Empirical-ethical research constitutes a relatively new field which integrates socio-empirical research and normative analysis. As direct inferences from descriptive data to normative conclusions are problematic, an ethical framework is needed to determine the relevance of the empirical data for normative argument. While issues of normative-empirical collaboration and questions of empirical methodology have been widely discussed in the literature, the normative methodology of empirical-ethical research has seldom been addressed. Based on our own research experience, we discuss one aspect (...) of this normative methodology, namely the selection of an ethicaltheory serving as a background for empirical-ethical research. (shrink)
This article is an attempt to understand ethicaltheory not just as a set of well-developed philosophical perspectives but as a range of moral capacities that human beings more or less grow into over the course of their lives. To this end, we explore the connection between formal ethical theories and stage developmental psychologies, showing how individuals mature morally, regarding their duties, responsibilities, ideals, goals, values, and interests. The primary method is to extract from the writings of (...) Kohlberg and his students the cues that help to flesh out a developmental picture of a wide range of ethical perspectives. Thus, developmental psychology benefits from gaining a broader understanding of “morality” and “ethics,” and ethicaltheory benefits from a richer understanding of how moral maturity arises from youthful beginnings in juvenile and adolescent thinking. Results of this study offer insight into the difficulty of teaching ethics and a refined ability to assess moral maturity in business activity. (shrink)
The author re-examines Hare’s claim about universal prescriptivism as the most adequate ethicaltheory in the narrow sense. Validity of that standpoint is being verified in relation to some rival conceptions, and through the requirements which have to be satisfied in order that an ethicaltheory can be called adequate.
To the question “What normative ethicaltheory does early Confucianism best represent?” researchers in the history of early Confucian philosophy respond with more than half a dozen different answers. They include sentimentalism, amoralism, pragmatism, Kantianism, Aristotelian virtue theory, care ethics, and role ethics. The lack of consensus is concerning, as three considerations make clear. First, fully trained, often leading, scholars advocate each of the theories. Second, nearly all participants in the debate believe that the central feature of (...) early Confucianism is its moral thought. However, these normative ethical theories are logically inconsistent with one another, the third point. The entailment is unavoidable: the majority of scholars of early Confucian normative ethics must be incorrect about their attributions of a normative theory to early Confucianism. It would appear, then, that we need a new dao 道 or pathway for the study of early Confucian moral thought. One alternative is to adopt an immersively interdisciplinary research methodology that pivots on the recognition that early Confucianism is a social-functional system the governing purpose of which is to influence cultural leaders. (shrink)
This paper aims to evaluate thechallenges posed to traditional ethical theoryby the ethics of feminism, multiculturalism,and environmentalism. I argue that JamesSterba, in his Three Challenges to Ethics,provides a distorted assessment by trying toassimilate feminism, multiculturalism, andenvironmentalism into traditional utilitarian,virtue, and Kantian/Rawlsian ethics – which hethus seeks to rescue from their alleged``biases.'''' In the cases of feminism andmulticulturalism, I provide an alternativeaccount on which these new critical discourseschallenge the whole paradigm or conception ofethical inquiry embodied in the tradition.They embrace different (...) questions, goals, toolsof analysis, and wider audiences, typicallyignored or marginalized by traditionalethicists.I illustrate my argument through briefinterpretations of writers such as Susan Okin,Catharine Mackinnon, Sandra Bartky, JohnStoltenberg, Richard Wasserstrom, AnthonyAppiah, Charles Mills, Will Kymlicka, CharlesTaylor, and Martha Nussbaum. In many of thesecases, I suggest that they provide us with newways of being ethicists.In the case of environmentalism, I defend amore conservative and negative assessment.Sterba embraces authors such as Peter Singer,Tom Regan, and Paul Taylor in order to advancean environmentalist ethic of ``speciesequality/impartiality'''' and ``biocentricpluralism.'''' Here I argue that the traditionalKantian/Rawlsian ethics – which Sterba hopesto accommodate – actually provides compellingmoral reasons for rejecting his principles of``species impartiality'''' and biocentricpluralism. Moreover, Rawlsian ethics canprovide a more coherent, consistent, andplausible account of environmental issues thanSterba''s brand of environmental ethics. Iargue that in practice, his ethics concedeswhat it denies in theory – namely, the specialvalue which inheres in human beings.As such, environmental ethics, unlike feminismand multiculturalism, poses very little in theway of a credible challenge or alternative totraditional ethics. (shrink)
We have two aims in this paper. The first is negative: to demonstrate the problems in Bernard Gert’s account of common morality, in particular as it applies to professional morality. The second is positive: to suggest a more satisfactory explanation of the moral basis of professional role morality, albeit one that is broadly consistent with Gert’s notion of common morality, but corrects and supplements Gert’s theory. The paper is in three sections. In the first, we sketch the main features (...) of Gert’s account of common morality in general. In the second, we outline Gert’s explanation of the source of professional moral rules and demonstrate its inadequacy. In the third section, we provide an account of our own collectivist needs-based view of the source of the role-moral obligations of many professional roles, including those of health care professionals. (shrink)
Our aims in this paper are: (1) to indicate some of the many ways in which needs are an important part of the moral landscape, (2) to show that the dominant contemporary moral theories cannot adequately capture the moral significance of needs, indeed, that the dominant theories are inadequate to the extent that they cannot accommodate the insights which attention to needs yield, (3) to offer some sketches that should be helpful to future cartographers charting the domain of morally significant (...) needs, and (4) to consider some anticipated objections to our project and offer some replies. (shrink)
Morality for the purposes of this paper consists of sets of rules or principles intended for the general regulation of conduct for all. Intuitionist accounts of morality are rejected as making reasoned analysis of morals impossible. In many interactions, there is partial conflict and partial cooperation. From the general social point of view, the rational thing to propose is that we steer clear of conflict and promote cooperation. This is what it is rational to propose to reinforce, and to assist (...) in reinforcing in society; it is not necessarily what it is individually rational to do. Even so, given the general situation, the rationality of its reinforcement will typically support the rationality of individual action as well. Game theory makes it possible to clarify these interactions, and these proposals for social solutions. (shrink)
Psychological theory and research in ethical decision making and ethical professional practice are presently hampered by a failure to take appropriate account of an extensive background in moral philosophy. As a result, attempts to develop models of ethical decision making are left vulnerable to a number of criticisms: that they neglect the problems of meta-ethics and the variety of meta-ethical perspectives; that they fail clearly and consistently to differentiate between descriptive and prescriptive accounts; that they (...) leave unexplicated the theoretical assumptions derived from the underlying moral theories; and that they fail to accommodate the complexity and comprehensiveness of the processes involved in the making and implementing of ethical decisions. Many of these problems also have implications for the methodological domain. This paper offers an analysis of the difficulties, and makes a number of recommendations for future theory, research and practical applications, including: the need for training in moral philosophy; clarification of the status of Professional Codes in decisional models; the development of theoretically comprehensive prescriptive models; and the testing of these models in ways that do justice to their dimensional scope and theoretical complexity. (shrink)
This paper discusses the philosophical argument and the application of the Triple Font Theory for moral evaluation of human acts and attempts to integrate the conceptual components of major moral theories into a systematic internally consistent decision-making model that is theoretically driven. The paper incorporates concepts such as formal and material cooperation and the Principle of Double Effect into the theoretical framework. It also advances the thesis that virtue theory ought to be included in any adequate justification of (...) morality and the need to integrate or coordinate notions of virtue into various act-oriented or principles-based ethics. The TFT offers a comprehensive and practical approach to ethical decision-making and is a useful alternative embedded in traditional wisdom. This paper provides a more general framework of the TFT than traditionally presented. Practical judgment is shown to play a constitute role in providing a guide for right action and is the “glue” that integrates the various components of the TFT. (shrink)
Organizational governance has historically focused around the perspective of principals and managers and has traditionally pursued the goal of maximizing owner wealth. This paper suggests that organizational governance can profitably be viewed from the ethical perspective of organizational followers - employees of the organization to whom important ethical duties are also owed. We present two perspectives of organizational governance: Principal Theory that suggests that organizational owners and managers can often be ethically opportunistic and take advantage of employees (...) who serve them and Principle Theory that focuses on guiding principles that are sometimes taken too far in organizations. In introducing these two new organizational governance perspectives, we offer insights into the value of rethinking ethical duties owed to organizational followers. (shrink)
Open Access: This essay argues that Claudia Card numbers among important contributors to nonideal ethicaltheory, and it advocates for the worth of NET. Following philosophers including Lisa Tessman and Charles Mills, the essay contends that it is important for ethicaltheory, and for feminist purposes, to carry forward the interrelationship that Mills identifies between nonideal theory and feminist ethics. Card's ethical theorizing assists in understanding that interrelationship. Card's philosophical work includes basic elements of (...) NET indicated by Tessman, Mills, and others, and further offers two important and neglected elements to other nonideal ethical theorists: her rejection of the “administrative point of view,” and her focus on “intolerable harms” as forms of “extreme moral stress” and obstacles to excellent ethical lives. The essay concludes that Card's insights are helpful to philosophers in developing nonideal ethicaltheory as a distinctive contribution to, and as a subset of, nonideal theory. (shrink)
This anthology is designed for use as a brief introduction to ethicaltheory. Included are sections on various forms of ethicaltheory: Ethical Relativism; Divine Command Theory; Egoism; Consequentialism; Deontology; Justice; Virtue Ethics; Feminist Ethics; and, new to the second edition, Pluralism. Each section includes two or three of the most important and interesting contributions to the field, together with brief introductions by the editors. The second edition contains an improved approach to applied ethics. (...) Whereas in the first edition the authors included a chapter at the end of the book that contained selections that dealt with moral problems, in the second edition they have dropped that chapter in favour of an approach that ties moral issues more closely to the moral theories. Each chapter on moral theories now includes a selection that deals with a moral problem, such as human cloning, abortion, and global warming. The selection illustrates how the relevant theoretical approach is put to use. There is therefore a much tighter integration between theory and practice than before. The new structural approach should make the book significantly more effective in the classroom. The new edition also contains an improved section on feminist ethicaltheory. (shrink)
This paper explores the possibility of moral conflict in Kant’s ethics. An analysis of the only explicit discussion of the topic in his published writings confirms that there is no room for genuine moral dilemmas. Conflict is limited to nonconclusive ‘grounds’ of obligation. They arise only in the sphere of ethical duty and, though defeasible, ought to be construed as the result of valid arguments an agent correctly judges to apply in the situation at hand. While it is difficult (...) to determine in theory what makes some of them stronger than others, these ‘grounds’ can account for practical residue in conflict cases and for a plausible form of agent regret. The principle that ‘ought implies can’ survives intact. (shrink)
We review recent developments in ethical pluralism, ethical particularism, Kantian intuitionism, rights theory, and climate change ethics, and show the relevance of these developments in ethicaltheory to contemporary business ethics. This paper explains why pluralists think that ethical decisions should be guided by multiple standards and why particularists emphasize the crucial role of context in determining sound moral judgments. We explain why Kantian intuitionism emphasizes the discerning power of intuitive reason and seek to (...) integrate that with the comprehensiveness of Kant’s moral framework. And we show how human rights can be grounded in human agency, and explain the connections between human rights and climate change. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of EthicalTheory is a major new reference work in ethicaltheory consisting of commissioned essays by leading moral philosophers. Ethical theories have always been of central importance to philosophy, and remain so; ethicaltheory is one of the most active areas of philosophical research and teaching today. Courses in ethics are taught in colleges and universities at all levels, and ethicaltheory is the organizing principle for all (...) of them. The Handbook is divided into two parts, mirroring the field. The first part treats meta-ethicaltheory, which deals with theoretical questions about morality and moral judgment, including questions about moral language, the epistemology of moral belief, the truth aptness of moral claims, and so forth. The second part addresses normative theory, which deals with general moral issues, including the plausibility of various ethical theories and abstract principles of behavior. Examples of such theories are consequentialism and virtue theory. As with other Oxford Handbooks, the twenty-five contributors cover the field in a comprehensive and highly accessible way, while achieving three goals: exposition of central ideas, criticism of other approaches, and putting forth a distinct viewpoint. (shrink)
Abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq confront us with the question of how seemingly ordinary soldiers could have perpetrated harms against prisoners. In this essay I argue that a Stoic approach to the virtues can provide a bulwark against the social and personal forces that can lead to abusive behavior. In part one, I discuss Abu Ghraib. In two, I examine social psychological explanations of how ordinary, apparently decent people are able to commit atrocities. In three, I address a (...) series of questions: why should we turn to ethics for help with these problems, and why, in particular, to Stoicism instead of other ethical theories, such as utilitarianism or Kantianism? Given the power of situations in influencing behavior, is a turn to character ethics a viable response to problems such as those at Abu Ghraib? I argue in part four that character formation drawing on Stoic values can provide soldiers with the inner resilience to resist the situational factors that press them to unwarranted aggression. (shrink)
This paper argues that many leading ethical theories are incomplete, in that they fail to account for both right and wrong. It also argues that some leading ethical theories are inconsistent, in that they allow that an act can be both right and wrong. The paper also considers responses on behalf of the target theories.
Philosophers tend to assume that theoretical frameworks in psychology suffer from conceptual confusion and that any influence that philosophy might have on psychology should be positive. Going against this grain, Dan Lapsley and Darcia Narváez attribute the Kohlbergian paradigm's current state of marginalization within psychology to Lawrence Kohlberg's use of ethicaltheory in his model of cognitive moral development. Post‐Kohlbergian conceptions of moral psychology, they advance, should be wary of theoretical constructs derived from folk morality, refuse philosophical starting (...) points, and seek integration with literatures in psychology, not philosophy. In this essay, Bruce Maxwell considers and rejects Lapsley and Narváez's diagnosis. The Kohlbergian paradigm's restricted conception of the moral domain is the result of a selective reading of one tendency in ethical theorizing . The idea that moral psychology may find shelter from normative criticism by avoiding ethics‐derived models overlooks the deeper continuity between “ethicaltheory” and “psychological theory.”The confusion and barrenness of psychology is not to be explained by calling it a “young science”; its state is not comparable with that of physics, for instance, in its beginnings. For in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion. The existence of the experimental method makes us think we have the means of solving the problems which trouble us; though problem and method pass one another by.1. (shrink)
I aim to show that (i) there are good ways to argue about what has intrinsic value; and (ii) good ethical arguments needn't make ethical assumptions. I support (i) and(ii) by rebutting direct attacks, by discussing nine plausible ways to argue about intrinsic value, and by arguing for pains intrinsic badness without making ethical assumptions. If (i) and (ii) are correct, then ethicaltheory has more resources than many philosophers have thought: empirical evidence, and evidence (...) bearing on intrinsic value. With more resources, we can hope to base all of our moral beliefs on evidence rather than on, say, emotion or mere intuition. (shrink)
Using traditional meta-analytic techniques, we compile relevant research to enhance conceptual appreciation of ethical climate theory (ECT) as it has been studied in the descriptive and applied ethics literature. We explore the various treatments of ethical climate to understand how the theoretical framework has developed. Furthermore, we provide a comprehensive picture of how the theory has been extended by describing the individual-level work climate outcomes commonly studied in this theoretical context. Meta-analysis allows us to resolve inconsistencies (...) in previous findings as well as confirm the central tenets of the overall ethical climate framework. In addition, we consider the ethical climate relationships in the larger context of the␣theoretical framework, using path analysis to test the structural relationships. Overall, our results provide evidence of the relationships between ethical climate perceptions and individual-level work outcomes. Based on our analyses, we offer future research directions important for further development of ECT. (shrink)
Many environmental problems are longitudinal collective action problems. They arise from the cumulative unintended effects of a vast amount of seemingly insignificant decisions and actions by individuals who are unknown to each other and distant from each other. Such problems are likely to be effectively addressed only by an enormous number of individuals each making a nearly insignificant contribution to resolving them. However, when a person’s making such a contribution appears to require sacrifice or costs, the problem of inconsequentialism arises: (...) given that a person’s contribution, although needed (albeit not necessary), is nearly inconsequential to addressing the problem and may require some cost from the standpoint of the person’s own life, why should the person make the effort, particularly when it is uncertain (or even unlikely) whether others will do so? In this article I argue that justifications for making the effort to respond to longitudinal collective action environmental problems are, on the whole, particularly well supported by virtue-oriented normative theories, on which character traits are evaluated as virtues and vices consequentially or teleologically and actions are evaluated in terms of virtues and vices. If ethical theories are to be assessed on their theoretical and practical adequacy, and if providing a compelling response to the problem of inconsequentialism is an instance of such adequacy, then this is a reason for preferring virtue-oriented ethicaltheory over non-virtue-oriented ethical theories, such as Kantian, act utilitarian, and global utilitarian theories. (shrink)
How is ethicaltheory used in contemporary teaching in business ethics? To answer this question, we undertook a survey of twenty-five of the leading business ethics texts. Our purpose was to examine the ways in which normative moral theory is introduced and applied to cases and issues. We focused especially on the authors' views of the conflicts and tensions posed by basic theoretical debates. How can these theories be made useful if fundamental tensions are acknowledged? Our analysis (...) resulted in a typology, presented here, of the ways in which normative theory, and the difficulties within it, are handled in business ethics texts. We conclude that there is a serious lack of clarity about how to apply the theories to cases and a persistent unwillingness to grapple with tensions between theories of ethical reasoning. These deficiencies hamper teaching and ethical decision-making. (shrink)
OBJECTIVES: To study empirically whether ethicaltheory (from the mainstream principles-based, virtue-based, and feminist schools) usefully describes the approaches doctors and nurses take in everyday patient care. DESIGN: Ethnographic methods: participant observation and interviews, the transcripts of which were analysed to identify themes in ethical approaches. SETTING: A British old-age psychiatry ward. PARTICIPANTS: The more than 20 doctors and nurses on the ward. RESULTS: Doctors and nurses on the ward differed in their conceptions of the principles of (...) beneficence and respect for patient autonomy. Nurses shared with doctors a commitment to liberal and utilitarian conceptions of these principles, but also placed much greater weight on relationships and character virtues when expressing the same principles. Nurses also emphasised patient autonomy, while doctors were more likely to advocate beneficence, when the two principles conflicted. CONCLUSION: The study indicates that ethicaltheory can, contrary to the charges of certain critics, be relevant to everyday health care-if it (a) attends to social context and (b) is flexible enough to draw on various schools of theory. (shrink)
This paper argues that navigating insects and spiders possess a degree of mindedness that makes them appropriate (in the sense of “possible”) objects of sympathy and moral concern. For the evidence suggests that many invertebrates possess a belief-desire-planning psychology that is in basic respects similar to our own. The challenge for ethicaltheory is find some principled way of demonstrating that individual insects do not make moral claims on us, given the widely held belief that some other “higher” (...) animals do make such claims on us. (shrink)
When clinical ethics committee members discuss a complex ethical dilemma, what use do they have for normative ethical theories? Members without training in ethicaltheory may still contribute to a pointed and nuanced analysis. Nonetheless, the knowledge and use of ethical theories can play four important roles: aiding in the initial awareness and identification of the moral challenges, assisting in the analysis and argumentation, contributing to a sound process and dialogue, and inspiring an attitude of (...) reflexivity. These four roles of ethicaltheory in clinical ethics consultation are described and their significance highlighted, while an example case is used as an illustration throughout. (shrink)
The concept of care and a related ethicaltheory of care have emerged as increasingly important in biomedical ethics. This essay outlines a series of questions about the conceptualization of care and its place in ethicaltheory. First, it considers the possibility that care should be conceptualized as an alternative principle of right action; then as a virtue, a cluster of virtues, or as a synonym for virtue theory. The implications for various interpretations of the (...) debate of the relation of care and justice are then explored, suggesting three possible meanings for that contrast. Next, the possibility that care theorists are taking up the debate over the relation between principles and cases is considered. Finally, it is suggested that care theorists may be pressing for consideration of an entirely new question in moral theory: the assessment of the normative appropriateness of relationships. Issues needing to be addressed in an ethic of relationships are suggested. (shrink)
I argue that the rarely discussed Antichrist can serve as perhaps the best guide to Nietzsche’s mature ethicaltheory. Commentators often argue or assume that while Nietzsche makes many critical points about traditional morality, he cannot be offering a positive ethicaltheory of his own. This, I argue, is a mistake. The Antichrist offers a substantive ethicaltheory. It explicitly articulates Nietzsche’s positive ethical principles, shows why these principles are justified, and uses them (...) to condemn traditional Christian morality. The chapter reviews and explains Nietzsche’s ethicaltheory. It also considers why commentators so often assume that Nietzsche cannot have an ethicaltheory: I argue that commentators tend to be driven by the assumption that all ethical theories embrace seven commitments. These commitments are, I suggest, definitive of Enlightenment ethicaltheory, but not of ethicaltheory as such; Nietzsche’s rejection of them in no way precludes his having a positive ethicaltheory of his own. (shrink)
Thirteen original essays by leading scholars explore aspects of Spinoza's ethicaltheory and, in doing so, deepen our understanding of it as the richly rewarding core of his system. They resolve interpretive difficulties, advance longstanding debates, and point the direction for future research.
Ranging from moral realism to virtue ethics, this superb volume presents a complete state-of-the-art survey of ethicaltheory. Written by an international assembly of leading moral philosophers, each of the twenty-one newly-commissioned papers develop the main tenets, arguments, themes, and problems of the main normative and meta-ethical philosophical outlooks.
Clarence I. Lewis (1883-1964) delineated the structure of mind based on his “conceptual pragmatism.” Human mind grounds itself on the ongoing dynamic interaction of relational processes, which is essentially mediated and structural. Lewis’s pragmatism anchors itself on the theory of knowledge that has the triadic structure of the given or immediate data, interpretation, and the concept. Lewis takes the a priori given as a starting point of meaningful experience. The interpretative work of mind is the mediator of the a (...) priori given and the concepts. The a priori given is the principle that determines the application of concepts in our interpretative process. Our mind interprets the given in relating to other possible experience. In other words, the meaning of the a priori given is determined by mind, the subject of interpretative process, which performs constructive and legislative activity, and allows room for the existence of alternatives. Lewis’s theory of knowledge calls for pragmatic justification of value experience. In his ethicaltheory, Lewis pursues to find answers for how to build up the objectivity of value experience regarding the work of mind as conceptual apparatus. For Lewis, knowledge is a claim about valuation and normativity. In our value experience, the normative significance of our empirical assessments for action comprises objective significance for future experience. Mind is “principle- content apparatus” composed of imperatives as the a priori given principles and the contents of experience as a whole.Imperatives are the result of lessons accumulated from the past and function as rules for the future. Individuals start their experience from imperatives and organize their own experience by doing based on the inferential process, which is directional from the past to the future. (shrink)
The purpose of the present work is twofold. On the one hand, it attempts to provide a critical exposition of the ethicaltheory of Jean-Paul Sartre. On the other hand, it strives to explain, and in a limited way to defend, the central thesis of that theory, namely, that freedom is the "highest," or most important, value. ;The study begins with an extensive discussion of Sartre's theory of freedom. Sartre's arguments for the freedom of consciousness are (...) identified and presented, and a number of widespread misunderstandings of Sartre's conception of the nature of freedom are corrected. Specifically, it is argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Sartre distinguishes between different senses of freedom, insists that freedom is always limited, and remains substantially consistent, throughout his intellectual career, in his understanding of the nature of freedom. ;The study next takes up Sartre's theory of values. Here the well-known strain of ethical subjectivism in Sartre's thought is presented and criticized, with the main instrument of criticism being a distinction, overlooked by Sartre, between subjectivism as a meta-ethicaltheory about the status of moral judgments, and subjectivism as an ontological doctrine regarding the existence of moral values. ;The study concludes with an explanation and defense of the theory that freedom is the highest value. Here the presentation of Sartre's ethicaltheory is brought to completion through a discussion of its neglected objectivist elements, and through a development in regard to ethics of Sartre's general theory of knowledge. It is then shown that the notion of freedom as a value underlies both the subjectivist and the objectivist phases of Sartre's ethical thought, and it is suggested that these two phases can be reconciled in a conception of ethics as a dialectic of invention and discovery. This conception is defended by way of a brief discussion of its advantages over rival ethical theories, which neglect one or the other of the stages of this dialectic. (shrink)
Normative Ethicaltheory underwent a period of refinement in some areas and proliferation in others during the 20th century. Theories prominent in the 19th century, such as Utilitarianism, underwent refinement in light of criticisms; other approaches, such as normative intuitionism and virtue ethics, were developed in new directions, ones that reflected the sophistication of analytical techniques developed by philosophers in the 20th century, particularly in ordinary language philosophy. The middle of the 20th century was marked by an interest (...) in conceptual analysis and what could be revealed about our concepts in the analysis of ‘ordinary’ language appeals to those concepts. For example, Gilbert Ryle argued that the hope of clearing up our concepts via formalizing them was futile, and instead the task of philosophy was to clear up confusions present in the ordinary use of concepts, concepts employed by ordinary people as well as specialists in a given area. Normative ethicists in the very early part of the 20th century had not yet adopted a ‘scientizing’ attitude to philosophy. They believed, for example, that one could rely on intuition in formulating ethical theories.1 Theorists in the early part of the century were also optimistic about the prospects of systematizing normative ethics in a way that would be faithful to our common sense normative judgments. This began, largely, with a critical look at Utilitarianism. (shrink)
W. D. Ross’s ethicaltheory requires us somehow to compare the metaphorical “weights” of different prima facie duties, but it leaves mysterious how this might be done. The formulation of a procedure to achieve such a comparison would be desirable on practical, theoretical, and pedagogical grounds. I formulate a procedure that is congenial to Ross’s theory. Central to my procedure are instructions to characterize the weight of each prima facie duty with respect to (a) the general stringency (...) of this kind of duty, (b) the stringency of this particular duty relative to other duties of its own kind, and (c) the degree to which the duty specifically demands the particular action that it favors in a given case. The procedure leads to a determination of one’s actual, all-things-considered duty in some cases but not in all. (shrink)
The paper replies to Professor Alex Michalos'' keynote address, "Ethics Counsellors as a New Priesthood". Michalos argues that an intractable diversity of opinion about fundamental issues in ethicaltheory precludes substantive, well-founded ethical counselling. However, Michalos has inappropriately modelled his understanding of an acceptable structure and application for ethicaltheory on natural scientific theory. For we may countenance a less severe understanding of theory for ethicaltheory than in the hard sciences. (...) In particular, instructive moral reasoning may tolerate a degree of disagreement across human beings in their conception of moral good. On condition that such variance is not so considerable as to undermine a necessary commonality of language on ethical matters, there will be an adequate basis for warranted theory-construction in ethics and effective moral counselling underwritten by such theory. And, on the available historical evidence, such a condition can be met. (shrink)
Early Confucian ethics can best be understood as character consequentialism, an ethicaltheory concerned with the effects actions have upon the cultivation of virtues and which concentrates on certain psychological goods, particularly certain kinship relationships which it regards not only as intrinsically but also instrumentally valuable, as the source of more general social virtues. According to character consequentialism, the way to maximize the good is to maximize the number of virtuous individuals in society, but because human virtues cannot (...) be cultivated by pursuing their good consequences directly, they must be sought as expressions of a life ideal. This ideal entails developing one's nature to fulfill Heaven's design. (shrink)
Some philosophers, such as Roger Crisp and Alastair Norcross, have recently argued that the traditional moral categories of wrongness, permissibility and obligation should be avoided when doing ethicaltheory. I argue that even if morality does not itself provide reasons for action, the moral categories nevertheless have a central role to play in ethicaltheory: they allow us to make crucial judgements about how to feel about, and react to, agents who behave in anti-social ways, and (...) they help motivate us to act altruistically. (shrink)
Rachels's two-volume EthicalTheory provides a comprehensive overview of contemporary moral philosophy, reprinting classic and contemporary articles, including many that are not otherwise readily available. Each volume contains a clearly written, substantial introduction that guides the beginner through the intricacies of the subject.
Ethics of Compassion places central themes from Buddhist and Christian moral teachings within the conceptual framework of Western normative ethics. What results is a viable alternative ethicaltheory to those offered by utilitarians, Kantian formalists, proponents of the natural law tradition, and advocates of virtue ethics. Ethics of Compassion bridges Eastern and Western cultures, philosophical ethics and religious moral discourse, and notions of acting rightly and of being virtuous.
The introduction summarizes the main arguments formulated in the six papers of this special issue on Constitutivism and Kantian Constructivism in EthicalTheory. We highlight the unifying theme addressed in the essays, i.e., the question of whether constitutivism is able to fulfill the promise of providing an account of normativity starting from relatively slender assumptions, including the avoidance of realist presuppositions.
_Ethical Theory: An Anthology_ is an authoritative collection of key essays by top scholars in the field, addressing core issues including consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, as well as traditionally underrepresented topics such as moral knowledge and moral responsibility. Brings together seventy-six classic and contemporary pieces by renowned philosophers, from classic writing by Hume and Kant to contemporary writing by Derek Parfit, Susan Wolf, and Judith Jarvis Thomson Guides students through key areas in the field, among them consequentialism, deontology, (...) contractarianism, and virtue ethics Includes coverage of metaethics, normative ethics, and practical ethics Reaches beyond traditional texts by also including important, but usually underrepresented, topics such as moral knowledge, moral standing, moral responsibility, and ethical particularism Raises questions about the status and rational authority of morality. (shrink)
This article reports the findings from a study that investigates the relationship between ethical climates and police whistle-blowing on five forms of misconduct in the State of Georgia. The results indicate that a friendship or team climate generally explains willingness to blow the whistle, but not the actual frequency of blowing the whistle. Instead, supervisory status, a control variable investigated in previous studies, is the most consistent predictor of both willingness to blow the whistle and frequency of blowing the (...) whistle. Contrary to popular belief, the results also generally indicate that police are more inclined than civilian employees to blow the whistle in Georgia - in other words, they are less inclined to maintain a code of silence. (shrink)
I will treat feminist ethicaltheory as a distinct type of theory. Although some feminists are skeptical about the need for theory as distinct from cultivating practices of being morally perceptive and sensitive, many others argue for the theory they see as needed. Feminist ethicaltheory usually includes, but is not limited to, the concerns that have been developed under the heading of ‘the ethics of care’ or ‘care ethics’. Care ethics are usually (...) contrasted with ethics of justice, such as Kantian and utilitarian moral theories. Instead of being a theory primarily focused on right action, an ethic of care seeks moral evaluations of relations between persons, and reinterprets both personal and political relations in light of the value of care. I will show how feminist ethicaltheory differs from virtue theory as well as from Kantian and utilitarian theories. (shrink)
Archie Bahm argued recently that there is a gap between theoretical and applied ethics, and that those working in applied ethics must assume the burden of bridging it. Evidence of a gap is considerable, but it seems also partly due to much ethicaltheory having relatively little to offer to those grappling with practical moral problems. Some aspects of utilitarian theory are examined in this connection. Finally it is suggested that other areas of theory developing new (...) models of man may partly bridge the gap and aid those dealing with problems of moral decision-making. (shrink)
The Dimensions of Ethics offers a concise but wide-ranging introduction to moral philosophy. In clear and engaging fashion, the author first examines the scope of ethicaltheory, and explores central metaethical questions such as the issue of relativism, and the relationship between morality and religion. He then turns to an exploration of five theoretical approaches, in each case providing a consideration of various objections that have been advanced as well as a sympathetic exposition of the core principles of (...) each approach. Throughout he uses a wide range of examples, and integrates references to issues in applied ethics with his discussions of ethicaltheory. (shrink)
There are at least two models of what it is to be a feminist ethicist or moral philosopher. One model requires that one accept a distinctively feminist ethicaltheory. I will argue against this model by arguing that since the concept of a feminist ethicaltheory is highly unclear, any claim that ethicists who are feminist need one is also unclear and inadequately defended. I will advocate what I call a "minimal model" of feminist ethics, arguing (...) that it is philosophically and practically sufficient to meet feminist goals. (shrink)
Perhaps the most common criticism of Kant’s ethicaltheory is that of formalism. In this paper, I propose to deal with that charge as it is applied to the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Specifically, this essay clarifies the nature of the charge of formalism, as well as the issue of whether Kant develops an ethicaltheory in the Groundwork, and whether formalism is a valid criticism of the Groundwork.