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Ethical Theories and Major Moral Principles. Ethical Theories Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873) an ethics of consequences.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethical Theories and Major Moral Principles. Ethical Theories Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873) an ethics of consequences."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethical Theories and Major Moral Principles

2 Ethical Theories Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham ( ) John Stuart Mill ( ) an ethics of consequences an action is good if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number

3 Ethical Theories Utilitarianism: what does "good" mean??? a)pleasure = hedonistic utilitarianism b)pluralistic goods, e.g., friendship, knowledge, beauty c)preference utilitarianism majority vs. minority interests

4 Ethical Theories Deontological Theories: an ethics of duty or obligation a)Kant ( ) single principle: categorical imperative Universality - what maxims pass this test persons as ends (what counts as a person?)

5 Ethical Theories Deontological Theories (cont.): b)pluralists = many duties W. D. Ross, duties of: * non-malificence: do not harm * beneficence: do good, benefit * justice: treat equals equally * add autonomy: respect individuals The above four principles are fundamental for the most widely used text in contemporary ethics: Principles of Medical Ethics, Beauchamp and Childress

6 Ethical Theories Deontological Theories (cont.): b)pluralists = many duties Ross' additional duties: * fidelity: be faithful * reparation: return good for good * gratitude * self-improvement Issues for deontologists: * ranking duties * conflicts of duties

7 Ethical Theories Related Theory: virtue theory a virtue is an excellence or desirable moral quality virtues are often defined by social role, e.g., parent, child, spouse, teacher, etc. What are the qualities which make for a good x? What are the qualities of a good physician? What are the qualities of a good patient?

8 Ethical Theories Natural Law Theories: There are certain natural tendencies or purposes in things What is natural is, in general, to be followed Natural goals are to be achieved E.g., there is a natural tendency of things to continue their existence Abortion is not allowed Embryonic or fetal research is not allowed if it results in destruction

9 Ethical Theories Natural law theories (cont.): Natural and law and suicide Natural law and sexuality Two principles: Natural vs. artificial treatment Principle of double effect

10 Ethical Theories Right Theories: What basic rights do we have? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to life, not to be harmed, to thrive or develop, etc.? Where do rights come from? God, natural rights, social contract, etc.? What do rights entail? Fundamental rights? Positive and negative rights What other rights are there? Education? Health care? Are there limits on rights?


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