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Unformatted text preview: An Introduction to Ethics (Moral Philosophy) Chapter 25 and 26 from: Th.swashe M.swasheaning of L.swashove Copyright 1995 by Richard Garlikov Chapter 25 About the Subject of Ethics This and the next chapter are meant to serve as an introduction to ethics, particularly for those who have never had a good course in it. I believe it is important to have such a section because too many people do not realize what tremendous progress has been made in reflective ethical thought; and they then virtually begin from scratch in their ethical reflections and therefore too often reason from principles which, unknown to them, have been modified, refined, or disproved and abandoned through intense scrutiny and criticism over time. This section is not meant to be a complete summary of the history of ethics, but it is meant to be a readable and understandable introduction to many of those historically important methods, ideas, and principles that have modern relevance. I believe they will most accurately and readily help you resolve with reasonable people most of the kinds of ethical questions, issues, and disagreements that arise today, especially those in everyday life and in relationships. I think being able to figure out proper values and correct or reasonable moral principles requires certain kinds of moral sensitivity and certain kinds of reasoning or logical ability as well as general knowledge of the physical world. (Knowledge of the physical world is important in order to fully understand about acts and their consequences, which is important in many cases in order to know what is right. And it is important for you to be able to accomplish what your principles tell you is right. Principles without knowledge can be misguided or lead to foolhardiness.) I think most people have these traits in various degrees and that each kind of trait can be cultivated and improved with the proper guidance. Unfortunately such guidance is not always available, and therefore many people are left on their own to develop ethical values and principles. This they do to the extent of their own needs, experiences, abilities, and intellectual interests, but it is a very inefficient (and sometimes impossible) way of learning ethics, just as it would be a very inefficient (and sometimes impossible) way of learning anything. The sensitivity required for being able to discover and appreciate sound moral values and principles includes being able to understand your own feelings, desires, and needs, and being able to understand those of other people; it includes being able to empathize and sympathize with others, having compassion and kindness; and it includes having some reasonable sense of fairness about how to divide benefits and burdens in a given situation. The necessary logical ability includes being able to see the simpler components (if any) of complex problems, situations, and disputes; it includes being able to see or to appreciate the logical consequences and ramifications of ethical principles in order to decide their merit and/or their limits; it...
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