Ethical Theories & Principles By Dr. Kifleyesus Andemariam CUEA January 2018
Contents 1. The big eight thinkers 2. The foundations of ethics 2.1 The Ethics of right 2.2 the ethics of duty 2.3 The ethics of utilitarianism 2.4 Virtue ethics 2.5 Ethics of social justice 2.6 other ethical theories (ethics of care, cultural ethics, and case ethics)
1. The Big Eight Thinkers 1. Aristotle (384 – 322) 2. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) 3. Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) 4. John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873) 5. John Rawls (1921 – 2002) 6. Martin Buber (1887 – 1965) 7. Lawrence Kohlberg (1927 – 1987) 8. Victor Frankl (1905 – 1997)
1.1 Aristotle (384-322) He was the student of Plato. He was the tutor of Alexander the Great. He wrote extensively in physics, logic, psychology, natural history, metaphysics, politics and ethics. His book Nichomachean Ethics presented his view of virtue and virtuous life.
Aristotle Major ideas:- Virtue requires action oriented decisions and not only discussion. Virtues are based on your knowledge and experience. They are voluntary acts. Virtues are witnessed through your character or the way you consistently live your life. Examples, temperance, courage, honor, friendly nature, helping those in need without expecting a return, etc.
Aristotle Practical wisdom is required to handle new situations. You need to be stronger than your impulses. Research your choices and weigh each option against each other to determine the best. Usually this option is the middle ground between the two extremes of the choice. Practical wisdom can be used to guide decisions of both the individual or the society. Aristotle believed that you could be happier if you live a virtuous life.
Aristotle – practical application Virtue ethics helps us to act as someone with high moral character (the decisions is part of our moral character). It helps to define what moral characters traits we should have as persons and as professionals. Today every profession defines a set of characteristics the describes its ideal practitioners (define and assure they are present in professionals is moral responsibility). Example, in professional services we expect honest, trust-worthiness, compassion, and competence.
1.2 St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Great Catholic Theologian, Domenica Order. The greatest of his works is the Summa Theologiae. Part II of his work was entirely devoted to ethics. He combined Aristotelian and Christian thinking. He established the concept of “natural laws”, which is part of his ethical theory.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Major ideas include: God is perfectly rational and that He created the world in a rational manner. God gave humans the ability to reason and a free will; and as such, humans are capable to choose good and avoid evil. But rational people may violate natural law.
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