ATENEO DE DAVAO UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

Ethical Theories
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS IN NURSING ETHICS

SUBMITTED TO: VILMA L. COMODA, RN, MAN

SUBMITTED BY: CENON FRANCIS C. ARMADA, RN JHOANNA E. DE CASTRO, RN CHRISTINE JUDE T. DE GUZMAN, RN KRISTA ANNE F. DORMITORIO, RN JONI S. PURAY, RN

JULY 1, 2011

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Objectives Ethics and Morality Introduction Two Views of Ethics Ethical Theories Teleological, Ethical Theory/ ConsequentialismFocus on Ends, Goals and Consequences Varieties of Consequentialism Types of Utilitarianism Deontology Hisorical Origins Deontological Ethical Theories Natural Law Kantian Ethics Prima Facie Duties Virtue Ethics Strengths of Virtue Ethics Limitations of Virtue Ethics Implication , Application and Conclusion Divine Command Theory Definition Possible Advantages of Divine Command Theory Persistent Problem: Euthyphro Dilemma Response to Euthyphro Dilemma Conclusion: Religion, Morality and the Good Life Ethics of Care 84 Definition Ethic of Care vs. Ethic of Justice Issues of Ethic of Care Conclusion: Critical Evaluation of Care Ethics

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OBJECTIVES The group‘s comprehensive discussion on ethical theories aims to achieve the following cognitive, affective and psychomotor objectives: COGNITIVE    Acknowledge the nurses‘ background on theories of ethics; Enhance such knowledge through delving deeper into the subject; and Present the pros and cons of and the criticisms made against such theories and relate them to the world of health care. AFFECTIVE  Evaluate the ethical theories in accordance to one‘s own convictions, and  Inculcate the importance of discernment in every instance that requires decision-making to arrive at a morally-sound judgment. PSYCHOMOTOR  Encourage internalization of the essentiality of ethical theories and

utilization of such as grounds for decision-making; and  Initiate active group participation through sharing of dilemmas

encountered in the health care setting and the decisions made and identify which theories were evidently used.

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or taking a stand for or against certain public issues. We choose.ETHICS AND MORALITY INTRODUCTION We make many ethical decisions everyday. but ethics involves more reflection and argument. Every public organization has its code of ethics so that people can hold the organization to account. Socrates (496-399 BC) was condemned to death for his (too) rigorous pursuit of finding out what people thought and meant by words like 4 . Normative. study of ethics has come to the fore since the advent of the social sciences. Clearly. prize and act upon our values. Codes of conduct or ethics stem from the basis of normative ethics. fundamental ways of conduct that are not only customary. TWO VIEWS OF ETHICS There are two different ways of viewing ethics: normative and descriptive. meaning character.e. ethics is to do with norms and prescriptions: how people should live and behave. The word ―ethics‖ comes from the Greek word ethos. meaning custom or manner. Both words mean custom (i. but we usually do not think if we make decisions on the basis of a particular theory or principle. or prescriptive. public accountability. Ethics implies transparency. Being moral often implies that a person lives within a clear-cut set of personal or religious dogmas. but also right). The descriptive. ―Morals‖ comes from the Latin word moralis. ethics has become an important way of life in a postmodern society that does not acknowledge any fixed point of reference. or scientific. if necessary.

studies stress in relation to illness. such as the significance and meaning of suffering and death and the role and 5 . and some particular behaviors pass into the area of norms. not only what they said they did. Once the majority of people think or behave in a new form. taboos about behavior no longer remain taboo. and how these interrelate with each other. The difference between descriptive and normative aspects of ethics is particularly evident in health care. and could therefore be called a social scientist. This model analyzes illnesses. justice and truth. uncovering areas of personal and societal behavior. Thus the heart of ethics is concerned with goodness. Nurses have generally concerned themselves more with the normative than the descriptive aspects of health care. As an example. It is concerned with the description of ethical behavior. This model has enabled the proliferation of high technology in medical care. This in turn leads to codes that state how people ought to or should behave in certain circumstances. The medical model tends to be concerned with the scientific and descriptive aspects of care. The question then becomes if the ends have justified the means.―justice‖ and ―virtue‖. They have always been involved with wider issues of health. the constraints by Victorian society on sexual matters were uncovered to a large extent by sociologists who studied people‘s actual behavior. divides people into classes and compares diseases within the social classes with the aim of curing disease. The studies of sociologists. laws have to be created to accommodate this new behavior. and with behavior between people. Once such evidence becomes public. There will never be clearcut conclusions because the means of one group are the ends of another. anthropologists and psychologists describe what people actually do.

etc. commitment.  Deciding whether a patient ought to receive particular care  Describing how the treatment is best given 6 . Two Approaches to Ethics NORMATIVE (prescriptive) (what we should do)   Mainly used by philosophers   DESCRIPTIVE (what we actually do) Mainly used by sociologists. such as  In health care: Pursues:    Psychology of illness Physiology of stress Social pleasures in chronic disease. o Meaning of death.purpose of caring and compassion. The table below sets out the two approaches to ethics. It is notable that in the field of care for dying people nurses have largely led the way. psychologists. compassion. anthropologists Emphasis is on making Emphasis is on observation of behaviour recommendations for behavior  In health care: Pursues: o The concept of health o The significance of human suffering o Rights of patients o Dimensions of caring o Concepts.

and no single ethical theory has managed to capture and explain all the important elements of the moral world to the satisfaction of all or even most people. Examples of classical theories of ethics are hedonism (pleasure is the sole good of human life). not for the sake of argument but for the complimentarity of certain aspects of care and for how each pursuit can help the other in giving the best possible holistic care. 7 . Other theories of ethics are considered modern in that they apply philosophical analysis to ethical conduct In order to find out the meaning of terms or statements that appear in theories. and in other specialist care for people with long-term illnesses.Nurses have also been prominent in the care of people with mental illness and learning difficulties. Theories of ethics abound. There are many ways to classify theories of ethics. Examples of modern analytical theories of ethics are naturalism (moral judgments are true or false and can be reduced to a concept of natural science). and stoicism (indifference to pleasure or pain). implying a rich historical tradition and concern with the ―good life‖ or how to achieve the ―good life‖. ETHICAL THEORIES The test of a useful theory of ethics is its ability to make sense of the world and provide guidance about how to act in it. they are simply judgments about one‘s feelings) and intuitionism (people know the meaning of our moral terms and principles because we see them in human experience and can grasp their significance as intuitive act). Some theories are classical. emotivism (moral judgments cannot be verified or falsified by scientific procedures. It is important to be aware of these differences.

and are often influenced by Judaeo-Christian systems of beliefs. Other theories of ethics are derived from Buddhism. Jen is expressed through the five relations – sovereign and subject. stealing. formalism and pragmatism. Of these relations. Confucianism was a system of ethical precepts for the proper management of society. Buddhist ethics directs devotees of Buddha to refrain from killing. The relations function smoothly by adhering to a combination of etiquette and ritual. elder and younger sibling. and friend and friend. and may also be influenced by religious systems of belief. a term often interpreted as sympathy or human benevolence. It viewed the human being as essentially a social creature. compassion (to remove the suffering of others). Eastern theories of ethics are based on Asian. sympathetic joy (to rejoice in the success of others). husband and wife. naturalism. but through a sense of virtue developed by observing suitable models of ethical behavior. One example of an eastern theory of ethics is Confucianism. filial piety or hsiao is emphasized. bound to others by jen.Another way to classify theories of ethics is to consider them ―western‖ or ―eastern‖. In its earliest form. Hindu ethics emphasizes principles of righteous 8 . Examples of western theories of ethics are utilitarianism. sexual misconduct and use of intoxicants. Hinduism and Islam. Western theories of ethics are based on European or American philosophies. and equanimity (to be even-handed with regard to the actions of others). Indian or Arabic philosophies. Buddhists‘ responses to contemporary ethical issues in healthcare are based on the Buddhist view of the universe. Correct product proceeds not through compulsion. lying. the nature of humanity and belief in impermanence. Devotees are also urged to cultivate the virtues of friendliness (to disarm hostility). parent and child.

conduct and the doctrine of transmigration where. the soul (or self) is carried to another body in which it flourishes or suffers according to previous behavior. facing toward Mecca (3) give alms or charity to those in need (4) fast during the ninth month of the Muslim year (5) make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during one‘s lifetime. Muslims believe that life is a gift of God and the human body is given to serve God. Muslims are also urged to refrain from drinking wine. Utilitarianism is an example of a consequential ethical theory because it 9 . usury (lending money at an excessive rate of interest). Virtues such as honesty. Islamic ethics are likewise based on religious teachings. gambling. human life is respected and suicide. slander. The five essential religious and moral duties of Muslims are to: (1) profess faith in God (or Allah) (2) worship five times daily. One additional way to classify theories of ethics is to consider them consequential or nonconsequential. The three aims of life for the Hindu are to achieve dharma (adherence to religious and ethical norms in order to ensure happier rebirth). homicide. They claim that an action is right to the extent that it produces good consequences and wrong to the extent that it produces bad consequences. at physical death. touching or eating pork. artha (building up wealth for the benefit of oneself and one‘s family) and kama (seeking pleasure and the satisfaction of personal desires). Therefore. and the making of images. and torture of the body in any form is prohibited. Consequential theories are those theories that look at the consequences of acts. fraud. hospitality and generosity are also encouraged.

etc. on the other hand. If an action does not do this. when it was argued that HIV tests could be done when blood samples were 10 . TELEOLOGICAL ETHICAL THEORY/CONSEQUENTIALISM – FOCUS ON ENDS. to describe what she saw as the central error of certain moral theories. On the other hand. This theory was applied. E. GOALS AND CONSEQUENCES The word "teleology" is derived from the Greek word telos that means "ends‖. Thus. which holds that an action is right if it is done from duty and can be willed to be universal law for everyone. Since then. a morally right act (or omission) is one that will produce a good outcome. M.claims that an action is right if it tends to produce the greatest balance of value over disvalue. Deontology is a type of nonconsequential theory that considers actions to be right based on laws or rules regarding duties or obligations (such as keeping promises. such as those propounded by Mill and Sidgwick. Anscombe in her essay "Modern Moral Philosophy" in 1958. telling the truth. or consequence.) independent of their consequences or outcomes. One of the most prominent forms of deontology is Kant‘s theory of ethics. This view is often expressed as the aphorism "The ends justify the means". it is considered to be wrong. are those theories that maintain that certain acts are right and others are wrong because they have or do not have rightmaking characteristics. Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of one's conduct are the true basis for any judgement about the morality of that conduct. Nonconsequential theories. for instance. from a consequentialist standpoint. the term has become common in English-language ethical theory. the term "consequentialism" was coined by G.

taken for any other tests. however. would focus less on lying in any particular instance and instead consider what a decision to tell a lie or not tell a lie said about one's character and moral behavior. The ―end‖ of a statistical certainty (and possible approach to care or cure) justified the means of taking blood for this purpose without persons‘ consent or knowledge. in that deontology derives the rightness or wrongness of one's conduct from the character of the behavior itself rather than the outcomes of the conduct. to gauge the level of infection in the population as a whole. in order to describe his ethical doctrine. A virtue ethicist. It is also distinguished from virtue ethics. a consequentialist may argue that lying is wrong because of the negative consequences produced by lying—though a consequentialist may allow that certain foreseeable consequences might make lying acceptable. VARIETIES OF CONSEQUENTIALISM 1. For example. Ethical Altruism The term "altruism" (initially derived from the Latin alter meaning "other") was coined by Auguste Comte. the French founder of Positivism. which he summed up in the phrase: "Live for others". regardless of any potential "good" that might come from lying. In 11 . A deontologist might argue that lying is always wrong. Consequentialism is usually understood as distinct from deontology. The difference between these three approaches to morality tends to lie more in the way moral dilemmas are approached than in the moral conclusions reached. which focuses on the character of the agent rather than on the nature or consequences of the act (or omission) itself.

he did assert a "duty" to help those who are weaker than oneself. and creativity.more general terms. while altruism prescribes maximizing good consequences for everyone except the actor. since the rest of society will almost always outnumber the utilitarian. however.. Criticisms Friedrich Nietzsche held that the idea that to treat others as more important than oneself is degrading and demeaning to the self. rational) self-interest.. excellence. Arguably." Furthermore. states the altruist dictum as: "An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone except the agent. says that "there is no rational ground for asserting that sacrificing yourself in order to serve others is morally superior to pursuing your own (long-term. Ethical altruism can be seen as a consequentialist ethic which prescribes that an individual takes actions that have the best consequences for everyone except for himself. discussing Ayn Rand's views." Altruism may be seen as similar to utilitarianism. however an essential difference is that the latter prescribes acts that maximize good consequences for all of society. altruism is a selfless concern for the welfare of others (although its common usage does not necessarily entail any ethical obligation). David Kelley. a genuine utilitarian will inevitably end up practicing altruism or a form of altruism. Altruism ultimately depends on non-rational rationales. He also believed that the idea that others have a higher value than oneself hinders the individual's pursuit of selfdevelopment. James Fisher. on mysticism in some form. in his article "Ethics" in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.if service 12 . However. he holds that there is a danger of the state enforcing that moral ideal: "If self-sacrifice is an ideal .

Egoism. the moral "agent's") own interests as being more or less important than the interests. but egoism and altruism contrast with utilitarianism.e. ego.e. in that egoism and altruism are both agent-focused forms of consequentialism (i. subject-focused or subjective). Self-actualization will result. objective and impartial) as it does not treat the subject's (i. the self's. and altruism are all forms of consequentialism. 2. most honorable course of action . i. which when translated to English. means ―I‖. but that one also should not (as altruism does) sacrifice one's own interests to help others' interests.e. by elevating self-interests and "the self" to a status not granted to others). desires. which holds that a moral agent should treat one's self (also known as the subject) with no higher regard than one has for others (as egoism does. 13 . he argues. so long as one's own interests (i. one's own desires or well-being) are substantially equivalent to the others' interests and well-being. Norwegian eco-philosopher Arne Naess argues that environmental action based upon altruism — or service of the other — stems from a shrunken "egoic" concept of the self. utilitarianism. Ethical Egoism Egoism is derived from the Latin word. in which actions formerly seen as altruistic are in reality a form of enlightened self-interest. in the recovery of an "ecological self".e.why not force people to act accordingly?" He believes this can ultimately result in the state forcing everyone into a collectivist political system. but utilitarianism is called agent-neutral (i.e.to others is the highest. or well-being of others. Ethical egoism can be understood as a consequentialist theory according to which the consequences for the individual agent are taken to matter more than any other result. Egoism and altruism both contrast with ethical utilitarianism.

One can simply adopt rational egoism and completely drop morality as a superfluous attribute of the egoism. although these can also be based on altruistic motivations. the meta-ethical view that nothing is moral or immoral.Ethical egoism does not. as long as what is chosen is efficacious in satisfying the self-interest of the agent. what is in an agent's selfinterest may be incidentally detrimental. beneficial.g. Criticisms According to amoralism. however. then. but there is nothing ethical about it. but it doesn't endorse foolishness. Thomas Jefferson writes in a 1814 letter to Thomas Law: 14 . "Ethical egoism endorses selfishness. e. there is nothing wrong with egoism. takes a back seat to protracted eudaimonia. Nor does ethical egoism necessarily entail that." Ethical egoism is sometimes the philosophical basis for support of libertarianism or individualist anarchism. In the words of James Rachels. Fleeting pleasure. Individualism allows for others' interest and well-being to be disregarded or not. Ethical egoism has also been alleged as the basis for immorality. one ought always to do what one wants to do. require moral agents to harm the interests and well-being of others when making moral deliberation. e. These are political positions based partly on a belief that individuals should not coercively prevent others from exercising freedom of action. or neutral in its effect on others. in pursuing self-interest.g. the fulfillment of short-term desires may prove detrimental to the self. in the long term. Some contend that ethical egoism is intuitively implausible.

we can owe no duties. This. But I consider our relations with others as constituting the boundaries of morality. excludes self-love confined to a single one. it could also be dubbed immoral if it prevents another person from executing what is in his best interests. is not an "ideal world. obligation requiring also two parties. claimed Baier. Were this an ideal world. Baiers is also part of a team of philosophers who hold that ethical egoism is paradoxical.‖ Ethical egoism is opposed not only by altruist philosophers. Kurt Baier objects that ethical egoism provides no moral basis for the resolution of conflicts of interest. whereby religion is used to validate one's self-interest. has been more plausibly substituted as the basis of morality. is no part of morality. implying that to do what is in one's best interests can be both wrong and right in ethical terms. it is exactly its counterpart. not of relation.―Self-interest. one in which interests and purposes never jarred. therefore. its inhabitants would have no need of a specified set of ethics. With ourselves. or rather self-love. In The Moral Point of View. Far from resolving conflicts of interest. ethical egoism all too often spawns them." Baier believes that ethical egoism fails to provide the moral guidance and arbitration that it necessitates. it is also at odds with the majority of religion. or egoism. Indeed. which. 15 . in strict language. according to Baier. however. form the only vindication for a moral code. To ourselves. requiring two subjects. we stand on the ground of identity. Self-love. Although a successful pursuit of self-interest may be viewed as a moral victory. Religious egoism is a derivative of egoism. Most religions hold that ethical egoism is the product of a lack of genuine spirituality and shows an individual's submersion in greed. which last. in his opinion.

A similar but more altruistic approach results in utilitarianism. strive to maximize their total pleasure (the net of any pleasure less any pain or suffering). Hedonism The term "hedonism" is derived from the Greek hedone meaning simply "pleasure". Ethical Hedonism. the position that the moral worth of any action is determined by its contribution to overall utility in maximizing happiness or pleasure as summed among all people. but which defines happiness more as a state of tranquillity than pleasure). 16 . and our life's goal should be to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. It is the normative claim that we should always act so as to produce our own pleasure. Psychological Hedonism is the view that humans are psychologically constructed in such a way that we exclusively desire pleasure. Epicureanism is a more moderate approach (which still seeks to maximize happiness. is the view that our fundamental moral obligation is to maximize pleasure or happiness. Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is the most important pursuit of mankind. libertinism. In common language.3. and is synonymous with sensualism. debauchery and dissipation. on the other hand. Hedonism has come to mean devotion to pleasure as a way of life. therefore. and pain is the only evil. They believe that pleasure is the only good in life. Hedonists. and the only thing that is good for an individual. especially to the pleasures of the senses. Hedonism usually presupposes an individualist stance. and is associated with Egoism (the claim that individuals should always seek their own good in all things).

Prior defined it as ―…the assumption that because some quality or combination of qualities invariably and necessarily accompanies the quality of goodness. . it is committing the naturalistic fallacy to infer from this that goodness and pleasantness are one and the same quality.E. it is believed that whatever is pleasant is and must be good. If. they must attribute the same quality to them. in that they cannot be acquired directly. Criticisms Hedonism has been criticized by a number of modern authors and philosophers. "more evolved". . "desired".The Paradox of Hedonism (also called the Pleasure Paradox). G. say. or both. or that whatever is good is and must be pleasant. points out that pleasure and happiness are strange phenomena that do not obey normal principles. this quality or combination of qualities is identical with goodness. Arthur N. rejected ethical hedonism: ―To take "whatever makes one happy" as a guide to action means: to be guided by nothing but one's emotional whims.). etc. The naturalistic fallacy is the assumption that because the words 'good' and. or is invariably and necessarily accompanied by it. Moore argued that hedonists commit the naturalistic fallacy which is committed whenever a philosopher attempts to prove a claim about ethics by appealing to a definition of the term "good" in terms of one or more natural properties (such as "pleasant". only indirectly and we often fail to attain pleasures if we deliberately seek them.‖ Ayn Rand. 'pleasant' necessarily describe the same objects. or both. Emotions are not tools of cognition. widely read as a modern proponent of ethical egoism. for example. . This is 17 .

as to some extent did Epicureanism. an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play it deuces wild. the adherents of cynicism and stoicism adopted the practice of mastering desire and passion. the consumption of alcohol and the accumulation of property and wealth).the fallacy inherent in hedonism – in any variant of ethical hedonism. In ancient Greek philosophy. In ancient Greek society. To declare. warriors and athletes often applied the discipline of askesis to attain optimal bodily fitness and grace. that "the proper value is whatever gives you pleasure" is to declare that "the proper value is whatever you happen to value" – which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication. although it does not 18 . but not the standard. as the ethical hedonists do. often with the aim of pursuing religious or spiritual goals. Diametrically opposed to asceticism is hedonism. the philosophy that pleasure is the most important pursuit of mankind. individual or collective. "Happiness" can properly be the purpose of ethics. "training" or "exercise"). Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by voluntary abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures (especially sexual activity.‖ 4. and it was originally associated with any form of disciplined practice. The justification behind asceticism is usually that spiritual and religious goals are impeded by indulgence in pleasures of the flesh. personal or social. The task of ethics is to define man's proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. Asceticism The term "asceticism" derives from the Greek askesis (meaning "practice".

argues that the morality of any action is dependent upon its consequences. rule-consequentialism. Thus. act-consequentialism. who withdraw from the world in order to live an ascetic life) and "worldly" Asceticism (which refers to people.if the following of such a rule would result in bad consequences. rule-consequentialists add the following provision: imagine that an action were to become a general rule . A distinction is sometimes drawn between "otherworldly" asceticism (which is practiced by people. bringing about peacefulness of mind and an increase in clarity and power of thought. or a purification of the body which enables connection with the Divine and the cultivation of inner peace. Thus. 5. a deontological moral principle. This has very obvious similarities to Kant's categorical imperative. the most moral action is the one which leads to the best consequences. Act and Rule Consequentialism Consequentialist moral systems are usually differentiated into act- consequentialism and rule-consequentialism. then it should be avoided even if it would lead to good consequences in this one instance. It aims to achieve freedom from compulsions and temptations. 19 . Thus. argues that focusing only on the consequences of the action in question can lead people to committing outrageous actions when they foresee good consequences. The latter. such as the Quaker and Amish sects. ascetic practices are not usually regarded as virtuous as such. The former. merely a means towards a mind-body transformation. who live ascetic lives but do not withdraw from the world).necessarily hold that the enjoyment of life is bad in itself. such as monks or hermits.

He writes: "…the best argument for rule-consequentialism is not that it derives from an overarching commitment to maximize the good. The best argument for ruleconsequentialism is that it does a better job than its rivals of matching and tying together our moral convictions." 20 ." Derek Parfit described Brad Hooker's book on rule-consequentialism Ideal Code. because it is based on the consequentialist principle that what we should be concerned with is maximizing the good. For example.even though in such instances following the rule leads to negative consequences. however. Real World as the "best statement and defence. It is argued. that the overall situation is that there will be more good than bad when people follow the rules derived from consequentialist considerations. Criticism One of the most common objections to rule-consequentialism is that it is incoherent. as well as offering us help with our moral disagreements and uncertainties. one of the objections to euthanasia is that allowing such an exception to the moral rule "do not kill" would lead to a weakening of a rule which has generally positive consequences . so far. taken alone. but then it tells us not to act to maximize the good. Brad Hooker avoided this objection by not basing his form of ruleconsequentialism on the ideal of maximizing the good. but to follow rules (even in cases where we know that breaking the rule could produce better results). of one of the most important moral theories. may lead to bad consequences.Rule-consequentialism can lead to a person performing actions which.

the belief that the right course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "good" of the situation. It is thus a form of consequentialism. one could equally well lay out a consequentialist theory that focuses solely on minimizing bad consequences. It is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its usefulness in maximizing utility as summed among all sentient beings. but only to prevent harm from being done. the maximization of good consequences could in practice also involve the minimization of bad consequences. A more strenuous version of negative consequentialism may actually require active intervention. 7. However. but the promotion of good consequences is usually of primary import. One major difference between these two approaches is the agent's responsibility. Of course. Utilitarianism Utilitarianism. the good to be maximized. has been defined by various thinkers 21 . An alternative theory (using the example of negative utilitarianism) is that some consider the reduction of suffering (for the disadvantaged) to be more valuable than increased pleasure (for the affluent or luxurious). Negative Consequentialism Most consequentialist theories focus on promoting some sort of good consequences. also called utilism. meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome. The most influential contributors to this theory are considered to be Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. whereas negative consequentialism may only require that we avoid bad ones.6. Utilitarianism was described by Bentham as "the greatest happiness or greatest felicity principle". Utility. is more commonly known as the "The greater good" argument. Positive consequentialism demands that we bring about good states of affairs.

In general usage. or remoteness. there are definite rules and codes as to what the person must do in each situation to benefit the most people. Philosophical utilitarianism. "purpose". The hedonic calculus is what Bentham thought all people must do before deciding the utility of the certain act in question. however Bentham's act utilitarianism is primarily absolutist. 22 . It is dependent on:     Its intensity. with happiness or pleasure being of ultimate importance. It may be described as a life stance." Therefore. even though it is much more free than theories such as those put forward by Immanuel Kant. as well as with other varieties of consequentialism. Utilitarianism can be characterized as a quantitative and reductionist approach to ethics. is a much broader view that encompasses all aspects of people's life. It is a type of naturalism. This means that in all acts require "felicific calculus" to achieve "the greatest pleasure for the greatest number. Both rule utilitarianism and act utilitarianism are teleological (from the Greek telos for "end". Its propinquity. Its duration. or "goal") meaning that they are consequential. It can be contrasted with deontological ethics (which do not regard the consequences of an act as a determinant of its moral worth) and virtue ethics (which focuses on character). Its certainty or uncertainty. although preference utilitarians define it as the satisfaction of preferences. the term utilitarian refers to a somewhat narrow economic or pragmatic viewpoint.as happiness or pleasure (versus suffering or pain). however.

” Rule utilitarianism has been criticized for advocating general rules that. clearly decrease happiness if followed. the meta-ethics of rule utilitarianism can be questioned as they are much more absolutist. pleasures. when faced with a choice. sensations of the opposite kind: that is. if it is pleasure: pains. he or she looks at what would happen if it were constantly followed. However. we must first consider the likely consequences of potential actions and. the arts like literature. ―Also to achieve the greater good for the most amount of people. since Mill is absolute in what he values as a higher pleasure. if it is pain. However. pain. The distinction between act and rule utilitarianism is therefore based on a difference about the proper object of consequential calculation — specific to a case or generalized to rules. it is a rule that morally must be followed at all times. begins by looking at potential rules of action. if it is pain. poetry. Mill's rule utilitarianism is much more relative in that he encourages people to do acts that are pleasurable to themselves as long as they are what he calls a "higher pleasure" for example. or the chance it has of not being followed by. To determine whether a rule should be followed. Act vs Rule Utilitarianism Act utilitarianism states that. Its fecundity.  Its extent (the number of people who are affected by it). in some specific circumstances. on the other hand. if it is pleasure: pleasure. or the chance it has of being followed by similar sensations: that is.  Its purity. The rule utilitarian. from that. the opera. Types of Utilitarianism a. Never to kill another 23 . choose to do what we believe will generate the most pleasure. If adherence to the rule produces more happiness than otherwise.

However. although rules should be framed on previous examples that benefit society. which frames strict rules that apply for all people and all time and may never be broken. it is possible. John Stuart Mill proposed Weak Rule utilitarianism. which posits that. An example would be the Gestapo asking where your Jewish neighbours were. If the consequences can be calculated relatively clearly and without much doubt. that there are general exception rules that allow the breaking of other rules if such rule-breaking increases happiness. costly or time-consuming to calculate exactly. Self-defense is legally justified. under specific circumstances. Critics argue that this reduces rule utilitarianism to act utilitarianism and makes rules meaningless. Rule utilitarianism should not be confused with heuristics (rules of thumb). however. to do what produces the greatest happiness and break that rule. a strong rule utilitarian might say the "Do not lie" rule must never be broken. while murder is not. whereas a weak rule utilitarian would argue that to lie would produce the most happiness.human being may seem to be a good rule. 24 . however.. one example being self-defense. Strong Rule Utilitarianism is an absolutist theory. the rules of thumb can be ignored.e. Rule utilitarians retort that rules in the legal system (i. within rule utilitarianism there is a distinction between the strictness and absolutism of this particular branch of utilitarianism. laws) that regulate such situations are not meaningless. but many act utilitarians agree that it makes sense to formulate certain rules of thumb to follow if they find themselves in a situation whose consequences are difficult. Rule utilitarians add. but it could make self-defense against malevolent aggressors very difficult.

and thus we require moral guidelines. emotional 25 . can be viewed either as a hybrid between act and rule or as a unique approach all on its own terms. Two-level Utilitarianism Two-level utilitarianism states that one should normally use '‖intuitive‖ moral thinking. The motive approach attempts to deal realistically with how human beings actually function psychologically. in the case where breaking the rule produces more utility. in the end.Collapse of rule utilitarianism into act utilitarianism It has been argued that rule utilitarianism collapses into act utilitarianism. because it usually maximizes happiness. This process holds for all cases of exceptions. first developed by Robert Adams (Journal of Philosophy. We are indeed passionate. c. which. the rule can be sophisticated by the addition of a sub-rule that handles cases like the exception. Motive Utilitarianism Motive utilitarianism. in the form of rule utilitarianism. 1976). and must think as an act utilitarian would. However we are closer to ―proles‖ in that we are frequently biased and unable to foresee all possible consequence of our actions. because for any given rule. makes an agent seek out whatever outcome produces the maximum utility. However there are some times when we must ascend to a higher ―critical‖ level of reflection in order to decide what to do. which holds that if we were all ―archangels‖ we could be act utilitarians all the time as we would be able to perfectly predict consequences. and so the ―rules‖ have as many ―sub-rules‖ as there are exceptional cases. When these principles clash we must attempt to think like an archangel to choose the right course of action. Richard Hare supported this theory with his concept of the Archangel. b.

creatures, we do much better with positive goals than with negative prohibitions, we long to be taken seriously, and so on and so forth. Motive utilitarianism proposes that our initial moral task be to inculcate within ourselves and others the skills, inclinations, and mental focuses that are likely to be most useful (or in less perfectionist terms, merely highly useful) across the spectrum of real-world situations we are likely to face, rather than the hypothetical situations seemingly so common in philosophical publications. Indeed, motive utilitarianism can even be seen as a response to this unofficial rule against textured real-world examples. For example, similar to the 80-20 rule in business and entrepreneurship, we might be able to most improve the future prospects of all sentient creatures if we do a large number of activities in open partnerships with others, rather than a few perfect things done sneakily. Two examples of motive utilitarianism in practice might be a gay person coming out of the closet and a politician publicly breaking with a war. In both cases, there is likely to be an initial surge of power and confidence, as well as a transitional period in which one is likely to be losing old friends before making new friends, and unpredictably so on both counts. Another example might be a doctor who is a skilled diagnostician. Such a physician is likely to spend most of their serious study time or continuing education time on current research, direct skills for running a successful practice, etc., and only occasionally return to first principles—that is, only occasionally do something as an interesting study in biochemistry, and then as much as a hobby as anything else.

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d. Negative Utilitarianism Most utilitarian theories deal with producing the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. Negative utilitarianism (NU) requires us to promote the least amount of evil or harm, or to prevent the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest number. Proponents like Karl Popper, Christoph Fehige and Clark Wolf argue that this is a more effective ethical formula, since, they contend, the greatest harms are more consequential than the greatest goods. Karl Popper also referred to an epistemological argument: “It adds to clarity in the fields of ethics, if we formulate our demands negatively, i.e., if we demand the elimination of suffering rather than the promotion of happiness.” e. Average vs Total Utilitarianism Total utilitarianism advocates measuring the utility of a population based on the total utility of its members. According to Derek Parfit, this type of utilitarianism falls victim to the Repugnant Conclusion, whereby large numbers of people with very low but non-negative utility values can be seen as a better goal than a population of a less extreme size living in comfort. In other words, according to the theory, it is a moral good to breed more people on the world for as long as total happiness rises. Average utilitarianism, on the other hand, advocates measuring the utility of a population based on the average utility of that population. It avoids Parfit's repugnant conclusion, but causes other problems like the mere addition paradox. For example, bringing a moderately happy person in a very happy world would be seen as an immoral act; aside from this, the theory implies that it would be a moral good to eliminate all people whose happiness is below average, as this would raise the average happiness.

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Most utilitarians consider this type of argument as flawed or merely hypothetical, however, since a real-world society allowing the non-consensual elimination of people would inevitably create severe amounts of suffering and unhappiness. f. Preference Utilitarianism Preference utilitarianism is a particular type of utilitarianism which defines the good to be maximized as the fulfilment of person‘s preferences. Like any utilitarian theory, preference utilitarianism claims that the right thing to do is that which produces the best consequences; when defined in terms of preference satisfaction, the best consequences can include things other than pure hedonism, like reputation or rationality. Preference utilitarianism is favored by the modern utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer, who was influenced by R.M. Hare. Criticisms Utilitarianism has been criticized as being too simplistic and unable to adequately cope with the complexities of real-life situations. Utilitarianism requires us to do whatever act will bring about the greatest good, even if that means doing something we would otherwise consider immoral. If we can bring about a good, then, according to utilitarian theory, we are required to do that action. However, there are some goods that can be achieved only through means that most of us would consider wrong. For instance, there may be times when a patient asks that her family not be informed of her diagnosis or prognosis because the patient does not want to worry them and fears the disruption in their lives that such information would bring. Yet it may seem that the family could provide valuable support

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rule-utilitarians advocate following a set of rules that are designed so that in most situations following them will produce the greatest amount of good overall. but required. By utilitarian reasoning. Even if you were right in your assessment of the situation. In this formulation of utilitarianism. Another criticism of utilitarianism is that in practice it is impossible for an individual or even a group to accurately calculate all the pleasure and freedom from pain that any specific act will entail. most clinicians would agree that it is absolutely wrong to disclose patient information without patient‘s consent. respecting patient confidentiality is an important element of patient care.for the patient. True calculations of happiness are impossible. it would be not just acceptable. a rule-utilitarian would reply that. In the foregoing example. In fact you may know this particular family well enough to know that telling them about the patient‘s illness would bring more support and hence greater wellbeing to the patient than not telling. Second. that you disclose this information to the family. in general. Thus. disclosing confidential patient information would bring about more harm than good and therefore one should always follow the general rule of maintain confidentiality. One way that utilitarians have addressed this problem is to adopt a rule-utilitarian stance. instead of deciding what action will bring about the greatest good in each situation. This is a strong indictment of utilitarianism. However. how can we foresee all the implications of these actions and assess 29 . following utilitarian reasoning could put one in a situation in which breaking ethical standards is required. we can never be completely sure that our actions will produce their intended results. even if they do produce the desired outcome. For one thing.

it is equally as legitimate to make rich people happy by buying them yachts as it is to make poor people happy by buying them homes. In health care. Utilitarianism does not consider issues of distributive justice. however remotely connected to the act or its outcome? In considering the total calculation of pleasure and pain. The only good in utilitarian theory is the maximization of pleasure and freedom from pain. a reasonable enough calculation can be made. it is imperative to account for all people who will be affected by the action both now and in the future. there is the cumulative effect to be considered. Some acts will have implications for large groups of people over great spans of time. most of the time. In the general formulation of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism only requires that happiness be maximized. Fairness is not a basic 30 . Critics argue that these are not all within the ability of the utilitarian theorist to foresee when determining what consequences a particular action will have.the effects they will have on all people. Then. not that there be any sense of fairness regarding who gets to be happy. the major ones are. too. There have been suggestions for changes to basic utilitarian theory to address this concern. For most situations. this issue may not be a concern. but there is no agreement about them and for someone who is really committed to utilitarianism. Most people feel that there should be some consideration given to benefiting the least well off in society before adding resources for those who already have access to a basic minimum of health care. Supporters of utilitarianism generally reply to this criticism by pointing out that even though not all consequences are foreseeable. this would mean there is no rationale for distributing resources other than to make sure that the resources do some good.

but because promoting it will promote happiness in general. if fairness or justice is generally a method of increasing happiness. but may be considered a lower-level good if. So a utilitarian would argue that if this is the case. 31 .good. in general. promoting fairness also promotes pleasure and freedom from pain. then it is a suitable goal and can be made a criterion for distributing health care resources. not because justice or fairness is good in and of itself.

. Obedience is something absolute or categorical. at a time when the word of the chief. Once the commands and orders are given and handed out from above.might take the following forms. 1999). The concepts of obligation are fundamental and the concepts of value are definable in terms of them.. where "teleological" theories are those that are concerned with outcomes or consequences. and the concepts of obligation are definable in terms of them. he contrasted the term with "teleological". 32 . The concepts of value are fundamental. D. Thus it might be held that the notion of fittingness is fundamental.. He wrote: [Theories] which hold that there is some special connection between [Moral Obligation and Moral Value]. The commands of the one with power or in authority are something that are taken and obeyed without any further question and objection. and that "X is intrinsically good" means that it is fitting for every rational being to desire X. or the king was given unconditionally and without invitation to appeal on the basis of consequences (Solomon and Greene.g. it might be held that "X is a right action" means that X is likely to produce consequences which are at least as good as those of any other action open to the agent at the time. Broad's main concern was distinguishing the positions that different ethical theories took on the relationship between values and right action. When C. everyone else below is expected to follow unconditionally.DEONTOLOGY HISTORICAL ORIGIN The historical origin of this particular moral theory can be traced back to the early beginning of human civilization.. E. Such theories might be called Deontological. Broad first used the term "deontological" in the way that is relevant here. Such theories may be called Teleological.

suppose someone defames another‘s character and thereby damages that person‘s reputation and career. we have a duty to act in a way that does those things that are inherently good as acts ("truth-telling" for example). by contrast. and even if the person who does the act lacks virtue and had a bad intention in doing the act. Deontologists look at rules and duties. which means "obligation or duty" is an approach to ethics that determines goodness or rightness from examining acts. the act may be considered the right thing to do even if it produces a bad consequence. in so far as it satisfies the demands of some overriding (nonutilitarian) principle or principles of obligation. or the intentions of the person doing the act as in virtue ethics. rather than third-party consequences of the act as in consequentialism. the ends or consequences of our actions are not important in and of themselves. Deontologists. and our intentions are not important in and of themselves. For deontologists. Deontologists believe that 33 . if it follows the rule that ―one should do unto others as they would have done unto them‖. The action is defamation. This consequence is separable from the action.WHAT IS DEONTOLOGY? Deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek the word deon. According to deontology. argue that moral standards exist independently of utilitarian ends and that the moral life is wrongly conceived in terms of means and ends. For example. For example. An act or rule is right. they maintain. Utilitarianism conceives the moral life in terms of intrinsic value and means to ends. and the damage is a consequence of the defamation. or follow an objectively obligatory rule (as in rule utilitarianism).

Deontologists maintain that utilitarianism also presupposes a greater capacity to predict and control future outcomes than human beings generally possess. In this interpretation. Our obligations primarily derive from the rights of others: paying debts. 1991) Deontologists urge us to consider that such actions are morally wrong not because of their consequences but rather because the action type. and the like. at least in part.defamation can be wrong even if social utility is maximized by the action (Beauchamp. Many deontological theories are not readily distinguishable from consequentialism. independent of a conception of goodness.the class of action expresses a moral violation. and rights and so do not initiate acts for good ends. and it is wrong if and only if it violates the relevant moral obligation. they maintain. however. raising children. 34 . and that the centrality of prediction of outcomes in the utilitarian theory distorts that moral life. Rather. because they hold only that some features of some actions other than their consequences determine their rightness or wrongness. Promises must be kept and debts must be paid because such actions form one‘s obligation. interests. and that moral rightness is. An act is right if and only if it conforms to the relevant moral obligation.1991). not because of the consequences of such actions (Beauchamp. the fact that a type of action generally brings about good consequences is insignificant. we unpredictably encounter others‘ claims. Some deontologists even argue that consequences are irrelevant to moral evaluations. voluntarily making commitments. We can be confident neither of our ultimate goals nor of the means that will get us there.

euthanasia. According to Fernandez (2007).DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICAL THEORIES A. The Stoics understood natural law as an ideal or standard fixed by nature. natural law ethics can be called by several names. Thomas Aquinas during the medieval period. differing from each other with respect to the role that morality plays in determining the authority of legal norms. genetic engineering and reproductive technology. has varied widely through its history. NATURAL LAW Historical Origin The use of natural law. Others label it as Christian Ethics. binding on all persons. in its various incarnations. There are a number of different theories of natural law. and taking precedence over the particular laws and standards created by human social conventions. precisely because of its central tenet which states that there is an objective moral standard that we ought to follow regardless of our personal opinion of what constitutes right and wrong. Some call it Thomistic Ethics. as is evident in her ethical pronouncements and positions on contemporary ethical issues such as abortion. By virtue of its historical development. Still others would label it as Objective Ethics. According to Beauchamp (1991). the doctrine of natural rights has a long history. stretching back at least to ancient Greece. or more particularly Catholic ethics in so far as it has become the most influential moral teaching of the Catholic Church. in as much as it was made popular by St. In many texts 35 . Others call it Scholastic Ethics after the brilliant moral teachings of a group of scholars. the natural law theory is a part of a long tradition that can be said to have its origin in the thoughts of the earliest philosophers dating back in ancient times. contraception. known as Scholastics or Schoolmen.

and their natures differ because they possess different essences with different potentialities. These rights provide the foundation of a legitimate contract or political arrangement. whereas the latter are prescriptive statements derived from philosophical knowledge of the essential properties of human nature. suicide is wrong in the Thomistic tradition because it violates a natural inclination to live. This theory of natural law allegedly provides standards against which the laws and policies of particular states are properly measured. Natural law stipulate which natural potentialities ought to be actualized. These standards also constitute the foundation of rights and moral obligation. Nature or the natural order was thought to contain normative standards. This maneuver allowed the traditional idea 36 . natural right or law was contrasted with conventional rights or law. This theory is based on a distinction between laws of nature and natural laws. one could determine whether laws adopted by city-states were unjust. natural laws do not empirically describe behavior but rather delineate the behavior that is morally appropriate for a human being. to commit suicide is to act against the laws of nature. and these stipulation become moral action guides. and by reference to these standards. or at least not perfectly just. Activities proper to a human differ from what is to be expected from other creatures in so far as their ―natures‖ differ. Philosophers such as Plato opposed a conventionalism that made human arrangements the measure and final source of authority in political and legal matters. A second tradition of natural rights asserts that all human beings have rights in a hypothetical state of nature that exists prior to the formation of a political state. The former are descriptive statements derived from scientific knowledge or universal regularities in nature.of Greek Philosophy. In this theory. For example.

for Aristotle. By this. He holds that the purpose of any fully developed entity is to be 37 .of a fixed natural law. knowable by reason. The Aristotelian Influence For Aristotle. happens by chance. The Stoics equated nature with laws and reason and taught that what was important was to live a life according to nature. The wise person knows that things must be as they are and achieves happiness and a sense of purpose by learning how to accept the necessities of things and events. Ellin (1995) emphasizes as it was cited by Fernandez (2007) that the central idea is that ―we can learn by nature what we ought to do and not do because nature intends that certain things be done or not done.a reason for its own being. to be wedded to a social contract theory that included a strong account of natural rights as political protections( Beauchamp. the Stoics conceived the whole of the universe as governed by certain immutable laws that exhibit rationality.the rational seed) that enables them to discover the essential eternal laws that governed the whole cosmos that are necessary in the attainment of individual happiness and social harmony. Furthermore. They called this wisdom. Moreover. every individual substance has an intrinsic nature or principle of operation. teleological and specific. everything that exists in nature serves some particular and specific purpose and that we can never fully understand a thing until we understand what it is for. therefore. 1991). Nothing in the world. the Stoics seemed to mean the recognition that everything happens according to a certain laws. Everything has its own end or purpose. the early Stoics believed that human beings have within them a divine spark (logos spermatikos. The Contribution of the Stoics Pojman (2005) states as cited by Fernandez (2007). a necessity. which is dynamic.

The angelic doctor believed that movement towards an end characterizes everything in nature and everything in it. Propagation of our Species To unite sexually to produce offspring for the continuance of the next generation of the human race 3. which is eternal happiness with God 38 . Self-realization or actualization then is the very reason or purpose of anything that came to be or simply the reason for being. Basic Natural Human Tendencies or Inclinations that are present in all of us: 1. that is. including his highest good.itself. Self-Preservation or survival Man has to preserve himself in existence 2. The natural law as expounded by Aquinas is nothing but a participation of the eternal law in this context is the particularity of the eternal law in the human person. governed by purpose or ends. including people and their institutions. so then He is said to have set up the nature of the human person in such a way that all his actions should take. In so far as God has a plan or purpose for all things. The Thomistic Interpretation Saint Thomas Aquinas held that the universe is teleological. both animate and inanimate objects. To live in Peace and in Harmony with Other Men Just and fair dealings with others 4. To Seek for Truth and Knowledge of the Good To use his will and intellect to know the truth and seek the good.

Following the flow of nature through the exercise of our reason we can discover the fundamental laws of the universe and direct ourselves in consonance with these laws. 2. This principle applies to a situation in which a good and an evil effect will result from an act with a good or noble cause or intention/motive. The Principle of Totality It refers to the view that a part exists for the good of the whole. Under this principle. the supreme creator and maker of all and that no individual person could claim that he or she is the owner of anything in the world and that of his or her own body. The Principle of Stewardship It implies that all life comes from God. Derivative Principles from Natural Law 1. 3. each person has a natural right to live and to continue in existence anything that will obstruct or put in jeopardy that natural basic drive and tendency goes against what is considered good. nature is looked upon as the rational and animating force of all things. Cicero taught that morality is based on the concept of a cosmic order which is the ground of objective moral laws. provided no unjust harm is done to others. the preservation of the whole is more important than the conservation of the part. one good and the other bad. We humans are only given the power to take good care 39 .Secular Interpretations: Cicero Natural law need not be viewed as having divine or supernatural origin. It is therefore morally justified for anyone to do whatever is necessary to protect that right. The Principle of Double Effect It is a moral principle that provides us an idea that certain acts will have two effects. Here. For him.

It is argued that the conception of a baby is the natural purpose of the sexual act. they arise in the context of an act. Natural Law and Contraception A clear and concrete application of the natural law theory is the Roman Catholic opposition to contraception. no matter how it is lived. It is therefore morally wrong to commit actions such as suicide and euthanasia since stewardship entails proper protections and responsible care of what the creator has given. Thus. may strengthen the relationship between the couple. at the same time. in view of this specific and particular natural purpose of the act.of creation and do not have sole authority to do whatever we want. this principle gives every life. which has an essential purpose the conception of children. That act may also be enjoyable which. anything that deliberately and willfully frustrates the natural outcome must be viewed as ethically 40 . It can never be sacrificed by whatever means or for whatever reasons. Its‘ worth outweighs everything in the world. Moreover. But positive these things may be. The Principle of the Inviolability of Life It believes that human life is of infinite value as it is a sacred and precious gift from the Almighty Creator. an equal worth and dignity to every other. 4. This means that the life of a criminal is as important as the life of an upright person. The innocent person whose life is placed at risk by an intruder can apply the principle of forfeiture as an act of selfdefense. The Principle of Forfeiture It states that it is morally permissible to defend oneself even to the point of taking another life. The person who is in mortal danger is innocent. There are cases when a person‘s life is threatened by the presence of an aggressor. 5.

KANTIAN ETHICS Historical Origin If one tries to scan the entire history of ethical philosophy. or at least not open to the possibility of conception like anal and oral intercourse. All these acts are simply against nature. a philosopher whose remarkable contributions to the history of philosophical thought put him on the same level with the greatest of the greats among the world‘s foremost thinkers (Fernandez. masturbation. conscience or the production of utility. In his writings. not in intuition. According to Beauchamp (1991). 2007). Every sexual act should at least be open to the possibility of conceiving a child. Kant tried to show that this ultimate basis rests in pure reason. as he saw it. any other form of sexual intercourse that does not lead. Morality. B. and rules qualify as universally acceptable 41 . Kant developed a highly original philosophical framework. it is almost universally agreed that Kant is the greatest philosopher to emerge in German philosophy. homosexuality and the like are considered to be morally wrong. Anything that is outside of it is always morally unjustified. The goal of philosophical ethics.wrong. entirely apart from each individual‘s personal goals and interests: Moral rules apply universally. In order to combat skeptical challenges to traditional moral thinking. They are known as sexual perversions. In the same respect. he thought. perhaps one cannot find a more avid defender of deontological theory in modern times that the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). is to establish the ultimate basis for the validity of moral rules. provides a rational framework of principles and rules that guides and places obligations on everyone.

and this is what we must do if we are to act ethically.only when no rational agent can reject them. then. aimed to unite reason with experience to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. that pure reason is practical.that reason unaided can be and should be a motive to will. and at the end lecturing and of the 18th on philosophy and anthropology during Century Enlightenment. reason can resist and subject desire to its control (whether a person wants to follow reason or not). is the capacity to act from reason. He hoped to end an age of speculation where objects outside 42 . When this occurs. not in intuition. The roots of morality. At the time. But this stood in sharp contrast to the skepticism and lack of agreement or progress in empiricist philosophy. in his terminology. there were major successes and advances in physical science (for example. as have many philosophers since Plato. writing Prussia (today Kaliningradof Russia). the Critique of Pure Reason. and with the capacity to determine our lives solely by rational considerations. then. Kant saw us as creatures with the power to resist desire. Kant‘s magnum opus. Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher from Königsberg. Practical reason. are principles of reason that all rational agents possess in common. Isaac Newton. Kant seems to have thought. and Kant tried to establish the ultimate basis for validity of moral rules of obligation in pure reason. conscience or utility. Kant sought to show. Robert Boyle) using reason and logic. which conclusively shows that individuals are not simply at the mercy of a clash of desires. with the freedom to do so. researching. that reason can be in conflict with desire.

we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof‘. the debate between the rationalists and empiricists. which deals with ethics. The free and proper exercise of reason by the individual was both a theme of the Enlightenment. Hegel and Schopenhauer amended and developed the 43 . Kant proposed a ‗Copernican Revolution‘. aesthetics. astronomy and history. which looks at aesthetics and teleology.. He aimed to resolve disputes between empirical and rationalist approaches. but . 1790). and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it. Kant argued that experience is purely subjective without first being processed by pure reason. and moved philosophy beyond. Schelling. The former asserted that all knowledge comes through experience: the latter maintained that reason and innate ideas were prior. and of Kant's approaches to the various problems of philosophy. Kant published other important works on religion. These included the Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft. 1788). Berkeley and Hume. His ideas influenced many thinkers in Germany during his lifetime.. He said that ‗it always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things outside us . He also said that using reason without applying it to experience will only lead to theoretical illusions.experience were used to support what he saw as futile theories. and the Critique of Judgment (Kritik der Urteilskraft. The philosophers Fichte. He settled.let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition'. while opposing the skepticism and idealism of thinkers such as Descartes. law.. should have to be assumed merely on faith. saying that 'Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects..

German and European thinking progressed after his time. thus bringing about various forms of German idealism. is not good. or courage. Second. in spite of that. Kant argued that it was not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives of the person who carries out the action. they have no intrinsic unconditional worth. They rather presuppose a good will. which limits the high esteem which one otherwise rightly has for them and prevents their being held to be absolutely 44 . however they may be named. riches. It is the same with the gifts of fortune. even health. honor. and his influence still inspires philosophical work today. The Good Will: The Heart of Kantian Ethics Immanuel Kant's theory of ethics is considered deontological for several different reasons. people must act from duty (deon). wit. which is to make use of these gifts of nature and which in its special constitution is called character. general well-being and the contentment with one‘s condition which is called happiness. make for pride and even arrogance if there is not a good will to correct their influence on the mind and on its principles of action so as to make it universally conformable to its end. resoluteness. First. But they can become extremely bad and harmful if the will. ―Nothing in the world. He is seen as a major figure in the history and development of philosophy. are doubtless in many respects good and desirable.can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except good will. Power. Kant argues that to act in the morally right way. and the other talents of the mind. Some qualities seem to be conducive to this good will and can facilitate its action.indeed nothing even beyond the world.‖ Intelligence. but.Kantian system. and perseverance as qualities of temperament. judgment.

Something is 'good in itself' when it is intrinsically good. Kant claims that what makes an act right/good and wrong/bad does not depend on its results or consequences. because when people take pleasure in watching someone suffering. and the coolness of a villain makes him not only far more dangerous but also more directly abominable in our eyes that he would have seemed without it (Beauchamp. appears to not be good without qualification. and good without qualification. and 'good without qualification' when the addition of that thing never makes a situation ethically worse. fail to be either intrinsically good or good without qualification. Thus. For without the principle of a good will they can become extremely bad. perseverance and pleasure. Kant's argument that to act in the morally right way. If one is indeed fully accountable of his action and conduct. such as intelligence. But however unconditionally they were esteemed by the ancients. self-control and calm deliberation not only are good in many respects but even seem to constitute a part of the inner worth of the person. he believes.good. for him. then chance or luck should be taken out of the equation. According to Fernandez (2007). hence a matter of luck or accident. morality as the sole and exclusive domain of rational beings should be something of which one should have total control. can only be 45 . Pleasure. for example. this seems to make the situation ethically worse. Hence. since all these are simply beyond one‘s control. the consequences of actions are entirely out of our hands. Moderation in emotions and passions. they are far from being good without qualification. Kant then argues that those things that are usually thought to be good. 1991). one must act from duty begins with an argument that the highest good must be both good in itself. This.

regarded for itself. the good will is not good because of what it effects or accomplishes or because of its adequacy to achieve some proposed end. As far as the ethics of Kant is concerned. Solomon and Greene (1999) stated as cited by Fernandez (2007). then it is good and thus one‘s conduct is morally praise worthy. regardless of its consequences or results. morality is primarily.achieved by appealing to some universal rational ethical principle. and uncompromising view of morality‖. Even if it should happen 46 . And. i. here. it is good only because of its willing.. he writes: ―Nothing can be called good without qualification except a good will‖. that is all that matters. hardheaded. or rather who acts in good will means doing an act with the right intentions or motives which is in accordance with the right maxims or principles. if not solely.e. it is to be esteemed incomparably higher than anything which could be brought about by it in favor of any inclination or even of the sum total of all inclinations. In Kant. it is good of itself. One ought to be congratulated for doing the ―right thing‖. doing one‘s duty or obligation for its own sake rather for personal gain or self-interest.an ethical principle that is in the form of a ―maxim‖ that guides human actions at all times and in all situations. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals published in 1785. If one‘s motive in doing an act is good and noble. According the Beauchamp (1991). A person who has a good will. Such a philosophy is indeed ―a strict. the center of Kant‘s ethical philosophy is his primary emphasis on the importance of reason and the unqualified rational nature of moral principles. At the outset of Kant‘s brilliant philosophical work. a matter of motive or intention and not a matter of what one can gain or achieve in acting.

Doing one‘s duty is doing something that one is not inclined or willing to do. There is an obligation that exists and he or she must fulfill it. requires us to do what is right out from a sense of duty or moral obligation. For Kant. the only act that is worthy to be called moral is an act that is done not out of inclination but one that is done out of duty. Usefulness or fruitlessness can neither diminish nor augment this worth. 1993). Only then one can truly say that he or she is acting morally and deserves to be called a moral person. our duties cannot simply promote pleasure and the avoidance of pain as the utilitarians claim. According to Wall (2003) as cited by Fernandez (2007). since that would make right actions depend upon its consequences. as something that had its full worth in itself. by a particularly unfortunate fate or by the niggardly provision of a step motherly nature. And if the consequences of our actions are the 47 . Persons should be motivated by a sense of moral obligation and not by any other reasons. it would sparkle like a jewel in its own right. on how well they satisfy our desires. Key Principles of Kantian Ethics 1.that. Obligation and Not Inclination As cited by Fernandez (2007). according to Kant. but that he or she does it because he or she recognizes that he or she ought to do it (Popkin and Stroll. Pleasure is Subordinate to Duty Kant believes that happiness has nothing to do with making an act good. this will should be wholly lacking in power to accomplish its purpose and if even the greatest effort should not avail it to achieve anything of its end. to be a good person is to act from a sense of duty alone. 2. and if there remained only the good will (not as a mere wish but as the summoning of all the means in our power). if being a good person.

the person as an end can never be subjected to any form of manipulation and 48 . 2004).‖ The other formulation of the categorical imperative concerns for the dignity of persons. For Kant every human being has a supreme worth and profound dignity due to the fact the he is a rational agent. then morality becomes contingent to something outside itself.ones that give them moral worth. the essence of morality lies in acting on the basis of an impersonal principle that is valid for every person. This means that because of the ability to think one is able to decide what particular goals to pursue and generally what one wants to do with his life. The Principle of Ends (Respect for Persons) ―So act so as to treat humanity whether in your own person or that of any other always as an end and never as a means only. 3. morality would become not an end in itself but just a means to an end that would leave us without a stable and firm foundation. One‘s essential dignity therefore mainly lies on the person‘s capacity to determine his own destiny or end as a self-directed and conscious being. Maxims that cannot be universalized or applied to all without exception on a consistent basis are immoral.‖ According to this formulation. Oftentimes it is referred to as ―Principle of Ends‖ or ―Principle of Humanity‖. including oneself (Falikowski. as a self-conscious and self-determining creature. In that case. Hence. Categorical Imperative The Universality Principle ―Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.

C.exploitation as if he is just any other object that can be used to serve some other ends rather than as an end in himself. then. if we try to implement these ideas by thinking through a moral decision in a particular 49 . Morality is full of categorical moral rules for Kant.as when we need to lie to protect someone in danger. that is. The most widely discussed pluralistic theory is that of W. It follows from his theory that we should never infringe on them. 1999). But what happens.D Ross. Ross objects to Kant‘s absolutism. according to him. who begins where he sees Kant‘s system failing. Moral philosophers have with increasing frequency come to regard all obligations and rights not as absolute standards but as strong moral demands that may be validly overridden when they compete with other principles. PRIMA FACIE DUTIES Historical Origin Kant argued that universalizing moral maxims requires that they be absolutely binding in all circumstances. Prima facie duties that may on occasion be overridden by stronger moral claims (Boss. He also believed that because morality is based on reason. Kant has brilliant ideas about building a moral system. Pluralistic deontologists affirm more than one basic rule or principle. there could never be conflict between moral duties. it is always wrong to lie. while agreeing with Kant that moral duties or maxims are universal. Ross asks. the idea that moral rules are categorical imperatives admitting of no exceptions. no matter what the circumstances. Moral duties are prima facie rather than absolute. If it is wrong to lie. disagree that they are also absolute. Moral philosophers. even if we have what seems to be a good moral reason to act otherwise.

yet Kant seems to require me to do both. nonmaleficence. including obligations to self-improvement. For example. we intuit our general obligations. because he makes all the rules absolute. I cannot assist my sick mother in the hospital. wrongful actions create obligations of reparation and the generous gifts of our friends create obligations of gratitude. Kant. for example. as. but we do not intuit what is right in a particular situation. makes an answer impossible. but also long ago promised my mother that I would always assist her in making crucial decisions with her doctor. because we are required to do the impossible. because there reasoning is required. but finds that to do so he has to surmount Kant‘s absolutistic framework.Ross defend several additional obligations as well. The philosophical problem here is how I can resolve these conflicts: to what form of judgment. because he says a pure principle cannot resolve moral problems in particular circumstances. According to Ross. in fact. In his writings. but now find that if I do so. overarching rule or part of a theory can I appeal? Ross thinks that Kant. beneficence. the conflict arises from a single moral rule rather than from two different rules in conflict. and justice. Ross sets out to resolve this problem. who desperately needs me to help her make decisions with her doctor. both of which cannot be fulfilled. I have promised to take my children on a long anticipated trip. Suppose I long ago promised my children that I would take them on the trip.‖ Our promises create obligations of fidelity. when one has made two promises. as promised. Sometimes. I cannot both take my children on a trip and help my mother in the hospital at the same time. He argues that we 50 . admits as much. Ross contends that there are several basic and irreducible moral principles that express ―prima facie obligations.situation? The overarching problem is how to handle conflicting obligations that give incompatible directives.

Provost of Oriel College. He completed his studies at Balliol College. He received the Order of the British Empire in 1918 in recognition of his service during the war. Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh. His best known work is The Right and the Good (1930). he gained a first class MA degree in classics. Sir William David Ross Sir (William) David Ross KBE (15 April 1877 – 5 May 1971) was a Scottish philosopher.[1] Ross was White's Professor of Moral Philosophy (1923–1928). known for work in ethics. Caithness in the north of Scotland. He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1939 to 1940. Ross also critically edited and translated a number of Aristotle's works. However. Oxford and gained a lectureship at Oriel College in 1900. Ross joined the army in 1915. He spent most of his first six years as a child in southern India. deontological form of intuitionist ethics to G. He was educated at the Royal High School. In 1895. intuitionism. William David Ross was born in Thurso. Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1941 to 1944 and Pro-Vice-Chancellor(1944–1947). and was knighted in 1938. 1991). Oxford (1929–1947). Duties are Prima Facie 51 . and wrote on Greek philosophy.must find the ―greatest obligation‖ in any circumstance by finding the ―greatest balance‖ of right over wrong in that circumstance (Beauchamp. followed by a fellowship in 1902. and he is perhaps best in known response for developing Moore's a pluralist. During World War I he worked in the Ministry of munitions and was a major on the special list.E.

1999) SEVEN PRIMA FACIE DUTIES 1.D Ross. however. or getting good grades in college. we ought to do what is morally right (Boss. Ross also believed that consequences matter when applying moral principles. Unlike Kant.According to W. When there is a conflict between moral and non-moral duties. The moral duty of non-maleficence. moral duties cannot be absolute. Duties Based on Past Obligations Fidelity Duties arising from past commitments and promises Reparation Duties that stem from past harms to others Gratitude Duties based on past favors and unearned services 52 . Future Looking Duties Beneficence The duty to do good acts to promote happiness Non-maleficence The duty to do no harm and to prevent harm 2. financial success. cannot be overridden by non-moral duties or considerations such as obeying the law. for example may conflict with the moral duty to keep a promise when keeping that promise may result in death or injury. Moral duties. Because duties are context bound the particular circumstances and possible consequences will affect which moral duties are most important in any given situation. because there are particular situations in which they come into conflict.

and non-parasitism (it would be doing unto others as she would not want any other to do to her). (You are directly applying the relevant prima facie duty where it is applicable and discovering your actual duty in the circumstances. even if she could get away with it. but she sees that doing so.) A normal ten-year-old may observe a neighbor child‘s toy and be tempted to add it to her collection. you might see immediately that you ought to hold the door open for him or her. (You would be directly applying the prima facie duty of beneficence. if we have had a decent moral upbringing. justice (it would improperly distribute benefits).3. would violate the principle of non. you can see immediately that an expression of gratitude is in order.) If you are an able-bodied passer-by not carrying anything yourself and you notice someone trying to carry a heavy load into a building.injury (it would in a way harm the neighbor child to make off with her toy). we can simply see what moral rule is relevant and apply it. If you are carrying a heavy load into a building and a passerby holds the door open for you. Ongoing Duties Self-improvement The duty to improve our knowledge and virtue Justice The duty to give each person equal consideration Applying the Prima Facie Duties How do we use this approach when faced with a situation of moral choice? In the simplest cases. She can 53 .

One or more duties seem to say "take the bike and go call for help. Besides. In the simpler cases. prima facie duties directly guide us to choose our actual or concrete duty. it should not be difficult to make up the temporary bike loss to its owner.perhaps see that these three prima facie duties dictate her not taking the neighbor child‘s toy." while others seems to say "taking the bike is wrong. there might be an actual duty of reparation.) The solution might be to recognize that in this circumstance. 54 . On the "take" side lies harm-prevention. When Prima Facie Duties Conflict Suppose you observe an elderly neighbor collapse with what might be a heart attack. that is." On the "don't take" side are justice and non-injury (it seems unjust to the owner of the bike and an injury to him or her). Every prima facie duty is general but has exceptions. harm-prevention takes priority over what on the surface looks like injustice and injury. You are a block away from the nearest phone from which you could call for help. So the actual duty is probably to take the bike and get help. in the particular case at hand. A child‘s bike is close at hand and no one but you and the collapsed elderly person is around. We have to see which prima facie duties have priority in the situation we face. (Note that this seems to be a case of harm-prevention rather than beneficence in the strict sense. what we should do here and now. and which do not. The point is that prima facie duties by themselves are often not enough to determine what we should do. Her actual duty is not to take the toy. It is widely known that people die from heart attacks that are not treated quickly.

Priority Rules Besides the basic prima facie duties. and in wisdom. harm-prevention. 55 . For example. it is more important to avoid injury than to do positive good. For example. However. Moreover. Thus. In fact. and skill often override any conflicting prima facie duty we might think we have to give each other (or ourselves) short-term pleasure or avoid causing each other (or ourselves) short-term pain. Beneficence. yet we gain from such sometimes unpleasant experiences in our ability to cope with difficulty. according to this view. not only is no prima facie duty is without exception. non-injury. but also no priority rule is without exception. persons cannot be educated or mature without occasional discomfort or the pain that comes with admitting truths we might prefer to deny. in moral goodness. other things equal. and self-improvement in relation to lasting positive qualities such as knowledge. there are also priority rules that can give us guidance when the basic prima facie duties seem to give conflicting guidance. 1) Non-injury normally overrides other prima facie duties. 2) Fidelity normally overrides Beneficence. moral character. You just have to see or recognize the exception when it occurs. keeping contracts (which falls under Fidelity) normally overrides random acts of kindness.

and psychologist who wrote hundreds of works. 2007). including poems. most notably Plato and Aristotle. 2000). Instead. and hobnobbed with the rich and powerful. treatises. Deontic notions had not been conceptualized in ancient Greece. Since the time of Aristotle (384322BCE). He spent most of his child hood in Macedonia. was a court physician and scholar. Aristotle was concerned with questions such as ‗What sort of people do we have to be if we are to live the good life?‘ (Armstrong. ethics was viewed as a component of politics and the focus was very much on protecting states. arête in Greek. poet. For the ancient Greeks. logician. and books. philosopher. they do not use universal rules or principles to guide their actions. 56 . Aristotle had fondness for luxury and wealth. When people practice virtue ethics. virtues.VIRTUE ETHICS A BRIEF HISTORY OF VIRTUE ETHICS The origin of virtue ethics is generally associated with the ancient Greeks. 1999). A Brief History : Aristotle Aristotle was born in Stagira. owned several slaves. thus ethics was not concerned with moral obligation. Aristotle was a scientist. Nichomachus. is one of Aristotle‘s best-known works (Boss. A true renaissance man. a Greek colony north of Athens. where his father. Unlike his forerunners. In Nicomachean Ethics. Socrates and Plato. have referred to excellences of character (Pence.

An ethics of virtue turns on an assessment of moral traits that establish a person‘s moral character. In addition. virtue ethics is based on the excellence of one‘s character and considerations of what sort of person one wants to become (Butts & Rich. he argues that the good life--. 57 . however.In the book. On some occasions. More important than the rules or principles we follow is our character.. a distinct quality in acting). VIRTUE ETHICS Aristotle was one of the most influential thinkers on virtue ethics. 2005). certain traits of actors and actresses may give them a distinct character on stage (i. rather than ―what is right or good to do?‖ virtues are thought of as purposive dispositions and character traits that are developed throughout life (Mappes & DeGrazia. for example.is the most important activity of the human race. Virtue ethics deals with questions. but this fluctuation will not change their ―virtue‖ or character as performers and will not alter traits that mark their performances (Beauchamp. the unique function of humans is reasoning and thus virtue involves living according to reason. Rather. their performance will be better than others. Virtue ethics. such as ―what sort of person must I be?‖ and ―what makes an individual a good or virtuous person?‖. 1999). The sort of people we are constitutes the heart of our moral life. 1991). virtue ethics and theories of right action complement each other (Boss. such as utilitarianism and deontological theories. Rather than centering on what is right and wrong.the life of virtue--. 2001). In the theatre.e. Virtue ethics emphasizes right being over right action. is not an alternative to ethical theories that stress right conduct.

Virtue Ethics. 2002). among all other qualities. but is considered misleading because it usually implies pleasure.E. Aristotle supposes human well-being is related to the fundamental or characteristic function of human beings. He assumes that all human beings have a basic function or purpose and that a good person is one who is successful at accomplishing it. or purpose for an action is always something that is good or that appears to be good --.) uses a goal oriented approach and view of the good life to develop a ―virtue ethics‖ based on the distinctive function of human beings. wisdom. The additional ethical idea that makes Aristotle‘s virtue ethics distinctive is that there is a basic human function and that the virtues help us to accomplish that function (Birsch.The Greek Philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B. goal. knowledge. according to Aristotle. Therefore.‖ Many people would intuitively agree that virtues help people to live well. Thus. longevity. Just as a good flute player or sculptor is one who 58 . his approach to moral good and bad is often called ―virtue ethics. translated as ―happiness‖ which means ―well-being. Thus. moral excellence. He rejects the life of pleasure and asserts that the ultimate end is a well-lived life. is developing certain virtues. The well-lived life includes not only pleasure and happiness but also health. the basic ethical insight associated with virtue ethics is that the virtues help persons to achieve well-being or to live the good life. Well-Being and Reasoning Aristotle perceives that the end. and generosity.‖ ―Happiness‖ is the usual translation. the ultimate end and purpose for a human being is what we call well-being. achievement. The key to living the good life. such as practical wisdom.C.Eudaimonia. courage.‖ or ―flourishing.

The Anaclets. book 4:4 A virtue is an admirable character trait or disposition to habitually act in a manner that benefits ourselves and others (Boss. Aristotle would look for excellence in reasoning displayed in all the aspects of character and life. which is realized through excellence in the function that is characteristic to human beings. The ultimate good of human beings is well-being. Virtues are character persona that advocates the goodness and well-being of virtuous persons. It is through the respect and concern for the well-being of others and of themselves that a person becomes virtuous. 1999). 59 . To determine if a person had achieved well-being. The Concept of Virtue ―The rule of virtue can be compared to the Pole Star which commands the homage of the multitude of Stars without leaving its place. This excellence is not possible unless an individual possesses the virtues.the ability to reason. a good human being is one who fulfills the sole function of a human being only he can do.successfully fulfills the distinctive function of a flute player or sculptor. the person‘s complete character or life would have to be examined. According to Birsch (2002). That function is reasoning or acting in accordance with a rational principle.‖ —Confucius. Human well-being or a well-lived life will be achieved through excellence in reasoning or successfully acting in accordance with rational principles. human function is connected to the capacity of humans that he thinks no other living thing possesses--.

Doctrine of the Mean The moral virtues are related to feeling a moderate amount of emotion and acting based on the mean.Intellectual and Moral Virtues Aristotle divided virtues into two broad categories: Intellectual and Moral virtues. or an intermediate amount of emotion accompanies action. These intellectual virtues are vital to excellence in reasoning. knowledge (acquiring knowledge that deals with things that are universal. and eternal). the ability to make sound judgments). The virtuous person feels a temperate quantity of emotion in many situations and decides on the mean concerning actions. There are five intellectual virtues according to Aristotle namely. a deficit. Intellectual virtue is coupled with knowledge and wisdom. art (knowledge and skill in arts. The mean for each virtue is 60 . philosophic wisdom (knowledge of the ultimate things) and comprehension (understanding). Each virtue is a mean between two vices that involve feeling excess and deficit amounts of emotion and acting inappropriately. the moral virtues through habit. An overindulgence or an insufficiency in the amount of passion may interfere with acting rationally and choosing the ethical action. but Aristotle claims that ―moral virtue‖ is related to actions and emotions or passions that accompany them. that allows a person to create exceptional material things). essential. The intellectual virtues are cultivated through growth and experience. and excellence in reasoning is central to well-being. practical wisdom (excellence in discernment on the means of accomplishing a good end that is. An excess.

generosity. amiability and so on and so forth. theft. both are considered unethical or irrational. envy. Moral virtues customarily involve emotions and actions wherein extremes on the both sides of the emotion are wrong. The origin of action is choice. this moderation is determined by a rational principle as discovered by a person of practical wisdom. Courage. A coward feels too much fear and not enough confidence while the rash person feels too little fear and too much confidence. 61 . e. prudence. for all of these and suchlike things imply by their names that they are themselves bad. the mean is not always the exact average (Butts & Rich. for some have names that already imply badness. 2002).unique for each situation and each person. Other examples of virtues are temperance. advances a person to act in a rational way. Therefore. honesty. involves feeling a temperate amount of fear and confidence. and not excesses or deficiencies of them. 2005). Moral virtues are traits of character concerned with choice that involve moderation in action and emotion. But not every action nor every passion constitutes a mean. Virtuous action depends on practical wisdom guiding our choices and controlling our emotions (Birsch. murder. in other words. spite. which in turn.g. the intellectual virtue of practical reason and the moral virtues are closely related. and in the case of actions adultery. the mean of the two vices. and the source of choice is desire and reasoning connected to achieving some goal or end.

The person does not allow excesses and deficiencies of emotion and passion to interfere with reasoning well or to lead to intemperate actions. and capable of understanding.The Ethical Person Unlike other theories. knowledgeable. This person can be an actual virtuous individual or a nonexistent ideal person. an ethical person must also have the moral virtues. the ethical standard in virtue ethics will not be a rule or principle that designates ethical actions. Understanding will enable the virtuous person to judge correctly. Instead. The ethical standard will be a person who is living the good life. To obtain well-being. knowledgeable and understanding person was living a better life than a foolish and ignorant individual. and be like the model or the ideal person. and does not have the vices. lets the virtuous person to make effective and fulfilling decisions and judgments and to act in appropriate ways. Practical wisdom. the ethical standard will be an individual who embodies the virtues and does not possess the vices. He or she is wise. one must strive to acquire the virtues. Aside from having the intellectual virtues. The ethical person possesses intellectual virtues. Many Greek Philosophers presumed that a wise. eliminate the vices. 62 . which will lead to a better life than that of someone who does so incorrectly. Knowledge enables persons live better lives because it opens up more opportunities and helps persons make better judgment when it comes to decisions.

Second. knowledge. they will choose the right course of action because doing the right thing comes from a developed character. 2005). Aristotle thought that being a good person and obtaining well-being would only be possible in the presence of certain other factors. we would not really be able to live good lives. This relates to practical wisdom. Their actions flow from their character. The closer one approximates the good person. people must be aware of what they are doing. they must choose the action because it is virtuous and choose it as an end in itself. some degree of material prosperity. The good person has achieved well-being. the action must be the expression of their character and must be accompanied by the proper feeling or emotion. and their emotions do not interfere with being virtuous. They act ethically in a spontaneous way. When virtuous people are faced with complex moral dilemmas. and living in a flourishing city. Third. This relates to moral virtue. Good people know what they are doing and choose to feel or do something because it is virtuous. Without these things. 2005). 63 . such as health. Aristotle believed that in order for moral character to be developed.Being a good person entails more than mere action. 2002). The ethical person does not need to follow general rules or evaluate individual actions because they have developed a good character and good habits. Whether there actually are or are not people who fit the description. First. longevity. which is a product of character (Birsch. anyone can strive to become a good person by trying to become more like Aristotle‘s model person. the better one is (Birsch. an individual must make a personal effort through training and routine practice (Butts & Rich. This relates to the intellectual virtue.

It does not distort ethics by oversimplifying it. to strive for excellence and to aim at a good life. and try to imitate his or her virtuous character. One needs only to study the model‘s life. 4. for the nursing profession.Strengths of Virtue Ethics 1. A Theory Consistent with Human Nature Being a virtuous person will help an individual accomplish the basic human function successfully. It is not unusual that we look up to people we idolize and we strive to be like.. Mother Teresa. An Ethical Theory that is Not Simplistic Unlike other theories that oversimplifies ethics. Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. which are basically the aims of this theory. Other theories would plainly toss out abstract principles on duties and rights but the complexity of virtue ethics is concerned in a much deeper sense--. This is a conventional practice and one that is presumably practical. It centers on the person and what it means to be human and not just on morality that is 64 . These people were regarded as good people because they all lived the good life. it is regarded that it is a strength of virtue ethics to be comprehensive and complex in nature. Florence Nightingale. such as Jesus Christ.the totality of the person‘s character and his entire life in all its aspects. it is common to our human nature to think and reason. A Theory that Goes Beyond Pure Duty and Rights-based Ethics It is but a challenge to the individual to rise above ordinary moral demands and to work toward creating a society wherein it is easy to be virtuous and live the good life. Likewise. 2. 3. and of course. A Practical Ethical Theory A person simply needs to find a good person and emulate him or her.

This criticism is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of virtue itself. and used as a moral model. There can be no effective moral guidelines for virtue ethics unless a moral person can be identified. virtue ethics has been criticized for its lack of coherence as a bag-of-virtues approach. The Incompleteness of Virtue Ethics According to Boss (1999). The problem is that we are uncertain whom to use as our model person.a unity that most of us are still striving to grasp and achieve. moral virtues impart no specific principles and rules related to actions either. virtue ethics provides only minimal guidelines about what actions should not be performed. Aristotle‘s ethical theory of virtue does not name moral guidelines. is relative to the individual. Moreover. 65 . Virtue ethics teaches us to be moral individuals who do not simply follow rules but deliberately choose virtuous acts because it is an end in itself. A modern philosopher might reject Socrates.based on actions taken as consequences of duty and obligation. It has been said that a successful ethical theory must help us solve ethical problems. Virtue ethicists do not mean virtue to imply a list of unrelated character traits. however. studied. Virtue ethics provide no objective guidance about the proper amount of feeling when it comes to moral virtues since the mean which one is supposed to deliberately choose. Aristotle had one vision of the moral person. but contrary. but rather a unity of character --. perhaps he would have identified Socrates. Limitations of Virtue Ethics 1. and name someone else.

2. virtue ethics fail on this regard and is thereby. is a basic assumption many philosophers would certainly claim. Another problem with the theory is that it does not consider persons as moral equals. and on this matter. a reasonably long life and living in a healthy society. not an entirely successful ethical theory. unless they can develop virtuous habits through other means. Aristotle has not provided us with ethical guidelines that are adequate to help us solve many moral problems. It is also believed that a person who suffers from a physical or mental disability is morally inferior to a person without such a condition. It has been stipulated that reasoning well and being virtuous depend on opportunity and education. virtue ethics is seriously. Therefore. some of which are beyond the moral agent‘s control is one of the questionable elements in his theory. then an element of luck enters the moral realm. Well-being requires health. People with serious mental defects 66 . in the light of its inability to completely satisfy the criterion which states that an ethical theory must help us solve problems. All those mentioned requirements are completely beyond the control of the agent. If the well-being of the individual depends on these factors. People who lack opportunities and who may be poorly educated will not be the moral equals of those who have more opportunities and are well educated.In general. such as acquiring informal education or imitating ethical persons. Moral Luck and Partiality The ability to be a good person should be completely in the control of the moral agent. Aristotle‘s view that an ethical life contains a variety of components.

67 . 2002). Even if a person did accept the notion of a basic human function.will not have the same opportunities for knowledge and practical wisdom and therefore will be thwarted in achieving well-being. and he thinks that humans alone are rational. 3. we found out that according to Aristotle. it is the right of others to reject the idea and propose another such that of the devout Christians who firmly believe that the fundamental human purpose is to love God and other human beings. he or she might not agree with Aristotle that the function was being rational. Furthermore. since there is no common ground that leads us to believe that reasoning is a distinctive human function. there is the existence of a basic human function because of his assumption that everything has a basic function. Similarly. The Fundamental Human Function Early on the discussion. Aristotle claims that the basic human function must be related to whatever it is that only humans possess. people with serious physical disabilities will not be able to achieve the full degree of well-being and therefore are morally inferior than a person who is not physically challenged. Rationality might not be the exclusive possession of human beings (Birsch. The notion that virtue ethics is appropriate because it is congruent with the fundamental human function is debatable because there are no compelling reasons to accept the position that everything has a distinctive function.

Implication, Application and Conclusion On a personal note, I daresay that virtue ethics is above the other theories when it comes to the fact that when it comes to being good, it goes beyond the act itself but emphasizes that being moral persons by being virtuous is an end in itself. It is by far the best argument of this theory that we do good not because we are bound by duty, rights or obligation but because it is in our character to do so. True enough that virtue ethics is not very helpful on specific and concrete ethical situations, but it redeems itself when it comes to the general notion and wider horizons of our existence, of what should we strive to achieve and become, for us to life the good life. Admittedly, we are aware that there is no single theory that offers neither the complete truth nor the perfect solution to situations involving moral and ethical issues. Nevertheless, we can utilize a number of theories combined to serve as comprehensive tools for analyzing and deciding on ethical dilemmas we face specially in the work arena for nurses, where the greatest issues of ethical problems arise. Furthermore, it is our responsibility as rational beings to apply moral theory to real-life situations, not as specific solutions but as guides to understanding and decision-making.

―Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.‖ ~ Frank Outlaw

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DIVINE COMMAND THEORY DEFINITION The name ―divine command theory‖ can be used to refer to any one of a family of related ethical theories. What these theories have in common is that they take God‘s will to be the foundation of ethics. According to divine command theory, things are morally good or bad, or morally obligatory, permissible, or prohibited, solely because of God‘s will or commands. Philosophers both past and present have sought to defend theories of ethics that are grounded in a theistic framework. Roughly, Divine Command Theory is the view that morality is somehow dependent upon God, and that moral obligation consists in obedience to God‘s commands. Divine Command Theory includes the claim that morality is ultimately based on the commands or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires. The specific content of these divine commands varies according to the particular religion and the particular views of the individual divine command theorist, but all versions of the theory hold in common the claim that morality and moral obligations ultimately depend on God.

POSSIBLE ADVANTAGES OF DIVINE COMMAND THEORY An apparent advantage of Divine Command Theory is that it provides an objective metaphysical foundation for morality. For those committed to the existence of objective moral truths, such truths seem to fit well within a theistic framework. That is, if the origin of the universe is a personal moral being, then the existence of objective moral truths are at home, so to speak, in the universe. By contrast, if the origin of the

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universe is non-moral, then the existence of such truths becomes philosophically perplexing, because it is unclear how moral properties can come into existence via nonmoral origins. Given the metaphysical insight that ex nihilo, nihilo fit, the resulting claim is that out of the non-moral, nothing moral comes. Objective moral properties stick out due to a lack of naturalness of fit in an entirely naturalistic universe. This perspective assumes that objective moral properties exist. Not only does Divine Command Theory provide a metaphysical basis for morality, but according to many it also gives us a good answer to the question,‖ why be moral?‖ William Lane Craig argues that this is an advantage of a view of ethics that is grounded in God. On theism, we are held accountable for our actions by God. Those who do evil will be punished, and those who live morally upstanding lives will be vindicated and even rewarded. Good, in the end, triumphs over evil. Justice will win out. Moreover, on a theistic view of ethics, we have a reason to act in ways that run counter to our self-interest, because such actions of self-sacrifice have deep significance and merit within a theistic framework. On Divine Command Theory it is therefore rational to sacrifice my own well-being for the well-being of my children, my friends, and even complete strangers, because God approves of and even commands such acts of selfsacrifice. An important objection to the foregoing points is that there is something inadequate about a punishment and reward orientation of moral motivation. That is, one might argue that if the motive for being moral on Divine Command Theory is to merely avoid punishment and perhaps gain eternal bliss, then this is less than ideal as an account of moral motivation, because it is a mark of moral immaturity. Should we not

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and everything else in the right way and in the right amount. Augustine begins with the notion that ethics is the pursuit of the supreme good. that is. who has traditionally not been seen as an advocate of Divine Command Theory. agreeing that a moral motivation based solely on reward and punishment is inadequate. However. Some might object that this is overly egoistic. In order to do this.instead seek to live moral lives in community with others because we value them and desire their happiness? In response to this. physical objects. According to Kant. For example. perhaps the reason to be moral is that God designed human beings to be constituted in such a way that being moral is a necessary condition for human flourishing. He then claims that the way to obtain this happiness is to love the right objects. We must believe that there is a God who will help us satisfy the demands of the 71 . Augustine (see Kent. even if these points in defense of Divine Command Theory are thought to be satisfactory. and then we will be able to love our friends. we must believe that God exists because the requirements of morality are too much for us to bear. in the right way. advocates of Divine Command Theory may offer different accounts of moral motivation. we must love God. 2001) develops a view along these lines. there is another problem looming for the view that was famously discussed by Plato over two thousand years ago. claims that morality requires faith in God and an afterlife. On Augustine‘s view. love of God helps us to orient our other loves in the proper way. those that are worthy of our love. Another advantage according to Immanuel Kant. in his Critique of Practical Reason. which provides the happiness that all humans seek. but at any rate it seems less objectionable than the motivation to be moral provided by the mere desire to avoid punishment. proportional to their value.

However. Socrates is surprised to discover that Euthyphro is prosecuting his own father for the murder of a servant. who claims that Socrates is guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens by leading them away from belief in the proper gods. This then sets the stage for a discussion of the nature of piety between Socrates and Euthyphro. Kant argues that ―there is not the slightest ground in the moral law for a necessary connection between the morality and proportionate happiness of a being who belongs to the world as one of its parts and is thus dependent on it. That is. written by Plato . being moral does not guarantee happiness. Charges have been brought against Socrates by Miletus. Euthyphro‘s family is upset with him because of this. who was a student of Socrates. we have the hope that we will be able to live moral lives. In the course of their conversation. Kant does not employ the concept of moral faith as an argument for Divine Command Theory. if there is a God and an afterlife where the righteous are rewarded with happiness and justice obtains.moral law. PERSISTENT PROBLEM: THE EUTHYPHRO DILEMMA The dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro is nearly omnipresent in philosophical discussions of the relationship between God and ethics. With such a belief. Euthyphro maintains that his family fails to understand the divine attitude to his action. and they believe that what he is doing—prosecuting his own father—is impious. so we must believe in a God who will reward the morally righteous with happiness. Euthyphro and Socrates encounter each other in the king‘s court. this problem goes away. 72 . In this dialogue. but a contemporary advocate could argue along Kantian lines that these advantages do accrue to this view of morality. Moreover. In this discussion.

the implication of this response is that if God commanded that we inflict suffering on others for fun. So. nor do they want to accept the implication that the foundations of morality are arbitrary. the reason that inflicting such suffering is wrong is that God commands us not to do it. on Divine Command Theory. A defender of Divine Command Theory might respond that an action is morally right because God commands it. This is because. a divine command theorist might avoid this problem of arbitrariness by opting for a different answer to Socrates‘ question. is that God‘s commands and therefore the foundations of morality become arbitrary. or is it morally right because God commands it?‖ It is in answering this question that the divine command theorist encounters a difficulty. the divine command theorist avoids 73 . it will be useful to rephrase Socrates‘ question. However. and say that for any particular action that God commands. doing so would become the morally right thing to do. The problem for this response to Socrates‘ question. which then allows for morally reprehensible actions to become morally obligatory. Socrates can be understood as asking ―Does God command this particular action because it is morally right. then doing so would be morally right. However. because God commanded it. or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?‖. We would be obligated to do so. if God commanded us to inflict such suffering. He commands it because it is morally right. For discussion purposes. Most advocates of Divine Command Theory do not want to be stuck with the implication that cruelty could possibly be morally right. By taking this route. then.Socrates asks Euthyphro the now philosophically famous question that he and any divine command theorist must consider: ―Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious.

Moreover. or God is not the source of ethics and is subject to an external moral law.having to accept that inflicting suffering on others for fun could be a morally right action. both of which allegedly compromise his supreme moral and metaphysical status. God no longer serves as the foundation of ethics. and this is a consequence that many divine command theorists would want to reject. it now seems that God has become subject to an external moral law. he avoids the arbitrariness that plagues any Divine Command Theory which includes the claim that an action is right solely because God commands it. Here. The notion that God is subject to an external moral law is also a problem for theists who hold that in the great chain of being. then ethics no longer depends on God in the way that Divine Command Theorists maintain. 74 . and is no longer sovereign. However. there is a moral law external to and higher than God. then it seems that God discovers morality rather than inventing it‖ God is no longer sovereign over the entire universe. God is no longer the author of ethics. but rather is subject to a moral law external to himself. John Arthur (2005) puts the point this way: ―If God approves kindness because it is a virtue and hates the Nazis because they were evil. God is at the top. Hence. If God commands a particular action because it is morally right. but rather a mere recognizer of right and wrong. More generally. As such. two new problems now arise. the advocate of a Divine Command Theory of ethics faces a dilemma: morality either rests on arbitrary foundations.

William of Ockham states that the actions which we call ―theft‖ and ―adultery‖ would be obligatory for us if God commanded us to do them. neither drinking gasoline nor lying nor committing adultery will help us to function properly and so be fulfilled. and not a real possibility. That is. Bite the Bullet One possible response to the Euthyphro Dilemma is to simply accept that if God does command cruelty. a full understanding of Ockham‘s view here would emphasize that it is a mere logical possibility that God could command adultery or cruelty. as human beings. Human Nature Another response to the Euthyphro Dilemma which is intended to avoid the problem of arbitrariness is discussed by Clark and Poortenga (2003). then the good life will depend upon our nature. Even with this proviso. For example. Most people find this to be an unacceptable view of moral obligation. given his character in the actual world. B. many reject this type of response to the Euthyphro Dilemma. however. drawing upon the moral theory of Thomas Aquinas. Ockham himself was surely not prepared to inflict suffering on others if God commanded it. However. it is not something that God will do. Given this. on the grounds that any theory of ethics that leaves open the possibility that such actions are morally praiseworthy is fatally flawed. then inflicting it upon others would be morally obligatory. some activities and character traits will fulfill us. In Super 4 Libros Sententiarum. and some will not. even if it is logically possible that God could command cruelty. If we conceive of the good life for human beings as consisting in activities and character qualities that fulfill us. Given human nature. as 75 . as Robert Adams (1987) points out.RESPONSES TO THE EUTHYPHRO DILEMMA A.

to avoid the charge of arbitrariness. if we want to be fulfilled as human beings. God commands us to love one another because that is what we ought to do. C. Alston formulates the Euthyphro dilemma as a question regarding which of the two following statements a divine command theorist should accept: 1. We must live lives marked by a love for God and other people. rather than some other nature.human beings. William Alston (1990) offers some advice to advocates of Divine Command Theory. God could have created us differently. or 2. But. God created us with a certain nature. He did no such thing. We ought to love one another because God commands us to do so. what will help or hinder us from functioning properly. The defender of this type of response to the Euthyphro Dilemma. and committing adultery. What grounded this decision? A satisfactory answer will include the claim that there is something valuable about human beings and the nature that we possess that grounded God‘s decision. which Alston believes will make the view as philosophically strong as it can be. should explain why God created us with the nature that we possess. Once He has done this. but it is incumbent upon the proponent of this response to defend this claim. 76 . He cannot arbitrarily decide what is good or bad for us. lying. That is. according to Aquinas. Alston‘s Advice In his ―Some Suggestions for Divine Command Theorists‖. it is possible that He could have made us to thrive and be fulfilled by ingesting gasoline.

in so doing. But this trivialization is not what we mean when we assert that God is morally good. Thus divine commands can be constitutive of moral obligations for those beings who have them without it being the case that God‘s goodness consists in His obeying His own commands. If the divine command theorist holds that ―God commands us to love our neighbor because it is morally good that we should do so. and so as something distinct from conformity to divine commands. that God is essentially perfectly good. Alston summarizes his argument for this claim as follows: …a necessary condition of the truth that ‗S ought to do A‘ is at least the metaphysical possibility that S does not do A. 315). assuming. One problem with opting for number 1 in the above dilemma is that it becomes difficult if not impossible to conceive of God as morally good. or. as we are here. And no moral obligations attach to God. moral obligations attach to all human beings. indeed. because if the standards of moral goodness are set by God‘s commands. in the ordinary sense of that term. even those so saintly as to totally lack any tendency. Alston concludes that Divine Command Theory survives the first horn of the dilemma. then the claim ―God is morally good‖ is equivalent to ―God obeys His own commands‖. On this view. perhaps the theory is delivered a fatal blow by the dilemma‘s second horn. Alston argues that a divine command theorist can avoid this problem by conceiving of God‘s moral goodness as something distinct from conformity to moral obligations.‖ then moral 77 . consists in any relation whatsoever of God to His commands (p.Alston‘s argument is that if we interpret these statements correctly. to do other than what it is morally good to do. a theist can in fact grasp both horns of this putative dilemma. However.

without reference to the individual‘s conformity to general principles of goodness? In response. Alston prefers a different option. but rather God just acts according to his necessarily good character. insofar as it seems that it is arbitrary to take a particular individual as the standard of goodness. when we are seeking an answer to the question ―By virtue of what does good supervene on these characteristics?‖ we ultimately reach either a general principle or an individual paradigm. D. sooner or later. One response is to say that God is subject to moral principles in the same way that He is subject to logical principles. so to speak. which a defender of the theory can appropriate in response to the Euthyphro Dilemma. Hence. And Alston‘s view is that it is no more arbitrary to invoke God as the supreme moral standard than it is to invoke some supreme moral principle. however. which nearly all agree does not compromise his sovereignty (See The Omnipotence Objection below). But is not arbitrariness still present. Modified Divine Command Theory Robert Adams (1987) has offered a modified version of the Divine Command Theory. That is. Adams argues that a modified divine command theorist ―wants to say…that an act is wrong if and only if it is contrary to God‘s will or commands (assuming God 78 . That is. and argues that we can think of God himself as the supreme standard of goodness. God does not consult some independent Platonic realm where the objective principles of goodness exist.goodness is independent of God‘s will and moral facts stand over God. Alston points out that there must be a stopping point for any explanation. the claim that good supervenes on God is no more arbitrary than the claim that it supervenes on some Platonic principle. God is no longer absolutely sovereign. insofar as God is now subject to such facts.

but that there are other possible worlds in which ethical wrongness is not identified with being contrary to the commands of a loving God. should be taken as a necessary truth. that in the actual world. the modification at issue is aimed at avoiding both horns of the Euthyphro Dilemma. One could agree with this modification of Divine Command Theory. that an action is wrong if and only if it goes against the commands of a loving God. but disagree with the claim that it is a necessary truth that any action is ethically wrong if and only if it is contrary to the commands of a loving God. that is. The Modified Divine Command Theory avoids this problem. namely. One might hold that this claim is a contingent truth. Given this. and it is wrong because it is contrary to the commands of a loving God. possess the property of ethical wrongness. irrespective of whether anyone actually believes that it is wrong. Adams claims that the following is a necessary truth: ―Any action is ethically wrong if and only if it is contrary to the commands of a loving God‖. an action such as torturing someone for fun is ethically wrong. whichever option a modified divine command theorist chooses. That is. At any rate. then morality becomes arbitrary. actions. The first horn of the dilemma posed by Socrates to Euthyphro is that if an act is morally right because God commands it. we could be morally obligated to inflict cruelty upon others. Adams‘ stronger claim. and this property is an objective property. because morality is not based on the mere commands of God. It should be pointed out that for the theist who wants to argue from the existence of objective moral properties back to the existence of God. On this modification of Divine Command Theory. but 79 .loves us)‖. being contrary to the commands of a loving God is what constitutes ethical wrongness. and perhaps intentions and individuals. Moreover. rather than a contingent one.

Thomas Aquinas responds to this understanding of omnipotence. On the Modified Divine Command Theory. How could there be anything that an all-powerful being cannot do? In his discussion of the omnipotence of God. God therefore retains his supreme moral and metaphysical status. command cruelty for its own sake. The Modified Divine Command Theory is also thought to avoid the second horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma. Some would argue that this implication is inconsistent with the belief that God is omnipotent. and to do so would violate it. to say that God can do all things is to 80 . and indeed cannot. but rather is that moral law. God is not subject to a moral law that exists external to him. morality is not arbitrary nor would God command cruelty for its own sake. God is the source of morality. and argues that it is misguided. For Aquinas. because morality is grounded in the character of God. Question 25. Aquinas argues that we must consider ―the precise meaning of ‗all‘ when we say that God can do all things‖ (First Part. Moreover. because God‘s nature is fixed and unchanging. for the modified divine command theorist. It is not possible for a loving God to command cruelty for its own sake.is rooted in the unchanging omnibenevolent nature of God. Morality. The Omnipotence Objection An implication of the Modified Divine Command Theory is that God would not. is ultimately grounded in the perfect nature of God. Given that the moral law exists internal to God. God is not subject to an external moral law. Article 3). the moral law is a feature of God‘s nature. Hence. in this sense. MORE OBJECTIONS TO THE DIVINE COMMAND THEORY a.

is insufficient for the issue at hand. because this is absolutely impossible. For Aquinas. Since ―a round corner‖ is a contradiction in terms. This problem has been given voice by Leibniz (1951). rather than God cannot make such a thing. For example. is incoherent. God would not and cannot command cruelty for its own sake. God cannot make a round corner. it problematically appears that God‘s goodness consists in God doing whatever he wills to do. Wierenga (1989). there is something about the nature of sin (a category in which commanding cruelty for its own sake would fall) that is contrary to omnipotence. While it makes sense to conceive of God as forming an intention to do an action. This response. and Wainright (2005). The Omnibenevolence Objection On Divine Command Theory. but rather it is entailed by his omnipotence. however. There is no logical contradiction in terms here. or judging that it would be good to do an action. it is better to say that making a round corner cannot be done.say that he can do all things that are possible. This. however. Aquinas offers a further response to this sort of challenge to God‘s omnipotence. His view is that ―to sin is to fall short of a perfect action. The problem is this: if what it means for an action to be morally required is that it be commanded by God. Aquinas‘ view is that God cannot command cruelty because he is omnipotent. which is repugnant to omnipotence‖ (Ibid). as there is in the case of the round corner. then God‘s doing what he is obligated to do is equivalent to his doing what he commands himself to do. that God cannot do immoral actions is not a limit on his power. Hence. and has recently been discussed by Quinn (1978). Alston (1989). that on a Modified Divine Command Theory. the notion that 81 . namely. and not those that are impossible. b.

c. even if they are not grounded in a disposition to obey God. These dispositions are good. because a moral virtue would be a disposition to do an action that God commands. This is also incoherent. Moreover. The Autonomy Objection The idea that to be morally mature. as Wierenga (1989) points out. truth telling is not only morally good. treat them with compassion. Wainright (2005) explains further that while it is true that the moral obligatoriness of truth telling could not have been God‘s reason for commanding it. on Divine Command Theory. and deal with them fairly. one must freely decide which moral principles will govern one‘s life serves as an objection to Divine Command Theory. on Divine Command Theory. divine command theorists have argued that they can still make sense of God‘s goodness. by pointing out that he possesses traits which are good as distinguished from being morally obligatory. This is because the moral goodness of truth telling is a sufficient reason for God to command it. 222). ―the range of ‗whatever God were to do‘ includes no actions for which God would not be praiseworthy‖ (p. while it is still the case that whatever God does is good. but the will of God. God could not be seen as possessing moral virtues. Once God does command it.he commands himself to do an action is incoherent. because on the theory it is not our own wills that govern our moral lives. For example. if they are possessed by God in every possible world in which God exists. but instead followers of a moral law 82 . And if we take these dispositions to be essential to God‘s nature. the claim that God does not have moral reasons for commanding it does not follow. We are no longer self-legislating beings in the moral realm. then. that is. In response. God may be disposed to love human beings. but it also becomes morally obligatory.

some of the issues raised above regarding autonomy are relevant. Moreover. how does the divine command theorist know which (putatively) divine commands to follow? The religions of the world often give conflicting accounts of the nature and content of the commands of God. because we are responsible for obeying or not obeying God‘s commands. In response. d. Additionally. even if it ultimately is grounded in God‘s commands. we are autonomous because we must rely on our own independent judgments about God‘s goodness and what moral laws are in consistent with God‘s commands. However. insofar as on the theory we do not impose the moral law upon ourselves. Adams (1999) argues that Divine Command Theory and moral responsibility are compatible. The Pluralism Objection The last objection to note is that given the variety and number of religions in the world.imposed on us from the outside. there remains a plurality of understandings within religious traditions with respect to what God commands us to do. This is similar to the activity and deliberation of a secular moralist who must also decide for herself. autonomy is incompatible with Divine Command Theory. Given this. which understanding of the divine to adopt and which understanding of divine commands within his particular tradition he finds to be the most compelling. based on the available evidence. it seems that a divine command theorist can still say that we impose the moral law on ourselves by our agreeing to subject ourselves to it once we come to understand it. correctly understanding and applying them. among a plurality of moral traditions and 83 . and adopting a selfcritical stance with respect to what God has commanded us to do. A divine command theorist must decide for herself. even if such a person believes that his religion is correct. In this sense.

that it is only those who follow the correct religion. MORALITY. Abraham does not kill Isaac. Here we have a conflict between the religious and the ethical. Michael Boylan argues that we must engage in selfanalysis for the purpose of both constructing and implementing a personal plan of life that is coherent. and not merely through a religious text. It is consistent with Divine Command Theory that we can come to see our obligations in this and many other ways. or religious tradition. and the correct interpretation of that religion. but if he had his community must judge him to be a murderer. which seems highly problematic. namely. and good. and religious practice. The reason for this is that Abraham‘s community does not know whether the command to kill Isaac was a legitimate divine 84 . religious experience. a divine command theorist could grant that a philosophical naturalist may come to see that beneficence is intrinsically good through a rational insight into the necessary character of reality (see Austin. which moral principles to adopt and allow to govern his life. ethical. In this activity. and aesthetic values. This takes us into another problem for divine command theory. Divine Command Theory is consistent with the belief that numerous religions contain moral truth. that are moral. However. For example. comprehensive. Of particular interest in this context is Boylan‘s discussion of God‘s command to Abraham to kill Isaac. 2003). we must recognize that there are many types of values by which we live. CONCLUSION: RELIGION. including but not limited to religious. AND THE GOOD LIFE In his A Just Society (2004). Boylan notes that in the story.interpretations within those traditions. and that we can come to know our moral obligations apart from revelation. tradition.

Boylan‘s position contrasts with Kierkegaard‘s. in a just society morality should win the day. in such disputes. this community must depend upon the ethical prohibition against murder when evaluating Abraham‘s actions. 85 . in order to develop a personal plan of life that is coherent. so that in this case the religious trumps the ethical. or some delusion of Abraham‘s. when evaluating the philosophical merits and drawbacks of Divine Command Theory. Boylan argues that when the commands of religion (or the values of aesthetics) clash with the demands of morality. Regardless of what one makes of this. who is generally interpreted as believing that Abraham‘s action is justified by a suspension of the ethical. comprehensive. as well as the relevant aesthetic.command. one should take a broad perspective and consider the possible connections between the theory and other religious and moral issues. However. and metaphysical questions. and good. epistemic. So.

traditional ethics views as trivial the moral issues that arise in the so-called private world. or rethink traditional ethics to the extent it depreciates or devalues women's moral experience. First. especially powerful men. Among others. It represents an alternative to moral theories such as Kantian ethics and utilitarianism.‖ This means that feminist ethics is specifically focused on evaluating ethically related situations in terms of how these situations affect women. Accordingly. ethic of care emphasize the importance of relationships (Held. feminist philosopher Alison Jaggar blames traditional ethics for letting women down in five related ways.ETHIC OF CARE DEFINITION The ethic of care is a distinct theoretical approach developed by feminists in the second half of the twentieth century. ―to a greater or lesser degree. According to Tong (1997). reformulate. The concept of feminist ethics tends to have a political connotation and addresses the patterns of women‘s oppression as this oppression is perpetrated by dominant social groups. ethic of care centers on personal relations and communal ties. Second. INTRODUCTION The ethic of care is a theory widely used by nurses. While consequentialist and deontological ethical theories emphasize universal standards and impartiality. the realm in which women do housework and 86 . all feminist approaches to ethics are filtered through the lens of gender. it is under the broad scope of feminist approach to ethics which originated from the Kohlberg-Gilligan debate. it shows less concern for women as opposed to men's issues and interests. 2006). In contrast to these moral theories. Feminist Ethics is an attempt to revise.

emotion. war. absence of hierarchy. rights. and finally. intellect. community. it favors ―male‖ ways of moral reasoning that emphasize rules. nature.‖ 1992). 1982) challenged "justice-based" approaches to moral discussion: ". 2005). wariness.” HISTORICAL BACKGROUND In the 1970s and 80s. particularity. trust.‖ Fifth. transcendence. Critical theories are somewhat different from traditional theories because the purpose of critical theories is to promote human emancipation (Bohman. domination. culture. in general. the ethic of care is also distinguished as a critical theory. Specifically. feminist writers began to question the assumptions behind many of the traditional ethical theories. sharing. asceticism. joy. and the elderly. product. hierarchy. the infirm. connection. ―Feminist Ethics. which is a broad term that identifies theories and worldviews that address the domination perpetuated by specific powerful groups of people and the resulting oppression of other specific groups of people. responsibilities. peace. Fourth. and death. Moreover. and life.. the purpose of using critical theories is “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them. and partiality (Jaggar. body. traditional ethics overrates culturally masculine traits like ―independence. Carol Gilligan‘s work in moral psychology (A Different Voice. and impartiality over ―female‖ ways of moral reasoning that emphasize relationships.take care of children. sometimes referred to as critical social theory. immanence. Third. universality. it implies that.. women are not as morally mature or deep as men.men tend to embrace an ethic of rights using quasi-legal terminology and impartial principles … women tend to affirm an ethic of care that centers on responsiveness in an 87 . will.‖ while it underrates culturally feminine traits like ―interdependence. autonomy. process.

and this held for adult men and women as 88 . Measuring progress by it resulted in boys being found to be more morally mature than girls. Taking care of others is the core notion. One of the founders of the ethic of care was American ethicist and psychologist Carol Gilligan.interconnected network of needs. and is used to assess progress along the following stages: Stage Goal Stage 1: Obedience to authority Pre-conventional Stage 2: Nice behavior in exchange for future favors Stage 3: Live up to others' expectations Conventional Stage 4: Follow rules to maintain social order Stage 5: Adhere to social contract when it is valid PostStage 6: Personal moral system based on abstract conventional principles In citing Gilligan from her book ―In a Different Voice. This concept of human maturity measures.‖ she believed that Kohlberg’s model must be wrong. and prevention of harm." ETHIC OF CARE VERSUS ETHIC OF JUSTICE An ethic of care is grounded in the moral experiences of women and feminist ethics. care. Gilligan was a student of developmental psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg and developed her moral theory in contrast to her mentor's theory of stages of moral development.

fairness. sympathy. thinkers had raised questions such as: Are women's ―feminine‖ traits the product of nature/biology or are they instead the outcome of social conditioning? Are moral virtues as well as gender traits connected with one's affective as well as cognitive capacities.well. founded on justice and abstract duties or obligations. Gilligan offered a different feminist perspective: men and women have tendencies to view morality in different terms – with women emphasizing empathy and compassion over the notions of morality that are advantaged by Kohlberg's scale. Even before. impartiality. An ethic of care emphasizes the importance of traditionally feminine traits such as love. Gilligan argued. It displayed a particularly masculine perspective on morality. While an ethic of justice is being based on duty. 89 . or objective principles similar to the values that were popularized during the Enlightenment era. it is essential to look onto the difference between men and women. indeed with one's physiology and psychology? It is important to note however. and concern about the well-being of other people. there are traditional assumptions between male-female differences. that even before. compassion. MEN AND WOMEN THINK DIFFERENTLY To better understand why there is the existence of different conflicting views. This was not an objective scale of moral development. Men are stereotyped as rational. She also stated that Kohlberg's founding study consisted of largely male participants. This ethic of care theory then gradually evolved into an approach to ethics that gained popularity because of the debate about the differences in women‘s and men‘s approaches to moral reasoning.

thus they are more suited to be followers. there is a difference in the socialization of boys and girls in general. Rousseau said that men and women are different and neither is superior. much earlier) discovered some evidence that males and females reason differently when confronted with moral problems. However. regarded women as having no sense of ―civil personality. on the other hand. Nevertheless. rather. men are made most suited to take part in public affairs. partial. Naturally. according to him. women can‘t formulate original reasons thus they are not suited to become leaders. Kant. feeling. However. private natural. the initial reaction of feminists is to deny such differences altogether. is in the home. This general structure results to psychological difference: women are more attracted than men to the values of the nuclear family. Female ethical perspectives are more: personal. according to him. recently they acknowledge that there are indeed differences between men and women. too. they insist that women are by no means inferior to men. are perfectly well suited to take part in public affairs and they know how to exercise command and authority. 90 .whereas women as emotional. Hence a woman‘s place. Women are socialized more for home. whereas men are socialized more for impersonal cooperation and competition in the public arena. Psychologists Carol Gilligan and Lawrence Kohlberg (and Freud. and women are more suited to private and domestic concerns. ACCOUNTS FOR SUCH DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SEXES Undeniably.‖ They‘re biologically and mentally unsuited to take part in public life. Yet there are differences. compassionate. Their results are as follows. Nevertheless. Aristotle even had his view that women have the good ability to obey. man is superior and women are inferior. Women.

concrete. as they are generally inclined to reason. fairness. Some utilitarian. duties. individual. or one‘s employee should be set aside when determining what one ought to do. contractual. rights. In contrast. impartial. The natural prejudice in how people care more about some people as compared to others is acknowledged in an ethic of care. compassion. public. then you would have a 91 . and solidarity. The approaches to ethics that we have seen. Whereas. and maintaining relationships. 2008). relationship. This point distinguishes an ethic of care from an ethic of justice and duty-based ethics that emphasize the supremacy of reason and minimize the importance of emotion in guiding moral reasoning and the moral nature of one‘s relationship (Butts & Rich. and if saving the stranger would produce more utility than saving your parent. consequently. or ―rights‖ and much less interested in compromising and thinking in terms of the individuals affected. Also. all assume that ethics should be impartial and that. and autonomy. the male (ethic of justice) is most concerned with abstracting from the particular circumstances to universal moral laws. any special relationships that one may have with particular individuals – such as relatives. as they are more inclined to responsibility. male ethical perspectives are: impersonal. friends. MORE ON ETHIC OF CARE In essence. the role of emotions in moral reasoning and behavior is accepted as being necessary and natural compliment to rational thinking. dialogue. the female (ethic of care) is concerned most of all with the concrete individuals who are affected as well as the importance of negotiation. have claimed that a stranger and your parent both are drowning and you could save only one of them.

This view.moral obligation to save the stranger and let your parent drown. is perverse and mistaken. desires. is a key concept in an ―ethic of care‖. Thus an ethic of care emphasizes two moral demands: 1. values. We each should exercise special care for those with whom we are concretely related by attending to their particular needs. but. many people have argued. In such a situation. values. the special relationship of love and caring that you have with your parents gives you a special obligation to care for them in a way that overrides obligations that you may have towards the strangers. 2. It is important not to restrict the notion of concrete relationships between two individuals or to relationships between an individual and a specific group. particularly relationship of dependency. Many advocates of an ethic of care have noted that an ethic of care should also encompass 92 . instead. Carol Gilligan says that a morality of care ―rests on an understanding of relationships as response to another in their terms. Such a conclusion.‖ According to this ―care‖ view of ethics. the moral task is not to follow universal and impartial moral principles. and by responding positively to these needs. that we have an obligation to exercise special care toward those particular persons with whom we have valuable close relationships. to attend to and respond to the good of particular concrete person with whom we are in a valuable and close relationship. We each exist in a web of relationships and should preserve and nurture those concrete and valuable relationships we have with specific persons. desires. an approach to ethics that many feminist ethicists have recently advanced. and concrete well being. and concrete well being as seen from their own personal perspective. particularly of those who are vulnerable and dependent on our care.

‖ and ―caring for someone. relationships that 93 . What is important in a communitarian ethic is not the isolated individual. exploitation. One is that not all relationships have value and so not all would generate the duties of care. On the other hand. An ethic of care.‖ The kind of caring demanded by an ethic of care is the kind expressed by the phrase ―caring for someone. and relationships that are characterized by injustice. and harm to others lack the value that an ethic of care requires. violence disrespect and viciousness.the larger systems of relationships that make up concrete communities. An ethic of care can be based on the claim that the identity of the self – who I am – is based on the relationships the self has with other selves. It is also important in this context to distinguish different forms of ―caring‖: ―caring after someone. The concrete relationships that make up a particular community. culture. therefore can be seen as encompassing the kinds of obligations that a so called ―communitarian ethic‖ advocates. then. Relationships in which one person attempts to dominate. relationships that are characterized by hatred. oppress. A communitarian ethic is an ethic that sees concrete communities and communal relationships as having a fundamental value that should be preserved and maintained. practices and history. but the community within which individual discover who they are by seeing themselves as integral parts of a larger community with its traditions. or harm another. should be preserved and nurtured just as much as the more interpersonal relationships that sprung up between people. An ethic of care does not obligate us to maintain and nurture such relationships.‖ ISSUES ON ETHIC OF CARE There are important issues to consider as far as the ethic of care is concerned.

Should she recommend her friend simply because she is her friend. One can imagine situations in which the head nurse‘s obligations of justice toward the hospital would clearly override the obligations she has towards her friend. One can imagine situations in which the head nurse‘s obligations toward her friend override her obligation toward the hospital but although no fixed rule can resolve all conflicts between the demands of 94 . first. Should she turn in her friend as hospital policy requires or should she say nothing in order to protect her friend? Or suppose. that a female head nurse is supervising several people.exhibit the virtues of compassion. Suppose that she must recommend one of these subordinates for promotion to a particularly desirable position. or should she be impartial and follow company policy by recommending the subordinate who is most qualified even if this means passing over her friend? Clearly. Consider two examples. Suppose that one day she catches her friend stealing medicines from the emergency cart. love. Suppose. The demands of an ethic of care would seem to require that the manager favor her friend for the sake of their friendship. in each of these cases. that one of the employees whom a female head nurse supervises is a friend of hers. one of whom is a close friend of hers. friendship. and loyalty do have the kind of value that an ethic of care requires and an ethic of care implies that such relationships should be maintained and nurtured. concern. How should conflict of this sort be resolved? There is no fixed rule that can resolve all such conflicts. justice would require that the manager not favor her friend. second. Another one is the importance of recognizing the demands of caring are sometimes in conflict with the demands of justice.

Also the delivery of care tends to be more compelling at the level of individual than of institutional morality. excess of care can result in self-neglect or ―burnout‖. proponents of caring can respond that an adequate view of caring will balance caring for the caregiver with caring for others. This approach may even have possible conflicts with other values. therefore. Consider that when the head nurse was hired.caring and the requirements of justice. some guidelines can be helpful in resolving such conflicts. friends. more importantly with utility – instead of hiring the most qualified applicant. spouses. Conclusion: Constructive Evaluation of Care Ethics 95 . an ethic of care seems to demand that nurses sacrifice their own needs and desires to care for the well-being of others. betrays her relationships with the people to whom she made these promises if she now shows favoritism toward her friend in violation of the company policies she voluntarily agreed to uphold. and other members of the community. Among the duties she promised to carry out is the duty to protect the resources of the company and to abide by the company policy. she voluntarily agreed to accept the position of head nurse along with the duties and privileges that would define her role as a manager. In demanding to exercise caring for patients. However. Moreover. it can painstakingly degenerate into unjust favoritism. nevertheless. siblings. lovers. The head nurse. Demands of Ethic of care can lead to ―burn-out‖. you might be hiring your useless and incompetent brother-in-law. CONCLUSION: CRITICAL EVALUATION OF CARE ETHICS While the ethic of care theory strongly advocates preserving and nurturing those concrete and valuable relationships we have with specific persons. parents. children.

is that it forces us nurses to focus on the moral value of being partial toward those concrete persons with whom we have special and valuable relationships. An ethic of care. with its focus on partiality and particularity. including patients. is an important reminder of an aspect of morality that cannot be ignored. In these respects. however. It reminds us of the importance of responding to such persons. an ethic of care provides an important corrective to the other approaches to ethics that emphasize impartiality and universality. as particular individuals with characteristics that demand a response to them that we do not extend to others. 96 .The advantage of an ethic of care.

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CURICCULUM VITAE 100 .

Armada Birthday: October 5.Name: Cenon Francis C..com. Royal Valley Subd. 1989 Sex: Male Nationality: Filipino Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic) Home Address: 17 Knight Alley St..ph Educational Attainment: College: Ateneo de Davao University Secondary: Ateneo de Davao University Primary: The Good Shepherd College of Science and Technology 101 . Davao City Email Address: cenon_armada@yahoo.

Name: Jhoanna E.Holy Cross of Davao College 102 . de Castro Birthday: December 9. 1989 Sex: Female Nationality: Filipino Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic) Home Address: 27 Camellia Avenue. Buhangin. Ladislawa Village. Davao City Email Address: jh0anna_0726@yahoo.com Educational Attainment: College: Ateneo de Davao University Secondary: Stella Maris Academy of Davao Primary: Professor Herman Gmeiner School .

Name: Christine Jude de Guzman Birthday: January 2. Sasa.com Educational Attainment: College: Ateneo de Davao University Secondary: Assumption College of Davao Primary: Assumption College of Davao 103 . Davao City Email Address: christine_jude25@yahoo. 1990 Sex: Female Nationality: Filipino Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic) Home Address: 31 Old Airport Road.

com Educational Attainment: College: Bachelor of Science in Nursing Secondary Holy Cross College of Calinan (2006) Primary Holy Cross College of Calinan (2002) 104 . Davao City Email Address: choco_knots2004@yahoo. Dormitorio Birthday: July 12. 1989 Sex: Female Nationality: Filipino Religion: Roman Catholic Home Address: Datu Abeng St.Name: Krista Anne F. Calinan.

1989 Age: 21 years old Civil Status: Single Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic in Denomination) Home Address: Block 17 Lot 16 Rosal Street IWHA Village. Dumoy.Name: Joni Sapra Puray Birthday: August 2. Davao City Contact number: (082) 291-2713 Educational Attainment: Elementary: Ateneo de Davao University High School: Ateneo de Davao University College: Ateneo de Davao University Batch 2010 105 .

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