godless people, whilst that may have been Paul's perception in the 1st century AD, the existence today of pious homosexual Christians doesn't fit this reason

-Peter Vardy has also noted that St.Paul's notion that homosexual acts are against nature, as they are impure acts, seems to contradict the general rejection of the Jewish view of impurity found elsewhere in the New Testament

-The text in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 which purportedly describes homosexuals as unrighteous people is disputed by John Boswell, while later Christian writers translate these words into applying to homosexuals, Paul's meaing isn't clear, because the meanings of the words in the first-century Greek are doubtful, and the absence of specific teachings on the Gospels leave the matter open to interpretation

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Homosexuality (5):

The Roman Catholic Church view:

-View on homosexuality summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which maintains there's no sin involved in the inclination towards a member of the same sex, as long as the inclination isn't freely chose and is a trial to the person

-The homosexual person should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity and unjust discrimination should be avoided, the Church teaches that such people are called to chasity with the help of friendship, prayer and grace to achieve Christian perfection

-However, the Catholic Church maintains the acts are sinful because of the biblical condemnation of homosexual acts as depraved and intrinsically disordered and the Natural Law ethic, which notes that no life can from these acts, because sexual organs purpose is reporduction

-Saunders & Stamford cite the views of some Catholic cardinals about homosexuals which may fuel intolernace, Cardinal Glemp (1991) reffered to them as "backyard mongrels", whereas Cardinal Ratzinger warned it threatened the lives/wee-being of a large number of people

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Homosexuality (6)

The Liberal Christian View:

-Challenge the traditional condemnation of homosexuality, maintaing that the quality of the relationship is what determines it's moral value, while the biblical basis to opposing homosexuality is disputable, and Aquinas' Natural Law theory is not entirely sound

-Liberal Christians draw on the teaching that all are made "in the image and likeness of God", and if God creates man and women as homosexuals, then that nature and inclination must be good otherwise it implies that God intentionally creates disordered human beings

-Moore argues that there's a Christian basis for an inclusive attitude towards homosexuality because Christianity is a religion that reponds positively to make room for the marginalised and outcast suffering in society, and B.A Robinson notes that liberal Christians with the Methodist church consider homosexual ordination and same-sex marriages a civil rights issues, as if human rights are for all then homosexuals should get the same treatment as heterosexuals

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Sexual Ethics (23)

Contraception (1):

-Many different kinds of contraception available todays (e.g condoms, femdoms, NHS insertion) and when Christianity puts so much onus on reproduction raises a number of issues, morning after pill even worse and raises issues surronding sanctity of life and personhood

-2 parts of the Bible often quoted to show God's disapproval of birth control:

1. God commanded his people to "Be fruitful and multiply", and contracpetion is seen as specifically flouting this instruction

2. Onan was killed by God for "spilling his seed", which is often taken as divine condemnation of the coitus interruptus technique

-However, the first one is refuted by arguing that contraception has clearly not stopped people from being fruitful, and that God was angry at Onan for failing to make a son with his dead brother's wife, and the act that Onan perfomed was ****, making it a dubious foundation

-Bible never explicity approves of contraception, but some passages accept other reasons for having sex than just reproduction

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Contraception (2):

-For most of the last 200 years all Christian churchs have been against artificial birth control, in the first centuries of Christianity contraception (and abortion) were regarded as wrong because they were associated with paganism or which heretics such as the Gnostics, the Manichees and the Cathars

-Protestant attitudes towards birth control began to change in the 19th century as theologians became more willing to accept that morality should come from the conscience of each individual rather than from outside teachings

-Another influence was the churches' changing attitude to sex, instead of seeing it as something dangerous many Christians began to regard sex as one of God's great gifts, sex could preserve the instituion of marriage if a couple could not have children

-Influenced by this, the Protestant churches concluded that as the use of birth control often led to stronger families and better marriages, churches should let believers use birth control as ttheir own consicnece dictated, and the Anglicans were the first church to issue a statement in favour of contraception

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Contraception (3):

The Roman Catholic view:

-Against artifical contraception because; it is against Natural Law, turns sex into a non-marital act, leads to widespread immorality, causes males to lose respect for women and gives humans the ability to decide when a new life begins, a power that should only belong to God

-Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae banning all contaception, and even much later under the new Pope Francis the teachings of the church on birth control must be applied with "mercy"

-Catholics instead advocate "natural family planning" involves using self-control to regulate sexual activites in harmony with nature and such methods include abstentation (not having sex) and the use of the rhythm methods (having sex at times of the women's menstrual cycle when she is unable to concieve, 85% reliable) and the body function methods (looking at temperature/mucous patterns to determine when the chance of conception is low, 98% reliable), allowed because it focuses on self-mastery of nature rather than modifying it

-However family planning is a lot of hard work and the motive of the individuals involved is highly important, some Catholics think contraception should be accepted because of such little scripture against it

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Contraception (4):

The Liberal Christian view:

-Liberal Christians largely accepting of the use of contraception, as long as it is in line with Christian principles/teachings and does not encourage immorality like promiscuity

-The Church of England stated in the 1958 Lambeth Conference that the responsibility for deciding upon the number and frequency of Children was laid by God upon the conscience of parents "in such ways as are acceptable to husband and wife"

-Presbyterian Church (USA) supports full and equal access to contraceptive methods, arguing that it should be part of the basic health care service and that unintented pregnancies lead to higher rates of infant morality, low birth rate and maternal morbidity and threaten the economic viability of families

-Dennis Rainey idenfitied 4 different categories in understanding different view on birth control; "Children in abundance group" (children is for God to decide alone), "Children in managed abundance group" (still God's role, but natural family planning may be used), "Children in moderation group" (free to use contraception) and "No children group" (believe they are within their biblical rights to base their lives around more than having children)

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Applied Ethics: Natural Law (1):

-Purpose of humans is to "glorify God", achieved by behaving in ways that are naturally and acting on our own natural inclinations (summarised by Primary Precepts), can do this by forming monogamous relationships, having heterosexual relationships, having sex to procreate and raising children within a family

-Premarital/extramarital sex: Aquinas believed good acts developed our human nature and bad acts went against human nature, purpose of sex was to reproduce within marriage which gave the right environment to raise children

-Remarriage after divorce is considered to be adultery and it would be sinful to have sexual relations with a new partner, having sex which is not open to procreation is wrong, and even though it is natural, extra-marital sex conflicts with "right reason" and breaks the primary precept of living harmoniously in society

-Homosexuality: condemns the sexual act but views the sexual oritentation as a disorder (gene), it is not inherently wrong to have homosexual inclinations but is an intrinsic evil to act upon them, purpose to procreate can never be achieved and is therefore unnatural

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Applied Ethics: Natural Law (2)

-Contraception: completely opposed to contraception as it prvents fulfilling one of the primary precepts (procreation), if sex does not lead to children or chance of children then it is unnatural which makes contraception intrinsically wrong

-Some do however consider the principle of double effect to use condoms to prevent aids but also helps prevents the conceiving of a child, it is argued that forbidding contraception seems irrational when the world is overpopulated and AIDS/STI's are prominent, should preservation of life be more important than reproduction?

-Pope Benedict XVIII stressed that abstinence was the best policy in fighting disease but in some circumstances it is better to use condoms to protect human life

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Applied Ethics: Natural Law (3):


-Clear cut and objective rules that can be applied to all cultures

-Doesn't just dictate what should be done in individual circumstances

-Ian Ducan Smith found that people raised in single-parent families 9X more likely to commit crime


-G.E Moore Naturalistic Fallacy: "You can't derive an ought from an is"

-B.M Leiser notes that a screwdriver can be used for a number of different purposes and in the same way so can sex (repoduction/pleasure), and discriminating against people for using their sexual organs for their own pleasure reveals the prejudices/irrational taboos of our society

-Aquinas works from very general principles to lesser purposes andhis view of human nature is to unholistic and simple

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Applied Ethics: Kantian Ethics (1):

-All moral actions are to be dictated by our duty and with our categorical imperative, and the pursuit of sexual pleasure is only allowed when serving more valuable goals such as marriage, Kant argues you must be able to see if an act can be universalised from his categorical maxim, and it can be argued that you cannot universalise anything to with sex as it cannot apply to all people in the same way

-Kant proposes a contractual approach to sex, as it is possible to suggest prostituion is acceptable as long as it doesn't go against the categorical imperative and both people are treated as ends in themselves, *********** is seen as wrong as it uses someone else as means to an end, and  women should never be forced into having children as humans should never be treated as a means to an end as there is autonomy of every rational being

-Premarital/extramarital sex: marriage founded on duty/promise-keeping, husband/wife giving each other the rights to each other's bodies, if it were not so they would be using each other as a means to an end, sex within a relationship is a contractual agreement and not in order to use another person so marriage cannot just be for sex as the purpose of marriage is not for procreation but union of two people in an equal partnership, and neither premarital/extramarital sex can be universalised as for Kant relationships are not based on lust or desire

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Applied Ethics: Kantian Ethics (2)

-Homosexuality: could be argued that Kant saw homosexual sex as simply lust which he is against, however it is the unifying of couples which is most important to Kant so he may find a loving long-term homosexual relationship as acceptable

-Kant personally expressed the view that homosexuality degraded human beings below the level of animals, and he did not see it as possible of being universalised as it would prevent the procreation of human beings

-Contraception: be a question of applying the categorical imperative, reproduction is not the sole purpose of sex and occasionally using contraception does not pose a problem but Kant is way of the danger of lust/sexual desire so he would be way of contraception encouraging promiscuity and so could not universalise contraception outside of marriage

-Kant's objections do not have the same basis of natural law, and Kant does not take into account all the varieties of sexual relationships so it's almost impossible to apply a universal rule

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Applied Ethics: Kantian Ethics (3)


-Objective argument so the guidelines are clearly set out

-Humans have intrinsic worth and dignity in Kant's theory

-Based on using reason


-Only work if everyone has the same view about the final end/purpose of humans

-Does not take into account individual circumstances, too generalised to apply to sex

-Many people would consider thinking about the reult of the action as an important part of making decisions about morality

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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (1)

-Based heavily on the libertarian/contractual approach, includes the emotional aspect of sex which other theories do not include, Benthem allowed most things if it provides the happiest amount of pleasure whereas Mill focused on the quality of pleasure achieved rather than the quantity, and Mill also stresses the value of the liberty which suggests it is a matter of individual choice

-No sexual activity is moral/immoral as it depends on it's effects, this consequentalist view states that whatever sexual activity provides the greatest pleasure people should be free to do, and the harm principle is important as very often short-term pleasure can produce ultimate paon and misely so it is not worth carrying out

-Premarital/extramarital sex: want people to live happily in society so would want to focus on the good things and minimising the bad aspects, Benthem argued that mutual consent for adults cannot make any sexual activity wrong but nertheless it does consider the harm done to society (e.g adultery undermines family/marriage), consider issues like age of consent as well for premarital sex STI's and unwanted pregnancies, and onyl sexual relationships that cause harm can be considered wrong

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Sexual Ethics (34)

Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (2)

-Homosexuality: woudl consider the preferences/happiness of those involved and would allow sexual activities to take place between consenting adults which does not bring harm to other people, Benthem allowed most kinds of sexual activities incuding homosexuality as long as it provides the greatest amount of pleasure/happiness, homosexuality/bisexuality can be tolerated but if they were the norm this would be harmful, it would of course depend on the people involved being capable of making an informed decision, decisions need to be calculated which can't always be possible/accurate, Singer stated that "homosexuality is not immoral"

-Contraception: leads to sexual freedom which is not necessarily the highest good as we cannot predict the consequences, nevertheless they argue that humans will have sex no matter what and contraceptives must be available to avoid issues like many unwanted children/spread of disease, and contraception can provide limit for couples who want a certain amount of children which they can support/educate without sacrificing the unitive element of their marriage

-Peter Singer (preference) argues for contraception to stop population growth and even suggests that aid to developing countries should be made conditional on the use of contraceptives (inteference on human rights?), both Act/Rule approve of birth control to lower the population as the greatest happiness is achieved

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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (3)


-Allows morality to change from age to age, and situation to situation

-No necessary rules bar one, to make people the most happy you can 

-Has key strengths from Libertarian approach basis


-Difficult to predict consequences of complex situations in sexual ethics

-Potential to justify any sexual act as long as it makes people "happy"

-No defence for minorities if the majority are happy with a different way that destroys their liberty/free will (look at issues surronding homosexuality in some socieities)

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Applied Ethics: Virtue Ethics (1)

-Looks at moral choices from the standpoint of the individual, using a person as another's means/harming during sex is not virtuous, argue sexual activity joins people in an emotional/physical union and it should not be treated lightly as just bodily sensations, prostitution/**** seen as wrong as it does not lead/undermines a stable/loving relationship

-Applies virtues like equality, trust and justice to sex, would seem tolerant to some alternative sexual activities on the basis of self-development e.g love, trust, companionship, Slote emphasises the care in relationships and sex with a three-way balance (intimate/humanitarian/self-care) whereas Hursthouse implied the rightness of an action would depend on what a virtous person would do

-Premarital/extramarital sex: stresses the kind of person we want to be and what best helps human flourishing, considers not the action but the sort of person who engages in premarital/extramarital sex and whether or not it would help them become a virtuous person in a virtuous society, practices that exploit/use people seen as leading a person to be less virtuous, virtue ethics gives not cl;ear guidance and so it is up to each person to develop time, premarital sex often practiced by young people who have not yet developed virtues, and virtues like loyalty and commitment are often ignored by thos e who take part in these kinds of sexes

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Applied Ethics: Virtue Ethics (2)

-Homosexuality: sees all relationships in relations to others and nobody exists in isolation, within a homosexual/heterosexual relationship, a follower of virtue ethics would place emphasis on sich virtues which will help your relationships such as commitment, friendship, trust, love, respect etc

-Slote stresses the care which implies a tolerant approach towards peoples preferences, and virtue ethics does not specify which virtues should be encouraged but people who oppose homosexuality my see it as a vice of a relationship

-Contraception: agent-centred normative theory so the case for contraception would vary from person-to-person as whether it would improve their virtues or not, and it is difficult to know what virtues apply but the follower of virtue ethics would have to consider the virtues in practice of a relationship and how using contraceptives or not would contribute to a virtuous relationship

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Applied Ethics: Virtue Ethics (3)


-Avoids a troublesome formula like the Hedonic Calculas/Categorical Imperative

-Distinguishes between a good person and a law-abiding person (societies can be flawed)

-Makes it centrally important to be a good person, and says it is good to be biased to friends


-Virtues can be argued to be culturally relative, and different cultures favour different practices

-It doesn't give any clear rules/guidelines to follow like Utiliarianism/Kant/Natural Law

-Issues surronding virtuous people (no clear way to decide who is virtuous, virtuous people still commit wrong actions, always assumes that they are on hand to speak to)

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