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• Ethical Theories show us that
• Distinguish Good from Evil
• These Theories are normative.
• Thus create moral
disagreements among people.
• Each classical ethical theory has
its view about the reality of
• Each theory gives important
truths a bout moral life.
• None of the theories can claim to
possess the whole truth
• Each theory checks the excesses‘ of
• Thereby showing the limits of each
• Some theories are consequential in
• While others are non-consequential.
• Claims that there are absolute
standards against which
morality can be judged.
• We can strive to attain higher
norms that apply to all human
Moral absolutism cont’d
• Certain actions are right or
wrong irrespective of the
context of the act.
• Nothing is relative; a crime is a
crime regardless of the
Moral Absolutism Cont’d
• Therefore right and wrong are
universal truths ( ethical
standards are applicable to
every body everywhere.
• From an egoistic view, moral
fundamentalism. This can break
• This would imply that all people
should have the same ethical
• positively:, it allows us to
judge the actions of others.
• There are no universal moral
standards; Nothing is good or bad
• Therefore the truth/ moral
principles vary from time to time,
group to group place to place
Moral Relativism Cont’d
• Every one should be contented
with the morality of their time
Two Forms of Relativism
1.Subjectivism: Each individual
must act according to what
he/she considers appropriate
for each situation
Forms of Relativism Cont’d
2. Cultural Relativism: Good and
Bad depends on the ethical
values prevailing in the given
• No responsibility, No blame
every body/groups have their
own moral standards.
• Can not Judge others
• Laws become impossible to
• Actions are judged according
to the end / completion /
• Sum total good in actions must
exceed the evil
Forms of Consequentialism
4. Feminist Consequentialism
• What is ethical is that which
produces good consequences
to the actor.( hedonists/
• Is it possible to avoid pain?
• Foregoing sensual pleasure to
enjoy higher pleasure; postpone
the enjoyment of pleasure
• Pleasure generalized; sacrifice,
duty, generosity.. Etc
Bentham & Stuart Mill
• Using the principle of
utility,(Maximizing the Good)
Bentham found pain and
pleasure to be the only
intrinsic values in the world.
• Man is governed naturally by pain
• Actions and policies should be
evaluated on the basis of the
benefits and costs they have on
• Correct actions produce
greatest net benefits or
lowest net costs.
• Greatest happiness/good
for the greatest number.
• People affected by actions are
stakeholders of the action;
therefore businesses should
consider all people affected by
their businesses as
stakeholders in the business.
• Essentials of Utility
• Maximizing good
• Theory of value: standard of goodness:
intrinsic values- satisfaction of desires-
attainment of autonomy-achievement of deep
• Consequentialism; produce the best utilitarian
• Impartiality/ Universalism
• Is it possible to determine
pleasure for others?
• Is morality for the majority
• Can lead to radical actions,
sufferers .. Assisted suicide(
• There is no room for
absolutism; ethical standards
change according to their
usefulness or practicability and
their ability to produce good
• Good actions are those that
work, profitable, or have
practical consequences, help
solve a problem, and produce
• No common Morality
• One can not be certain of the
Caro Gilligan/ Ethics of Care
• Men use logic and rules/ laws
to arrive at moral decisions.
They generalize morality while
Women see morality as being
entailed in communication and
relationships. Morality is
Ethics of Care Cont’d
• Men see themselves as guilty
for doing something wrong
while women hold themselves
responsible for not doing
something to prevent the hurt.
Ethics of Care Cont’d
• Women change rules in order
to preserve relationships
while men abide by rules and
see relationships as
Ethics of Care Cont’d
• Therefore actions that are
right are those that do not
break up relationships, hurt
other peoples feelings; and
• Kantian Ethics
• Virtue Ethics
• Greek word “ Deon” and “logos” meaning
duty or obligation.
• Acting in accordance to one’s duty is right.
• What are duties?
• Hugo Grotius ( 1583-1635) and Samuel
Pufendorf ( 1632-1694)
• Duties towards God
• Towards one’s self
• Duty towards others. Family, friends, general
social obligations etc
• W.D ROSS DUTIES ( 1817-1971)
• Self improvement and Non- maleficence.
• Immanuel Kant : 1724-1804
• He is a critique of the Utilitarian's, hedonists,
pragmatists, who never care a bout the motives
• Actions are duty based ( motive)
• Right actions are those that are done when the
agent possesses good will( a person recognizes
that they ought to do these actions)
• Categorical Imperative ( unconditional/
command- / essential)
• “ Act only to that maxim by which you can at
the same time will that it should become a
universal law” Universalism
• Key Issues:
• Duty and Good will
• Treating Human Beings as an “ End” not
• Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do
• Virtues allow a person not only to perform
good acts to give the best of himself/herself in
• A good person
directs his/herself towards the good with all
his/her sensory and spiritual powers.
• A virtuous person stands firm in trying
• The choice of good acts produces virtue and
virtues itself is the source of choosing to do
• Good habits make virtues and bad habits
make the vices. ( Virtues= good; Vice= bad)
• Virtues are therefore necessary for a moral
• Virtues govern actions, give one a firm and
good attitude, perfect the intellect, control
passions, and generally make it easy for one to
enjoy leading a morally good life.
• Virtues are acquired by human effort ( they
are the seed and fruit of morally good acts)
• Classifications of Virtues.
1. Cardinal Virtues/ moral virtues: Main/Major
all other virtues originate from them.
Prudence: Right reason-ability to discern true
good from every circumstance.
Justice: Fairness; promote equity.
Fortitude: Firmness in difficulty-constant
pursuit of good
• Resistance to temptations
• Ability to overcome obstacles.
Temperance: Moderates attraction of pleasures.
2. Super natural : Charity, Hope and Faith
3. Intellectual: wisdom, science, art
Natural Law Tradition
• Laws of nature govern the activities of the
universe, instruct emotions common to man, like
love of offspring, self preservation etc ; Therefore
• All rational persons know what kind of actions
morality prohibits, requires, discourages and
encourages. It is reason which makes us act
• What is natural is right/good and vice versa.[
Divine Command Theory
• Good actions commanded by God
• Common good
• Social Goals
• Co-operative Virtues
• Community Values
• Solidarity: community makes the individual
and Vice versa
• Society assigns roles. Therefore what is in line
with the common good is right and vice versa.
• Elements to evaluate an ethical act
• Object /act
• Evaluation of acts with a double effect
• Responsibility for other peoples actions
• Responsibility for cooperating in other peoples
• Restrictions to proper use of the intellect.
Deontological Right Action Duty Rights