Lesson 6 - ETHICS
Arnel O. Rivera
Based on the presentation of:
Mr. Alexander Rodis
In broad terms ethics concerns itself with the
question of morality. What is right and what is wrong
in human relations?
Philip Wheelwright has written a clear and precise
definition of ethics:
“Ethics may be defined as that branch of philosophy
which is the systematic study of reflective choice, of the
standards of right and wrong by which it is to be
guided, and of the goods toward which it may
ultimately be directed.”
Three major areas:
Descriptive ethics is in part an attempt to distinguish
what is from what ought to be.
It seeks to identify moral experience in a descriptive
way. We seek to identify, within the range of human
conduct, the motives, desires, and intentions as well as
overt acts themselves.
We consider the conduct of individuals, or personal
morality; the conduct of groups, or social morality; and
the culture patterns of national and racial groups.
It deals with acceptable judgments regarding what
ought to be in choice and value. “We ought to keep our
promises” and “you ought to be honorable” are
examples of normative judgments— of the moral
ought, the subject matter of ethics.
From the time of the early Greeks, philosophers have
formulated principles of explanation to examine why
people act the way they do, and what the principles are
by which people ought to live; statements of these
principles are called ethical theories.
It centered on the analysis and meaning of the terms
and language used in ethical discourse and the kind of
reasoning used to justify ethical statements.
Metaethics does not propound any moral principle or
goal (except by implication), but rather consists
entirely of philosophical analysis:
What is the meaning of “good?”
Can ethical judgments be justified?
DIFFERENT IDEAS ABOUT MORALITY
SKEPTICISM – the doctrine that moral knowledge is not
possible. Whether there are moral standards is not
knowable or alternatively, if there are any moral
standards, we cannot know what they are.
SUBJECTIVIST – what is right or wrong depends
entirely on what the person (individual relativism) or
culture (cultural relativism) thinks what is right or
cultural relativism – the idea that what the culture
believes is morally right or wrong is morally right
or wrong for people in that culture
individual relativism - what is right or wrong is
what each individual believes is right or wrong.
EGOISM – it is based on self-interest
Descriptive egoism – all conscious action you seek
to promote yourself interest.
Prescriptive egoism- the doctrine that in all
conscious action you ought to seek your self
interest above all.
HEDONISM – it is the pursuit of pleasure.
Psychological hedonism – the ultimate object of a
person’s desire is always pleasure
Ethical hedonism – a person ought to seek pleasure
over other things.
b.1 egoistic ethical hedonism – one ought to seek his or
her own pleasure over other things
b.2 universalistic ethical hedonism – otherwise known
as utilitarianism – one ought to seek the greatest
pleasure for the greatest number of people over other
THE FIVE MAIN ETHICAL FRAME
1. Divine-Command ethics – What God ordains I ought to
do. Augustine and Aquinas are good examples.
2. Consequentialism – Whatever has the most desirable
consequences? The Epicureans, Stoics, and utilitarianism
3. Deontological Ethics- Whatever it is my moral duty to do
(in at least some cases, regardless of consequences) Kant
is a good example
4. Virtue Ethics-What the virtuous person would do? (for
virtue ethics, the primary question is not, What ought I
to do? But rather what kind of person ought I to be? Plato
5. Relativism. What my culture or society thinks I ought to