Different Divisions in Ethics Question: Are there universal or very general rules, standards, or principles, which would allow us to deduce what is appropriate behavior or to judge behavior as appropriate? (1) NO Non-normative ethics Ethical relativism: Moral values and beliefs are relative to the particular individual or culture that holds them. 2 forms: individual relativism and cultural relativism. Problems : How to settle moral conflicts or give moral advice? Eth. relativism has been criticized by moral absolutism, which itself could lead to fundamentalism (what is true for an individual/group is true under all circumstances for all others). - Metaethics: Examination of the language of normative judgments by the means of logic. Basic assumption: moral judgments cannot be false or true; they are a matter of taste, feeling, or interpretation. Examples: emotivism (Ayer, Stevenson) or intuitionism (Pritchard, Ross), which result from strictly empiricist approaches, applying empirical and logical standards to justifications for truth. - Situation ethics: Morality of an action depends on the situation and all situations are different. Morality is not identical with applying a law to a case. - Pragmatism (Dewey) - Communitarianism (MacIntyre): Not all values are equal, but they are all meaningful because they are derived from different individuals which belong to different human communities. - Existentialism: Different choice-situations cannot be compared with each other; they are all unique (see situation ethics). There are no extra-individual (that is, outside the individual) guidelines. There is no one absolute moral compass (Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus…). (2) YES 1. The source is the individual. What concerning the individual?
want all concerned with the consequences to be taken into consideration and to create the greatest amount of happiness for them.1.1.1 Ethical egoism: Says that everybody should act in their self-interest. Ayn Rand’s rational ethical egoism, for instance, was used as a theoretical source for the Libertarianist Party (1972). Ethical egoism is often based on psychological egoism, according to which people normally will act in their own self-interest; they are psychologically inclined to do so (“people do what they want to do”). Famous example of psychological egoism: Thomas Hobbes’s theory. Niccolo Machiavelli applied the idea of self-interest-driven individuals to politics, esp. political leaders, to develop a model of power politics and politicians oriented in success.Advantages:One’s self-interest can be taken into consideration, individual freedom in making choices and one’s responsibility for a choice are stressed. It might work in small, self-sufficient communities, where the chance for conflicts of interests is low.Problems: What about bigger communities? What about the danger of a “war of everyman against everymen” (in the state of nature, where there are no political laws, only natural individuals) that Hobbes cited? What about justice and fairness? What about the morality
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