Ans. Ethical theories represent the grand ideas on which guiding principles are based. They attempt to be coherent and systematic, striving to answer the fundamental practical ethical questions: 1.What ought I do? 2. How ought I to live? Ethical theories are needed for a number of purposes. They are the foundations of ethical analysis because they are the viewpoints from which guidance can be obtained along the pathway to a decision. The aim of ethical theory is to give a reasoned account of how we ought to be or act, individually or communally. Ethical theories each emphasize different aspects of an ethical dilemma and lead to the most ethically correct resolution according to the guidelines within the ethical theory itself. People usually base their individual choice of ethical theory upon their life experiences. Ethical theories may function as instruments in discovering the ethical aspects of a problem/situation. Similarly, ethical theories may suggest certain arguments/reasons that can play a role in moral judgments. Furthermore, we need ethical theories to promote ethical social conduct, which is an essential component for creating a civilized, disciplined, productive and progressive society.
2. Ethical theories attempt to systemize ordinary moral judgments, establish and define basic moral principles. Discuss. (7) Ans. We now look at several ethical theories which attempt to systemize ordinary moral judgments, establish and define basic moral principles but they also have some limitations. We first look at two extremes of the normative ethical theories. On one hand is normative relativism. It states that all moral points of view are relative. The morals of one person are not necessarily equal to the morals of another person. Next to this, it is also impossible to say that certain norms and values are better than other norms and values.
The problem with this theory is that it is now impossible to discuss normative ethics: all norms and values are allowed.
On the other hand is absolutism, also known as universalism. It states that there is a system of norms and values that is universally applicable to everyone, everywhere at every time. Absolutism makes no exceptions: a rule is a rule.
However, there is no set of norms and values that never contradicts itself. So, absolutism in general doesn’t work either.
Ethical theories may be presented for various purposes.
Descriptive ethical theories may be considered "true" or "false" depending on whether or not they do indeed describe correctly what people in fact do consider good or right. Since such descriptive theories are concerned with what people actually do believe and what motivates them to believe what they do, such theories are strictly speaking more the concern of psychology than philosophy, and their acceptability is a matter of whether or not the empirical evidence indicates that what they say about human values is in fact the case. Since they are restricted to telling us what is the case, descriptive ethical theories cannot serve as the basis for making claims intended to change or persuade people to act or think otherwise than the way they do. In contrast to descriptive ethical theories, those ethical theories which are intended to justify judgments concerning what people ought or should do or not do, are called "normative ethical theories." Their concern is not with what is the case, but with what should be the case; they are concerned not with the "real" (what is so), but with the "ideal" (what ought to be). Ethical theories can be divided into two categories depending on what they consider the source of ethical value to be: consequentialist or "teleological" ethical theories and motivational or "deontological" ethical theories. Consequentialist or "teleological ethical theory" holds the view that the correct moral response is related to the outcome, or consequence, of the act. The central...