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Ethical concepts and Ethical Theories: Establishing and Justifying a Moral System

Page history last edited by cAmz 15 years, 3 months ago



VALENZONA, Cristine Camille M                                                                      February 25, 2009

BS-IS (O0A) ITETHIC                                                                                         Mr. Paul Pajo


ETHICAL CONCEPTS AND ETHICAL THEORIES:  Establishing and Justifying a Moral System




1.     What is ethics, and how can it be distinguished from morality?


Ethics is derived from the Greek ethos which refers to notions of custom, habit, behavior, and character while morality is defined as a system of rules for guiding human conduct and principles for evaluating those rules; a system comprising moral rules and principles.


2.     What is meant by a moral system? What are some of the key differences between “rules of conduct” and the “principles of evaluation” that comprise a moral system?


Moral system is a system whose purpose is to prevent harm and evils. It aims at promoting human flourishing. Rules of conduct are action-guiding rules, in the form of either directives or social policies. It is evaluated against standards called principles. The rules of conduct involving individual directives and social policies are justified by the system’s evaluative standards, or principles.


Principles of evaluation are evaluative standards used to justify rules of conduct such as social utility and justice as fairness. These are typically grounded in one of three systems or sources: religion, law, or (philosophical) ethics.


3.   What does Bernard Gert mean when he describes morality in terms of “public system”? Why is the notion of “personal morality” an oxymoron?


Bernard Gert means about describing morality in terms of public system because everyone must know what the rules are that define it. As Gert uses the analogy of a game, which has a goal and corresponding set of rules, the important difference between a moral system and a game is that not everyone is required to participate in a game but we are all obliged to participate in a moral system.


4.    Why does Gert believe that morality is an “informal” system? How is a moral system both similar to, and different from, a game?


Gert is point out that morality is informal because a moral system has no formal authoritative judges presiding over it. Moral system is similar to a game because in games such as game of cards or like a “pick up game” because the players are aware of the rules but even in the absence of a formal official or referee to enforce the game’s rules, players generally adhere to them. Morality differs from a game because there are rules enforced in a manner that approaches a legal system.


5.     Describe how the ideals of “rationality” and “impartiality” function in Gert’s moral system.


A moral system is rational in that it is based on the principles of logical reason accessible to ordinary persons. Morality cannot involve special knowledge that can only be understood by privileged individuals or groups. The rules in moral system must be available to all rational persons who are moral agents which are bound by the system of moral rules.


A moral system is impartial in the sense that the moral rules are ideally designed to apply equitably to all participants in the system. All rational persons are willing to accept the rules of the system, even if they do not know in advance what their particular place in that system will be.


6.  What are values, and what are some of the key differences between moral values and nonmoral values?


Values are the aspects of having worth or being of worth. Values are objects of our desire or interests such as happiness, love, and freedom. Moral values are derived from core nonmoral values by using the notion of impartiality such as autonomy and respect for persons. Nonmoral values originate from desires and typically involve rational self interests such as survival, security, and pleasure.


7.     How do religion, law, and philosophy each provide different grounds for justifying a moral principle?


Religion provides different grounds for justifying a moral principle by obeying the divine theory just like obeying the Ten Commandments which if disobeyed you have obeyed God because you violate the commands of a divine authority.


Law provides different grounds for justifying a moral principle by obeying the legal system just like particular jurisdictions or legal enforcement of rules. Laws are not uniform across political boundaries: Laws vary from nation to nation and from state to state within a given nation.


Philosophy provides different grounds for justifying a moral principle by approaching the problem of how to ground moral system. Sanctions take the form of social disapprobation and, possibly, social ostracism, but there is no punishment in a formal sense.


8.     What is the method of philosophical ethics, and what is a philosophical study? How is a philosophical study used in an analysis of moral issues?


The method of philosophical ethics is the method used by philosophers to analyze moral issues. Philosophical study requires a consistent methodological scheme be used to verify hypotheses and theories and does not require psychologist to have a physical laboratories to confirm a hypotheses.


9.     How does a philosophical study differ from a descriptive rather than normative in nature?


The difference of philosophical study from a descriptive rather than normative in nature is on how they are analyzed. In descriptive, it is used by social scientists and requires a laboratory to confirm or verify theories and hypotheses. In normative it is used by philosophers, does not have a laboratory to verify theories.


10.  Summarize the four different kinds of “discussion stoppers” in ethical discourse that we examined.


DISCUSSION STOPPER #1: People disagree on solutions to moral issues


People have different beliefs in approaching the correct answer to the different moral questions. Sometimes people do not arrive in same approach for the solutions in different moral issues.


-      We should note that morality is not the only are in which intelligent people have disagreements.  

-      Disagreement exists among contemporary mathematicians as to whether or not numbers are constructed.

-   Certain conditions must be satisfied in order for a particular claim or a particular theory to qualify as acceptable in debates among societies and among mathematicians.


DISCUSSION STOPPER #2:  Who am I to judge others?


People are often uncomfortable with the prospect of having to evaluate the moral beliefs and practices to others. People generally feel that it is appropriate to describe the different moral beliefs that others have but that it is appropriate to describe the different moral beliefs that others have but that it is inappropriate to make judgments about the moral beliefs held by others.

-          There are two kinds of people: Persons making judgment and persons being judgmental.

-    There are two kinds of involvement of judgment: judgments involving condemnations and judgments involving evaluations.


DISCUSSION STOPPER #3:  Morality is simply a private matter


People assume that morality is essentially personal in nature and must be simply a private matter. It follows that a study of morality could be reduced to a series of descriptive reports about the personal preferences or personal tastes of individuals and groups.


DISCUSSION STOPPER #4:  Morality is simply


A moral system is dependent on a particular groups or cultures to determine. It might initially seem quite reasonable; it is a position that many social scientists have found attractive. There are two kinds of relativism with respect to ethics: cultural relativism and moral relativism.


11. Why are these discussion stoppers problematic for the advancement of dialogue and debate about ethical issues?


In our analysis of the four discussion papers, we saw some of the obstacles that we encounter when we debate moral issues. There are ethical theories that can guide us in our analysis of moral issues involving cyber technology.


12.  What is moral relativism? How is it different from cultural relativism?


Moral relativism is a normative thesis because it asserts that one should not make moral judgments about the behavior of people who live in cultures other than one’s own. The reasoning of a moral relativism is flawed


Cultural relativism is a culture that provides their members with what ethicists often refer to as “customary morality” or conventional morality, where one’s moral beliefs are typically nonreflective.


13. What is ethical theory, and what important functions do ethical theories play in the analysis of moral issues?


Ethical theory guides us in our investigations and analyses. It provides us with general principles and structures with which we can analyze our data. It provides us with a framework for analyzing moral issues via a scheme that is internally coherent and consistent as well as comprehensive and systematic. 

14.  What are the distinguishing features of consequence-based ethical theories?


The consequences of actions and policies provide the ultimate standard against which moral decisions must be evaluated. If one must choose between two courses of action the morally correct action will be the one that produces the most desirable outcome.



15.  Describe some of the key differences between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.


Act utilitarianism is a utilitarian theory of ethics which states that the right action is the one which produces the greatest amount of happiness or pleasure for the greatest number of beings. Act utilitarianism is opposed to rule utilitarianism, which states that the morally right action is the one that is in accordance with a moral rule whose general observance would create the most happiness.

Rule utilitarianism is a form of utilitarianism which states that moral actions are those which conform to the rules which lead to the greatest good, or that "the rightness or wrongness of a particular action is a function of the correctness of the rule of which it is an instance.


16.  Which features distinguish duty-based ethical theories from alternative types of theories?


Morality must ultimately be grounded in the concept of duty, or obligations that humans have to one another, and never in the consequences of human actions. Morality has nothing to do with the promotion of happiness or the achievement of desirable consequences.


17.  Describe some of the main differences between act deontology and rule deontology.


Rule deontology is a rule or principle that can be used in an objective and impartial way to determine the basis for our moral obligation; a standard or objective test which can be formulated in a principle. It can be formulated in a way that there is a correct kind of ethical theory.

Act deontology can be formulated in a way that avoids the charges. It is a logical priority to particular judgments. People act ethically according to their norms, but this is limited to particular behaviors, implying that there may be exceptions to the rule (Rallapalli, Vitell, & Barnes, 1998)


18.  What is meant by the expression “contract-based” ethical theories?

A contract-based ethical theory is a state of nature where all free to do as like. People establish formal legal code. The development of rules within the system is in each personal interest.


19.  What features distinguish “character-based” (or “virtue-based”) ethical theories from alternative schemes of morality?


Character-based ethical theory ignores the special roles that consequences, duties, and social contracts play in moral systems especially with respect to determining the appropriate standard for evaluating moral behavior. It foucses on criteria having to do with the charcater development o individuals and their acquisition of good character traits from the kinds of habits they develop,Virtue ethics has gained respect mong ethicsists as a viable contemporary ethcial theory.


20.  How does James Moor’s “Just Consequentialist” theory incorporate aspects of utilitarian and deontological theories into one comprehensive framework?


Moor points out that developing the appropriate habits of character such as kindness, truthfulness, honesty, trustworthiness, helpfulness, generosity, and justcie is an important prerequisite in moral behavior. One has not already developed the “correct” habits required for moral behavior, it may be difficult for an individual to succesfully carry out the steps in Moor’s just-consequential model. Elements of virtue ethics or character-based ethcis are also presupposed in Moor’s framework. We apply the just-consequential framework in suggesting policies in response to moral issues that arise from specific cyberethics issues. 



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