Sedgwick defines virtue as a praiseworthy quality which is exhibited in right conduct and which extends beyond the limits of moral duty. Practical wisdom and rational self-control are intellectual virtues, while benevolence and common humanity are moral virtues. Justice, good faith, veracity, gratitude, generosity, courage, and humility as other moral virtues. An important question which must be considered by any method of ethics is whether some actions are intrinsically good or whether they are good merely as a means to attain an ultimate good. Another important question to be considered is whether there is a reliable way of deciding which action should be performed in a particular situation in order to achieve the ultimate goal of moral conduct. Another important question is how to determine the ultimate goal of moral conduct. Ethical hedonism defines the highest good as the greatest amount of happiness that is attainable by an individual or by a society. It affirms that the greatest amount of happiness that is attainable by an individual or society is equal to the sum of the greatest amount of pleasure or pain that may be produced by the actions of that individual or society. However, the quantitative method of empirical hedonism may not always be reliable in determining which action is the best means to attain an ultimate good. Egoistic hedonism and universalistic hedonism may be described as intuitive methods of ethics if they intuitively accept the principle that the enjoyment of pleasure and the avoidance of pain are the only rational aims of human action. They may intuitively rely on psychological hedonism as a theory of motivation, but they do not always rely on it as a theory of motivation. Moreover, they may disagree with the intuitionist principle that the rightness or wrongness of some actions does not depend on the consequences of those actions. Sedgwick explains that universalistic hedonism should be clearly distinguished from egoistic hedonism. Universalistic hedonism affirms that all individuals have an equal right to be happy and that there is no individual whose happiness is more important than that of any other individual. It also affirms that the rightness or wrongness of actions depends on whether or not they promote universal happiness. Moral virtues such as benevolence, generosity, and good citizenship may be better promoted by universalistic hedonism than by egoistic hedonism, says Sedgwick. © Copyright Virtual University of Pakistan
23 Ethics For non-Muslims-ETH201 VU However, Sedgwick admits that a problem with universalistic hedonism is that an individual may have to decide whether an action is right or wrong by estimating not only how much personal happiness will be produced by the action but also how much general happiness will be produced by the action. An individual may have to be able to compare the pleasures or pains of other individuals with his own pleasures or pains. Thus, an individual may have to be able to estimate the total amount of his own
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- Fall '18
- Copyright Virtual University of Pakistan