Philosophy of Ethics Essay

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The word “ethics” comes from Greek ethikas meaning character. Today, we use ethics to describe the normative standard of behavior. The history of philosophical ethics has been broken up into five rational methods: Virtue, Traditional, Modern, and Post-Modern Ethics. Within these periods, the philosophy of ethics changed along with the changes being made within society.
The first rational method is Virtue Ethics. The major philosophers during this period were materialists such as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Plutarch. Greek were concerned with finding eudaimonia meaning the good life, but what is the good life? Known as the greatest Western philosopher, Plato developed the Cardinal Virtues: Justice, Courage, Moderation, and
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One of the last major philosophers of Virtue Ethics was Plutarch who advocated virtue but disagreed with Epicurus because he believed there was no true pleasure. At this same time, between 400 B.C.- 40 B.C. Stoic philosophers such Cicero, who combined the philosophies of Aristotle and Plato, developed his idea on ethics and how everyone has a duty and should imitate virtue for others. He said duty has two points which are to achieve the Supreme Good, and follow the rules for daily living. Cicero was a strong believer in rationality incorporated Plato’s Cardinal Virtues into his three rules of conduct: master desires through reason, know true value of goals and be moderate in actions and lifestyle.
Following Virtue Ethics, a major shift occurred in thinking. The philosophers of Virtue Ethics were materialists and believed we only have what we have and after death, we have nothing. Traditional Ethics shifted the focus on religion once it began to spread. Also known as Biblical Ethics, philosophers started a systematic study of Biblical themes and principles surrounding ethics and morality. St. Augustine was trained as a philosopher and combines his understanding of the Bible to ethics by answering the same question as Plato and Aristotle did, “What is the highest good?” He answered this question with happiness just like Aristotle but since Aristotle…