Philosophy of Ethics Essay

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 Wisdom (The Republic). He believed Justice was the highest good and all other virtues help maintain that good. Plato’s student, Aristotle, believed happiness to be the highest good. Happiness is established as fulfilling one’s purpose and being a rational human. To him, everyone has a purpose and to achieve the goal of happiness must attain excellence through living well. Everything has four purposes: material cause, formal cause, efficient cause, and final cause. Aristotle also believed happiness does not come till the end of life where their purpose has been fulfilled (Nicomachean Ethics pg. 23). There were only three ways to learn virtue which was practice, mentoring, and traditions. In order to live well, Aristotle created The Golden Mean which helped moderate human actions to avoid the vices and to live virtuously.
Another philosopher of Virtue Ethics was Epicurus, a materialist, also believed happiness was the highest good but in moderation. He wrote the Principle Doctrines where h...


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... is what they believed gave us reason. Friedrich Nietzsche and Rand, instead looked to nature to see that things survive by gaining power. Although many would not admit to it, I strongly believe the master morality and slave morality exist but maybe not to the extend as Nietzsche described. People with master morality are very individualistic and have a set of strong values. These characteristics can be seen in people in a position of power. Real-life examples would include entrepreneur Donald Trump, dictator Adolf Hitler, and and recent politician Rand Paul. While the rest follow the slave morality of what others have done before.


Works Cited

Ferrari, G. R. F., and Tom Griffith. The Republic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
McInerny, Ralph. Treatise on law: (Summa Theologica, questions 90-97). Washington, DC: Regnery Pub., 1996. Print.

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