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A system of moral principles. The rules of conduct recognised in respect to a particular group or culture
Being concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong
Not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent
Not involving questions of right or wrong. Without moral quality. Neither moral nor immoral
What is an absolutist judgement
A black or white judgement. A literal interpretation of a rule, meaning it is true in all situations without asking questions
What is a relativist judgement?
A judgement that depends on the circumstances, there is no universal right or wrong as there is respect for human societies
What is a subjective judgement?
Judgement that is based on personal opinion and not on any fixed rule
What is an objective judgement?
Judgement based on an impartial absolute value system
What are the strengths of using absolutist judgement?
- * Universal code to measure everything against
- * enables us to the creation of human rights
- * easier to apply than relativism
What are the weaknesses of an absolutist judgement?
- * It doesn't consider different circumstances or cultural attitudes
- * no one person can say what the absolute morals are
- * it is not concerned with motive or outcome of an action
What are the strengths to a relativist judgement?
- *it is flexible
- * it focuses on people as individuals
- * allows people to take responsibility
What are the weaknesses to a relativist judgement?
- * Judgements are always subjective
- * no two people may agree on a judgement
- * relativism doesn't allow society progress as rules always being rewritten
- * it is more difficult to apply than absolutism
Why doesn't relativism allow society to progress?
Because rules always being rewritten
Is the deontological argument relativist or absolutist?
What is the deontological argument?
- An action is inherently right or wrong. No account is taken of circumstance or outcome.
- (action then outcome)
What is the teleological theory?
Judgement is based on consequences or outcomes. For actions to be right, it must have favourable consequences.
What did Protagoras say was about what is right and wrong?
He said: 'what is right and wrong depends on the time and place you're living in'
What is the 'norm'
A standard model or pattern regarded as typical
Eg. A middle class couple having having two children
What is the 'convention'?
A general agreement or acceptance of certain practices or attitudes, for example shaking hands
What do moral absolutists believe?
Certain ethical norms, or precepts, exist independent of human experience. These moral principles are objective and universally applicable. Norms cannot differ between societies, as something cannot change from bad to good by crossing a boarder
Why would moral absolutists argue that torture is morally wrong in all societies and at all times?
All people should be treated in the same way, and you would not want to be tortured, therefor you should not torture someone else
Why might a religious believer argue that torture is wrong?
- it degrade the fundamental human rights
- what is wrong for one individual is ethically wrong for all
- religious scripture teaches not to hurt others
- Christianity teaches that God created humans in his image, hurting another human would also be hurting God
What is the Human rights theory?
- -an example of moral absolutism
- -argues that humans have fundamental rights to 'religion, conscience and freedom of thought' just because they are human
- -rights can be divided into two groups: primary and secondary
- Primary rights: right to express opinion, be happy or sad, freedom to move from place to place
- Secondary rights: right to medical treatment, education and social welfare
- there are families of rights to help define different types of rights
What are the names of the family of rights within the Human rights theory?
- security rights
- legal rights
- political rights
- welfare rights
- equality rights
what are security rights?
the right to live peaefully in a community without the fear of being attacked or harmed
what are legal rights?
the rights to property and protection and also to join trade unions
What are political rights?
The right to vote freely and the right to freedom of speech
What are welfare rights?
The right to an education and medical healthcare
What are equality rights?
the right to be treated equally and fairly irrespective of gender, sexuality, disability or ethnicity
What is platonic idealism?
Based on unalterable ideas that give meaning and structure to the universe. These ideas are unchangeable unlike the material world which is in a constant state of flux
What is religious absolutism?
A system of morality from religious scripture that follows natural law
what is the divine command theory?
The idea that morality is a set of rules installed universally by a God who decides what is good and what is evil, as opposed to mortals making these rules.
What are the problems with the divine command theory?
- For morality to come from a God, is for morality not to exist. This is because mortals set the rules of morality, not a celestial being.
- religious scriptures do not tell you moral rules but it is you deciding for yourself based on your own moral reasoning
- morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.
What are the strengths of absolutism?
- Morality is not based on individual preferences but rather universal values
- Allows different societies to share common values
- Allows easy communication between societies
- It allows quick and easy ethical judgements to be made
What are the weaknesses of absolutism?
- Takes no account of historical developments
- No account taken of cultural differences
- No account of the situation
- The application of absolutist ethical theory is often too harsh
What do relativists believe?
- There are no objective truths, as moral values are relative to society and to individuals.(no universal moral truths)
- What one person may see as right another may see as wrong
What is a multi-cultural society?
A society with collections of equally valued and equally free minorities. No one society is better than the other, every society is just different.
What is cultural relativism?
The idea that morality is constructed by social groups (e.g. a faith group). Cultural relativism allows for a multi-cultural society
What is subjective relativism?
The idea that the individual should be free to develop his/her own morality and then relate that free choice onto a particular group of people who share that morality
Instructing how to act
What was Aristotle's idea about motion and change, that added to his idea of Natural Law?
All things move when something moves them. Motion is not random, therefore change cannot be random. All movement performs a function, for a purpose to achieve an end. This is natural law.
Where did Aristotle believe the reason for movement was stored?
Within the soul
What is a soul?
A soul is an immortal non-physical essence
What is the difference between the body and the soul?
- The soul is the rational form whereas the body is the material substance
- When mixed, they create an animate object
According to Aristotle which came first, the idea or the physical existence? (chicken or the egg kinda thing)
The idea came before the physical existence
What is eudaimonia?
Happiness/content which Aristotle described as the highest human good
How can eudaimonia be achieved?
When the end is achieved and the animate object is fulfilled and content
What did Aristotle believe formed a happy society?
A harmonious society, Aristotle believed, was one where all individuals work for their own good in relation to everyone else
What are the 10 steps Aristotle gave for creating harmoniousness
- 1. There is a reason for everything
- 2. These reasons are not contained within rational forms
- 3. The reasons do not exist physically but conceptually
- 4. Material things are mixed with rational forms
- 5. the material substance and rational form exist in tandem
- 6. Material substance and rational form are of equal worth
- 7. They exist to compliment eachother
- 8. They have different functions
- 9. Human beings have body (soma)and soul (psychē)
- 10. Other things have material substance and rational form
What is the advantage of Aristotle's Theory of natural law?
Brings order out of the state of flux as it puts links between the natural order of things and morality
Which natural law theory came first, Aquinas or Aristotle?
Aristotle's idea came first. Aquinas adapted it
What is the main difference between Aquinas' Natural Law and Aristotle's Natural Law theory?
Aquinas based his theory around God and Christianity whereas Aristotle did not
According to Aquinas' natural law theory, why does creation exist?
To reveal God's goodness as he created everything for a reason (nothing was created accidentally)
How did Aquinas say an object reaches its final cause?
- When it does whatever God intended for it to do.
- For example, humans final cause is to be reunited with God
What is Aquinas' basic moral law that underpins all laws that guide what we do and why we do it?
'Good is to be done and pursued and evil is to be avoided'
What does human reason allow us to do, according to Aquinas?
- Achieve ultimate purpose
- Make moral decisions
- Allows us to be in touch with natural law
List the four parts of the hierarchical moral code that Aquinas believed stretches down to us from God
- ETERNAL LAW
- DIVINE LAW
- NATURAL LAW
- HUMAN LAW
What is eternal law?
Laws issued by God that govern the universe, which humans can never fully understand
What is divine law?
The law of God revealed to people through the Bible and through Jesus
What is natural law? (general term)
The idea of a morality that follows the natural purpose of life
What is human law?
Everyday laws that govern us, from the legal system to notices such as 'Please do not walk on the grass'
Where did Aquinas believe we get knowledge of morality from?
He believed we get the sense of morality from God, which inclines us towards perfection and the reunion with Him.
What is 'real good'?
A correct judgement arrived at by the right use of reason along with natural law
What is 'apparent good'?
A faulty judgement as a result of reason or misunderstanding of Divine law
What are primary precepts?
Rules that Aquinas believed a society should follow
Name the main cardinal virtues
Name the later cardinal virtues
How are the cardinal virtues connected to the primary precepts?
According to Aquinas, in order to be moral a person should follow the primary precepts in the light of the caridnal virtues
What is the difference between the primary and secondary precepts?
- Primary precepts are descriptive
- Secondary precepts are prescriptive (demand a response)
What did Aquinas think was true happiness for all humans?
Going to heaven
this view is not held in modern society as it was when Aquinas was around
What did Luther, and other early protestant reformers think were the three false assertions that Natural Law was based on?
- 1. The idea the laws of Nature reveal God's law. They believe The Fall was the break between God and the natural world
- 2. Too much stress placed on Human reason, they believed human reason was corrupt and sinful
- 3. Too much emphasis on doing good, a corrupt individual can only do corrupt things
Who were the stoics?
a group of ancient greek philosophers who saw life as a struggle and trauma that humans must rise above
Why did early protestants believe that moral virtues were so important
(linked to later developments in the natural law theory)
They believed that without moral virtues, human beings would turn into barbaric animals
What are the strengths of natural law? (6)
- Can be applied universally and allows for a common approach to issues
- Prevents fragmentation between societies as most people value the same things as natural law is based on (preservation of life, procreation etc)
- counterbalances hedonistic trends in society
- sanctity of life is central to its teleology
- emphasizes the importance of the physical body in morality
- emphasises social harmony in pursuit of the ultimate good
What are the weaknesses of natural law? (6)
- difficult to judge what is natural
- Human beings do not think through actions
- one virtue may have to be bypassed in order to fulfill another
- Natural law limits human being & God's power
- assumes all humans are similar
- individual moral issues to not fit easily into natural law framework
Define: naturalistic fallacy
the idea that just because nature acts in a certain way it does not follow that this is how things ought to be