Chapter 8: ETHICS
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These theories of the GOOD hold that
actions are intrinsically right or wrong. They are right or wrong in
themselves and irrespective of their consequences. They are traditionally
associated with Kantian duty but can also be linked to ethical systems,
which uphold absolute moral norms and human rights. Deontologists hold
that one cannot undertake immoral acts like torture of spies even if the
outcome is morally preferable, such as the early ending of a war. It is
contrasted with Teleological/consequentialist ethical theories.
From the Greek deon meaning right or obligation: The
rationality of moral obligation. A Normative Ethical theory most often
associated with the German Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) which
maintains normative evaluations are rooted in some intrinsic feature of an
action which gives rise to an obligation or duty.
In a 'Deontological' system of ethics
the consequences of an action are generally irrelevant to moral
Rather, morality comes about from a rational
agent's recognition of its duties toward others. These duties can be
grounded in different ways, from divine revelation to objective rational
While each type of Deontological theory finds the locus of
our moral obligations in different places, they all contend that
'goodness' resides in our ability to recognize and keep moral obligations;
the consequences of our actions are of only secondary concern, if at all.
In the next section several deontological theories will be examined.
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© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2000. All Rights reserved. Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.
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