This is largely attributable to his intriguing, enigmatic personality. To read him is to come into direct contact with both his strangeness and his charm. It is also to encounter a tangle of incongruities and seeming contradictions. Modern readers are usually shocked to discover that the father of gambling odds and the mechanical computer wore a spiked girdle to chastise himself and further mortify a body already tormented by recurrent illness and chronic pain.
But, given the history of that universe and our relative recent arrival Rachels suggests that a little modesty is in order.
Another factor involved in this is the simple fact that we do not know nearly as much as we think we do or think we should about the world in which we live. Our ignorance is much greater than our knowledge in almost every field we study: This has inspired some thinkers to advocate a provisional theory in ethics.
The importance of reason in morality cannot be overstated. Given the normative element involved we need good justification based on reason to back up our moral judgments and imperatives. Our struggle in ethics has been to reason in a consistent logical way.
Furthermore, reason requires us to act impartially. That is, if a particular fact justifies acting in one case, then we must accept that the same fact would justify the same action in similar cases. We also must be able to recognize that some reasons are not relevant to justify differences in treatment.
Among these Rachels lists differences in skin color and gender. We offered a possible solution by adding feminist and virtue ethics to our moral thinking.
The general notion involved here is to treat people as they deserve to be treated. People deserve to be treated with a minimum level of respect and dignity but people who knowingly harm others deserve punishment as well.
We need to evaluate our actions, in part, according to what is motivating them. Clearly, an action is better if our motive is to help someone as opposed to being only self-serving. And as feminist and virtue theory showed us focusing on motivation is important because it helps explain why impartiality does not always apply.
We are motivated to act towards our friends, parents, children differently than complete strangers and this is appropriate. One cannot always act according to the principle of utility which demands that we act to maximize the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers.
Nor should we always act this way. We have to balance our competing motives towards ourselves, our loved ones, our communities and so on. Of course this is not to deny the importance of consequences in our actions.
We ought to strive to make the consequences of our actions as good as possible. Rachels advocates what he refers to as "multiple strategies utilitarianism.
The basic idea is that we should strive to reach a state where everyone is as well off as possible without making anyone worse off in the process. The important point about multiple strategies utilitarianism is that we recognize that there may be many ways of achieving the ideal and at different times, different strategies are necessary to achieve the result.
Sometimes focusing on our own concerns is the appropriate course of action, while at other times our actions should be more selfless. The Greeks recognized this and defined the self in large part in relation to the community: From this concept we get our word politics.
This word often has a negative connotation but the basic point seems valid that morality exists within a communal setting and as the political commentator George Will eloquently puts it "statecraft is soulcraft.
As Rachels puts it "we ought to be concerned about every one whose welfare might be affected by what we do.
Of course, concern for justice and fairness is not a new thing in ethics but we saw how utilitarianism did fail to take these important concepts into account. Kant saw his theory of retributivism as a corrective to this shortcoming at least in the area of punishment.
Fairness relates as well to our recurring emphasis on impartiality and has many practical implications not only in the justice system but also in the workplace.
She concludes with what she calls an agenda for better ethics which consists of 12 points most of which are self-explanatory.The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.
Paul Kingsnorth is a writer and poet living in Cumbria, England. He is the author of several books, including the poetry collection Kidland and his fictional debut The Wake, winner of the Gordon Burn Prize and the Bookseller Book of the Year Award. Kingsnorth is the cofounder and director of the Dark Mountain Project, a network of writers, artists, and thinkers.
Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development. Kohlberg's theory of moral development. In this essay, following a brief outline of the theory, I will be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Kohlberg's theory of moral development.
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