Normative ethics arrive at moral standards which tell us right wrong, good from bad à ethical theories. Decide on how ought to act, how moral choices to be made, what rules are + how apply.
Ethical absolute: moral command true for all time, places & situations.
Wrong from objective view, not from certain perspectives.
Right or wrong things cannot change, regardless of culture
Some actions intrinsically wrong à in themselves, not result of situation or consequence of action à act breaks moral rule.
Eternal moral values/rules application everywhere
à theists = God establishes moral order in univ.
Deontological; concerned with nature of act itself (intrinsic)
Plato: ethical absolutist
Goodness/justice really exist in some way in a world beyond normal perception.
Other world contains forms/ideas à true reality
What we perceive with sense = mere shadow of reality
W/o form of beauty e.g., no beautiful things
Moral Absolutism & Religion
Many have absolutist positions à see moral laws/absolutes as coming directly from God.
Christians believe hierarchy of absolutes à graded absolutism
If conflict, obey higher one.
Duty to God first, then others, then property
For atheists, origin or source of moral absolutes seem a priori in nature somehow
No universally valid moral principles
Relative to particular cultures/ages
No such thing as ‘good in itself’
No objective basis for us to discover truth
Truth = no meaning; morality depends on community to which one belongs, or one’s own perspective (subjectivity)
Teleological: concerned with ends or consequences of actions
Action not good in itself, but b/c of result
Diff cultures, diff moral codes of conduct
Ancient observer of cultural diversity: King Darius
à certain Greeks burnt bodies of father, some ate à pay to adopt each others practices = outraged; t/f, what right for one, wrong for another
Protagoras à humanity decides what is right/wrong
Aristotle & Plato against this
Moral judgements made in diff cultures, orgs + religions
William Graham Sumner: right way is traditional way used by ancestors
Moral rules expressions of culture
Celebrates variety of beliefs + values held by diff people
J.L Mackie: no obj values à existence of diverse ethical values expressed in diff times & cultures = evidence no moral absolutes exist.
What is actually right/wrong, not cultural diversity
Hold 1 absolute principle: wrong to impose absolute moral rules
Utilitarianism + Situation Ethics e.g.
Happiness + love are absolutes
Joseph Fletcher à each individual situation diff + absolute rules too demanding/restrictive
Not poss to know what God’s will is in every situation
T/f, bc of this, love/agape only moral rule
Situation Ethics: Strengths & Weaknesses
+ Easy to understand/update (modern issues)
+ Focus on humans & concern for others
+ Allows responsibility for actions
- - Too flexible (anything goes)
- - Pope 1952 condemned it b/c went against Bible
- - Very difficult to work out consequences in order to know what most loving thing would be
- - What action would be taken if most loving thing would harm another?
Strengths & Weaknesses of Absolutism
Strengths of Absolutism:
- Clear, fixed moral code
- Allows cultures judging others (condemning FGM)
- Allows one cultures judgement to enable another to grow/change/learn
- Reinforces global view of humanity
- UN Declaration of HR (e.g)
- Intolerant of other cultural practices
- Restrictive, blunt
- How do we really know what absolutes are?
Strengths & Weaknesses of Relativism
- Prompts deeper/respectful understanding of other cultures
- Too broad
- Anything acceptable
- Diff views don’t mean equal
- Cant evaluate practices such as FGM, child sacrifice
- Doesn’t allow cultures to change/progress
S & W of Teleological Ethics
Strength of Teleological ethics:
- Flexible, personal, individual, takes into acc broad pic
- Too individual, cant make laws/rules that apply to all
- Don’t necessarily know what outcome would be
- Entirely theoretical/impractical
S & W of Deontological Ethics
Strengths of Deontological ethics:
- Clear, str8frwrd
- Applies to all
- Easier for policy matters e.g. sexual child abuse, deontological: wrong, full stop – teleological: acc to circumstance
- Individual circumstances?