Meaning of ETHICS in English


also called Moral Philosophy, the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles. The subject of ethics essentially comprises issues fundamental to practical decision-making, and so the discipline, though long considered a branch of philosophy, is closely linked with many other fields of inquiry, including anthropology, economics, politics, and sociology. Ethics, nonetheless, remains distinct from such areas of study in that it is occupied not so much with factual knowledge as it is with valuesnamely, human conduct as it ought to be, rather than as it actually is. Ethics is generally divided into three major subdisciplines. These are (1) metaethics, (2) normative ethics, and (3) applied ethics. Metaethics centres on questions relating to the nature of moral concepts and judgments. Philosophers in metaethics have taken markedly different positions on this matter. Some have held that moral concepts describe natural or supernatural (i.e., metaphysical) entities in the world. Others, while agreeing that moral concepts are descriptive of such entities, have maintained that the entities are entirely unique in kind. Still others assert that the primary function of moral concepts is to express attitudes or emotions or to prescribe or prohibit. Corresponding views about the logical status of moral judgments have been held by these various philosophers: either the judgments are capable of being true or false and of constituting a kind of knowledge, or they are incapable of such and function rather to express attitudes or to convey condemnation and praise. There also has been much disagreement over whether moral judgments are objective or subjective, absolute or relative. Normative ethics is primarily concerned with establishing standards or norms for conduct and is commonly associated with general theories about how one ought to live. One of the central questions of modern normative ethics has to do with whether human actions are to be judged right or wrong solely accord ing to their consequences. Traditionally, theories that judge actions by their consequences have been known as teleological, though the term consequentialist has in large part supplanted it. Another class of theories in normative ethics, designated as deontological, judges actions by their conformance to some formal rule or principle (for example, the ethical system of the philosopher Immanuel Kant). Perhaps the most striking development in the study of ethics during the second half of the 20th century has been the growing interest among philosophers in applied ethicsi.e., the application of normative theories to practical moral problems. Such moral issues as racial and sexual equality, human rights, and justice have become prominent, as have questions about the value of human life raised by controversies over abortion and euthanasia. Related to the latter are the ethical implications of various developments in regard to reproduction as, for example, in vitro fertilization, sperm banks, gene manipulation, and cloning. This field of applied ethics, known as bioethics, frequently involves the cooperative efforts of philosophers, physicians, scientists, lawyers, and theologians. also called moral philosophy the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles. How should we live? Shall we aim at happiness or at knowledge, virtue, or the creation of beautiful objects? If we choose happiness, will it be our own or the happiness of all? And what of the more particular questions that face us: Is it right to be dishonest in a good cause? Can we justify living in opulence while elsewhere in the world people are starving? If conscripted to fight in a war we do not support, should we disobey the law? What are our obligations to the other creatures with whom we share this planet and to the generations of humans who will come after us? Ethics deals with such questions at all levels. Its subject consists of the fundamental issues of practical decision making, and its major concerns include the nature of ultimate value and the standards by which human actions can be judged right or wrong. The terms ethics and morality are closely related. We now often refer to ethical judgments or ethical principles where it once would have been more common to speak of moral judgments or moral principles. These applications are an extension of the meaning of ethics. Strictly speaking, however, the term refers not to morality itself but to the field of study, or branch of inquiry, that has morality as its subject matter. In this sense, ethics is equivalent to moral philosophy. Although ethics has always been viewed as a branch of philosophy, its all-embracing practical nature links it with many other areas of study, including anthropology, biology, economics, history, politics, sociology, and theology. Yet, ethics remains distinct from such disciplines because it is not a matter of factual knowledge in the way that the sciences and other branches of inquiry are. Rather, it has to do with determining the nature of normative theories and applying these sets of principles to practical moral problems. 20th-century Western ethics The brief historical survey of Western ethics from Socrates to the 20th century provided above has shown three constant themes. Since the Sophists, there have been (1) disagreements over whether ethical judgments are truths about the world or only reflections of the wishes of those who make them; (2) frequent attempts to show, in the face of considerable skepticism, either that it is in one's own interests to do what is good or that, even though this is not necessarily in one's own interests, it is the rational thing to do; and (3) repeated debates over just what goodness and the standard of right and wrong might be. The 20th century has seen new twists to these old themes and an increased attention to the application of ethics to practical problems. Each of these major questions is considered below in terms of metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics As previously noted, metaethics deals not with substantive ethical theories or moral judgments but rather with questions about the nature of these theories and judgments. Among 20th-century philosophers in English-speaking countries, those defending the objectivity of ethical judgments have most often been intuitionists or naturalists; those taking a different view have been emotivists or prescriptivists. 20th-century Western ethics Normative ethics The debate over consequentialism Normative ethics seeks to set norms or standards for conduct. The term is commonly used in reference to the discussion of general theories about what one ought to do, a central part of Western ethics since ancient times. Normative ethics continued to hold the spotlight during the early years of the 20th century, with intuitionists such as W.D. Ross engaged in showing that an ethic based on a number of independent duties was superior to Utilitarianism. With the rise of Logical Positivism and emotivism, however, the logical status of normative ethics seemed doubtful: Was it not simply a matter of whatever one approved? Nor was the analysis of language, which dominated philosophy in English-speaking countries during the 1950s, any more congenial to normative ethics. If philosophy could do no more than analyze words and concepts, how could it offer guidance about what one ought to do? The subject was therefore largely neglected until the 1960s, when emotivism and linguistic analysis were both on the retreat and moral philosophers once again began to think about how individuals ought to live. A crucial question of normative ethics is whether actions are to be judged right or wrong solely on the basis of their consequences. Traditionally, those theories that judge actions by their consequences have been known as teleological theories, while those that judge actions according to whether they fall under a rule have been referred to as deontological theories. Although the latter term continues to be used, the former has been replaced to a large extent by the more straightforward term consequentialist. The debate over this issue has led to the development of different forms of consequentialist theories and to a number of rival views. Varieties of consequentialism The simplest form of consequentialism is classical Utilitarianism, which holds that every action is to be judged good or bad according to whether its consequences do more than any alternative action to increaseor, if that is impossible, to limit any unavoidable decrease inthe net balance of pleasure over pain in the universe. This is often called hedonistic Utilitarianism. G.E. Moore's normative position offers an example of a different form of consequentialism. In the final chapters of the aforementioned Principia Ethica and also in Ethics (1912), Moore argued that the consequences of actions are decisive for their morality, but he did not accept the classical Utilitarian view that pleasure and pain are the only consequences that matter. Moore asked his readers to picture a world filled with all possible imaginable beauty but devoid of any being who can experience pleasure or pain. Then the reader is to imagine another world, as ugly as can be but equally lacking in any being who experiences pleasure or pain. Would it not be better, Moore asked, that the beautiful world rather than the ugly world exist? He was clear in his own mind that the answer was affirmative, and he took this as evidence that beauty is good in itself, apart from the pleasure it brings. He also considered that the friendship of close personal relationships has a similar intrinsic value independent of its pleasantness. Moore thus judged actions by their consequences but not solely by the amount of pleasure they produced. Such a position was once called ideal Utilitarianism because it was a form of Utilitarianism based on certain ideals. Today, however, it is more frequently referred to by the general label consequentialism, which includes, but is not limited to, Utilitarianism. R.M. Hare is another example of a consequentialist. His interpretation of universalizability leads him to the view that for a judgment to be universalizable, it must prescribe what is most in accord with the preferences of all those affected by the action. This form of consequentialism is frequently called preference Utilitarianism because it attempts to maximize the satisfaction of preferences, just as classical Utilitarianism endeavours to maximize pleasure or happiness. Part of the attraction of such a view lies in the way in which it avoids making judgments about what is intrinsically good, finding its content instead in the desires that people, or sentient beings generally, do have. Another advantage is that it overcomes the objection, which so deeply troubled Mill, that the production of simple, mindless pleasure becomes the supreme goal of all human activity. Against these advantages we must put the fact that most preference Utilitarians want to base their judgments, not on the desires that people actually have, but rather on those they would have if they were fully informed and thinking clearly. It then becomes essential to discover what people would want under these conditions, and, because most people most of the time are less than fully informed and clear in their thoughts, the task is not an easy one. It may also be noted in passing that Hare claims to derive his version of Utilitarianism from universalizability, which in turn he draws from moral language and moral concepts. Moore, on the other hand, had simply found it self-evident that certain things were intrinsically good. Another Utilitarian, the Australian philosopher J.J.C. Smart, has defended hedonistic Utilitarianism by asserting that he has a favourable attitude to making the surplus of happiness over misery as large as possible. As these differences suggest, consequentialism can be held on the basis of widely differing metaethical views. Consequentialists may also be separated into those who ask of each individual action whether it will have the best consequences, and those who ask this question only of rules or broad principles and then judge individual actions by whether they fall under a good rule or principle. The distinction having arisen in the specific context of Utilitarian ethics, the former are known as act-Utilitarians and the latter as rule-Utilitarians. Rule-Utilitarianism developed as a means of making the implications of Utilitarianism less shocking to ordinary moral consciousness. (The germ of this approach is seen in Mill's defense of Utilitarianism.) There might be occasions, for example, when stealing from one's wealthy employer in order to give to the poor would have good consequences. Yet, surely it would be wrong to do so. The rule-Utilitarian solution is to point out that a general rule against stealing is justified on Utilitarian grounds, because otherwise there could be no security of property. Once the general rule has been justified, individual acts of stealing can then be condemned whatever their consequences because they violate a justifiable rule. This suggests an obvious question, one already raised by the above account of Kant's ethics: How specific may the rule be? Although a rule prohibiting stealing may have better consequences than no rule at all against stealing, would not the best consequences of all follow from a rule that permitted stealing only in those special cases in which it is clear that stealing will have better consequences than not stealing? But what then is the difference between act- and rule-Utilitarianism? In Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism (1965), David Lyons argued that if the rule were formulated with sufficient precision to take into account all its causally relevant consequences, rule-Utilitarianism would collapse into act-Utilitarianism. If rule-Utilitarianism is to be maintained as a distinct position, then there must be some restriction on how specific the rule can be so that at least some relevant consequences are not taken into account. To ignore relevant consequences is to break with the very essence of consequentialism; rule-Utilitarianism is therefore not a true form of Utilitarianism at all. That, at least, is the view taken by Smart, who has derided rule-Utilitarianism as rule-worship and consistently defended act-Utilitarianism. Of course, when time and circumstances make it awkward to calculate the precise consequences of an action, Smart's act-Utilitarian will resort to rough and ready rules of thumb for guidance; but these rules of thumb have no independent status apart from their usefulness in predicting likely consequences, and if ever we are clear that we will produce better consequences by acting contrary to the rule of thumb, we should do so. If this leads us to do things that are contrary to the rules of conventional morality, then, Smart says, so much the worse for conventional morality. Today, straightforward rule-Utilitarianism has few supporters. On the other hand, a number of more complex positions have been proposed, bridging in some way the distance between rule-Utilitarianism and act-Utilitarianism. In Moral Thinking Hare distinguished two levels of thought about what we ought to do. At the critical level we may reason about the principles that should govern our action and consider what would be for the best in a variety of hypothetical cases. The correct answer here, Hare believed, is always that the best action will be the one that has the best consequences. This principle of critical thinking is not, however, well-suited for everyday moral decision making. It requires calculations that are difficult to carry out under the most ideal circumstances and virtually impossible to carry out properly when we are hurried or liable to be swayed by our emotions or our interests. Everyday moral decisions are the proper domain of the intuitive level of moral thought. At this intuitive level we do not enter into fine calculations of consequences; instead, we act in accordance with fundamental moral principles that we have learned and accepted as determining, for practical purposes, whether an act is right or wrong. Just what these moral principles should be is a task for critical thinking. They must be the principles that, when applied intuitively by most people, will produce the best consequences overall, and they must also be sufficiently clear and brief to be made part of the moral education of children. Hare therefore can avoid the dilemma of the rule-Utilitarian while still preserving the advantages of that position. Given that ordinary moral beliefs reflect the experience of many generations, Hare believed that judgments made at the intuitive level will probably not be too different from judgments made by conventional morality. At the same time, Hare's restriction on the complexity of the intuitive principles is fully consequentialist in spirit. Some recently published work has gone further still in this direction. Following on earlier discussions of the difficulties consequentialists may have in trusting one anothersince the word of a Utilitarian is only as good as the consequences of keeping the promise appear to him to beDonald Regan has explored the problems of cooperation among Utilitarians in his Utilitarianism and Co-operation (1980) and has come out with a further variation designed to make cooperation feasible and thus to achieve the best consequences on the whole. In Reasons and Persons (1984), Derek Parfit argued that to aim always at producing the best consequences would be indirectly self-defeating; we would be cutting ourselves off from some of the greatest goods of human life, including those close personal relationships that demand that we sacrifice the ideal of impartial benevolence to all in order that we may give preference to those we love. We therefore need, Parfit suggested, not simply a theory of what we should all do, but a theory of what motives we should all have. Parfit, like Hare, plausibly contended that recognizing this distinction will bring the practical application of consequentialist theories closer to conventional moral judgments. Additional reading General works For an introduction to the major theories of ethics, the reader should consult Richard B. Brandt, Ethical Theory: The Problems of Normative and Critical Ethics (1959), an excellent comprehensive textbook. William K. Frankena, Ethics, 2nd ed. (1973), is a much briefer treatment. Another concise work is Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985). There are several useful collections of classical and modern writings; among the better ones are Oliver A. Johnson, Ethics: Selections from Classical and Contemporary Writers, 5th ed. (1984); and James Rachels (ed.), Understanding Moral Philosophy (1976), which places greater emphasis on modern writers. Origins of ethics Joyce O. Hertzler, The Social Thought of the Ancient Civilizations (1936, reissued 1961), is a wide-ranging collection of materials. Edward Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, 2 vol., 2nd ed. (191217, reprinted 1971), is dated but still unsurpassed as a comprehensive account of anthropological data. Mary Midgley, Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature (1978, reissued 1980), is excellent on the links between biology and ethics; and Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975), and On Human Nature (1978), contain controversial speculations on the biological basis of social behaviour. Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1976, reprinted 1978), is another evolutionary account, fascinating but to be used with care. History of Western ethics Henry Sidgwick, Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers, 6th enlarged ed. (1931, reissued 1967), is a triumph of scholarship and brevity. William Edward Hartpole Lecky, History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, 2 vol., 3rd rev. ed. (1877, reprinted 1975), is fascinating and informative. Among more recent histories, Vernon J. Bourke, History of Ethics (1968, reissued in 2 vol., 1970), is remarkably comprehensive; while Alasdaire MacIntyre, A Short History of Ethics (1966), is a readable personal view. Indian ethics Surama Dasgupta, Development of Moral Philosophy in India (1961, reissued 1965), is a clear discussion of the various schools. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore (eds.), A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (1957, reprinted 1967), is a collection of key primary sources. For Buddhist texts, see Edward Conze et al. (eds.), Buddhist Texts Through the Ages (1954, reissued 1964). Chinese ethics Standard introductions to the works of classic Chinese authors mentioned in the article are E.R. Hughes (ed.), Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times (1942, reprinted 1966); and Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, 2 vol., trans. from the Chinese (195253, reprinted 1983). Ancient Greek and Roman ethics Jonathan Barnes, The Presocratic Philosophers, rev. ed. (1982), treats Greek ethics before Socrates. The central texts of the Classic period of Greek ethics are Plato, Politeia (The Republic), Euthyphro, Protagoras, and Gorgias; and Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea (Nicomachean Ethics). A concise introduction to the ethical thought of this period is provided by Pamela Huby, Greek Ethics (1967); and Christopher Rowe, An Introduction to Greek Ethics (1976). Significant writings of the Stoics include Marcus Tullius Cicero, De officiis (On Duties); Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Epistulae morales (Moral Essays); and Marcus Aurelius, D. imperatoris Marci Antonini Commentariorum qvos sibi ipsi scripsit libri XII (The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus). From Epicurus only fragments remain; they have been collected in Cyril Bailey (ed.), Epicurus, the Extant Remains (1926, reprinted 1979). The most complete of the surviving works of the Epicureans is Lucretius, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things). Early and medieval Christian ethics In addition to the Gospels and Paul's letters, important writings include St. Augustine, De civitate Dei (413426; The City of God), and Enchiridion ad Laurentium de fide, spe, et caritate (421; Enchiridion to Laurentius on Faith, Hope and Love); Peter Abelard, Ethica (c. 1135; Ethics); and St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae (1265 or 126673). On the history of the transition from Roman ethics to Christianity, W.E.H. Lecky, op.cit., remains unsurpassed. D.J. O'Connor, Aquinas and Natural Law (1967), is a brief introduction to the most important of the Scholastic writers on ethics. Ethics of the Renaissance and Reformation Machiavelli's chief works are available in modern translations: Niccol Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. and ed. by Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa (1984), and The Discourses, trans. by Leslie J. Walker (1975). For Luther's writings, see the comprehensive edition Martin Luther, Works, 55 vol., ed. by Jaroslav Pelikan et al. (195576). Calvin's major work is available in Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. by Henry Beveridge, 2 vol. (1979). The British tradition from Hobbes to the Utilitarians The key works of this period include Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651); Ralph Cudworth, Eternal and Immutable Morality (published posthumously, 1688); Henry More, Enchiridion Ethicum (1662); Samuel Clarke, Boyle lectures for 1705, published in his Works, 4 vol. (173842); 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit, published together with other essays in his Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711); Joseph Butler, Fifteen Sermons (1726); Francis Hutcheson, Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725), and A System of Moral Philosophy, 2 vol. (1755); David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (173940), and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751); Richard Price, A Review of the Principal Questions and Difficulties in Morals (1758); Thomas Reid, Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind (1758); William Paley, The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785); Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789); John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (1863); and Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (1874). Selections of the major texts of this period are brought together in D.D. Raphael (ed.), British Moralists, 16501800, 2 vol. (1969); and in D.H. Monro (ed.), A Guide to the British Moralists (1972). Useful introductions to separate writers include J. Kemp, Ethical Naturalism (1970), on Hobbes and Hume; W.D. Hudson, Ethical Intuitionism (1967), on the intuitionists from Cudworth to Price and the debate with the moral sense school; and Anthony Quinton, Utilitarian Ethics (1973). C.D. Broad, Five Types of Ethical Theory (1930, reprinted 1971), includes clear accounts of the ethics of Butler, Hume, and Sidgwick. J.L. Mackie, Hume's Moral Theory (1980), brilliantly traces the relevance of Hume's work to current disputes about the nature of ethics. The continental tradition from Spinoza to Nietzsche The major texts are available in many English translations. See Baruch Spinoza, The Ethics and Selected Letters, trans. by Samuel Shirley, ed. by Seymour Feldman (1982); Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality, trans. by Maurice Cranston (1984), and The Social Contract, annotated ed., trans. by Charles M. Sherover (1974); Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. by James W. Ellington (1981), and Critique of Practical Reason, and Other Writings in Moral Philosophy, ed. and trans. by Lewis White Beck (1949, reprinted 1976); G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. by A.V. Miller (1977), and Hegel's Philosophy of Right, trans. by T.M. Knox (1967, reprinted 1980); Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, ed. by Dirk J. Struik (1964), Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, trans. by David Fernbach, 3 vol. (1981), and The Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, ed. by Harold J. Laski (1967, reprinted 1975); Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, trans. by R.J. Hollingdale (1973), and The Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic, trans. by Horace B. Samuel (1964). Among the easier introductory studies are H.B. Acton, Kant's Moral Philosophy (1970); and Peter Singer, Hegel (1983), and Marx (1980). C.D. Broad, op. cit., contains readable accounts of the ethics of both Spinoza and Kant. 20th-century Western ethics The most influential writings in metaethics during the 20th century have been George Edward Moore, Principia Ethica (1903, reprinted 1976); W.D. Ross, The Right and the Good (1930, reprinted 1973); A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth, and Logic (1936, reissued 1974); Charles L. Stevenson, Ethics and Language (1944, reprinted 1979); R.M. Hare, The Language of Morals (1952, reprinted 1972), and Freedom and Reason (1963, reprinted 1977); and, in France, Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (1956, reissued 1978; originally published in French, 1943), and Existentialism and Humanism (1948, reprinted 1977; originally published in French, 1946). Ralph Barton Perry, General Theory of Value (1926, reprinted 1967), was highly regarded in the United States but comparatively neglected elsewhere. Wilfrid Sellars and John Hospers (eds.), Readings in Ethical History, 2nd ed. (1970), contains the most important pieces of writing on ethics from the first half of the 20th century. Widely discussed later works include Thomas Nagel, The Possibility of Altruism (1970, reissued 1978); G.J. Warnock, The Object of Morality (1971); J.L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (1977); Richard B. Brandt, A Theory of the Good and the Right (1979); John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights (1980); and R.M. Hare, Moral Thinking: Its Levels, Method, and Point (1981). A defense of naturalism can be found in two important articles by Philippa Foot, Moral Beliefs and Moral Arguments, both originally published in 1958 and later reprinted in her Virtues and Vices, and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy (1978, reprinted 1981). David Wiggins, Truth, Invention, and the Meaning of Life (1976), is a statement of what has come to be known as moral realism. Mary Warnock, Ethics Since 1900, 3rd ed. (1978); G.J. Warnock, Contemporary Moral Philosophy (1967); and W.D. Hudson, A Century of Moral Philosophy (1980), provide guidance through 20th-century metaethical disputes. Normative ethics For Moore's ideal Utilitarianism, see G.E. Moore, Ethics, 2nd ed. (1966). The best short statement of an act-Utilitarian position is J.J.C. Smart's contribution to J.J.C. Smart and Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism: For and Against (1973). R.M. Hare, op. cit., is an extended argument for a form of preference Utilitarianism that allows some scope to moral principles while not departing from act-Utilitarianism at the level of critical thought. David Lyons, Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism (1965), probes the distinction between act- and rule-Utilitarianism. Richard B. Brandt, op. cit., includes a defense of a version of rule-Utilitarianism. Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (1980), is an ingenious discussion of how the need to cooperate can be incorporated into Utilitarian theory. Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams (eds.), Utilitarianism and Beyond (1982), is a collection of essays on the difficulties of the Utilitarian position. A major contribution to consequentialist theory is Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons (1984), which includes penetrating arguments on the nature of consequentialist reasoning in ethics. The standard defense of an ethic of prima facie duties remains W.D. Ross, op. cit. H.J. McCloskey, Meta-Ethics and Normative Ethics (1969), is a restatement with some modifications. The most widely discussed alternative theory to Utilitarianism in recent years is set forth in John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971, reprinted 1981). Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), criticizes Rawls and presents a rights-based theory. Another work giving prominence to rights is Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (1977). Very different from the approach of both Nozick and Dworkin is the attempt to ground rights in natural law in John Finnis, op. cit., and a shorter and more accessible introduction to natural law ethics is Fundamentals of Ethics (1983). Egoism as a theory of rationality is discussed by Derek Parfit, op. cit.; a useful collection of readings on this topic is David P. Gauthier (ed.), Morality and Rational Self-Interest (1970); see also Ronald D. Milo (ed.), Egoism and Altruism (1973). Applied ethics Many of the best examples of applied ethics are to be found in journal articles, particularly in Philosophy and Public Affairs (quarterly). There are many anthologies of representative samples of such writings. Among the better ones are James Rachels (ed.), Moral Problems, 3rd ed. (1979); Jan Narveson (ed.), Moral Issues (1983); and Manuel Velasquez and Cynthia Rostankowski, Ethics, Theory and Practice (1985). There are also books and collections on specific topics. Marshall Cohen, Thomas Nagel, and Thomas Scanlon (eds.), Equality and Preferential Treatment (1977), is a collection of some of the best articles on equality and reverse discrimination; while Alan H. Goldman, Justice and Reverse Discrimination (1979), is a book-length treatment of the issues. Some of the more philosophically probing discussions of feminism are Janet Radcliffe Richards, The Sceptical Feminist (1980, reprinted with corrections, 1982); Mary Midgley and Judith Hughes, Women's Choices: Philosophical Problems Facing Feminism (1983); and Alison M. Jaggar, Feminist Politics and Human Nature (1983). The moral obligations of the wealthy toward the starving are discussed in the anthology World Hunger and Moral Obligation, ed. by William Aiken and Hugh LaFollette.The ethics of the treatment of animals has given rise to much philosophical discussion. Books arguing for radical change include Stanley Godlovitch, Roslind Godlovitch, and John Harris (eds.), Animals, Man, and Morals: An Enquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-Humans (1971); Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals (1975); Stephen R.L. Clark, The Moral Status of Animals (1977, reissued 1984); and Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights (1983). R.G. Frey, Interests and Rights: The Case Against Animals (1980), and Rights, Killing, and Suffering: Moral Vegetarianism and Applied Ethics (1983), resist some of these arguments. Mary Midgley, Animals and Why They Matter (1983), takes a middle course.Essays dealing with ethical issues raised by concern for the environment are collected in Robert Elliot and Arran Gare (eds.), Environmental Philosophy (1983); and K.S. Shrader-Frechette, Environmental Ethics (1981). Useful full-length studies include John Passmore, Man's Responsibility for Nature: Ecological Problems and Western Tradition, 2nd ed. (1980); and H.J. McCloskey, Ecological Ethics and Politics (1983). For specific problems of future generations, see R. Sikora and Brian Barry (eds.), Obligations to Future Generations (1979). A difficult but fascinating discussion of the problem of optimum population size in an ideal world can be found in Derek Parfit, op. cit.michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (1977), is a fine study of the morality of war; Richard A. Wasserstrom (ed.), War and Morality (1970), is a valuable collection of essays. Nigel Blake and Kay Pole (eds.), Objections to Nuclear Defence (1984), and Dangers of Deterrence (1984), are collections of philosophical writings on nuclear war.There is an immense amount of literature on abortion, though of various philosophical depth. Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (1983), is a penetrating study. For contrasting views, see Germain G. Grisez, Abortion: The Myths, the Realities, and the Arguments (1970); and Baruch A. Brody, Abortion and the Sanctity of Human Life: A Philosophical View (1975). Another notable treatment is L.W. Sumner, Abortion and Moral Theory (1981). Joel Feinberg (ed.), The Problem of Abortion, 2nd ed. (1984), is a good collection of essays. For a discussion of sanctity of life issues in general, including both abortion and euthanasia, see Jonathan Glover, Causing Death and Saving Lives (1977); and Peter Singer, Practical Ethics (1979). The specific problem of the treatment of severely handicapped infants is discussed in Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, Should the Baby Live? (1985).For a comprehensive textbook on bioethics, see Tom. L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 2nd ed. (1983). Anthologies of essays on diverse topics in bioethics include Samuel Gorovitz et al. (eds.), Moral Problems in Medicine, 2nd ed. (1983); and John Arras and Robert Hunt (comp.), Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine, 2nd ed. (1983). James F. Childress, Who Should Decide? (1982), deals with paternalism in medical care; while Peter Singer and Deane Wells, The Reproduction Revolution: New Ways of Making Babies (1984), focusses on the new reproductive technology. For the philosophical issues underlying genetic engineering and other methods of altering the human organism, see Jonathan Glover, What Sort of People Should There Be? (1984). Peter Singer Western ethics from Socrates to the 20th century The Classical Period of Greek ethics Socrates The unexamined life is not worth living, Socrates once observed. This thought typifies his questioning, philosophical approach to ethics. Socrates, who lived from about 470 BC until he was put to death in 399 BC, must be regarded as one of the greatest teachers of ethics. Yet, unlike other figures of comparable importance such as the Buddha or Confucius, he did not tell his audience how they should live. What Socrates taught was a method of inquiry. When the Sophists or their pupils boasted that they knew what justice, piety, temperance, or law was, Socrates would ask them to give an account of it and then show that the account offered was entirely inadequate. For instance, against the received wisdom that justice consists in keeping promises and paying debts, Socrates put forth the example of a person faced with an unusual situation: a friend from whom he borrowed a weapon has since become insane but wants the weapon back. Conventional morality gives no clear answer to this dilemma; therefore, the original definition of justice has to be reformulated. So the Socratic dialogue gets under way. Because his method of inquiry threatened conventional beliefs, Socrates' enemies contrived to have him put to death on a charge of corrupting the youth of Athens. For those who saw adherence to the conventional moral code as more desirable than the cultivation of an inquiring mind, the charge was appropriate. By conventional standards, Socrates was indeed corrupting the youth of Athens, but he himself saw the destruction of beliefs that could not stand up to criticism as a necessary preliminary to the search for true knowledge. Here, he differed from the Sophists with their moral relativism, for he thought that virtue is something that can be known and that the good person is the one who knows of what virtue, or justice, consists. It is therefore not entirely accurate to see Socrates as contributing a method of inquiry but no positive views of his own. He believed in goodness as something that can be known, even though he did not himself profess to know it. He also thought that those who know what good is are in fact good. This latter belief seems peculiar today, because we make a sharp distinction between what is good and what is in a person's own interests. Accordingly, it does not seem surprising if people know what they ought morally to do but then proceed to do what is in their own interests instead. How to provide such people with reasons for doing what is right has been a major problem for Western ethics. Socrates did not see a problem here at all; in his view anyone who does not act well must simply be ignorant of the nature of goodness. Socrates could say this because in ancient Greece the distinction between goodness and self-interest was not made, or at least not in the clear-cut manner that it is today. The Greeks believed that virtue is good both for the individual and for the community. To be sure, they recognized that to live virtuously might not be the best way to prosper financially, but then they did not assume, as we are prone to do, that material wealth is a major factor in whether a person's life goes well or ill. Plato Socrates' greatest disciple, Plato (428/427348/347 BC), accepted the key Socratic beliefs in the objectivity of goodness and in the link between knowing what is good and doing it. He also took over the Socratic method of conducting philosophy, developing the case for his own positions by exposing errors and confusions in the arguments of his opponents. He did this by writing his works as dialogues in which Socrates is portrayed as engaging in argument with others, usually Sophists. The early dialogues are generally accepted as reasonably accurate accounts of Socrates' views, but the later ones, written many years after the death of Socrates, use the latter as a mouthpiece for ideas and arguments that were Plato's rather than those of the historical Socrates. In the most famous of Plato's dialogues, Politeia (The Republic), the imaginary Socrates is challenged by the following example: Suppose a person obtained the legendary ring of Gyges, which has the magical property of rendering the wearer invisible. Would that person still have any reason to behave justly? Behind this challenge lies the suggestion, made by the Sophists and still heard today, that the only reason for acting justly is that one cannot get away with acting unjustly. Plato's response to this challenge is a long argument developing a position that appears to go beyond anything the historical Socrates asserted. Plato maintained that true knowledge consists not in knowing particular things but in knowing something general that is common to all the particular cases. This is obviously derived from the way in which Socrates would press his opponents to go beyond merely describing particular good, or temperate, or just acts, and to give instead a general account of goodness, or temperance, or justice. The implication is that we do not know what goodness is unless we can give this general account. But the question then arises, what is it that we know when we know this general idea of goodness? Plato's answer seem

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