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"There is no such thing as a consistent ethical point of view: in reality, everyone's ethics are a mixture, if not a muddle." To what extent do you agree? A personal response

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Introduction

"There is no such thing as a consistent ethical point of view: in reality, everyone's ethics are a mixture, if not a muddle." To what extent do you agree? There are many different standard ethical points of view. These include consequentialism, deontologism, ethical nihilism, ethical relativism, egoism and utilitarianism. Some might say that 'there is no such thing as a consistent ethical point of view' and that, 'in reality, everyone's ethics are a mixture if not a muddle.' This essay examines this belief by firstly considering what constitutes a 'consistent ethical point of view' and to what extent it is possible to live your life by any one ethical viewpoint. One could argue that a person who has an ethical point of view which they do not change and does not contradict itself would have a 'consistent ethical point of view'. However, the statement uses the term 'consistent ethical point of view' to mean a 'standard, defined ethical point of view'. ...read more.

Middle

Neither egoism nor altruism support moral absolutism but they are part of consequentialism (a branch of moral absolutism). Egoism says that whatever is right for the individual is the ethical choice, whilst altruism claims that the best action is the one which benefits the community rather than the individual. Nihilism says that there is no such thing as right or wrong and no action is ethically better or worse than any other. These are just a few of the many 'standard' ethical viewpoints. The statement claims that no-one follows just one of these points of view, but instead follow a mixture of standard ethical views. A number of ethical viewpoints would be impossible to follow consistently in certain circumstances due to internal paradoxes. For example, deontology outlines certain rights (such as the right not to be harmed in certain ways expressed by Kamm's Principle of Permissible Harm). Consider a case where someone has maliciously sent a trolley hurtling towards 5 innocent and immobile people at the end of a track. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many say that stealing is wrong, arbitrarily - but when asked to consider whether it is wrong for a starving person to steal food knowing that there is no other opportunity to feed themselves, they 'make an exception' or at least have to reconsider. However, moral absolutism by definition can have no 'exceptions', so here it is demonstrated that the person is living by a mixture of ethical points of view. Another example of this would be with divine command ethics where people claim to follow them but make little exceptions, whether it be on contraception, human rights or other issues. I would conclude that the majority have a mixed set of ethics. Indeed, I myself have a somewhat convoluted mixture of relativism, egoism and nihilism as the basis of my personal ethics. However, it would be very bold to say that no-one has a standard moral viewpoint due to the sheer magnitude of the Earth's population. Despite this most people do have a mixture of standard ethics to make their personal values and ethics, even if they believe they don't. ...read more.

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