Examining Contrasting Views In The Field Of Normative Ethics And Applied Ethics

1583 words - 6 pages

In this paper, I will examine contrasting views in the field of normative ethics and applied ethics. I will first analyze Aristotle in his writings on virtue ethics and W.D. Ross’s arguments for deontological ethics. I will then proceed to the field of applied ethics, and analyze the positions of John Noonan and Mary Warren on the issue of abortion. Aristotle, in his selections from Nicomachean Ethics, argues that eudaimonia is the supreme goal of every human being in life. Eudaimonia, or well-being and happiness, is the end result of just actions. Happiness is an activity and not a state of emotion. In the selection explaining goodness as an end, Aristotle states, “Every craft and every investigation, and likewise every action and decision, seems to aim at some good; hence the good as been well described as that at which everything aims” (Pojman 249). He believes that goodness and happiness provide a sense of completeness because we choose it for ourselves, and not for anybody else. Every activity is performed to achieve some end that will provide happiness. The highest ends which we endeavor must be the supreme good. Aristotle posits that human beings strive to achieve happiness because the highest good is a sufficient end that produces happiness. To define actions that bring happiness, things that function well are deemed good. A sculptor, or a craftsman, can be good if they perform their functions with efficiency. Happiness is achieved if the supreme Good is acting in accordance with the proper functions and virtues. Aristotle writes, “… the human good turns out to be the soul’s activity that expresses virtue” (Pojman 252). A human being with the proper virtues can live a good life, and is more inclined to achieve eudaimonia. In the attempt to achieve happiness, one should avoid vices such as jealousy and infidelity. He puts forth the idea that virtues fall into two distinctions: intellectual and moral. Virtues, such as temperance, courage, wisdom and justice guide the rational condition. Good actions are just if they have a means that explicates the two extremes of excess and deficiency. At times, individuals have a capacity to conduct themselves that resides along one of the extremes more than the other. Aristotle uses the example of rashness, bravery, and cowardice to show these extremes. Thus, virtues are dispositions and habits that allow human beings to perform rational actions, while ultimately achieving the end goal of supreme happiness. The acquisition of virtues is attainable through institutions to teach moral values necessary for achieving happiness. Conversely, W.D. Ross argues that deontology shapes moral actions, and more specifically, supports duties and pleasures as the primary goal of human goodness. Utilitarianism disregards the duty argument in performing just acts and only considers the good that moral acts provide. Like Aristotle, Ross believes right action is one that produces the greatest good....

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