Ethical Theories and Major Moral Principles Essay

5111 Words 21 Pages
Some people claim that everyone has his or her own ethics, in other words, ethics is individual. The amazing thing about ethical theory, however, is not that there are so many theories, but that there are really very few. Most of contemporary ethical theory is governed by two basic theories, with an additional five or six theories taking up the vast majority of the rest of the discussion. Over the course of the next few pages I will explain to you the basics of eight different ethical theories: utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, contractarianism, feminist or care-based ethics, natural law theory, Confucian ethics, intuitionism and ideal observer theory, and virtue ethics. I will tell you about some of the major proponents of the theory, some …show more content…
Since Cephalus agrees with Plato's character, Socrates, he does nothing to justify the principle further. In order to have an ethical theory you need to be able to justify whatever principle you have arrived at using reason (an argument). The arguments in favor of each of the moral principles to which you will be exposed in this article are very long and complicated. I will give you some of the major premises (reasons) in this paper, but to really understand how the theory is justified you would need to read some of the work (articles and books) of the major proponents of the theory.

Most of the philosophical articles we will be reading in this class will be in applied ethics, not ethical theory. In applied ethics we take an ethical theory and apply it to a particular situation. Although some applied ethicists will spend some time on theory (i.e. showing why this theory is justified and/or why a rival theory is untenable), the bulk of the work they do is focused on being sure that they have the facts of the matter right (no easy question), being sure they have all the relevant facts, and arguing that this is the appropriate way to apply this ethical theory to these facts. For this reason, while it is necessary that you have a passing understanding of the major ethical theories, particularly Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, contractarianism, and feminist ethics, it would