3.6 Chapter Glossary

Chapter Glossary
Act Utilitarianism A form of determining future pleasure one case at a time using Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus. See also: Rule Utilitarianism.
Categorical Imperative According to Kant, an ought or duty that is mandatory and universal is to be held by all human beings.
Consequentialism Those objective ethical theories that say the rightness or wrongness of an action depends upon its estimated effects or consequences for oneself or others; these include Utilitarianism and Ethical Egoism.
Conventional Ethical Relativism The belief that each culture or group should devise its own set of rules and standards that apply to that culture alone; also known as Cultural Relativism.
Deontological Ethics Theories that maintain that ethical evaluations are rooted somehow in the action or some feature of the action which would result in a duty or obligation and not in consequences; these include Kantian Ethics and Natural Law ethics.
Descriptive Ethics Also known as comparative ethics, this is the study of people’s beliefs about morality. It contrasts with normative ethics, which is the study of ethical theories that prescribe how people ought to act, and with meta-ethics, which is the study of what ethical terms and theories actually refer to.
Descriptive Relativism The observation that moralities and ethical codes are radically different across cultures.
Divine Command Theory The idea that morality comes from a divine will.
Duty According to Kant, the obligation of all to act morally and in accordance with the good will.
Ethical Absolutism The claim that there are a universal set of rules that all humans must follow regardless of cultural or personal opinion.
Ethical Objectivism The claim that though there may not be universal practices or norms that apply to all humans, there are some universal moral principles-—tools of reason that we can use to determine moral choices—-that are common to and understandable to all human beings regardless of culture.
Ethical Relativism The belief that there are no such things as objective or universal moral standards or principles that transcend cultures, religions or individual opinion, but that all moral claims are relative to the person or groups espousing them and apply only to them.
Ethics The philosophical exploration of morality, its motives, its sources.
Eudaimonia The ancient Greek notion of human flourishing, the highest state of happiness and well-being the human can attain.
Euthyphro dilemma The question of whether God/religion decides what is good or simply recognizes what is good.
Glaucon Socrates’ student who questioned why we should be moral by narrating the Ring of Gyges tale.
Golden Mean According to Aristotle, attaining a balance between the moral extremes of deficiency of virtue and excess of virtue.
Good Will For Kant, the only motive worthy of morality, the desire to do the right thing.
Gyges The shepherd in Glaucon’s tale who discovers a ring of invisibility and uses it to cheat his way to wealth and power.
Hedonism The philosophy that says that physical pleasure is the greatest human good.
Hypothetical Imperative According to Kant, an ought that is optional and particular to one individual.
Maxim A fundamental rule of conduct for all.
Meta-ethical Relativism That moral truths are actually only true relative to specific groups of people.
Meta-ethics The study of the nature, scope, and meaning of moral judgment; one of the three branches of ethics.
Moral Anti-Realism The position that there are no mind-independent facts about morality; morality can be constructed or is merely relative to culture.
Moral Law For Kant, an inner, rational sense of obligation to which our will often responds.
Moral Realism The position that there are mind-independent facts about ethics that are true and binding even if we have beliefs to the contrary.
Normative Ethics The study of ethical behavior and is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the questions that arise regarding how one ought to act, in a moral sense; one of the three branches of ethics.
Normative Relativism The position that no person or culture ought to judge the ethical codes of other cultures as being inferior, nor should any culture intervene in another culture to prevent it from carrying out the specifics of its ethical code.
Objective Ethics Those ethical theories that suggest we should act upon rational principles that are universally understood and objective, not upon individual or cultural opinion.
Principle of Utility The morally right action is the action that produces the most good.” The morally wrong action is the one that leads to the reduction of the maximum good.
Rule Utilitarianism A form of determining the greatest good for the many by implementing general rules rather than determining this on a case-by-case basis. See also: Act Utilitarianism.
Subjective Ethical Relativism The belief that each individual can and should come up with his/her own moral rules and live by them.
Telos The end, destiny or purpose of a thing or person in Greek thought.
Utility See Principle of Utility.
Virtue A trait of character to be sought for its own sake and often extolled by society.


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PPSC PHI 1011: The Philosopher's Quest by Daniel G. Shaw, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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