Explain the origins and key ideas behind Absolutist and Relativist ethics.

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Immanuel Kant Pages: 2 (848 words) Published: October 30, 2014

Explain the origins and key ideas behind Absolutist and Relativist ethics. The Absolutist theory is that certain actions are right or wrong from an objective point of view; it doesn’t change according to culture. People are considered to have rational and self-determination – it means they are capable of making choices and acting upon them. So, someone who looks at something from a absolutist point of view doesn’t look at the result or the consequence of an action but the action itself, (they disregard the context of the act) actions are fundamentally right or wrong which means they are right or wrong in themselves. This approach to ethics is known as ‘deontological’. This has often been based on two different ethical theories Kantianism; the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will and utilitarianism; that the morally best action is the one that makes the most overall happiness. Religious views of ethics often come from an absolutist view. Moral absolutism may be understood in a strictly secular context, as in many forms of deontological moral rationalism. However, many religions have morally absolutist positions as well, regarding their system of morality as deriving from divine commands. Therefore, they regard such a moral system as absolute, (usually) perfect, and unchangeable. Many secular philosophies also take a morally absolutist stance, arguing that absolute laws of morality are inherent in the nature of human beings, the nature of life in general, or the universe itself. For example, someone who believes absolutely in nonviolence considers it wrong to use violence even in self-defence. In the 18th century, German philosopher Immanuel Kant developed this theory of ethics. He was a prominent promoter of Moral Absolutism, and his formulation of the deontological theory of the Categorical Imperative was essentially absolutist in nature. Moral Absolutism has been favoured historically largely because it makes the creation of laws and the...
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