Introducing Ethics: A Graphic Guide
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thought human passions often made human beings disastrously irrational - a view of human nature that Shakespeare seems to have shared. 46 The Epicureans, founded by Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), equated happiness with pleasure, something Aristotle had always been careful to avoid. However, "pleasure" for Epicureans had to be pursued with Aristotelian moderation, and came in many forms: friendship and philosophical discussion, as well as wine and song. In fact, Epicureans were more Stoical than they
individualist and communitarian philosophers are reluctant to explain away ethics as no more than "club rules" agreed upon and formalized by members. Both want to legitimize either communal ethics or the need for an individual morality by appealing to some kind of "neutral" set of ideals. Much of this book is about these different attempts to provide a foundation for ethics. 5 Setting the Stage Ten Central Questions Let's begin, as philosophers do, by asking some odd and awkward questions.
questions that seem to us now more theological and technical than "moral". The teachings of Aristotle were assimilated by the greatest medieval theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-74). 49 Aquinas had more interesting things to say about society's laws and the individual. Laws, according to Aquinas, must be more than just a reflection of the personal whims of government. They are necessary for the common good of all and reflect "Natural Law" which is "impressed" on all of us by God. Secular
was a practical diplomat rather than a philosopher. His famous book is called The Prince, and was one of the first ever to be placed on the Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books. Morality and Public Life The Prince is ostensibly a technical book on politics but its subtext is definitely ethics. What Machiavelli points out is that all good rulers need virtu-the "masculine" qualities of self reliance, courage, resoluteness and so on. However, to be a really successful ruler also means going
healthy society would be one with a huge variety of different individuals and lifestyles with room for oddballs like New Age Travellers. So long as people don't interfere with the freedoms of others, they should be allowed to think and do what they like. Under a Utilitarian system, the huge amounts of mild happiness registered by the majority will outweigh the much smaller amounts of intense misery that the travellers will feel. Utilitarianism may not guarantee the rights of individuals or