Moral Philosophical Views: From Plato to Nussbaum

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Topic: Philosophy
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Moral intent

According to Abelard and Heloise, moral intent is the best way of assessing morality because it determines the capacity and intention of a person to undertake moral or immoral acts. The notion of Abelard is that moral intent predisposes people to perform good or evil acts. In this view, people become good or evil when they consent to good desires or evil desires.

In the same manner, Heloise holds that moral intent is the driver of morality because it predisposes people to do good acts or evil acts. Specifically, Heloise states that moral intent emanates from a state of mind rather than actions that people do (Moore and Bruder 274). In essence, the intention of the mind determines morality.

Virtue ethics

According to Aristotle, virtue ethics emanates from human actions, but not a set of rules that defines human actions. Aristotle argues that virtue ethics has its basis on the character traits and actions that people do in their virtuous lives (Moore and Bruder 266).

From this perspective, good actions and good character traits are constituents of virtue ethics because they offer tangible evidence of morality (Moore and Bruder 266). Therefore, virtue ethics effectively portrays morality of humans in the society because it focuses on good actions and good characters.

The notion of evil

On the notion of evil, St. Augustine believes that evil is a group of forces that has the capacity to create evil activities in the society. In his argument, St. Augustine asserts that forces of darkness conspire against humans and God by creating evil activities with a view of corrupting divine intentions.

As God and evil have the power to create, St. Augustine considers his belief as the problem of evil because God is the only one in the universe, who has the capacity to create (Moore and Bruder 270). In this view, the creative forces of evil do not have the same power as the creative power of God.

Plato and ethics

In his perception of ethics, Plato likens the human soul to a well-structured state. Essentially, Plato holds that the structure of human soul defines its functions in the same manner the structure of a state defines its functions. To compare human soul and state, Plato states that the soul comprises raw appetites, intellect, and drives, which have special functions.

For example, raw appetites deal with pleasure, intellect deals with cognitive functions, and drives deal with anger and emotions (Moore and Bruder 261). In this view, raw appetites are similar to artisans, who represent the lowest position in a state, while drives are similar to soldiers, who are in the middle position in a state. The intellectual element of the soul is similar to the ruling elites, who rank topmost in a state.

Jeremy Bentham and utilitarianism

Bentham is a utilitarian, who perceives morality of an action from the point of happiness it generates. Fundamentally, the concept of utilitarianism focuses on the consequences of actions in determining morality of an action.

In the concept of utilitarianism, Bentham holds that morality of an action is proportional to the happiness it generates and the number of people it makes happy (Moore and Bruder 284). In this case, Bentham defines morality from a societal point of view in that a moral action must generate happiness to the society, but not individuals.

John Stuart Mill and utilitarianism

Given that utilitarianism has a tendency of promoting collective happiness and neglecting individual happiness, Mill cautions utilitarians against advocating for the collective happiness at the expense of individual happiness.

In his argument, Mill recommends utilitarians to be impartial, disinterested, and benevolent so that they do not offer preferential treatment to the majority and discriminate against the minority (Moore and Bruder 286). The utilitarian concept favors the majority by upholding that an action is moral if the greatest number of people benefits from it.

David Hume and sentimentalism

Concerning the concept of sentimentalism, Hume argues that ethics comprises just and moral activities that people perform. In this perceptive, Hume recommends humans to perform just and moral actions because they have good outcomes.

The sentimentalism argument originates from the fact that actions have their respective consequences, as good actions generate constructive feelings, whereas bad actions generate destructive feelings. According to Hume, actions that humans undertake in the society have an impact on feelings of actors and others (Moore and Bruder 414).

Categorical imperative

Kant perceives morality of actions from the point of universal law. In his concept of categorical imperative, Kant believes that moral actions are in tandem with universal laws, which apply equally to anyone, independent of their positions or states in society. Kant holds that moral actions are those actions that adhere to universal laws in their principles (Moore and Bruder 283). The concept of categorical imperative implies that people should not act haphazardly as they please because they would violate universal laws.

Master and slave moralities

Nietzsche classifies moralities as either master or slave, depending on the effect they have on humans. Master morality supports what is moral, while slave morality supports what is wrong. The master morality is for the ruling class and focuses on those actions that benefit humans, such as strong, powerful, and rich.

In this view, Nietzsche perceives that master morality does not consider humility and meekness, which are the values of the poor, oppressed, weak, and unfree humans, who do not have the values of the ruling class (Moore and Bruder 366). Values such as humility and meekness make humans slaves because they remain passive to the active influences of others in the society.

The state of nature and natural rights

On the state of nature, Hobbes notes that it comprises attributes such as bad experiences, poverty, and short life cycles. These attributes are significant predictors of chaos, violence, deception, and mistrust, which disturb the lives of people and put them in a state of nature, where humans are likely to harm each other as they fight for meager resources in their environment.

However, natural rights are important as they protect individuals from bad experiences that are dominant in the state of nature (Moore and Bruder 320). In this view, civil society and government effect natural rights to enforce law and order among humans in a state of nature.

Natural man and civil man

According to Rousseau, before civilization, natural humans interacted freely in their natural environment and state because there were no formal governments to interfere with them. However, with the emergence of civilization and the establishment of formal governments, humans transitioned from uncivilized to the civilized world.

Rousseau states that civilized humans are easy to govern because they understand the role of governments in control and supervision of populations (Moore and Bruder 323). Hence, governments have the capacity to make humans live within certain jurisdictions and enjoy limited freedom.

Labor theory of value

In his perception of labor theory, Locke perceives that wealth and property that people own vary according to their ability to generate them. Locke argues that the aggressive and industrious people have more wealth and property than the lazy and indolent people (Moore and Bruder 322).

In line with the perception of Locke, Marx perceives that the activities people undertake is proportional to their size of wealth and property. However, laborers do not get the value of their work because the owners of labor and products deprive them of their value.

Philosopher king

Plato argues that a philosopher king is a noble king, who understands life from a philosophical point of view and employs philosophical ideas, values, and principles in governing people.

Plato argues that philosopher kings ensure that their lineages exist forever by maintaining their bloodline and social standing in the society (Moore and Bruder 310). In this view, modern philosopher kings advance their intelligence, leadership, and richness within their bloodline.

The veil of ignorance and the original position

According to Rawls, effective delivery of justice in the society requires the application of important elements, namely, the veil of ignorance and the original position.

To prevent bias in judgment, judges need to wear veils of ignorance and go back to the original position, where the ground for justice is levelled. According to Rawls, the veil of ignorance and the original position do not advantage or disadvantage conflicting parties (Moore and Bruder 366). Therefore, these two concepts are important in the administration of justice for they uphold justice.

The night-watchman

Nozick presents the concept of the night-watchman in describing the extent of power that governments should employ in protecting people.

In his argument, Nozick holds that the night-watchman state represents the optimal power that a government should employ in protecting people because excessive power violates their inalienable rights (Moore ad Bruder 370). In this view, Nozick cautions governments against using excessive force in protecting citizens.

Social justice

According to Nussbaum, the capabilities approach to social justice is the capacity of a state to provide an environment that promotes human dignity. For promotion of human dignity to occur, a state must provide freedom of expression, liberty of movement, security, healthcare services, and justice (Moore and Bruder 377). Essentially, the capabilities approach underscores the importance of freedom, equality, justice, and independence.

Works Cited

Moore, Brooke, and Kenneth Bruder. Philosophy: The Power of Ideas. California: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.