OCR Ethics AS

Teological Ethics:

  • Utililarianism
  • Christian Ethics -> New Testament: Jesus takes the situation into account

Deontological Ethics:

  • Kantian Ethics
  • Natural Law
  • Christian Ethics -> Old Testament Laws

Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics Applied to Ethical Theories


Teleology & Deontology


  • end justifies the means
  • focuses on end result rather than something being intrinsically right or wrong by the action alone
  • an action that results with a good consequence is morally better than one that results in a bad one
  • person is only morally 'good' in relation to the results they bring
  • e.g. thief steals for a starving family -> 'good' act


  • the end never justifies the means
  • focuses on an act being intrinsically right or wrong
  • e.g. 'you should never kill, because the act of killing is wrong'

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Absolutism & Objective


  • action in itself is right or wrong, regardless of consequences
  • often rule based ethics
  • attempt to remain objective -> not influenced by personal feelings, but true in itself regardless of the consequences
  • to remain objective a rule is needed
  • e.g. 'you shall not kill' -> absolutist command and remains objectively true 
  • sometimes absolutists such as Immanuel Kant feel the intention is just as important as the act

Main Weaknesses with Absolutism or an Attempt at an Objective Ethical Theory

  • do not consider the circumstances involved in deciding what is right and wrong
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Relativism & Subjective


  • concerned with the outcomes
  • something is either right or wrong in certain situations
  • subjective ethics -> concerned with taking into account what has happened to discern whether something is right or wrong 

-> personal feelings may be involved

Main Weaknesses with Relativism

  • sometimes doesn't question whether something is wrong in itself
  • e.g. even though the relativist may consider lying as wrong, the circumstances may dictate that this course of action may do the greater good
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Types of Relativism

Types of Relativism

  • Moral Relativism -> no moral absolutes -> personal and subjective opinions 

-> does not rely on any belief system

  • Cultural Relativism -> right or wrongs determined by the culture that we have been brought up in 

-> refers to practices that may seem wrong to certain cultures, but absolutely moral to the cultures to which the practices belong

  • Naive Relativism -> everything is either right or wrong by personal opinion
  • Liberalism -> everyone respects each other's moral opinion
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Natural Law

Origins of St. Thomas Aquinas' Natural Law

  • started in Aristotle's idea that everything has a purpose and that supreme good is to be found by fulfilling that purpose
  • based on nature as observed by human reason
  • Christian morality is based on the Bible and Natural Law/God's Law
  • St. Thomas Aquinas believed that morality is created in humans and divinely ordained by God
  • deontological -> everything is either right or wrong in itself

Aquinas' 5 Precepts

  • Preserve Life
  • Educate Children
  • Reproduce
  • Live as Part of a Society
  • Worship God

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Value & Usefulness of Natural Law

Strengths of Natural Law

  • gives clear guidelines on how to behave on living to please God
  • many cultures in the world would agree with Aquinas' 5 precepts

Weaknesses of Natural Law

  • idea that humans have a fixed nature seems simplistic and goes against thinking on the nature of personal identity and practices
  • what is considered to be 'perfectly natural' for some people today may
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