My Reflection of Ethics
A great philosopher of Ethics is Aristotle. His theory was originally introduced in ancient Greek times. Aristotle was a great believer in virtues and the meaning of virtue to him meant being able to fulfill one’s functions. Some base ethics on pure reason, while others ground ethics in feelings or intuitions. Aristotle says that those who do lead a virtuous life are very happy and have sense of well-being. Happiness is the ultimate goal for everyone in life. Utilitarian’s believe ethics becomes a matter of calculating how to produce the greatest balance of pleasure over suffering.
To become a better person, we must practice virtuous acts regularly. After a while, these acts will become a habit and so the virtuous acts part of our every day life and the person will be leading a virtuous life. For example, if a singer practices singing everyday, they will become better at it and used to doing it. People who practice their virtues improve their skills and therefore becoming happier. When a person learns how to use the virtues, they become the characteristic of the person. For example, a person who has learned the virtue of generosity is often called a generous person because he or she is generous in all situations.
Aristotle says we are most likely to acquire virtues by observing others in our society. If we experience other people being kind to us and see the happiness it creates we are more likely to practice this virtue then if we were just told to practice it. Social contract theorists believe ethical principals are made, not found. They also believe ethics are constructed by social groups, and exists for the benefit of those groups. Social contract theory is an examination of the justice and fairness of political and social and ethical systems.
An example of this would be that I would never accept a rule that says, ‘women should have less opportunity to become president, or that African Americans should have less chance of going to college or be restricted in the places they can live’. I wouldn’t accept such rules, because there’s a chance that I might step out from behind the ‘veil of ignorance’ and discover that I am an African-American woman. So I would favor setting up a society in which everyone has equal opportunity to compete for everything. Social contract theory forges an ethical system with no help from God or “natural law” or transcendent truths or powers of intuition.
Egoism comes in two varieties. First is psychological egoism: the view that-as a matter of empirical psychological fact-all our behavior is selfish, or self-interested. Second is ethical egoism, which is the very different claim that we ought to always act in a way that is self-interested. If the claim is that everyone pursuing their own selfish interest will result in the greatest benefit for everyone, it is difficult to find any empirical grounds-biological, economic, or otherwise-for that universal egoistic article of faith. Ethical relativism is the thesis that what is right is relative to each culture.
Virtues in one country or society may not be the same as virtues in another. As virtues have evolved through society it is possible that good actions may be perceived as bad actions in another society. However the virtues stay the same in every community as well as the ultimate aim which is supreme happiness. Aristotle explains that all actions are done in order to reach an aim or goal. A series of actions are also leading towards an aim, for example getting up in to morning to go to work, leads to making money, leads to feeding our families, leads to going on holidays, etc.
The utmost ultimate aim is to make people happy; everything is subordinate to the supreme good, which is happiness. Relative morality is based on the theory that truth and rightness is different for different people or cultures. Moral relativism states that morality is dependent on the society. It states that there are no moral absolutes and that there is no definite right or wrong. In some societies certain behavior is seen as morally right whereas in others the same behavior is not acceptable. To be a relativist is to accept this principle and not to judge others for their behavior.
Moral relativists accept that whether a moral code exists because of tradition or religion, it may be needed to keep the society together. Some people may argue that any moral code is better than no moral code however the absence of moral rules would be disastrous for any society, it would not survive. People need set rules or moral codes to live by in order to make the right decisions and to keep society together in the long run. Without a set moral code everyone would have the opinion that their ideas and thinking is right; no one would be able to compromise.
It would be much easier for everyone to be living under the same ‘rules’. This way people will know what is right and wrong without any disagreements. Care ethics does not ignore or disparage reason, but it does emphasize the importance of empathy and affection, friendships and relationships: elements of ethics (from the perspective of care ethics) Kantian systems woefully neglect. Care ethics also diverges significantly from the impersonal calculations of utilitarianism. Another distinctive feature of care ethics is on certain views, our duties tend to be impersonal.
We have duties and obligations to others, of course, but they are duties due to anyone in the same position. On the care view, we may also have impersonal duties, but at least as important are duties of a very personal and individual nature: duties we owe specifically to family and friends, are not to just any generic moral placeholder. These duties are owed not because we are reciprocating benefits we have received but because of our special relations. Furthermore, such duties are typically not based on choices or voluntary contracts.