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Modern Ethical Theory or Pragmatism ( choose one) - Research Paper Example

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Modern Ethical Theory Philosophy makes a proper study and evaluation of human conduct and this is done in the light of moral principles. These principles may be viewed either as a body of duties and obligations that a society requires of its members or the standard of conduct that people have constructed for themselves…
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Download file to see previous pages These theories have in turn been relied upon heavily in determining the parameters of ethical and moral conduct across different cultures and under different circumstances. These theories draw from the ideas of great moral philosophers like John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, David Hume among others. Hume vs Kant vs Mill: Their different views on ethics and morality. By giving their views, all moral philosophers aim at describing the best standard of moral and ethical conduct. However, there normally arises a dilemma on which ethical theory should be applied because of the variations in how different philosophers view ethics and morality. These variations raise important questions in the approach to ethical problems and one of the key questions is the question of absolute good or relative good. Mill for example, takes a utilitarian view to ethics and morality. From such a view, the moral worth of human actions are determined by their resultant outcome (Shaw 32). Mill’s view of ethics and morality maximises overall pleasure by all available means. This means that the nature of an action is not a major issue of concern but its final outcome. This view therefore gives room for the breaking of some moral rules if this breaking increases happiness. Its main advantage is that it allows actions to be judged in a way that yields fairness to the greatest population. For example, it is unlawful, unethical and morally unjustifiable to kill another person. However, utilitarianism allows for the breaking of this rule in the case of self-defence either by civilians or police officers facing a dangerous criminal. Killing one dangerous criminal is less painful that one dangerous criminal killing many people. This action maximises happiness. In summary, this view of ethics and morality argues that the end justifies the means. Such a view of ethics and morality therefore considers the relative good of actions and not their absolute good. It avoids judgement of actions from extremists’ point of view which in many cases, leads to the suffering of many people. Its main disadvantage is that it does not consider the nature of human actions or the intentions behind them hence it can be used as a justification for wrong doings by some people. Kant holds to an opposing view to Mill in regard ethics and morality. According to Kant, the nature and not the result of human actions determine their moral worth. He argued that a good will is the only good thing and therefore, the will or the motive of the actor is the only factor that determines the moral worth of an action (Kant 97). This is a deontological view whereby ethical and moral actions are seen as the duty or obligations of every person towards other members of the society. The advantage of this view lies in its fairness. That is, human actions are judged depending on the extend to which they adhere to existing moral and ethical rules. It considers the absolute goodness of human actions hence it does not give room for the breaking of some rules. The main disadvantage to such a view is that it does not consider the role played by external pressures/factors in driving human actions. For example, no one can wait to be slaughtered like a sheep by another person holding a knife. The reaction will be to defend oneself by all means including hitting the attacker. If it happens that they die, the person who killed should be let free because they never intended to kill. The disadvantage of this ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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