Abelard and Heloise shared most of their beliefs. They both explored the concepts of moral intentions and feelings. The most significant and meaningful teaching of Heloise was the one about disinterested love, where the true love was determined by the generosity of the lovers and the ability to love someone without expecting anything in return. Abelard and Heloise shared the ideas about the morality of intent, stating that sin or immoral deed should not be considered as one if the person did not have bad intentions.
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Aristotle’s idea of virtue ethics was based on the set of personal traits or virtues that shaped a good individual with proper morals. This understanding is different from the opinion of Confucius, whose idea of a proper person was focused on the actions and deeds this person generated. Aristotle suggested caring about the kind of people we should be instead of focusing on the kinds of actions we produce.
St. Augustine’s notion of evil was based on Plato’s theory that the good creator could not create anything evil. The creator is only one, so evil also could not have been created by someone else. Logically, Plato concluded that evil was not real. St. Augustine added that all the things and events that we consider evil are basically the absence or lack of something good, for example loneliness is the absence of companionship.
Plato’s views on ethics are closely connected with his idea of the Forms. According to Plato, the Form of the Good is the source of all value in our world (Moore, Bruder, 38). Plato taught that a well-ordered soul has to be temperate, courageous, wise and just, these four qualities are the source of a person’s true happiness. Plato saw justice as the base for the structure of a good and successful state.
Jeremy Bentham saw happiness as a type of pleasure. According to his understanding, our whole world had two dominant forces, they are pain and pleasure. All the good things refer to the aspects of pleasure. Bentham also believed that pain and pleasure could be measured by means of quantitative criteria. Besides, Bentham thought it is impossible to know the god’s will and act accordingly. He taught that we cannot know what exactly the god’s preferences are; this is why we pronounce our own pleasures as his.
Mill saw the individual’s main purpose in the promotion of general happiness. This means that the happiness of many outweighs the needs of one. According to Mill, general happiness is inherently higher and better than an individual happiness. Mill also differentiated between the types of happiness and their quality, it turns out that some kinds of happiness are more preferred than the others. Quality of the pleasure, according to Mill, was more important than its quantity.
Hume stated that the only way of people’s interactions with the outer world is done by means of senses and perceptions. Our impressions of a certain event or an object have to be stable and fix in order for us to be sure of what we experience. This is why if something we observe keeps changing its qualities as soon as we change the angle we view the object from, we cannot be sure of what we see. Hume taught that all the perceptions and ideas we have about the outer world are basically generated by what is inside us, our senses.
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According to Immanuel Kant, there are no possible exceptions to moral principles. This means that what is morally wrong for one person is wrong always and for everyone. One more aspect of moral principles is that they cannot be proved or investigated scientifically. Kant’s theory of categorical imperative states that one should act on the principles that they would want to become a universal law. The individual should not act on a principle that they would not want as a law for everyone.
Friedrich Nietzsche differentiated between two different types of moralities. They are the master morality and the slave morality. The slave morality is the morality of the masses; it is based on the qualities of a weak individual. Master morality is egotistical, harsh, one sided and dominant. The main moving force of the human development is the desire for power. Nietzsche introduced the concept of Ubermensch, the kind of individual that serves as their own source of ethics.
According to Hobbes’ theory of natural rights, every human being naturally tries to promote and achieve own interests above the interests and needs of all other people. This is why, in Locke’s and Hobbes’ opinions the notions of right and wrong, good and evil are the reflections of personal desires or fears. The humans in the state of nature are worse than the humans in the constituted state.
Rousseau disagreed with the previous opinions, he believed that natural people were essentially innocent and pure, and civilization brought restrictions of absolute freedom that people enjoyed. Rousseau saw the social inequalities within the state as its main and worst aspect. Civil men are unhappier than natural men.
Locke’s labor theory is used to explain the theory of property. The things an individual has earner through labor belong to this individual. Marx’s theory of labor objectifies the properties such as money.
Plato considered philosophers to be the best rulers for a state. In his work called “The Republic” philosophers are in charge of the utopian city Kallipolis. According to Plato, the philosopher’s mind is more perceptive and can work on more levels, taking into considerations multiple factors that help the king create a better state.
Rawls’ idea of veil of ignorance states that absolute justice can only be achieved if the judge becomes absolutely objective. Unfortunately, being one hundred per cent objective is impossible for a human mind. Rawls calls this state of objectivity “the original position”. The state closes to the original position is the one when an individual pretends that they are behind the veil of ignorance. This aspect makes this theory of Rawls contractarian.
According to Nozick, any state that is more powerful than the night-watchman state is illegal and unjust because the state that is more extensive than the night-watchman state implies redistribution of good that are someone’s properties. Taking away an individual’s property and giving it to someone else is against that rules of social justice.
Nussbaum’s capabilities approach targets certain outcomes that are desirable for a society, but not the methods and ways of achievement of these results. Nussbaum also supports Aristotelian teaching that all individuals naturally are good and fair.
Moore, Brooke Noel, Kenneth Bruder. Philosophy: The Power of Ideas. 5th ed. 2008.
New York, New York: McGraw Hill. Print.