RS Theme 1 Ethics A,B,C

?

Normative Ethics

The study of moral rules (or ‘norms’) of right and wrong that underline specific ethical theories

1 of 51

Meta Ethics

Looks ‘beyond’ specific ethical theories to larger questions about the origin, meaning and language of morality and moral discourse

2 of 51

Divine Command Theory

  • Is a normative theory which raises a meta-ethical question:’is ethical behaviour dependent on a divine being?’

  • It is absolutist

  • Objective theory 

  • Deontological

3 of 51

Absolutist

promoting a standard of right and wrong that is binding an all humans 

4 of 51

Relativist Theory

the view that there is no absolute right and wrong 

5 of 51

Objective Theory

morality is independent of one's feelings and views

6 of 51

Subjective Theory

a theory is dependent on a personal view 

7 of 51

Deontological

Believing that they have a duty to act on God's laws regardless of consequences 

8 of 51

Consequentialism

One type of teleological approach 

9 of 51

Teleological

from Greek word 'telos' meaning 'end' or 'purpose' 

10 of 51

Morality from a Divine Source

  • Approach of many monotheistic religions 

  • Principles of the Sermon on the Mount are examples of ‘Divine Command’

  • Right or wrong as objective truths based on God’s will/command 

  • An omnipotent and omniscient God is capable of revealing the way humans ought to act

11 of 51

A 'Strong form' of Divine Command Theory

God has commanded specific ethical actions; the minutest detail must be obeyed 

12 of 51

A 'Weak form' of Divine Command Theory

God does not care about minutiae but gives commands that determine the boundaries and content of one's decision making 

13 of 51

Euthyphro Dilemma

Does God command something becuase it is morally right, or is it morally right beacuse it is commanded?

14 of 51

God commands something because it is morally right

If this is true, then morality is above God- God is not omnipotent, morality is. Morality is something God neither created nor controls

15 of 51

Something is morally right because it is commanded

If this is true, God could command anything, even genocide, and it would be morally right. THis is known as the aerbitrariness problem 

16 of 51

Robert Adams

  • Refined Divine Command theory to meet the Euthyphro challenge 

 

17 of 51

Omnipotence of God

  • He argues that the omnipotence of God is preserved by seeing that morality comes from God

  • However, god is not arbitrary because God’s character is omnibenevolent

  • the Euthyphro dilemma left out a critical dimenssion of judeo-christian belief: the loving character of God 
18 of 51

Adams: Divine Command is practical, intelligible..

  • Practical: we aren't demoralised by relativism 

  • Intelligible: it is easy to grasp 

  • Objective: it does not depend on one's feelings

19 of 51

Adams' approach can be questioned

is God's nature good because it is God's or because it is good? - an Omnibenevolence dilemma  

20 of 51

Interpretations of morality

The fact that there are many interpretations of morality within a religion could be a weakness of Divine Command theory

21 of 51

There are a variety of different interpretations

There are different views on:

  • Shari’a in Islam

  • Diversity in Buddhist understandings of the Buddha 

  • Christian disagreement over the relationship between faith and works

22 of 51

homosexuality

Conflict between the harsh comments of the Bible on homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13) and the tolerance, love and forgiveness of Jesus. This suggests that commands in sactred texts could be relative to history and social context

23 of 51

Moral approaches between religions

Differences of moral approaches between religions weaken the idea of one Divine Command theory for the human race

24 of 51

Elevation of an external authority

A further challenge is that Divine Command theory, based on the elevation of an external authority, threatens scientific progress and individual rights- both themes of the European Enlightenment

25 of 51

A 'Virtue'

A quality of mind or a disposition that helps us achieve excellence in our actions

26 of 51

Virtuous habits

Virtue theory does not consider ethics to be centred so much on rules of behaviour but on the development of virtuous habits

27 of 51

Contrast to the 'God-centred' approach

In contrast to the ‘God-centred’ approach of Divine command theory, virtue theory ia agent-centred

28 of 51

Aristotle

  • Set out his ethical views in the Nicomachean Ethics 

  • His approach is teleological

  • The highest human good is eudaimonia meaning human flourishing

29 of 51

Faculty of Reason

Humans need to use the faculty of reason to reflect upon habits in order to discover eudaimonia

30 of 51

Virtue Theory

  • The result of reasoned reflection on habits and human action is virtue 

  • A virtue is a disposition or inclination of character achieved by practice

  • There are 2 types of virtue: intellectual and moral  

 

31 of 51

Intellectual and moral virtue

  • Intellectual virtue: found through education; it creates knowledge 

  • Moral virtue: built by contemplating failures and successes. It is learned through practical reason

32 of 51

Balanced morality

  • The moral virtues are cultivated by finding the mean between two extremes 

  • One extreme is excess: too much of the qualities associated with a virtue 

  • One extreme is deficiency: having too few of the qualities associated with a virtue 

 

 

33 of 51

Aristotle spoke often of four virtues

  • Courage: bravery at the right time and with the right motivation 

  • Temperance: the restraint of desires or passions 

  • Wisdom: discovers and manages all virtues 

  • Justice: giving to others what they are due; this is the outcome of living virtuously 

34 of 51

Jesus: a virtue ethicist?

  • In the New Testament, Jesus announces eight virtues in the Sermon on the Mount; these are different from Aristotle’s list 

  • Some scholars view these virtues are echoes of Isaiah 61:1-3

  • He said that those with these virtues are ‘blessed’ because they will receive a reward

35 of 51

Challenges to Virtue Theory: Vague

  • Not practical as it is vague and difficult 

  • Virtue theory may be seen as vague because it does not provide focused norms for concrete situations. For instance, it makes no comment about pacifism, euthanasia, slavery or a host of other issues for which norms and laws could provide guidence 

 

36 of 51

Challenges to Virtue Theory: impractical

  • Aristotle says that it is very difficult to find the ‘middle’ or mean between extremes

  • Those who follow virtue theory are required to find the mean, simultaneously, for numerous character traits

37 of 51

Challenges to Virtue Theory: Arbitrary

  • Another challenge to this theory is the insight that any of the virtues is arbitrary and can be viewed as culturally relative 

38 of 51

Challenges to the Virtue Theory: Aristotle

  • Aristotle’s list reflects the cultural norms for wealthy men in his society; he does not challenge convention 

  • Aristotle believed that men were more virtuous than women ‘...  male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled’

39 of 51

Challenges to Virtue Theory: Tool of culture

Rather than being a theory that is based on objective truth, virtue ethics may merely be a tool of culture to promote the powerful against the powerless

40 of 51

Challenges to the Virtue Theory:Convenient/immoral

  • Convenient: virtue theory can be defined so as to omit traits so that one finds life convenient 

  • Immoral: one can be virtuous but commit acts which others would find immoral 

  • For example, one could exercise courage in war without questioning the bias of that war

  • Or, one could exercise self-control when what is most needed is passionate commitment to a cause

41 of 51

Ethical Egoism

  • A ‘normative theory’; it prescribes the norm or rule to base one’s actions on self-interest 

  • Critical of the notion of altruism, the idea that we can act from purely selfless concern for others

42 of 51

Psychological egoism

  • The insight that we are always motivated by self interest; this is a description of human moral behaviours

  • If we enjoy acting ‘selflessly’ or benefit in any way from the end goal, then we are not acting altruistically but are psychologically motivated by self-interest 

43 of 51

Max Stirner

  • Author of The Ego and His Own

  • Recognised the truth of psychological egoism but noted that most self-interest is deluded because it does not recognise the nature of the true self

44 of 51

Self-interest

  • The way that self-interest is often understood makes one a slave to something other than the self. It is, therefore, not true self-interest.

  • Any religious, philosophical or materialistic framework for moral behaviour becomes a controlling system 

  • An external ideology never leads one to true self-interest and true freedom

45 of 51

Controlling System

even if we think it is in our 'self-interest' to follow that system 

46 of 51

True Self

The true self is one that is not mastered by any system, is not mastered by sensuality or emotions, and knows the truth that one is unique with unique needs

47 of 51

Ideals and Systems that control us

  • Sensuality 

  • God

  • Man

  • Authority

  • State

  • Church and moral systems

48 of 51

Challenges of Ethical Egoism

  • Lead to the breakdown of community

  • A state’s laws protect individuals from other individuals, interest groups, and companies which care more for power and profit than for the welfare of all

  • Regulations about the sale of cigarettes have created sales restrictions and scientifically accurate warnings which benefit society more than if there were no restrictions

49 of 51

Challenges to Ethical Egoism: Stirner

  • He would insist that the upholding of the law or the demands of the state has an adverse effect on one’s personal freedom 

  • He believed that the state would collapse as ethical egoism spread 

  • He appears to open the door to mayhem by his declaration, ‘should i not help myself as well as I can?’

  • He might point out that social injustices and bigotry can also result from Idealism, a liberal state, a communistic government or any other system

50 of 51

Challenges to Ethical Egoism: Social Injustices

  • For the pursuit of one’s self-interest will inevitably lead to conflict with the interests of others. this , in turn, will lead to the powerful prevailing

  • For example, what if individuals in one ethnic group form a union of egoists to promote the superiority of their particular group? Would this not lead to a racist and violent society?

51 of 51

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Ethics resources »