Introduction to Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle Pages: 4 (1269 words) Published: June 27, 2005
"What are we like, and what should we do?"

As humans we are faced with many decisions in life, which in and of itself, distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. I'm sure other animals make decisions, but as humans we take into account our values and morals. In choosing which path to take with some of life's decisions, ethics, are often at the center; heavily influencing our choices between what is right and what is wrong. Which are usually defined by society, as to what is acceptable and what is not. As time goes on, society evolves, so do the right and wrongs, our values and morals, and ethics. In philosophy, there were three ethical theories by Aristotle, Kant, and Bentham & Mill and they were the "Golden Mean", "Categorical Imperative", and "Greatest Good for the Greatest Number" respectively.

Aristotle believed the one goal everyone strived for was "happiness" for one's ownself. If you were a happy person, that would eventually lead to being a good person. He also believed that all living things had certain capacities, and that if one lives up to their full capacities, they will have lived well and had a fortunate life. He went on to state that the perfection of reason leads to the development of two desirable "virtues", Moral and Intellectual. Moral virtues dealt with emotions. A person must keep these in balance, to go in either extreme of too much and too little, would be called "the excess" and "the defect", respectively. The balance would be the "mean". For example, courage is the mean between rashness (excess) and cowardice (defect). The golden mean is further analyzed in NICOMACHEAN ETHICS. The RHETORIC, is where Aristotle sums up the three categories in an analogical description of life with the Youthful Man (excess), the Elderly Man (defect), and the Man in His Prime (golden mean).

The Intellectual virtues dealt with foresight and wisdom. Aristotle stated the attainment of these virtues could only be done by a select...
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