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Moral Intention Concept in Philosophy

Peter Abelard and Heloise are two well-known figures in the field of philosophy. Abelard proposed the concept of moral intention by arguing that sins are not the act of evil desires or a person does not commit sins because of having evil desires. Instead, the consent to follow evil desires leads to sins. He also suggested that the act of crime might be carried out without any evil intentions. Therefore, in this case, the act is unethical, but the person who has committed it is not morally wrong (Moore and Bruder 23).

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Heloise believed in the morality of intent that originated from Abelard’s teachings. She also thought that when a person commits something, it is not important what he has done. Instead, his or her intentions are considerable.

Aristotle applied a descriptive approach to evaluate a moral philosophy in ‘Nicomachean Ethics.’ Aristotle’s Virtue ethics entails an explanation of moral responsibility of individuals, method of achieving happiness in life, and nature of virtues and vices in moral analysis.

According to Aristotle, virtues play an important role in securing genuine relationships especially a friendship without which the search for happiness of a person is exhausted. Aristotle classified virtues as moral and intellectual. Among the nine intellectual virtues he has indicated, ‘wisdom’ is the most important one. Other important moral virtues are prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.

St. Augustine was a great philosopher of his time. He believed that the sin entered in the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Therefore, sin is inherited in man. Augustine said that good and evil exists together in the world. With the presence of the evil man can feel the importance of goodness in his surroundings God almighty is the supreme example of goodness. He has power over the entire universe and beyond. He had defined evil as nothing but the absence of God.

Plato’s ethics had a different treatment for the matter. He explained the role of soul with respect to the state and elaborates account of the element with the model of harmonious functioning. Plato’s stated that the soul has division as the state have divisions. There are different roles of a person, but what matters in the performing the functions properly with the virtues of temperance and courage and wisdom. Plato stated that the soul is in relation with the conduct of the whole and the natural order of governing in the soul. The theory of virtue illustrates that the soul has different components and several components of excellences.

According to Betham’s utilitarianism, the rightfulness of an act is dependent upon its conformity with the principle of utility. Betham presented the principle of utility in 1789 as part of Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. An act obeys the principle of utility only if its outcome would give more happiness and pleasure and prevent pain or grief. According to Bentham, an act of welfare conforms to the principle of utility. Utilitarianism asserts that the rightness of an act can only be identified from its fallouts; therefore, the concept is also explained as consequentialist.

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John Stuart Mill defined the utilitarianism as actions that are right or wrong depending upon their consequences. Actions, which promote happiness, are right whereas, actions with absence of happiness or those, which promote pain, are wrong. The theory illustrates that the two important things desired in life are freedom from pain and gain of happiness. Furthermore, the principle of utility states that some sorts of pleasure are more desirable than the others. Mill also explained how the value of pleasure could be quantified and qualified in his theory (Moore and Bruder 42).

According to David Humes’s concept of ‘sentimentalism,’ the vice or virtue does not depend upon the action and, therefore, cannot be inferred from any inductive or casual reason. The vice and virtue are based on moral sentiments. Hume asserts that it is the emotion that drives a person to do any wrong or right action. The ethical and moral beliefs in David sentimentalism are associated with the human emotions.

Immanuel Kant did not agree to the notion of ‘utilitarianism,’ according to him the rightness or wrongness of an action cannot be judged from its outcome rather it depends upon whether we fulfill our moral responsibilities or not. Kant proposed a supreme principle of morality, which was termed as ‘The Categorical Imperative.’ Kant has formulated Categorical Imperative in three basics: the universal law formulation, humanity or itself formulation and Kingdom of itself formulation. He defines imperatives as a suggestion or command, which declares to a certain act. Kant suggests that a person performs an immoral act when he does not follow The Categorical Imperatives.

Nietzsche classified the concept of morality into ‘master morality’ and ‘slave morality.’ Master morality evaluates an action from its consequences; whereas, slave morality judges the rightness or wrongness of an action from the intentions behind the act. Master morality focuses on the virtues of pride, nobility and strength; whereas, slave morality emphasizes on sympathy, humility and kindness. Nietzsche morality perspective acclaims that all elements including the culture, ethics, codes, languages, institutions, and narratives are composed of these two types of moral values.

Locke and Hobbes presented different views on the state of nature. According to Locke, the state of nature is that every individual person is honored with obliged to keep promises with the insecurities of life. On the contrary, Hobbes stated that in the society individual is filled with his personal interest, inequality persists in the society and they make use or killed other because the resources are limited and the powerful person has ability to force men.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau clearly described the characteristics of a natural man and civil man in his book Emiley. He states that a natural man is an absolute whole who is linked with himself only; whereas, the act of a civil man depends upon the factor like a fractional unit. In other words, a civil man is associated with society and his value can be calculated based on his social relation (Moore and Bruder 102). The good government and social institutions help in transforming the whole existence of a man into a social unit so that a person feels being a part of society instead of an individual.

Locke and Marx have a common point that the idea of value is created by the labor and source of the idea. Locke stated that the property is the gift of God, whereas, Marx stated that the work on its own creates value and the right of possession and is held by tribes and takes the origin of property with respect to the historical fact, whereas, Locke states the origin of the property as a fictions state of nature.

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The “Veil of Ignorance” is a concept used by the John Rawls discussing the concepts of the social contract. The veil of ignorance can be described as a blockage towards the burdens and benefits of social cooperation one can have. It is basically a garment imagined by Rawls. He explained that the veil enables people to know the “general facts of human society” (Moore and Bruder 121). There are also the economic theory principles and political affairs and other general facts included in the category, which affect the choices of principles of justice. He explains that people does not know the facts about themselves such as their place in society, their position and status.

Robert Nozick’s notion of the night-watchman state asserts that the state can be called as a minimal state in which the rights of citizens are protected against theft, fraud, and violence. A night watchman state should have the authority to govern the financial activities of the citizens, distribution of wealth in society and provision of social like healthcare, education, security, etc. He was a strong contender of the modern concept of socialism and liberalism, which are contrary to his ideology of night-watchman state.

The capabilities approach has been highly influential for shaping up and development of humans. Nussbaum’s theory presents ten basic principles for the human development and shaping the evolution that are based on real opportunities and social circumstances. The key elements Nussbaum explains are:

  1. Life
  2. Bodily health
  3. Bodily integrity
  4. Senses, imagination and thought
  5. Emotions
  6. Practical reason
  7. Affiliation
  8. Other species
  9. Play
  10. Control over the environment

Nussbaum’s theory has focused on changing the central human capabilities by giving an equal weightage to ethical and political considerations (Moore and Bruder 5).

Works Cited

Moore, Brooke and Kenneth Bruder. Philosophy The power of ideas. 8th. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.

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