The nature of ethics revolves around a practical way that intrinsically connects with the correct conduct in society. By being reasonable people consider standards and apply norms before embarking on newer always evolving circumstances. However, people are often faced with puzzlement on what should be done while tackling different situations (MacIntyre, 2013). Puzzlement becomes evident when individuals are unable to apply existing principles to concrete situations. For instance, journalists are often puzzled in various situations. Especially when they have to invade the privacy of politicians in their investigations of allegations concerning unethical conducts.
The history of ethics is shaped by the critical thinking of some key philosopher. They include Aristotle, Plato, Immanuel Kunt, and Socrates. Socrates lived most of his life trying to examine and explain in clarity the critical concepts of issues that lacked concrete definitions like beauty and truth and the virtues of wisdom, courage, piety, temperance, and justice. Plato, who was a student of Socrates central idea, was based on the theory of forms. He proceeded to explain that metaphysical abstraction possesses a higher and more fundamental kind of reality. This theory became the foundation of understanding existentialism. Aristotle was the most eminent philosopher who criticized issues that ranged from ethics, pure logic, literature, politics, and science (MacIntyre, 2013). He theorized the four causes of all things that are in existence. Besides, he argued about the hierarchy of life thus classifying the ladder of life with eleven rungs topped by humans. Moreover, he formulated the principles of ethics whose concepts are founded on doing good instead of just being good. Immanuel Kunt being a modern philosopher based his criticism on reconciling empiricism and rationalism which he claims is a mind structured experience.
Normative ethics provide a generalized theory telling people on how they ought to live. They are classified into three types virtue, consequentiality and deontological theories each exhibiting different elements. Virtue theory emphasizes on the moral characters that an individual is supposed to possess. Some of the characteristics manifested are in forms of courage, compassion, generosity, etc. The deontological theory explains that one should focus on their duties and obligations before acting in a particular situation (MacIntyre, 2013). Thus agreeing that by performing the right action according to the requirement of their duties is what is acceptable. The consequentialists approach explains that whichever action is taken the good it brings justifies its undertaking.
An example of a concrete situation where normative theory can be applied is an instance when a brave man intervenes in a bid to prevent youth from being assaulted by his peers. In virtue theory, this interprets to a positive character trait which is bravery. Therefore, his actions are right because he has acted by the exemplary aspects of virtues. A consequentialist in this situation will weigh the outcome of his actions and in this situation, there were good because he prevented the youth from being injured. Consequently, a deontologist commends the actual actions of the man. Considering that it was his duty to stand up for the youth thus this kind of behavior rated as intrinsically good.
Consequentialism and deontology tend to have almost similar approaches since their main attempt is to justify and specify principles and moral rules. However, each of the two theories has different approaches deontology reigns on acting according to duty which should result in good. On the other hand, utilitarianism basis on consequences but encourages people to do what they deem as good regardless of whether they are right or wrong (MacIntyre, 2013). However, virtues are quite different because they define that human beings should have particular good character traits that translate to acceptable morals. Thus, virtues do not have exceptions good character traits are the standard measure.
Nonetheless, each approach to ethical theory contains advantages and disadvantages. The benefits accrued to deontology include an emphasis on valuing every human being, says that some actions are always wrong, it provides certainty and measures the intentions and motives of an action. On the other hand, it has disadvantages such as allowing people to act in ways that make the world seem like a lesser good place to live and it based on absolute rules without exceptions. The consequentialist theory has advantages in making informed decisions concerning a large group of people and making space weigh the good or wrong of an action. Also, it provides a platform for taking actions that produce more good than harm to all the affected people (MacIntyre, 2013). However, there are some limitations to the same theory like its egoistic approach that seems to campaign for self-interest. Lastly, virtues have some advantages like accounting for all human experiences and their roles in deliberating ethics. However, virtues have limitations, especially when resolving disputes because people often disagree on virtues rather than values. Also, ethics emphasize on displaying good character traits instead of helping people decide on the actions they should take in particular situations. Besides, it limits people by stressing the importance of education and role modeling ethical behavior.
In the world business, some contemporary issues should be addressed like pollution especially on what a company should do with waste disposal. Posing the question of what is the best ethical way of dealing with such an environmental degrading situation. Ethically it is wrong to pollute the environment because it hurts not only the people but also the environment. Therefore, it is virtuous for a company to practice what is appropriate by caring about the people around them and thus should embark on alternative ways of disposal. By so doing they avoid hurting the society and environment and act in a socially responsible manner.
MacIntyre, A. (2013). A Short History of Ethics: a history of moral philosophy from the Homeric age to the 20th century. Routledge.
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