Teleological Ethics Essay Outline - Homework for you

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Teleological Ethics Essay Outline

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Teleological ethics - New World Encyclopedia

Teleological ethics

John Stuart Mill

The Greek word telos means goal, end, or purpose, and teleology is the study of goals, ends and purposes. A moral theory is regarded as teleological to the extent that it defines and explains right actions in terms of the bringing about some good state of affairs. For example, a moral theory that maintains that the rightness of an action is one which achieves the goal of maximizing happiness counts as a teleological theory.

The two main types of theory brought under the rubric of teleological ethics are Utilitarianism and the varieties of ancient Greek virtue ethics. Aristotle ’s ethics is the most influential example of a virtue ethical theory, and the most well known example of a Utilitarian moral theory is Classical Utilitarianism. Teleological ethics may be contrasted with non-teleological ethics, of which deontological theories provide the best-known example.

Teleological and Deontological ethical theories

Ethical theories are often divided into two groups: teleological and deontological theories. One standard way of drawing the teleological/deontological distinction is in terms of how moral theories specify the relation between the two central concepts of ethics: the good and the right. The concept of the right is, roughly, the concept of duty, the concept of which actions we ought to perform, which it would be wrong not to perform. The concept of the good (the target of the theory of value, or axiolology (Greek: axios = worthy; logos = study of)) is concerned with the morally good properties of human beings, as well as states such as pleasure, and the experience of beauty, both of which are thought to be intrinsically good things.

Although different moral theories (or normative theories ) embody different approaches to the concepts of the "good" and the "right," each must have something to say about these concepts and the way in which they are related. In other words, every ethical theory will propose a theory of right action and a theory of value, and explain how these theories connect up to one another. The theory of right action is an investigation and an attempt to answer the question: what ought I to do? The "ought" in this question is to be interpreted as a moral ought, and may be understood as equivalent to the question, "what is the right thing to do?" The theory of value provides an account of what things are good, what states of affairs ought to be promoted, or what we would like to have realised. These states include things such as pleasure, freedom, and knowledge.

On a standard taxonomy. moral theories divide up according to how they specify the relation between the "right" and the "good." In other words, moral theories may be classified according to how their theory of value and their theory of right relate to one another. There are, it is said, two possible ways in which the theory of value may connect up with the theory of right action. This is either a teleological connection or a not a teleological connection. The Greek word telos means goal, end, or purpose, and teleology is the study of goals, ends and purposes. A teleological connection between the theory of right and the theory of value, therefore, emphasises that morality is oriented toward bringing about a certain goal. A non-teleological connection denies this. Let us try to make this more precise:

  • [Def: TM] A teleological moral theory defines right action in terms of the good.

All this may seem rather technical but should become clearer by considering an example of a teleological and a non-teleological theory. Firstly, consider Classical Utilitarianism as an example of a teleological moral theory. Classical utilitarianism can be broken down into two main components: a theory of value (or the "good"), and a theory of right action. Classical Utilitarianism endorses hedonism as theory of value. Hedonism then, is meant to spell out what is good. A Classical Utilitarian would formulate this in terms of utility; quite literally, utility is that which is useful to human beings. Secondly, Classical Utilitarianism endorses consequentialism as a theory of right action. A theory of right action specifies what actions moral agents ought to perform; and consequentialism says that the rightness of an action is determined by its consequences. This is incipient, if not fully articulate, in Mill’s formulation of the Principle of Utility, which he regards as the fundamental moral principle: “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”

Classical Utilitarianism is called a teleological moral theory because it defines right action in terms of the promotion of pleasure. (Pleasure, for the Classical Utilitarian, is the good.) The right action is the one which beings about (as its goal; hence the connection to telos) the most overall pleasure for everyone concerned.

Now, contrast this example of a teleological moral theory with an example of a deontological theory. A deontological theory (e.g. Kant ’s) maintains that the wrongness of (some) actions is intrinsic, or resides in the kind of action that it is, rather than the consequences it brings about. So, for example, an act of killing an innocent man is wrong because it is the killing of an innocent man, rather than because it deprives someone of future happiness and causes grief to a family. So deontological theories do not define the notion of right action in terms of the promotion of good consequences. The rightness of an action is not determined by the goal it achieves, and this makes it non teleological as a moral theory.

Problems with the Teleological / Deontological Classification

This classification outlined above, while common enough, is a bit misleading for the relation between the theory of the right and the theory of value is not quite as straightforward as might initially be thought. Firstly, ancient Greek ethical theories are usually considered as teleological moralities, but do not fit easily into the above schema [Def: TM]. The above schema [Def: TM] says that a moral theory is teleological to the extent that it defines right action in terms of the promotion of good states of affairs. In shorthand, this is to say that teleological theories define the "right" in terms of the "good." To see the problem, we shall need to consider some details of ancient Greek ethics, of which, perhaps, the most well known example is Aristotle ’s virtue theory.

According to Aristotle. the goal of ethics is to explain how one achieves the good life for human beings. Aristotle considers the good for man to be eudaimonia. which is most often translated as happiness. He argues that the good for man, (i.e. eudaimonia), is achieved by means of virtuous activity. Very roughly, he thinks that living virtuously is the best way of securing a happy (or eudaimon) life. His idea is that by possessing certain characteristics such as courage and wisdom, one will be equipped with the skills necessary to live well and succeed in living the best possible life one’s circumstances will permit. It is noteworthy, then, that Aristotle’s theory is based around the notion of virtue rather than right action. It is concerned foremost with the states of a good person (virtues and vices), rather than which actions are right and which are wrong. This is not to say that he neglects right action, but only that he is most centrally concerned with virtuous character.

Now, given this brief characterization, it is easy to see why Aristotle’s theory is usually regarded as a teleological morality. This is because Aristotle says that virtuous activity is activity which enables a person to live the good and happy life. In this respect, the concept of a virtue is that of which enables its possessor to achieve a certain goal, namely happiness. This makes it reasonable to regard Aristotle’s theory as a teleological moral theory; and much the same applies to the other Greek moral philosophers (see the article on eudaimonia).

The problem however is that the schema [Def: TM] outlined above does not include Aristotle’s theory as a teleological theory because Aristotle does not define the right in terms of the good. For him, the right action is part of virtuous action; it is the action which a virtuous person, or more particularly, a practically wise person would do. So the problem is that our criterion for a teleological morality seems to exclude Aristotle’s theory, which is generally regarded as a paradigmatic example of a teleological theory.

One way of solving this problem is to relax our definition of a teleological theory somewhat. Earlier we said that a teleological theory defines the right in terms of the good. We may widen this definition by saying that a teleological theory defines normative properties in terms of the good. Normative properties include concepts such as rightness, wrongness, virtue, and praiseworthiness. This is consistent with the spirit of normative ethics since it is not exclusively concerned with the rightness of actions, but is also interested in understanding and explaining properties such as "virtuous," "praiseworthy," and "blameworthy." By broadening the schema beyond rightness, we may propose that a moral theory is teleological to the extent that it explains normative properties in general in terms of the promotion of some good. More precisely, we shall emend our earlier definition:

  • [Def 2: TM] A teleological moral theory defines normative properties in terms of the good.

Consider what this entails with reference to Classical Utilitarianism. Since rightness is but one normative property amongst many, this does not exclude theories which focus on right action from being teleological moral theories. So by widening the definition of teleological moral theories Classical Utilitarianism remains where it seems to belong. Secondly, a Utilitarian, while focusing primarily on right action need not ignore other normative properties such as virtue. Our definition allows the Classical Utilitarian to treat virtues teleologically by saying (e.g.) that a trait of character is to be considered a virtue to the extent that it tends to produce happiness. A trait such as courage, for example, is a virtue because of a person with courage makes everyone happier. And this coheres quite nicely with what Utilitarians (Mill for example)have said about virtue as opposed to right action.

Another advantage of [Def 2: TM] is that it also enables us to understand Aristotle’s theory as teleological in a similar way. Aristotle says that trait of character is a virtue to the extent that it contributes to the happiness (eudaimonia) of its possessor; and since virtue is normative property, we have brought Aristotle’s theory within the range of a teleological morality, where it would seem to belong.

Finally, we should note another implication of the adoption of [Def 2: TM] as the criterion of distinction for teleological theories. The point encapsulated in [Def 2: TM] is that the category of teleological ethics need not be too concerned with actions rather than (e.g.) states of character, and normative properties in general. But this possibility of treating normative properties other than rightness teleologically entails that the proper contrast to teleological ethics is not deontological ethics; rather, deontological ethics refers to accounts of right action and therefore is best thought of as a subset of non-teleological accounts. Deontology is a non-teleological account of right action, and does not cover non-teleological accounts of (e.g.) virtuous character.

  • Frankena, W. 1963. Ethics. Foundations of Philosophy Series. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. ASIN B000F66TEA
  • Mill, J.S. 2002. Utilitarianism. edited by G. Sher. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company. ISBN 087220605X
  • Muirhead, J.H. 1932. Rule and End in Morals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ASIN B00086O4SU
  • Singer, Peter Albert David. 1993. A Companion to Ethics. (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy) Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0631187851
External Links

All links retrieved June 17, 2015.

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Реферат: Teleological Suspension Of The Ethical Essay Research

Teleological Suspension Of The Ethical Essay, Research Paper

A clear understanding of what Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) meant by the

`suspension of the ethical’ can be achieved upon careful study of his wider

philosophies on stages or aspects of an individual’s life. In this short text I

will examine these philosophies, exploring what Kierkegaard meant by each one.

I’ll then put into context these stages of life by looking at them in relation

to that which Kierkegaard’s text `Fear and Trembling’ (in which he introduces

the concept of a teleological suspension of the ethical) is based on: that being

the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. Finally, I’ll examine the problems of

his theory and explore some of the presumptions and pre-requisites it

Firstly I find it necessary to understand the context in which Kierkegaard wrote

and believed the philosophies we now explore. Kierkegaard’s writings were not

without a purpose or agenda. His own life was the source by which he details his

wider more abstract theories on life in general. He is intrinsically linked to

the Christian faith, and he writes with that in the forefront of his mind.

Indeed, `Fear and Trembling’ itself is based upon a passage of scripture which

Kierkegaard examines and bases his points upon. The point Kierkegaard is making

ultimately is that he believes that the `religious’ stage of life (one of three

he feels he has discovered) is the one that means the most and should be

desired. Kierkegaard identifies an existential progression between these stages

which is, on initial study, contradicted by the passage of scripture he tackles.

It is by examining these stages that the answer to the question set can be

The first of these stages is the aesthetic. For Kierkegaard, this is the lowest

form of being. For a particular human being to lead an aesthetic existence would

require him to indulge purely in sensuous pleasures. The implication in the

aesthetic is that only the external provides value. However, Kierkegaard’s

suggestion is that this level of being lacks anything outside of itself. Its

value, he submits, is void of meaning and direction and those who inhabit this

existence simply pass from one meaningless gratification of the senses to the

next with no real purpose.

There is, according to Kierkegaard, a progression of sorts to a higher stage of

life. A transition to a level being in which the particular is subsumed, that is

transported and incorporated by, the next in the level of existence, the

ethical. At this stage, an individual is living in accordance with what he

describes as the `universal good’ and in this the ethical is senseless. What I

mean by that is that the ethical requires the abdication of the individual in

accordance with the universal good. Yet the ethical cannot exist without the

individual to give it form. The individual turns inward and considers the aim of

life in respect to himself. In one sense it empowers the aesthetic with value

and meaning, thus the gratification of the senses can become the appreciation of

beauty. However, Kierkegaard regards the religious stage of life not only to be

the highest, but also imperative in giving the ethical meaning and direction.

By `religious life’ Kierkegaard is referring to the encountering and acceptance

of his, the Christian, God. It isn’t clear if the `religious’ is confined only

to his God, or whether differing personal beliefs have a place within

Kierkegaard’s definition of this level of being. The `religious’ makes sense of

the ethical, according to Kierkegaard. Apparently inferring that doing good for

the sake of good is meaningless and closer to an egoistic sense of aesthetic

gratification then meaningful existence, Kierkegaard looks to the religious to

give life direction and telos, that is purpose.

For the benefit of `Fear and Trembling’, Abraham is this `religious’ man. In the

biblical story, Abraham is required by God to premeditate the sacrifice of his

son as a sign of his faith to God. This presents Kierkegaard with a problem, as

although the `religious’ life is a distinct and separate level of being from the

`ethical’, the transition is a subsumption. That is, the religious provides the

ethical with an additional depth rather then a complete reversal of values. It

appears that there is a contradiction here, as in what is universally good (that

being, in this case, not killing your own child) is abandoned by the very

religion or God that provides it with meaning and purpose.

To provide for this contradiction, Kierkegaard identifies the telos of God. In

this situation, God requires a sign from Abraham that he is faithful to him.

That is God’s purpose in asking this of Abraham. The ethical, far from being

removed from Kierkegaard’s equation, is merely suspended so that the purpose;

the end result; the telos of God, can be achieved. This is what Kierkegaard

means when he refers to the `teleological suspension of the ethical’.

There are a number of problems with this though. The first is the apparently

complete distinction between the `religious’ and `morality’. The nature of the

goodness of God can surely be called into question if a teleological suspension

of what is morally good is required, even for just a fraction of time, in order

to follow the will of God. Further more, if God’s purpose involves a suspension

of the universal good, then Kierkegaard’s theories seriously falter. For how can

the ethical be defined, as Kierkegaard defines it, as an alignment with the

universal good, if that good can be suspended on account of a `higher good’,

that is the telos of God? Is Kierkegaard suggesting that there are two levels of

good, perhaps, and that when one reaches the `religious’ it is on occasion

necessary to act in accordance with the higher good and deny the good by which

those living by the `ethical’ live their lives? Kierkegaard seems short on

answers when one considers the inevitable confrontation between these to

conflicting sources of `goodness’, which lead to an apparent potential

contradiction of the `highest good’ which Kierkegaard has identified.

Of course, in the example of Abraham and Isaac, the suspension of the ethical

for the purposes of the religious did not result in this conflict between

goodness (discounting the premeditation involved in the mind of Abraham) for God

stopped Abraham before he ended his child’s life. Therefore in this case the

implication is that the telos of God was to observe a demonstration of obedience

in Abraham and not to kill Isaac. However in the very suspension of the ethical,

God contradicts himself and the philosophy of Kierkegaard in this respect

requires further explanation. For God must be the constant in order for the

stages of life to work. It is impossible for God to override himself yet that is

apparently what has happened here – God has contradicted himself in order for

his purposes to be fulfilled.

The only way God could not have contradicted himself is if there was no

suspension of the ethical, which is a real possibility. For if it was not a

command of God to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and it was merely a test of

Abraham’s faithfulness, then God did not override his own commands and nature,

as there was no commandment that Isaac should die. In this sense, in as much as

there was no command, there was also no suspension of the ethical.

In conclusion, to suggest that there is any kind of suspension of the ethical,

in as far as Kierkegaard describes the ethical, is to deny the very notion of

the religious and its place within leading a good life. For the ethical is the

attunement of life to the universal good. And for God to suspend this good in

order to fulfil a purpose which by logic would not include the good it usually

would is to deny the very notion that this good was truly `good’ in the first

place. The idea that God would use the unethical – put into action a sequence of

events that is contrary to the universal good – to appropriate his purpose not

only calls into question the value of God, or of the universal good, but also

leads to misinterpretations of God whose manifestations are violence and wars.

The only reasonable explanation, if God is to be upheld and Kierkegaard’s

philosophies are to be believed, is that there was no suspension of the ethical

at all; that God remained consistent and his suggestion to Abraham that he kill

his own son was a test of Abraham’s obedience and nothing more. Further

questions regarding the morality of a God that would use such apparently hideous

ways to `test’ his worshipers also lead us to call into question the `good’ that

one empowers this figure with, all leading to the conclusion I make the these

stages Kierkegaard present us with, in connection with this passage of

Scripture, require further attention.

Teleological Ethical Theory To Evaluate Incident Philosophy Essay

Teleological Ethical Theory To Evaluate Incident Philosophy Essay

Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


Ethics: The basic concepts and fundamental principles of right human conduct. It includes study of universal values such as the essential equality of all men and women, human or natural rights, obedience to the law of land, concern for health and safety and, increasingly, also for the natural environment.

"Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong."

"Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs."

"Being ethical is doing what the law requires."

"Ethics consists of the standards of behaviour our society accepts."

Ethics refers to the study and development of one's ethical standards. As mentioned above, feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one's standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded. Ethics also means, then, the continuous effort of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based.

What is Ethics? Unethics. Unethical behaviour often falls into a gray area where people are unsure of how to react. Professional organizations, religious groups and individuals may have differing definitions of "unethical behaviour." The law also addresses unethical behaviour, although not all actions considered unethical by an individual or a group would fall into the category of unethical behaviour. Employees and group members benefit from specific guidance on what to consider in assessing a situation, so an organization should have its own ethical standards that all staff or members agree to abide by upon being hired or joining. The Association of Authors' Representatives provides a clear example in its Canon of Ethics, which not only serves as a guide or members but also for others in the publishing industry.

How to Report Unethical Behavior in the Workplace

2. Unethical incident: in your past working life.

Scenario 1> explain the incident Scenario 2> explain the incident 3.Teleological ethical theory:

Consequentialism is the idea that only consequences count. So, under this view, someone who thinks all day long about killing and violence but actually hurts nobody would not be viewed as unethical. Consequentialists favour their approach due to its focus on real-world outcomes and the fact that it does not impose moral rules on oneself or on to others. The argument is that it is a less repressive approach. The USA foreign policy since World War 2 is clearly consequentialist. The "Coalition of the Willing" believed (or claimed to believe) that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was necessary (the doctrine of the pre-emptive strike) to protect American citizens from the terrorism threat. The idea was that the benefits (to America and Americans) would exceed the costs of the death and injury toll. Clearly no deontological principle can explain the war on Iraq since the US did not intervene in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and has not intervened recently in Zimbabwe. Interestingly, the Australian philosopher Raimond Gaita (2004) argues that the doctrine of the pre-emptive strike is immoral (he favours virtue ethics) and he references the Christian New Testament verse "Do not do evil that good might result" (St Paul's Epistle to the Romans 3:8; New International Version). The Iraq invasion can be viewed as an "evil" deliberately undertaken in the hope that "good" might later result.

Explain 4 parts with definition: Consequentialism can be further sub-divided into four types, ranging from the most selfish to the most considerate:

ethical egoism;

Belief that people should act in a way that maximizes their own good;

Effect on other people of much less consequence;

Behave in their own interest;

Generally consistent with PAT assumptions.

ethical elitism;

Behaviour should maximize the benefits to those at the top of social structure.

E.g. If the firm's accounting is questioned then fire the Accountant to protect the Finance Director/CFO

ethical parochialism;

Behaviour should protect YOUR OWN 'in-group';

Group could be YOUR OWN family, football club, company, religious group, accounting profession, ethnic group, etc.

Are professional Codes of Ethics & CFs an example of ethical parochialism? Probably yes! Improve profession's image

ethical universalism; Ethical Universalism

Ethical behaviour should be concerned with the good of all

John Stewart Mill (1806-73) - greatest happiness principle

E.g. Accounting standards to protect all of society not just shareholders

4.Teleological ethical theory to evaluate incident. Egoism: ethical egoism;

Belief that people should act in a way that maximizes their own good;

Effect on other people of much less consequence;

Behave in their own interest;

Generally consistent with PAT assumptions.

Parochialism: ethical parochialism;

Behaviour should protect YOUR OWN 'in-group';

Group could be YOUR OWN family, football club, company, religious group, accounting profession, ethnic group, etc.

Are professional Codes of Ethics & CFs an example of ethical parochialism? Probably yes! Improve profession's image

5.Deontological ethical theory: (definition + example+2 types)

Based on duties and rights

Duties - activities a person is expected to perform

Rights - behaviours a person expects of others

An accountant has the duty to look after a client's interests while the client has the right to the accountant's best work

This theory judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to rules. Whether an action is ethical depends on the intentions behind the decisions rather than the outcomes that result.

This ethical theory is based on the work of Immanuel Kant. All individual actions should be done, as if they could become universal law (i.e. categorical imperative). Among the various formulations of the categorical imperative, two are particularly worth noting:

Always act in such a way that you can also resolve that the maxim of your action should become a universal law (categorical imperative)

Act so that you treat humanity, both in your own person and in that of another, always as an end and never merely as a means (principle of ends)

Deontology does not look primarily at consequences of actions, but examines a situation for the essential moral worth of the intention of act, or rightness or wrongness of the act. Many religious traditions are based upon deontology.

Example: Individuals would examine their intentions to determine the ethics of their actions. For example, we have begun not to use restraints on older people for their safety and to think of other measures. We do this because restraining someone against his or her will could not be considered a universal law.

Ethical theories that maintain that the moral rightness or wrongness of an action depends on its intrinsic qualities, and not (as in consequentialism) on the nature of its consequences. Deontological ethics holds that at least some acts are morally wrong in themselves (e.g. lying, breaking a promise, punishing the innocent, murder). It often finds expression in slogans such as "Duty for duty's sake." Deontological theories are often formulated in such a way that the rightness of an action consists in its conformity to a moral rule or command, such as "Do not bear false witness." The most important exponent of deontological ethics is Immanuel Kant. See also categorical imperative

Relies on religion

Rules are set down by religious literature, e.g. Koran or Bible or Dao or Confucius.

Bible: "Do to others what you would have them do to you" (the Christian Golden Rule in St Matthew 7:12) and "Love your neighbour as yourself" (St Luke 10:27). But self-centred human nature says: "Who is my neighbour?"

"Social Contract" Theory - or "Licence to operate"

Assumes a "social contract" between the individual and society and corporation and society.

Unwritten agreement based on custom.

Failure to comply with "contract" results in unethical behaviour and penalties imposed by society.

Normative basis of Legitimacy and Stakeholder Theories covered in Week 8. Society's expectations can change over time, e.g. now more demanding toward companies regarding environmental damage. Society can boycott a company/country e.g. apartheid regime in South Africa.

6.Deontological ethical theory to evaluate incident: Social contract: "Social Contract" Theory - or "Licence to operate" Assumes a "social contract" between the individual and society and corporation and society. Unwritten agreement based on custom. Failure to comply with "contract" results in unethical behaviour and penalties imposed by society. Normative basis of Legitimacy and Stakeholder Theories covered in Week 8. Society's expectations can change over time, e.g. now more demanding toward companies regarding environmental damage. Society can boycott a company/country e.g. apartheid regime in South Africa.

7. Unethical conduct: Many employees find that discovering unethical behaviour among co-workers actually tests their own values and ethical behaviours. After all, unethical behaviour that is not illegal frequently falls in a grey area between right and wrong that make it difficult to decide what to do when it is encountered. Furthermore, different people have different views regarding what is ethical and what is unethical. For example, some people feel that it is alright to tell a little "white lie", or to make one long distance call on the company's nickel, as long as they can justify it in their mind.

When employees discover other employees doing something that they know is wrong by the company's standards, their own sense of what is right and what is wrong instantly comes into question. That employee needs to consider how s/he feels about that particular activity, as well as informing about that activity, or turning a blind eye.

Unethical Behavior Unethical Behavior - It's Impact on Today's Workplace

8. Conclusion: re view about ethics and unthics +make prediction