Posted: February 15th, 2023
The History of Ethics
The study of ethics is a long and varied history, reaching back to some of the earliest human writings. From ancient Greece to modern times, people have asked questions about how we should live our lives and treat one another. It has been an evolving process with many different schools of thought, so it is important to understand the basics before delving into each category.
In Ancient Greek philosophy, Socrates was one of the first to address ethical questions in a systematic manner. He focused on cultivating excellence through virtues like courage and wisdom. His student Plato built upon Socrates’ work by formulating a theory about justice being rooted in fairness for all members of society, regardless of their wealth or power. Aristotle also had an impact on ethical thought with his notion that humans are social creatures who need certain virtues to be good citizens — such as temperance, justice and courage — which can be taught through education and habituation.
With Christianity came religious-based ethics, which placed emphasis on faithfulness to God’s will as revealed in scripture and Christian teachings like humility. This tradition was later extended during the Enlightenment period when philosophers such as Immanuel Kant argued for ethics based on reason rather than faith or tradition. Kant believed that moral rules were universal truths that could be discovered through rational inquiry instead of relying solely on divine revelation or custom.
More recently there has been a shift towards understanding morality from various perspectives such as gender identity, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability status; this perspective is known as “multiculturalism” or “diversity ethics” (Kohlberg & Bean 1981). The goal here is not only to look at ethical issues from multiple angles but also create more equitable solutions by including those whose voices have been marginalized due to systemic oppression over time (Schaefer 2018). This approach emphasizes recognizing individual differences while still striving for fairness between different groups within society
Summarizing Categories Of Ethical Theory
There are four main categories within ethical theory: utilitarianism; deontology; virtue ethics; relativism/pluralism/contextualism . Utilitarianism focuses on what will bring about the greatest amount happiness for all involved parties—the best outcome being chosen no matter what means are used (Mill 1888). Deontology considers principles above consequences—here actions are judged based upon whether they follow given set rules (Kant 1785). Virtue Ethics views morality in terms of character traits rather than outcomes or rules – individuals strive toward becoming better versions themselves by developing virtuous characteristics (Aristotle 350 BCE). Finally Relativism/Pluralism/Contextualism looks at morality decided by situational factors – rightness depending on cultural norms specific context (Haidt 2012)
Comparing Categories Of Ethical Theory
Although these four categories may seem distinct from one another there are actually many similarities between them: Firstly they all view that morality comes down evaluating what action produces best results either overall effect resulting from chosen decision or personal development qualitative measure such person’s character Secondly each incorporates elements external sources ranging religion culture social customs even law These connections exist ensure decisions made align values accepted community Lastly movement away absolutist thinking commonly present across theories which asserts absolute truth does not exists Instead variations beliefs cultures contexts dictate changing nature right wrong . As seen interconnections lead shared understanding help guide moral behavior despite potential conflicting interests
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