Thinkers and Theories in Ethics by Brian Duignan

By Brian Duignan

Views on ethical habit and moral motion are wide-ranging, and infrequently contain divergent criteria and techniques that produce ambiguous conclusionsyet we nonetheless arrive at universals. Echoes of Enlightenment and historical Greek pondering resonate throughout the brand new, and numerous thinkers have tailored an analogous rules to reply to rising social, cultural, political, and technological advancements and new ethical dilemmas. This quantity surveys the key theories that shape the foundation of moral concept. Sidebars and certain photographs make clear the vacillating global of ethics, and spotlight the members whose seminal works confront a few of our such a lot basic human issues.

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The number of works produced by Epicurus and his disciples reveals an impressive theoretical activity. But no less important was the practical action in living by the virtues taught by him and in honouring the obligations of reciprocal help in the name of friendship. In these endeavours, continuous assistance was rendered by Epicurus himself, who, even when old and ill, was occupied in writing letters of admonishment, guidance, and comfort— everywhere announcing his gospel of peace and, under the name of pleasure, inviting to love.

If the difference in the consequences of alternative actions is not great, some utilitarians do not regard the choice between them as a moral issue. W. Pickersgill, 1829; in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London 39 7 Thinkers and Theories in Ethics 7 as morally right or wrong only if the consequences are of such significance that a person would wish to see the agent compelled, not merely persuaded and exhorted, to act in the preferred manner. In assessing the consequences of actions, utilitarianism relies on some theory of intrinsic value: something is held to be good in itself, apart from further consequences, and all other values are believed to derive their worth from their relation to this intrinsic good as a means to an end.

Bentham’s major philosophical work, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), was designed as an introduction to a plan of a penal code. With Bentham, utilitarianism became the ideological foundation of a reform movement, later known as “philosophical radicalism,” that would test all institutions and policies by the principle of utility. Bentham attracted as 44 7 Normative ethics: Eudaemonism and consequentialism 7 John Stuart Mill, 1884. Library of Congres, Neg. Co. LC-USZ62-76491 45 7 Thinkers and Theories in Ethics 7 his disciples a number of younger (earlier 19th-century) thinkers.

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