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Free «Normative Ethical Theories» Essay Sample


Normative ethical theories experienced a period of modernization in various domains and development in others throughout the twentieth century. Many theories notable in the nineteenth century faced great criticism. Other methods, for example, normative intuitionism and virtue ethics, were created showing the refinement of critical methods elaborated by theorists in the twentieth century, especially in language philosophy. The middle of the twentieth century was marked by an interest in conceptual analysis, and the concepts of ‘ordinary’ language philosophy. For instance, Gilbert Ryle claimed that the attempt of explaining the concepts by means of formalizing them was unsuccessful. Besides, the task of philosophy was to sort out confusions present in the ordinary applications of concepts used by people and professionals in a particular field. In the beginning of the twentieth century, normative ethicists had not espoused a ‘scientific’ approach to philosophy yet. They thought that one could depend on perception in creating ethical theories. In the early twentieth century, theorists also wanted to amend  normative ethics in a manner that would support their rational normative judgments.



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Normative ethical systems can normally be classified into three groups, namely deontological, teleological, and virtue ethics. The first two are viewed as deontic or activity-based theories of ethics, since they concentrate entirely upon activities, which a person carries out. When the latter are evaluated in ethical terms based upon their results, there exists teleological or consequentialist ethical theory. Assessing activities ethically based upon how well they follow some set of tasks is related to a deontological ethical theory. The paper presents an argument reffering to normative theories, and compares different theories and how they affect modernization. It elaborates each theory and concludes with its importance in human life. Both theories are not opposed in the paper being equally important.

Consequential versus Normative Ethics

Philosophical ethics gives conceptual approaches to the understanding of ethical problems and solutions. Then, the normative approach assumes that there is an intuitive, universal, abstract, and right answer to the given question. It is a justification norm and may be based on the natural law, God’s will, human psychology, and social contact. Normative ethics also works fairly well in answering questions connected with such problems as cannibalism, rape, incest, murder, and infanticide. It is applicable to the questions, which require universal answers or the clear cut concluding of what is wrong and right, allowing for few situational exceptions (Brown, 2005).

The questions of ethics raising so many controversies and debates are the ones that do not have a straightforward answer, but have  numerous situational exceptions. Normative ethics is a less universal approach, and consequential one becomes necessary when normative values which conflict and lead to opposing conclusions are abstract. Consequential ethical concepts are based on the argument that the wrongness or rightness of an action, in other words morality, may be assessed through its outcome. Most consequential decisions tend to use utilitarian reasoning. which offers the greatest good of the greatest number. Consequentiality approves acts that bring an optimal consequence. The wrongness or rightness of an action is mostly weighted based on outcomes. It has been approved that persuasive consequential and normative arguments are against and at the same time for sexually violent predator (SVP)/SDP statutes.

Normative View

Arguments in Support of SVP/SDP Laws

Normative arguments against SVP/SDP statutes are supposed to be inalienable with the individual rights. Lawyers of several civil and state courts argue that SVP/SDP laws are unconstitutional and connected with double jeopardy or punishment with no due process, and preventive detention.

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Arguments against SVP/SDP Laws

There are arguments that SVP/SDP statues are also based on the normative foundation and superseded by a threat to public safety posed by individuals’ mental conditions. In such situations, involuntary psychiatric individual’s commitment that has been dangerous is justified. Indeed, the argument is supported by high courts. Despite of the obvious civil liberty risks, the treatment of the population cannot be effective. The laws recognize that small groups of sexually violent predators pose a threat to the public if released from custody. Clearly, some rules do not defend SVP/SDP laws, as some professionals in the mental health sector support the commitment.

Deontological Theory

People need to understand moral duties and the correct rules  that manage them in order to make appropriate moral choices. When people perform their tasks, they are thought to behave morally. Whenever they fail to do the former, they act unethically. Deontological moral systems stress the rationales why some activities are carried out. Hence, simply following the proper ethical policies is generally not enough (Hellen, 2004). People should have correct inspirations. They will facilitate a person not to be judged as being morally wrong, although he or she has infringed an ethical rule. It is possible if an individual is inspired to follow some moral duty.

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Critically, deontology draws a distinction between imperfect and perfect duties. The latter are always applied and do not lie. The former are used only in some certain circumstances. For example, the rule to report crimes is an imperfect duty. Nevertheless, when a crime is encountered, it is an individual’s duty to report it. Possibly, the most notable thing to recognize concerning deontological moral systems is that their moral principles are entirely detached from any results, which follow them. Hence, if someone is obligated not to lie, subsequently lying is always immoral, since that consequence harms others. There is an example that a person would be acting unethically, if he lied to Nazis regarding where Jews were hiding.

Teleology and Ethics

Teleological moral systems are typified mainly by putting focus on the outcomes, which any activity may have. Therefore, with the aim of making correct moral decisions, people should have some perception of what will result from their choices. When they make certain decisions that give rise to consequences, they are acting ethically; when they make up their mind, and it brings about incorrect consequences, they are acting wrongly.

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The utilitarian theory is criticized, for it does not answer the charge, which does not justify the means. The utilitarianism implication is the intention to perform an act that may include all foreseen consequences.

The notion that the moral value of an activity is established by its results is generally termed as consequentialism (Chernyak, 2008). Normally, "true consequences" are those, which are the most useful to human beings. They may simply raise human well-being, as well as human survival. No matter what the consequences are, they are thought to be inherently good and helpful, and thus, activities that bring about those results are moral, whilst the ones which desist from them are considered as immoral.

Teleological moral systems are not only different because of what the "correct consequences" are, but also due to how people assess possible outcomes. Nevertheless, few options are unambiguously affirmative, and this implies that it is vital to work out how to achieve the correct balance between the good and the evil present in what people do. It should be noted that simply being concerned with the outcome of a given doing cannot support anyone to be regarded as consequentialist. A crucial factor is rather basing the ethics of that activity on the consequences rather than on something else.

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The opponents generally point at the impracticality of truly establishing the full variety of consequences, which any activity may have, and try to assess the morality of an activity based upon those results. There is a great controversy whetherdissimilar outcomes can actually be quantified in the way essential for some ethical computations to be performed.

Another common disapproval of consequentialist moral systems is an inherently complex manner of saying that the objectives rationalize the means. Hence, if it is possible to say that results will be satisfactory or good, then any offensive and horrible activities will be warranted. For instance, a consequentialist moral system may validate the torture and killing of an innocent child, if it treats all types of cancer.

Teleological versus Deontological Theories

Both teleological and deontological moral theories are used in the assessment of moral judgments. However, the support of the correct inspirations is generally a critical aspect of the moral education of the youth. People are trained that they need particular results and should have certain objectives achieved through their activities.

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Normative Ethical Theories: Analysis

Normative ethical theories are quite dissimilar and at times recommended for diversified activities. Collins and Wray-Bliss (2005) proved how various persons indirectly built and legalized their support of sex discrimination within the same framework, using three entirely different institutional logics and vocabularies, such as care, friendship, and responsibility. According to the facts, a similar approach can result into distinct and even conflicting logic as shown by Collins and Wray-Bliss (2005) and other analysts, such as Victor & Cullen (1988) and Lahdesmaki (2005).

Normative ethical theory prescribes a set of moral rules, which can be related to the process of resolving whether an activity is ethically right or immoral in different circumstances (Ferrell & Gresham, 1985; Weber, 1990; Alder, Schminke, Noel, & Kuenzi, 2008). Studies on the role of ethical theories in business generally concentrate on the application of ethical rules in HR practices (Schumann, 2001), CSR policies (Frederiksen, 2010), and the evaluation of managers’ moral assessments (Reidenbach & Robin, 1990). The majority of research studies try to identify basic ethical rules that people can pursue in business activities and lay down frameworks of ethical principles relating to decision-making.

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In conclusion, professional associations do not determine legal limits of practice or make laws, finding consensus in solving difficult questions. It will be highly adorable when the issues are viewed fully and afresh, since it will result in a better expertise from various mental health and legal disciplines. Analytical judgements should be alert and well-known, when such negative and potential consequences are witnessed by an individual offender, and general constitutional rights should be protected.


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