Ethic and morals – the broad and the narrow. Crimes and morals and rules for football or clubs or codes for sportsmanship. Man is a social animal and has to live with other men and women.

Traditional deontology (looking over one’s shoulder) – religion and duty to God and religious codes. Sometimes dependent on God’s grace. Carrot and stick approach of heaven and hell. Few absolutes apply in practice - try Thou shalt not kill. Problems with deriving the codes in the first place. These are not universal.
Kantian categorical imperatives are universal. Attempts to solve the is/ought problem. Kant thought that to merely follow one’s religious code was not in itself being moral.

Basic utilitarianism (looking forward to the consequences) maximizing happiness or minimizing suffering.
Problems with the quantification of happiness and misery.
Can include other sentient beings ie animals (where do we stop?).

Virtue-based ethics. Aristotle and his golden mean, perhaps elitist, only available to gods, heroes, men as opposed to women, slaves, savages. Hume’s practical approach to ethics, desirable qualities. It’s in us already. The democracy of this (brings us back to evolution and language).

Nietzsche  and master and slave morality. His concept of superman or ubermensch - dare to be yourself. Aspects of Christian morality are a kind of compensation for inadequacy.

Existentialism – create yourself, give meaning to a meaningless world by creating your own purpose, use yourself, make yourself free by so doing – this, of course, also means creating your own ethics.

But this could be very subjective, individualistic, even destructive. We are social animals, have evolved as such, we have to fit in – thus we are brought back to the beginning.

Ethics are applied – take a bit of everything
the law, professions  – deontology
treatment of animals, government – utilitarianism
sex – golden means, existentialist outlook.

Can’t have ethics in a vacuum.

Click to Return to Home and Tuition