Character and Moral1 - the right act in terms of the...

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Character and Morals NORMATIVE ETHICAL THEORIES Some more broad (and again horribly simplified) distinctions, this time of normative theories: Consequentialist theories (of which the most famous is utilitarianism) take the right act to be determined by its consequences. The task facing the consequentialist is thus to formulate the measure of consequences in such a way that they don’t give rise to absurd results. Deontological theories (of which the most famous is Kant’s) take the right act to be determined by the rules that one must obey. The task facing the deontologist is thus to formulate the rules in such a way that they don’t give rise to absurd results. Prompted by the apparent failure of either of these approaches, a number of theorists have returned to an approach that was more prominent in the classical period, one that characterized
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Unformatted text preview: the right act in terms of the virtues that it exhibited (Aristotle is the most frequently cited authority here, but Plato and the Stoics also made use of the approach). There are two ways of developing this approach. The first proceeds by characterizing the individual virtues, and then holds that the right act is one that exhibits them (problem: what to say if two virtues clash, e.g. justice and mercy). The second proceeds by characterizing the virtuous agent, and then holds that the right act is the one that they would perform (problem: how to characterize the virtuous agent in a way that provides predictive or explanatory power, a problem exacerbated by the fact that virtue theory may be combined with particularism, the view that there are no exceptionless rules governing morality)....
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