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Explain Judaism as a theory of religious ethics

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Introduction

´╗┐Explain a theory of Religious Ethics 25 marks Judaism is ethically monotheistic, meaning that it believes solely in one G-d who judges our actions. The ethical system of Judaism is an objective and absolute ethical theory. This is because Jews believe that G-d?s word is final, and that they must obey the word of one G-d. for example if G-d tells us ?Do not murder? then we have to refrain from doing so under any circumstances, unless G-d has given a certain situation in which we are allowed to break the law. For example G-d sees it as acceptable to kill another person if the circumstance meant that it was in self-defence. However any exception to the rules has to be dictated by G-d, therefore G-d is absolute. In contrast, Judaism can be seen as relativist in some respects. Customs in Judaism for example are relativist; what is said to be correct and ethical in one community may differ from another. For example there are many differences between Ashkenazi and Sefardi Jewish customs. After marriage, it is customary for Ashkenazi women to wear a wig or some other form of head covering, whereas Sefardim reject this custom. Another feature of Jewish ethics is Divine Command theory. This is the idea that something is good because G-d said so rather than G-d choosing it because it is good. ...read more.

Middle

Jews believe in reward for their actions and achievements on earth. This focus of the end in mind means their actions are chosen wisely with the idea of the ?Olam Haba? as the end, making it teleological. Lastly Judaism also shares similar ideas with Utilitarianism, further emphasising deontological and teleological ethics. For example, in the Mishnah Bava Batra it says ?One must distance a fixed threshing floor 50 cubits from town?. Rabbis explain that this is because ?the chaff is harmful to inhabitants of the town?. This shows how Judaism also supports the idea of ?the greatest good for the greatest number? as it is seeking the welfare of those living in the town, the majority. This is presented again when in the Mishna Sanhedrin is says ? a Jewish king on his way to war can make a breach in a land owners fence (around a field/vineyard) and make a right of way through there with no limit to its width?. This in addition supports the idea of the ?greatest good for the greatest number? as because the war satisfies the majority, the king is allowed to destroy property to go to war. Religious ethics offers the best approach to issues raised by abortion. Discuss One might argue that Utilitarianism offers the best approach to issues raised by abortion as it is simple and easy, it can be summed up in one line ?the greatest good for the greatest number?. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, Judaism largely focuses on the life of the mother. For example in Hilkhot Rotzeach we are told ?not to pity the soul of a rodef (pursuer). The baby is the pursuer, and therefore harming the life of the mother and in these circumstances may be terminated. However it too goes on to say ?once the head has emerged, one soul is not set aside for the sake of another?, again recognising when the babies life becomes equal to the mothers. Moreover Rambam places his commentary on abortion under the heading of murder, this primarily illustrates that abortion is seen as wrong. Judaism therefore offers the best approach to issues raised by abortion as it is broad, focusing on both the life of the mother as well as the babie?s. Overall Judaism offers the best approach to issues raised by abortion, as just like utilitarianism it focuses on both the mother and fetus, and is therefore broad in that aspect. However unlike utilitarianism it focuses on the importance of life rather than happiness. The importance of a human beings life is much more crucial than an individual?s happiness. Lastly Judaism tackles a broader set of circumstances, and rather than giving the same answer for all, like utilitarianism is able to apply its beliefs appropriately to ensure the most fitting outcome. ...read more.

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