What is “Ethics”?
-From Greek word ethnikos
-Understand ethics as what is the function of a human being? I.e., What does a
human being do? What is a person used for?
-Function of humans=ability to use reason
Humans as rational creatures- able to use reason/goodness
Goodness/virtue=exercise of reason
Phusis (Greek)- nature
Natural law vs. conventional law
Conventional law- a legal statement/law enacted by government., human created
Natural law- something nature defines for us, value based.
Ex. Value of preserving life
Role of philosophy- state and rationally defend what morally should be
How do we use the term?
-Modern social context- the individual and dualistic public-private society
-Ancient world, what you did and your ethics were one and the same-you talked
Ethics is not…
List of do’s and don’ts
Modern- we think of ethic of private,
US in Class, ethics aren’t private
Ethics is a systematic reflection upon individual, community, institutional, and
socially morality, values, and character
(1)systematic reflection upon (what should we do in circumstances)
(2)individual, community, institutional, and social (how should we shape our)
(3) morality, values, and character (what should we be as persons)
ethics is the nature and grounds of morality- how we look at morality Morality is complex set of principles based upon, religious, philosophical, social
concepts we base our rights and wrong
Descriptive- the “is” .. the “whole that “we are” – discovered through being self
Prescriptive- the “ought”
-judging of our behaviour according to some set of pronounced norms and values
-prod to get us to conform our behavour to the norms and values we profess
Ethics as a constant movement
We must reflect upon the consistency in the multiplicity of values we hold and
norms we profess
-Certain values and norms are simply inconsistent with other norms and values..
-we believe in absolute right of private property
-we believe in equality of all persons… can a person who owns a restaurant refuse
service to others because of their race, sex, or religion?
The “is” is whats happening
-ethics must reflect upon the adequacy of the values we hold as persons and
1. We can compare our norms and values to alternatives-to better see there are
2. Compare them to some standard as absolute- i.e “God” standard or “Natural Law”-
inability to agree on one interpretation shows the inadequacy of approach
3.Sense of fairness “golden rule”
Factors in doing ethics
Scholar Charles Kammer asserts there are six factors that influence our ethical
decision-making and help shape our ‘moralscrape’:
Anthropology- how we define the human person
what does it mean to be human?
Worldview- German Weltanschauung (“look onto the world”)
English- we use it to mean world outlook
Framework we use to make sense of the world
Loyalties- Our embodied exsistence
Values and Norms Values- refers to the good that we desire, that for which we care or aspire to
Norms- rules, guidelines used to inform our behaviours. They help us
determine how to embody our values in our lives and relationships
Prejudices - To “pre” “judge”-the formation of a judgment without direct or