References and Further Reading 1.
References and Further Reading 1. Applied Ethics as Distinct from Normative Ethics and Metaethics One way of categorizing the field of ethics as a study of morality is by distinguishing between its three branches, one of them being applied ethics.
By contrasting applied ethics with the other branches, one can get a better understanding what exactly applied ethics is about.
The three branches are metaethicsnormative ethics sometimes referred to as ethical theoryand applied ethics. Metaethics deals with whether morality exists. Normative ethics, usually assuming an affirmative answer to the existence question, deals with the reasoned construction of moral principles, and at its highest level, determines what the fundamental principle of morality is.
Applied ethics, also usually assuming an affirmative answer to the existence question, addresses the moral permissibility of specific actions and practices. Although there are many avenues of research in metaethics, one main avenue starts with the question of whether or not moral judgments are truth-apt.
The following will illuminate this question. Consider the following claims: A large proportion of people, and perhaps cross-culturally, will say that this claim is true and hence truth-apt.
So, it is the branch of metaethics that deals with this question, and not applied ethics. Normative ethics is concerned with principles of morality. This branch itself can be divide into various sub-branches and in various ways: A consequentialist theory says that an action is morally permissible if and only if it maximizes overall goodness relative to its alternatives.
Consequentialist theories are specified according to what they take to be intrinsically good. Modern utilitarians, on the other hand, define goodness in terms of things like preference-satisfaction, or even well-being. Other kinds of consequentialists will consider less subjective criteria for goodness.
But, setting aside the issue of what constitutes goodness, there is a rhetorical argument supporting consequentialist theories: I take this straight from Robert N.
For example, consider the Transplant Problem, in which the only way to save five dying people is by killing one person for organ transplantation to the five.
Such theories either place rights or duties as fundamental to morality. One is not morally permitted to save five lives by cutting up another person for organ transplantation because the one person has a right against any person to be treated in this way.
Similarly, there is a duty for all people to make sure that they do not treat others in a way that merely makes them a means to the end of maximizing overall goodness, whatever that may be.
Finally, we have virtue theories. But given that we live in a world of action, of doing, the question of what one ought to do creeps up.
Therefore, according to such theories, what one ought to do is what the ideally virtuous person would do.
What should I do?
Then whatever I do from there is what I should do now. This theory is initially appealing, but nevertheless, there are lots of problems with it, and we cannot get into them for an article like this. Applied ethics, unlike the other two branches, deals with questions that started this article — for example, under what conditions is an abortion morally permissible?
Notice the specificity compared to the other two branches. Already, though, one might wonder whether the way to handle these applied problems is by applying one of the branches. Actually, this may be wrong.You can use the resources below as you prepare for the AP Exam.
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