Ethics in America DSST

The academic discipline of analyzing morality, based on reasoning, rules and logic.

The study of the origin of the universe.

A pre-Socratic philosopher, mathematician and cosmologist who wrote nothing himself, but is historically thought to have believed in the magic of numbers and reincarnation.

A group of traveling teachers from the fifth century BC who were paid to lecture on a variety of topics. They can be considered the first relativists, and gained a reputation for being untrustworthy thanks to their reliance on persuasion over truth.

The belief that every point of view and standard of behavior is equally valid.

A Greek historian who wrote The History of the Peloponnesian War, which presented a mixture of facts and fact-based fictionalization. In it he raises questions of the ethics of war. He equated freedom with happiness and courage.

One of the most famous thinkers of all time, not for his beliefs, but his dialectic method of teaching. He never wrote anything himself, but was memorialized in the works of his student, Plato. For him, virtue and knowledge were the same, and all wickedness stemmed from ignorance. The Athenian government saw him as a threat and had him executed.

Also known as the Socratic Method, a method of argument in which one person asks the other questions to try to get them to realize their own answers or the flaws in their argument.

Founder of the Academy and writer of the Republic.

Allegory of the Cave
An extended metaphor created by Plato. It describes a group of prisoners in a cave, chained so their backs are to the entrance. They believe that the shadows (sensed reality) before them are reality, until someone manages to get free, turn around and see the source of the shadows (the real world, which can only be experienced intellectually).

A philosopher and Plato’s student who concentrated on empirical knowledge. He believed that change is necessary and natural, and everything has a purpose. He wrote Nicomachean Ethics, and that balance was the key to happiness.

Followers of Zeno, Greeks who believed that absolute laws and destiny ruled the universe, and that since humans could not change fate, they were happiest when they simply accepted it and lived with self-control.

Also known as Epicureans after their original teacher, these believed that happiness was the purpose of life, and anything that reduced pain and increased happiness was therefore good.

A religion founded by Jesus Christ, based on the Bible, that teaches that humanity is fallen and can only find salvation through faith in Christ and his substitutiary sacrifice.

The oldest monotheistic religion, it is based on the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, and influenced both Christianity and Islam. It places emphasis on history, laws and religious community.

A religion based on the Koran, which incorporates elements of Christianity and Judaism but declares itself to be the fulfillment of both through its prophet, Mohammed.

A polytheistic religion in which moral guidance is based on principles like ahimsa (nonviolence), dharma (caste duties) and karma (consequences). It emphasizes detachment from pain and causing as little harm as possible.

An offshoot of Hinduism with saints instead of gods, and which emphasizes moral behavior to achieve happiness through many cycles of reincarnation.

Natural Law Theory
Beliefs based on the idea that moral standards originate from human nature and the universe, and that deviation from the natural norm is wrong.

Thomas Hobbes
An English philosopher who believed that humans live fearfully in a world full of insecurity and violence, and that submission to rulers is the only way to have harmony in a society. Wrote the Leviathan.

John Locke
An English philosopher who asserted that individuals have certain natural rights, like living without being harmed by others, make their own choices, and own property, and that the purpose of the government was to protect those rights.

Jean-Jacques Rosseau
A French philosopher who believed that humans were innately good and corrupted by society, and general will–power rests in the citizens.

John Rawls
An American philosopher who revived the social contract theory and discussed distributive justice. He believed in basic individual liberties and reducing inequalities to benefit the less-advantaged (but at a pinch the former trumps the latter).

Robert Nozik
An American philosopher who addressed the issue of distributive justice, but stated that wealth redistribution was only justifiable if it was resolving a past injustice.

Immanuel Kant
A German philosopher who believed in categorical imperatives, duty as the highest virtue, and that human beings were ends, not means, and to treat them as such was wrong.

Transcendental Idealism
A philosophical concept. Appearances should be viewed as only representations, not the things themselves–both the mind and understanding create reality.

Moral Egoism
The idea that it is always moral to act in a way that promotes self-interest. Supported by the founder of capitalism, Adam Smith, and Ayn Rand.

The idea that the consequences decide the morality–if the good consequences outweigh the bad, then the action is right, or vice versa.

The idea that thoughts, behaviors and decisions have to happen because of previous events and the laws of nature.

Jeremy Bentham
The man who modified Epicurus’s ideas into British Utilitarianism. His ideas led to the Philosophical Radicals, a group of social reformers, and inspired John Stuart Mill, who wrote in favor of individual freedom and female equality.

Carol Gilligan
A feminist psychologist who asserted that men and women have different approaches to moral decisions. Men have an ethics of justice, and focus on applying rules and minimizing emotions, while women have an ethics of care, and consider responsibilities, relationships and emotions. Both approaches are valuable to society.

Nel Noddings
A philosopher who studied the ethics of care, who asserted that studying how people care for those around them leads to understanding how to care for people in society.

Passive Euthanasia
Intentionally withholding medical treatment to allow a patient to die.

Active Euthanasia
Intentionally killing a patient by lethal injection, smothering or some other method.

Extraordinary Treatment
Surgery, medication, dialysis, oxygen, CPR or any other treatment needed to care for an unhealthy patient, in contrast to ordinary treatment, which are basic essentials like food or water.

Voluntary Euthanasia
A competent and completely informed patient consents to being euthanized.

Nonvoluntary Euthanasia
An incompetent patient or one who has not given consent undergoes euthanasia.

Involuntary Euthanasia
Intentionally killing a patient against his or her will, considered murder.

The capacity to take actions that are intentional, understood and chosen freely. Valued highly by Kant and Aristotle.

Punishing a convicted criminal by imprisonment or execution, so that he or she can no longer commit crimes.

Making potential criminals attempt to avoid being imprisoned or executed by not committing crimes.

Educating or training prisoners to be used when they are released so they do not fall back into criminal activity.

Just War Theory
1. It is declared by a competent authority.
2. It is fought for a just cause.
3. It is fought with the right intentions.
4. It is appropriate for the provocations.
5. It is used as a last resort.
6. There is a reasonable chance for success.

Veil of Ignorance
Rawls’ means of “shielding” the eyes from things that mights bias one against an argument–race, gender.

Unity of Virtues
Socrates’ idea that a person who knows that virtuous action will benefit them will act virtuously in all areas of life.

Ideal City
An imaginary city conceptualized by Plato, with three classes of citizens (workers, guardians and soldiers), ruled with wisdom, courage and temperance.

Categorical Imperatives
A concept developed by Kant. In deciding whether an action is right or wrong, a person should evaluate the action in terms of what would happen if everybody else in the same situation acted the same way.

An approach to ethics that judges the morality of an action based on the action’s adherence to rules.

Distributive Justice
Also known as social justice, the extent to which institutions ensure that benefits and burdens are distributed fairly among society.

Retributive Justice
The fairness of punishments.

Compensatory Justice
The extent to which people are fairly compensated for their injuries by those who have injured them.

True, Aristotelian happiness, which extends through a lifetime.

A Priori Concepts
1. Space
2. Time
3. Causality
4. Substance

Golden Mean
According to Aristotle, happiness as achieved by balance.

Intellectual Virtues
– Scientific Knowledge
– Intuitive Reason
– Practical Wisdom
– Skill
– Wisdom

Moral Virtues
– Self-control
– Bravery
– Self-Respect
– Gentleness
– Truthfulness
– Generosity

State of Nature
The condition of people living in a situation without man-made government, rules, or laws.

Intrinsic Value
A value that is a good thing in itself and is pursued for its own sake.

Extrinsic Value
Something that is valued for the effect that it causes.

Gottfried Leibniz
German philosopher and mathematician who thought that our universe was the best of all possible worlds.

In philosophy, the collection of compiled and edited teachings of Epictetus, a guide to moral conduct based on principles and precepts of Stoicism.