Ethics -Daniel Wagnon Chapter 1 – Introduction Chapter 2 – Ethics, History of the West, Relativism, Ring of Gyges Chapter 3 – Aristotle and Virtue Ethics Chapter 4 – Mill, Bentham, and Utilitarianism Chapter 5 – Kant and Deontological Ethics Chapter 6 – Marx, Engels, and Marxism Chapter 7 – Existentialism Chapter 8 – Libertarianism Chapter 9 – Stoicism Endnotes 1
Chapter I. Introduction Your entire life is a single unfolding ethical drama, an unceasing flow of ethical confrontations, ethical decisions, and ethical actions – the different consequences of which you have either, lived through and suffered, or have brought about yourself. In this manner, each and every single day until that particular day when your life on this planet ends, you will always-only be immersed in ethical situations, as to be human is to be “always-already” faced with making a decision, choosing how one responds to, and how one lives within an engages with the stream of situations and experiences. In making these choices you bear the responsibility for these actions as their author and source. In this sense, to be human is to be forever enslaved by the dictum of each moment, ever forced to choose – accept or reject, act or refrain, help to nurture or help to prevent – and in so choosing we commit ourselves to a position, your position, and henceforth we live as ethically implicated beings. Understanding the ethical dimension of the human experience for this reason becomes an important matrix through which we can begin to piece together a cogent picture of the human condition and our daily existence. Thus rather than look at the human condition and manner of your daily life through the lens of politics, economics, history, aesthetics, psychology, engineering, dance, religion, and so forth, we will be evaluating experiences through different historically significant ethical interpretations that have been offered as solutions to the various questions of Ethics – What is the Good? How do we achieve the Good? What does the Good require of me? What does the Good dictate my relations with others should be like? What can/should/ought I to do in situation X? How do Ethics relate to Human Beings? What is Ethics? Do Ethics exist? What is the point? How do Ethics relate to my life? And so on. To answer these questions we will turn to the history of philosophy and the different ethical systems which have been rationally argued for and defended. Over the course of this reader different persuasive answers will be given to the question of what is ethics and what does it mean to act ethically – we will start with Aristotle and his system of Virtue Ethics, then move on to look at the Stoics and their ethical system of inwardness and tranquility, this will be followed by the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant and his system of Deontological Ethics, next will be John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism, which will be
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