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Ethics needs rules. Discuss.

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Introduction

Ethics needs rules. Discuss. There are two main branches to normative ethics, these being Relative and absolute ethics, both of which conflict with one another. For centuries scholars have battled with one another on whether ethics does need rules. Absolutists believe that there are universal rules that can be applied to every situation whereas relativists such as Fletcher believe that circumstances should be accounted for. Moral relativism is the belief that morality does not relate to any absolute standard of right or wrong, but that 'good' and 'bad' are dependant on culture and circumstance. There are many advantages to this belief, cultural diversity is an advantage as not every culture is going to be mirrored across the world, therefore many views are likely to conflict ( age of sexual consent differs) but moral relativism takes them into account. The majority of theories were established before the technological revolution that occurred in the 20th century and many absolute theories can now be seen as faulty or extreme due to the lack of flexibility, for example, one absolute rule is do not kill, therefore is abortion morally wrong? ...read more.

Middle

On the other hand, there are significant disadvantages to the flexibility of relativism and to rely solely on consequences rather than standards or morality. It is incredibly difficult to comprehend what the consequences of an action, and a 'wrong' action could lead to a good consequence. Also when one is personally involved in a situation it id difficult to be objective without being emotionally bias. Some people argue that to understand morality there must be an absolute standard of morality on order to judge some one against. This is where the strengths of absolutism lie. For absolutists an action is ALWAYS wrong or right, there are no exceptions and the rules that are laid are not to be broken in any circumstances in order to be moral. Kant held that there were absolute duties which were always right. He believed that we should consider whether our actions could be translated into a universal law before deciding what is right and wrong. ...read more.

Conclusion

Again there are disadvantages to this side of the argument as it refuses to take into account individual situation and sometimes a good consequence can become of a bad act, for example, stealing food to feed one's starving children. Absolutists would not look at the good consequence and just see the action as wrong. Whereas Utilitarians would say the claim the women was doing it for the greatest good for the greatest number so therefore it is justified. In conclusion we can see that absolute rules are needed in decisions, however in a modern day world it is not readily acceptable on its own. Many people will argue that we need to recognise the fact that there are special circumstances where the rules will not apply and we need to make room for these situations and act accordingly. Although there are disadvantages to every ethical theory, these disadvantages are better than absolute chaos that not having any rules would bring about. So in conclusion, ethics does need rules but just not absolute rules!!!! ...read more.

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