Different Ethical Theories: A Comparison
Ethics and morality are two separate fields that often go hand in hand. Morality usually refers to the codes of conduct that a culture, society, religious group or individual believes dictate the kind of life a person ought to live. Ethics, on the other hand, is the philosophical study of morality. It attempts to answer questions such as: What is the good life? What is the right thing to do?
There are many different ethical theories that have been put forth by philosophers over the years. In this essay, we will be discussing some of the more traditional theories of ethics along with a few more modern ones. We will also be comparing and contrasting these theories in order to get a better understanding of each one.
2. Traditional Theories of Ethics
The traditional theories of ethics can be arguments as less extensive in explaining the field of ethics and morality. These theories are deontological and consequentialist in nature.
2. 1 Deontological Theories
Deontological theories are those that focus on the intentions behind an action rather than the consequences. One famous deontologist is Immanuel Kant, who believed that there were certain universal moral laws that should be followed in all cases regardless of the consequences. Another well-known deontologist is Aristotle, who believed in virtues and vices. Virtues are those character traits that help us to achieve eudaimonia (happiness), while vices are those traits that prevent us from achieving it.
2. 1 Kantian Ethics
Kantian ethics is based on the belief that there are certain universal moral laws that should be followed in all cases regardless of the consequences. Kant believed that these laws could be derived from reason alone and did not need to be based on empirical observation. He also believed that these laws applied equally to everyone, regardless of their individual circumstances.
One example of a universal moral law according to Kant is the categorical imperative, which states that we should always act in such a way that we can will our actions to become universal law. In other words, we should only do things that we would want everyone else to do in the same situation. Another example of a universal moral law is the golden rule, which states that we should treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves.
2. 1 Aristotelian Ethics
Aristotelian ethics is based on the belief in virtues and vices. Virtues are those character traits that help us to achieve eudaimonia (happiness), while vices are those traits that prevent us from achieving it. Aristotle believed that there were two types of virtues: moral virtues and intellectual virtues. Moral virtues are those character traits that enable us to act in accordance with reason, while intellectual virtues are those which enable us to think clearly and critically about important questions.
Aristotle believed that there was a “mean” between each virtue and vice. For example, courage is the mean between rashness (a vice) and cowardice (also a vice). This mean can vary from person to person depending on their individual circumstances. Aristotle also believed that these virtue could be cultivated through habituation – meaning that if we repeatedly act in virtuous ways, it will become easier and eventually second nature for us to do so.
2. 2 Consequentialist Theories
Consequentialist theories are those that focus on the consequences of our actions rather than the intentions behind them. One famous consequentialist is John Stuart Mill, who believed in the principle of utility. This principle states that we should always choose the course of action that will lead to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Another well-known consequentialist is Jeremy Bentham, who was also a proponent of the principle of utility.
3. Feminist Ethics
Feminist ethics is a relatively new field that has only emerged in the last few decades. It is an offshoot of feminist philosophy and seeks to challenge traditional ideas about ethics and morality from a women’s perspective. Feminist ethicists often focus on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence and sexual harassment.
4. Social Justice Ethics
Social justice ethics is another relatively new field that has emerged in recent years. It is similar to feminist ethics in that it challenges traditional ideas about ethics and morality, but it does so from a more general perspective. Social justice ethicists often focus on issues such as poverty, inequality and discrimination.
All in all, there are many different ethical theories out there, each with its own strengths and Weaknesses. In this essay, we have discussed some of the more traditional theories as well as some of the more modern ones. We have also compared and contrasted these theories in order to get a better understanding of each one.