Ethics AS AQA

HideShow resource information

Absolutism and Relativism

Evaluation of Absolutism:

  • Morality is universal and does not depend on any individual or group
  • Different societies share common values, such as do not murder
  • It can be seen as harsh and judgemental
  • It does not account for differences in cultures, situations or different times.

Evaluation of Relativism:

  • Moral Relativism is tolerant and respectful to different cultures
  • It does not assert that the morals of one person or culture are superior to those of another
  • It does not allow for a universal moral laws, such as murder being wrong
  • Moral Relativism does not allow the condemnation of evil actions such as genocide. 
1 of 13

Deontological and Teleological

Deontological: comes from the Greek word "deon" meaning duty. When applied to ethics, deontological means that actions are right or wrong in themselves, regardless of their consequences. An example is that it is wrong to torture captured soldiers even if you think you would get a good outcome, such as vital information that might end the war more quickly.

Teleological: comes from the Greek word "Telos" which means end or purpose. Teleological ethics look at consequence or result of an action to determine whether it is right or wrong.

2 of 13

Absolutism and Relativism Summary

Summary:

  • Absolutists say there are universal moral truths
  • Absolutists say that moral actions are right or wrong in themselves, regardless of the circumstances, culture or opinion
  • Absolutists believe that morals are objective
  • Deontological ethics are concerned with the action not the consequence
  • Relativists say that moral truths vary and they are not universal
  • Relativists believe that morals are subjective
  • Teleological ethics are concerned with achieving good consequences. 
3 of 13

Absolutism and Relativism Summary

Summary:

  • Absolutists say there are universal moral truths
  • Absolutists say that moral actions are right or wrong in themselves, regardless of the circumstances, culture or opinion
  • Absolutists believe that morals are objective
  • Deontological ethics are concerned with the action not the consequence
  • Relativists say that moral truths vary and they are not universal
  • Relativists believe that morals are subjective
  • Teleological ethics are concerned with achieving good consequences. 
4 of 13

Natural Moral Law

Evaluation:

  • The Secondary Precepts allow a degree of flexibilty
  • The basic principles of preserving humanity, reproduction and so on are common to all societies
  • It can be interpreted too rigidly and so cannot cope with individual moral problems
  • It has an optimistic view of human nature which does not seem to take account of the Fall

Summary: 

  • Deontological, based on a teleological world view
  • Living in accordance with our true nature
  • Our purpose as huamsn can be discovered using our God-given reason
  • The Primary Precepts enable humans to achieve their true purpose
  • The Secondary Precepts are derived from the Primary Precepts and are more flexible
  • Humans sometimes do bad things because they are pursing apparent goods
  • Both the intention and the act are important 
5 of 13

Kantian Ethics

Evaluation:

  • The Categorical Imperative forbids acts that most peple think are wrong, such as theft.
  • The Categorical Imperatives protects the dignity and equality of everyone. Everyone is treated fairly.
  • Kant does not consider consequences and most people think they do matter
  • It is inflexible as it is an abolsute theory which applies in all situations.

Summary:

  • Deontological ethics with actions not consequences
  • Kant's theory is deontological becuase it is based on duty. To act morally it is to do one's duty and obey the moral law
  • "Ought" implies "can"
  • Moral statements are "a-priori synthetic"
  • We should act out duty, not emotion
  • Moral statements are categorical - they prescribe and the result is not the most important when making an ethical decision
  • The Hypothetical Imperative is not moral as it depends on the result
  • Humans are free to make rational choices. They need to be free to make moral choices. 
6 of 13

Utilitarianism

Evaluation:

  • Aims for a happier life for most people
  • When we act it is normal to consider the consequences
  • It is impersonal and does not consider the rights of the individual
  • It does not consider motives or intentions and does not treat people with intrinsic value

Summary:

  • teleological and depends on consequences to judge if an action is good or bad
  • The rightness or wrongness of an action is tested by the principle of Utility - the amount of pleasure or happiness caused by an action
  • Bentham's approach is quantitive, and the use of the Hedonic Calculus 
  • Mill considers the well-being of autonomous individuals acting for their own well-being and that of society
  • Focuses on quality of pleasure & divided pleasures into higher and lower
  • Act Utilitarianism says that a good action is one which produces the most pleasure in particular situation.
  • Preference Utilitarianims (Peter Singer) and considers the preferences of all involved equally. It requires people to be impartial spectators and not to  consider their own preferences above those of others. 
7 of 13

Christian Ethics

Summary:

  • There is no Christian ethical teaching
  • Christians will have different ethical views on ethical issues such as abortion, genetic engineering and so on.
  • They can come from the Bible, which can be interpreted in a variety of ways.
  • The teachings if the Church and tradition (Catholics call this the magisterium)
  • Religious normative ethical theories such as Natural Law and Situation Ethics
  • The Individual's Conscience
  • A mixture of above
8 of 13

Abortion

Summary:

  • The Sanctity of Life argument: Christian belief that all life is sacred - lie begins at conception - only God can create and end life - taking innocent life is intrinsically evil. However, the doctrine of double effect may allow abortion in some cases
  • The idea of personhood - not clear at which time personhood is conferred, it depends on when someone considers that life begins - the idea of a potential person - Mary Anne Warren's criteria of personhood - the definition of personhood is uncertain
  • The Quality of Life - this could be subjective - who decides? Is the Quality of Life of the foetus too far in the future to judge? Replacement theory.
  • Rights of the Mother and the foetus/embryo - does the foetus have a right to life? Do women have rights over their bodies? Do the rights of the mother outweigh those of the unborn child?
9 of 13

The Right to a Child

Summary:

  • IVF helps infertile couples to concieve
  • Embryos are screened before implantation
  • IVF can be seen as "playing God"
  • Older women, homosexual couples and single people can become parents - this raises ethical issues
  • Embryos can be treated as properties
  • The use of donors and surrogates can cause problems
  • IVF is expensive and the success rate is low for many couples
10 of 13

Euthanasia

Summary:

  • There are different types of euthanasia - active, passive, voluntary, involuntary
  • The difference between killing and letting die
  • PVS - issues of consent
  • Issues of Sanctity of Life
  • Issues of Quality of Life
  • Issues of personhood and autonomy
  • Is the maintenance of life an absolute?
  • Is the act itself wrong or do the consequences make it wrong?
11 of 13

Genetic Engineering

Summary:

The issues surrounding genetic engineering and embryo research are:

  • Sanctity of Life
  • Medical cures
  • Change in attitudes to life and reproduction - saviour siblings and designer babies
  • Using people as means to an end
  • Issues of universalisation
  • "Playing God" and interfering with nature, becoming architects of our own evolution
  • Being good stewards and co-creators or just having domination to do whatever we want.
12 of 13

War And Peace

Summary:

  • Just War Theory looks at when it is right to fight, how war should be fought and how it should be ended
  • Just War theory is essentially Christian but can be followed by anyone as it is universal
  • Just War Theory was added to by a variety of thinkgers right up the present day
  • Pacifism argues that Just War Theory ignores the pacifist stance of Jesus and the early Christians
  • Pacifism opposes all forms of violence but it is not necessary to be Christian to be a pacifist
  • There are 3 forms of pacifism: absolute, contingent and preferential
  • Christian Realism argues that states need to use force to maintain a just society
  • Realists say that moral rules that apply to individuals do not apply to states. 
13 of 13

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Ethics resources »