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Normative Ethics

and Ethical

Ethical Theory

Main Branches of Ethics

Main Branches of Ethics

Normative (prescriptive) ethics:
How should people act?
Descriptive ethics:
What do people think is right?
Applied ethics:
How do we take moral knowledge and put it into
What does 'right' even mean?

Normative Ethics

Normative Ethics

Normative Ethics
Virtue Ethics
Emphasis on being as opposed to doing
Judges an action based on a set of rules
Judges an action based on the outcome of that

Normative Ethics A Very Basic Example

Is It Moral to Lie?
It is never* moral to lie
It is sometimes moral to lie
Virtue Ethics
One would consider what the decisions outcome
would say about the decision makers moral

Virtue Ethics

Virtue Ethics

*Identify desirable characteristics that a

moral or virtuous person embodies

*The evaluation of actions is dependent on

ethical judgments about the inner life of
the agents who perform those actions

Virtue Ethics

*Problems with Virtue Ethics

*What constitutes a virtue?
*Who gets to say what is a virtue and what is not?

Deontological Ethics

Deontological Ethics

*Moral decisions are made based off ones duties

and rights
*Formulated Categorical Imperative
*Consequences are inconsequential
Rawlsian Ethics (One type of Contractarianism)
*Social Contract between individuals and
*Basis for Civil Rights

Deontological Ethics

*Problems with Kantianism

*What is moral good? Kant argues only one thing
satisfies moral good.

*The Paradox of Deontology(Trolley Paradox)

*Problems with Contractarianism
*Where are the rights derived?



*Morally right actions are defined as those that produce a

good outcome.
*Morality of an action is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
*Process in determining the moral course of action
1.Identify all courses of action
2.Identify all affected parties
3.Identify the benefits and harms to all parties from
each action
4.Choose the action that maximizes the total amount
of happiness.


* Problems with Utilitarianism

* Do the ends really justify the means?

* Is pleasure or happiness the only moral absolute good?

Rights Ethics

* Based primarily on the works of John Locke, a

late 17th-Century English philosopher

* Initially his vindictive was directed at the King
and Parliament
* Locke proposed that government was created
to serve the people, who possessed certain
Rights, and that when government (read: the
King and Parliament) trampled on these rights,
they were abusing the rights of the people.
* These rights could include both positive acts on
the part of government (e.g. providing for
national defense), and negative (e.g. trial by

Rights Ethics

* Brought to the United States most prominently

in Jeffersons text of the Declaration of

* The Preamble to the Declaration invokes the theory of

Rights Ethics
* The He has. phrases bring it home:

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing

his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the
tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their

Rights Ethics

* Can you think of modern examples?

Easy Example 1
When you were dropping off your homework in a
professors mailbox, you noticed a classmate(your
friend) going through the submitted homework and
coping some answers. You thought about turning in the
classmate into the professor; you also thought of
confronting him or her. But in the end, you did neither.

Justify your actions using one ethical framework.

Easy Example 2a
You are the captain of your schools basketball
team. You witness your teammate using a
banned substance in the locker room the day
before a pre-season scrimmage match. You
turn your teammate in.
Justify your actions using one ethical

Easy Example 2b
You are the captain of your schools basketball
team. You witness your teammate using a
banned substance in the locker room the day
before the championship match.
Do your actions change from Example 2a?

Easy Example 3

Youre in a desert walking along in the sand

when all of the sudden you look down, and
you see a tortoise. The tortoise lays on its
back, its belly baking in the hot sun,
beating its legs trying to turn itself over,
but it cant, not without your help. But
youre not helping.
Why is that?
Justify your actions using one ethical

Hard Example 1
Stem cells are currently being researched as possible
treatments to many disorders. Stem cells are harvested
from three main sources:
*Human embryos less than 10 days old(the embryo is
*Umbilical cord blood(harvested at birth)
*Skin cells that have been reverted to stem cell
One possible use of stems cells in the future is to grow
full organs allowing for transplants with zero chance of
Using the ethical frameworks discussed today, justify a
total ban on stem cell use.

Hard Example 2 The Trolley Problem

A trolley is running out of control down a track
and approaching a fork in the track that
defaults to the left. You are in control of a
switch that diverts the trolley down the right
track. On the left track, five people are tied
to the track. On the right, one person is tied
to the track.
What action(or lack thereof) do you take? Use
an ethical framework if you can.