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ETHICS

FOUNDATION OF MORAL VALUATION


INTRODUCTION

Ethics?
- Greek word “ethos” – a characteristic
way of acting

- Is a branch of philosophy that deals with


or study the “morality” of human
acts/conducts.
Morality?
- Latin word “mos” (equivalent of the
Greek word “ethos”)

- Quality of human act (good or evil)


Human Act?
- Is an act which proceeds from the
deliberate freewill of man.

Act of Man?
- Is an act which flows naturally from man.
- Natural tendencies of man.
Constituents of Human Acts

1. Knowledge
2. Freedom
3. Voluntariness
THE ETHICAL DIMENSION
OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
(VALUES, SOURCES OF AUTHORITY AND SENSE OF SELF)
Objectives:
At the end of this lesson, the students should be
able to:
1. Identify the ethical aspect of human life and
the scope of ethical thinking;
2. Define and explain the terms that are
relevant to ethical thinking; and
3. Evaluate the difficulties that are involved in
maintaining certain commonly-held notions
on ethics
VALUE
 Ethics, generally speaking, is about matters
such as the good thing that we should pursue
and the bad thing that we should avoid; the
right ways in which we could or should act and
the wrong ways of acting.
 Ethics as a subject for us to study is about
determining the grounds for the values with
particular and special significance to human
life.
KINDS OF VALUATION
 Aesthetics – from the Greek word “aisthesis”
which means “sense” or “feeling” and refers to
the judgments of personal approval or
disapproval that we make about what we see,
hear, smell, or taste
 Etiquette – concerned with right or wrong actions,
but those which might be considered not quite
grave enough to belong to a discussion on ethics
 Technical – from the Greek word “techne” and
refers to a proper way—(or right way) of doing
things
Other Clarifications and Terminology
ETHICS AND MORALS
 “Morals” may be used to refer to specific beliefs or
attitudes that people have or to describe acts that
people perform. We also have terms such as “moral
judgment” or “moral reasoning,” which suggest a
more rational aspect.
 “Ethics” can be spoken of as the discipline of studying
and understanding ideal human behavior and ideal
ways of thinking. Thus, ethics is acknowledged as an
intellectual discipline belonging to philosophy.
DESCRIPTIVE AND NORMATIVE
A descriptive study of ethics reports how people,
particularly groups, make their moral valuations without
making any judgment either for or against these
valuations.
A normative study of ethics, as is often done in
philosophy or moral theology, engages the question:
What could or should be considered as the right way of
acting? In other words, a normative discussion
prescribes what we ought to maintain as our standards
or bases for moral valuation.
ISSUE, DECISION, JUDGMENT, AND DILEMMA
Asituation that calls for moral valuation can be called a
moral issue.
 When one is placed in a situation and confronted by the
choice of what act to perform, s/he is called to make a
moral decision.
 When a person is an observer making an assessment on
the actions or behavior of someone, s/he is making a
moral judgment.
 When one is torn between choosing one of two goods
or choosing between the lesser of two evils, this is
referred to as a moral dilemma.
REASONING
 What reasons do we give to decide or to judge that a
certain way of acting is either right or wrong?
A person’s fear of punishment or desire for reward can
provide him/her a reason for acting in a certain way.
 Thepromise of rewards and the fear of punishments can
certainly motivate us to act, but are not in themselves a
determinant of the rightness or wrongness of a certain way
of acting or of the good or the bad in a particular pursuit.
 Beyondrewards and punishments, it is possible for our
moral valuation—our decisions and judgments—to be
based on a principle.
SOURCES OF AUTHORITY
Law
It
is supposed that law is one’s guide to ethical
behavior. The law cannot tell us what to pursue,
only what to avoid.
SOURCES OF AUTHORITY
Religion
Thedivinity called God, Allah, or Supreme Being
commands and one is obliged to obey his/her
Creator (Divine Command Theory).
PROBLEMS IN RELIGION
1. Multiplicity of Religions
2. Connection of ethics and the Divine
3. Moral atheism
NB:
 Our calling into question of the divine command
theory is not a calling into question of one’s belief
in God; it is not intended to be a challenge to
one’s faith.
 It is an invitation to be more creative and critical
in seeing the connection between faith and
ethics, rather than simply equating what is ethical
with whatever one takes to be commanded by
God.
SOURCES OF AUTHORITY
Culture
• Our exposure to different societies and their
cultures makes us aware that there are ways of
thinking and valuing that are different from our
own, that there is in fact a wide diversity in how
different people believe it is proper to act.
Therefore, what is ethically acceptable or
unacceptable is relative to, or that is to say,
dependent on one’s culture. This position is
referred to as cultural relativism.
PROBLEMS IN CULTURAL
RELATIVISM
1. Reality of differences
2. No judgment to other cultures
3. No judgment on our own
culture
4. Culture as single, clearly-
defined substance or as
something fixed and already
determined
PROBLEMS IN CULTURAL RELATIVISM
The “right” way is the way which the
ancestors used and which has been handed
down … The notion of right is in the folkways.
In the folkways, whatever is, is right. This is
because they are traditional, and therefore
contain in themselves the authority of the
ancestral ghosts. When we come to the
folkways we are at the end of our analysis.
PROBLEMS IN CULTURAL RELATIVISM

In an increasingly globalized world, the


notion of a static and well-defined
culture gives way to greater flexibility and
integration.
POSITIVE SIDE OF CULTURAL RELATIVISM

 Humility…
…with a capacity of rational, critical
discernment that is truly appreciative of
human values.
SENSE OF THE SELF

Subjectivism
The starting point of subjectivism is the
recognition that the individual thinking person
(the subject) is at the heart of all moral
valuations. From this point, subjectivism leaps
to the more radical claim that the individual is
the sole determinant of what is morally good
or bad, or right or wrong.
SENSE OF THE SELF

Psychological Egoism
“Human beings are naturally self-centered, so
all our actions are always already motivated by
self-interest.”
It points out that there is already an underlying
basis for how one acts. The ego or self has its
desires and interests, and all his/her actions are
geared toward satisfying these interests.
Sense of the Self

Ethical Egoism
It prescribes that we should make our own
ends, our own interests, as the single
overriding concern. We may act in a way that
is beneficial to others, but we should do that
only if it ultimately benefits us.
Lesson Summary

In this Chapter…
 We have established the scope and the rationale for a
discussion of ethics;
 We explored various domains of valuation in order to
distinguish what makes a particularly grave type of valuation
a moral or ethical one;
 We clarified some of the terms that will be used in the study of
ethics; and
 We have also explored a number of problematic ways of
thinking of ethics; some give a too simplistic answer to the
question of our grounds or foundations for moral valuation,
while others seem to dismiss the possibility of ethics altogether.