There are three competing views on how moral questions should be answered, along with hybrid positions that combine some elements of each. Virtue ethics focuses on the character of those who are acting, while both deontological ethics and consequentialism focus on the status of the action, rule, or disposition itself. The latter two conceptions of ethics themselves come in various forms.
References and Further Reading 1. Metaethics The term "meta" means after or beyond, and, consequently, the notion of metaethics involves a removed, or bird's eye view of the entire project of ethics. We may define metaethics as the study of the origin and meaning of ethical concepts.
When compared to normative ethics and applied ethics, the field of metaethics is the least precisely defined area of moral philosophy. It covers issues from moral semantics to moral epistemology.
Two issues, though, are prominent: Objectivism and Relativism Metaphysics is the study of the kinds of things that exist in the universe. Some things in the universe are made of physical stuff, such as rocks; and perhaps other things are nonphysical in nature, such as thoughts, spirits, and gods.
The metaphysical component of metaethics involves discovering specifically whether moral values are eternal truths that exist in a spirit-like realm, or simply human conventions. There are two general directions that discussions of this topic take, one other-worldly and one this-worldly.
Proponents of the other-worldly view typically hold that moral values are objective in the sense that they exist in a spirit-like realm beyond subjective human conventions.
They also hold that they are absolute, or eternal, in that they never change, and also that they are universal insofar as they apply to all rational creatures around the world and throughout time. The most dramatic example of this view is Platowho was inspired by the field of mathematics.
Humans do not invent numbers, and humans cannot alter them. Plato explained the eternal character of mathematics by stating that they are abstract entities that exist in a spirit-like realm.
He noted that moral values also are absolute truths and thus are also abstract, spirit-like entities. In this sense, for Plato, moral values are spiritual objects. Medieval philosophers commonly grouped all moral principles together under the heading of "eternal law" which were also frequently seen as spirit-like objects.
In either case, though, they exist in a spirit-like realm. A different other-worldly approach to the metaphysical status of morality is divine commands issuing from God's will. Sometimes called voluntarism or divine command theorythis view was inspired by the notion of an all-powerful God who is in control of everything.
God simply wills things, and they become reality.
He wills the physical world into existence, he wills human life into existence and, similarly, he wills all moral values into existence. Proponents of this view, such as medieval philosopher William of Ockhambelieve that God wills moral principles, such as "murder is wrong," and these exist in God's mind as commands.
God informs humans of these commands by implanting us with moral intuitions or revealing these commands in scripture.
|Virtue Ethics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy||Critical Theory as Metaphilosophy: Philosophy, Ideology and Truth The best way to show how Critical Theory offers a distinctive philosophical approach is to locate it historically in German Idealism and its aftermath.|
|Normative ethics - Wikipedia||It persisted as the dominant approach in Western moral philosophy until at least the Enlightenment, suffered a momentary eclipse during the nineteenth century, but re-emerged in Anglo-American philosophy in the late s.|
|Normative ethics - Wikipedia||While meta-ethics focuses on foundational issues concerning the semantics of moral utterance and how our moral views fit more broadly into a general conception of reality, normative ethics focuses on the major theoretical approaches to the content of moral reflection. It is shaped by the historical inheritance of the tradition of moral philosophy in the West in its focus on deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics as the major forms of normative ethical theory.|
The second and more this-worldly approach to the metaphysical status of morality follows in the skeptical philosophical tradition, such as that articulated by Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and denies the objective status of moral values. Technically, skeptics did not reject moral values themselves, but only denied that values exist as spirit-like objects, or as divine commands in the mind of God.
Moral values, they argued, are strictly human inventions, a position that has since been called moral relativism.
There are two distinct forms of moral relativism. The first is individual relativism, which holds that individual people create their own moral standards.
Friedrich Nietzsche, for example, argued that the superhuman creates his or her morality distinct from and in reaction to the slave-like value system of the masses. The second is cultural relativism which maintains that morality is grounded in the approval of one's society - and not simply in the preferences of individual people.
In addition to espousing skepticism and relativism, this-worldly approaches to the metaphysical status of morality deny the absolute and universal nature of morality and hold instead that moral values in fact change from society to society throughout time and throughout the world.
They frequently attempt to defend their position by citing examples of values that differ dramatically from one culture to another, such as attitudes about polygamy, homosexuality and human sacrifice.
Psychological Issues in Metaethics A second area of metaethics involves the psychological basis of our moral judgments and conduct, particularly understanding what motivates us to be moral.
We might explore this subject by asking the simple question, "Why be moral? Some answers to the question "Why be moral? Egoism and Altruism One important area of moral psychology concerns the inherent selfishness of humans. Even if an action seems selfless, such as donating to charity, there are still selfish causes for this, such as experiencing power over other people.Feb 02, · When looking at virtue, both Plato and Aristotle start with the views of what counted as virtues in Greek society.
The virtues Aristotle lists in the Nichomachean Ethics are derived from this, as are the virtues that Plato focuses on in many of his dialogues (but most famously, the Republic). Like most other ancient philosophers, Plato maintains a virtue-based eudaemonistic conception of ethics. That is to say, happiness or well-being (eudaimonia) is the highest aim of moral thought and conduct, and the virtues (aretê: ‘excellence’) are the requisite skills and dispositions needed to attain it.
Plato: Normative Ethical Theory Essay Ancient moral theory explains morality in terms that focus on the moral agent. These thinkers are interested in what constitutes, e.g., a just person. Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking.
Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach that emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism).
Comparing Plato and Aristotle's Acquisition of Ethical Understanding It is almost impossible to have a universal definition of what ethics is, the only way to really observe it is in practise; how does ethics shape our lives and how is it acquired?