Louise M. Antony argues an important ethical concern in her article, “Good minus God”. Can a person do good deeds without God? Arguing from an atheistic point of view, Antony believes that a person does not need to depend on God in order to complete good deeds. I agree, whether Christian or Atheist, all can perform good deeds, but who ultimately defines good versus evil? Antony subjectively defines morality and uses nature as her source. In contrast, I believe God created all things and defines good and evil through His creation and Word. And finally, as followers of God, our motivation for accomplishing good comes from our love for all God has done for us. Imagine a world without order, chaotic without a specific guide to right or wrong–a world without God.
Philippa Foot presented a series of moral dilemmas when she discussed abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect. One famous problem of her was the trolley dilemma: “..he is the driver of a runaway tram which he can only steer from one narrow track onto another; five men are working on one track and one on the other; anyone the tack he enters is bound to be killed.” (Foot, 1967, p. 2) What should the driver do? Despite what he does, he will harm someone!1
The divine command theory, utilitarianism, Kant’s duty defined morality, natural law theory, and Aristotle’s virtue ethics are the five types of ethical theories. The divine command theory states that what is morally right and wrong will be decided by God. Utilitarianism states that “Action “A” is morally right if and only if it produces the greatest amount of overall happiness. Kant’s duty defined morality states that what is important is acting for the sake of producing good consequences, no matter what the act is. Natural law theory states that people should focus on the good and avoid any evil. The last theory is Aristotle’s virtue ethics which states that we should move from the concern towards good action and to focus on the concern with good character. This paper argues that Aristotle’s virtue ethics is better than the other ethical theories.
An ethical dilemma today in society is that of abortion, which one would define as a deliberate end to a pregnancy. Various arguments exist questioning if an abortion is morally justifiable. Some say the state should decide on the legality of an abortion, some politicians say the federal government should decide, and many believe it should be up to the women since it pertains to their body. In this paper, I will analyze what a utilitarian’s perspective on abortion would be.
In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he outlines the different scenarios in which one is responsible for her actions. There is, however, a possible objection which raises the possibility that nobody is responsible for their actions. Are we responsible for some of our actions after all? If so, under what circumstances? Based on an evaluation of Aristotle’s arguments and the objection that stands against it, people are responsible for voluntary actions and involuntary actions whose circumstances or particulars they themselves have caused.
Bernard Williams’ essay, A Critique of Utilitarianism, launches a rather scathing criticism of J. J. C. Smart’s, An Outline of a System of Utilitarian ethics. Even though Williams claims his essay is not a direct response to Smart’s paper, the manner in which he constantly refers to Smart’s work indicates that Smart’s version of Utilitarianism, referred to as act-Utilitarianism, is the main focus of Williams’ critique.
Rather, Singer’s weaker version is more plausible, that one should take necessary action where we are able to prevent bad states of affairs without sacrificing morally significant (Singer, 1972). It is clear then that moral autonomy to pursue one’s own interests is something that can constitute moral significance. An individual is morally free not to devote themselves full time to prevent famine. It is important to make a distinction between the freedom to pursue one’s own interests and the freedom of wasting resources on excessive luxuries. Singer concedes there is no justification for the purchasing of stylish new clothes as any benefit to this purchase would be sparingly little compares to the benefit it would make for the poor in donating that money (Singer, 1972). Therefore, there is an implicit requirement that should be made in furthering Singer’s weak principle. While we are able to exercise autonomy and have the freedom to choose to pursue one’s own interests, we should do this with a knowledge that this has some chance of yielding socially beneficial
Suppose a conductor is driving his train and the breaks are defect. The rails lead directly into a cluster of five people who would all die if the train will go this direction. However, the conductor can change onto another track where only one person is standing hence only one person would die. How should the conductor react (Hare, 1964)? Is it possible to condense the problem to a rather simple maximization problem in example that the action is taken, which would kill the least people? Utilitarianisms would answer the question in the affirmative and change the track so only one person has to suffer. However, we have to question if the Utilitarianism is applicable to such ethical questions (Smart & Williams, 1973). This essay will outline several strength and weaknesses of the Utilitarianism devised by Jeremy Bentham. Firstly, the Utilitarianism will be outlined, secondly some strength and weaknesses are explained by employing examples, and thirdly several solution approaches for dilemmas Bentham’s Utilitarianism is facing will be sketched.
John Stuart Mill, at the very beginning of chapter 2 entitled “what is utilitarianism”. starts off by explaining to the readers what utility is, Utility is defined as pleasure itself, and the absence of pain. This leads us to another name for utility which is the greatest happiness principle. Mill claims that “actions are right in proportions as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” “By Happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain, by happiness, pain and the privation of pleasure”. (Mill, utilitarianism, p.697)
Behind every act of kindness lurks a selfish motivation. The Puritans were a religious sect in 17th century New England who believed in predestination or the belief that God had prior knowledge about each person’s fate in the afterlife. A core ideal of the Puritan religion was the principle of humanity being essentially evil and only doing good for others out of fear for God’s wrath or for selfish benefit. On the other end of the spectrum, is the humanists of the 18th century, many of which were America’s founding fathers. The humanists believed in the good of humanity and the concept of a loving, non-interfering God, a concept called Deism. Human motivation for good deeds is a mixture of both philosophies; however, it is primarily out of fear and selfishness.
The less fortunate are often overlooked because of their distance in the world. Contrary to this popular belief, philosopher Peter Singer believes that distance is both irrelevant and insignificant when helping others. Throughout this essay, I will argue in favor of Singer’s arguments. I believe Singer is accurate when he claims distance is irrelevant when human lives are at stake. Privileged people should always help the less fortunate as long as they are not sacrificing anything of comparable moral value. I will first summarize Singer’s interpretation of distance and moral responsibility and the examples he uses to further explain it. Then I will legitimize why distance is irrelevant in the given situation of famine and morality. Lastly,
Throughout history many great philosophers have attempted to unravel the origins of virtues by developing moral theories of their own. This document is designed to provide the reader with an overview of some of the more popular theories concerning morals. Three of the most popular moral theories are… Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Aristotelianism. Though Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Aristotelianism differ in many ways, they also share similar fundamentals.
Caring for others has for a long time been seen as something that just a woman does. Rather than a man because in this society they are taught to be macho, and not show that they have feelings, or that anything bothers them. Although I do not agree with this we can see now that our society is changing and evolving and even philosophers have now begun to realize that justice now has a caring aspect to it. I completely agree with this reasoning and Annette C. Baier brings discusses many philosophers to prove her point.
In Rawls’ paper, “Two Concepts of Rules”, he sheds light on fact that a distinction between justifying a practice and actions that fall under said practice, must be made. This distinction, according to Rawls is crucial in the debate between Utilitarianism and Retributivism, more specifically in defending the Utilitarian view against common criticisms, which will be addressed further in this essay. This essay will be examining the troubling moral question that Rawls addresses; The subject of punishment, in the sense of attaching legal penalties to the violation of legal rules. Rawls acknowledges that most people hold the view that punishing, in broad terms, is an acceptable institution. However, there are difficulties involved with accepting
How do we establish virtue? For most of us, the answer is not so easily encountered, and nuance and ambiguity persistently muddy our paths to righteousness. In The Romance of the Forest, however, Ann Radcliffe explicitly crafts her characters’ morality, inventing a limited spectrum upon which most of her characters fall. On the side of uncomplicated wholesomeness exists Adeline and the La Luc family, whose introductions inform their goodness in plain terms. Conversely, the novel’s main antagonist, the Marquis de Montalt, inhabits the side of primarily uncomplicated evil (or at least, expressing a privation of righteousness). Although a convincing argument might be made that Radcliffe’s characters are all, at different moments, sympathetic and morally