Introduction to Ethics
Course Outline by Jon Roland
of the Constitution Society
- Test of any ethical system is whether it can resolve dilemmas
Dimensions of ethical analysis
- Two-valued: Right or Wrong
- Multi-valued: Right, Wrong, Undefined, Unknown, Other
- Combination competitive/co-operative games: iterated prisoners'
- State of nature
- Social contract: Duty of mutual defense of rights
- Constitution: Delegations of powers; disablement of rights; due process;
- Law: Instruments of control; utility; social models
- Contract: Agency; corporate bodies; decisionmaking
- Externalities: When non-parties are affected for better or worse
Structure Number and kinds of
- present each with dilemmas when conflicts arise among demands of one
or more of each of the others, whether one, a few, or many, and depending on
the relationships among them.
Interrogatory pronouns and proadverbs
- Right depends partly or entirely on who does it. Can the king do wrong?
- Right depends partly or entirely on what kind of act it is. Are some acts
always right, or always wrong?
- Right depends partly or entirely on how it is done. Is there always a way
to do anything that can make it right, or make it wrong?
- Right depends partly or entirely on timing, and on what may have happened
before, or may happen after. Is there always a right time to do anything, or a
- Right depends partly or entirely on location or circumstances. Is there
always a situation in which anything is right, or wrong?
- Right depends partly or entirely on cause or motive. Can good intentions
always be enough?
- Right depends partly or entirely on impacts, either short-term, mid-term,
or long-term. Can it ever be right if it turns out badly, and how far ahead is
- Right depends partly or entirely on to whom something is done. Does the target matter?
- Ideal: Platonism
- Virtue (aretaic): Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Eternalism
- Pleasure: Epicurean ism, Hedonism
- Duty (deontological): Augustinism, Thomism
- Reason: Kantism
- Utility (consequentialist): Benthamism, Utilitarianism, Pragmatism
- Survival: Darwinism, Wilsonism, Memetic diffusionism
- State: Fascism, Marxism, Collectivism, Totalitarianism
- Social contract: Lockeanism, Constitutionalism
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