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What is "Ethics?"

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Religious Studies
Religious Studies 1023E
Corrine Walsh

What is “Ethics”? Defining Ethics -From Greek word ethnikos -Goodness=function, use -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 Nomos(Greek)- convention Natural law vs. conventional law Conventional law- a legal statement/law enacted by government., human created law 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 about it Ethics is not…  Private  List of do’s and don’ts  Crisis management Modern- we think of ethic of private, Private discourse 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 conscious 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.. example: -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 Morals -ethics must reflect upon the adequacy of the values we hold as persons and communities 1. We can compare our norms and values to alternatives-to better see there are various options 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 -Faithful allegiance 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
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