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Meta-ethics and also Libertarianism, Determinism and Compatabilism


The nature of morality in general; it is concerned with what justifies moral judgements. Whether there are any moral truths, and if so what makes them true. It seeks to answer the question what do we mean by good or bad?

Applied ethics

Concerned with applying general normative theories of how we ought to act, live or structure our societies based on different types of cicumstances.

Normative ethics

This is concerned with how we ought to live or act. Seeks to provide action guides to answer the question "What I ought to do?". Tries tp provide guidelines

Ethical egoism

An action is morally right if it benefits you in the long term; the consequences lead to the advancements of our own long term interests.

Ethical hedonism

The view that pleasure is the only intrinsic value when evaluating the consequences of our actions. Egoist may be a hedonist, but may identify other values instead, such as self realization. Even hedonists differ as regards to the nature of pleasure.


The standards that an individual or a group has about what is right and wrong or good and evil.

Ethical relativism

Denies the existence of a single, universally applicable moral standard; insists that the correct morality is relative to one's society. Each society has its own morality and an action is morally right if a person's society approves of it.

Ethical absolutism

States that one and only one correct morality exists, this one morality applies to everyone everywhere, although people may not follow or believe in it.

Moral point of view

This describes the impartial or unbiased attitude of one who tries to see all sides of an issue without being committed to the interests of a particular individual or group.

Relative ethics

The belief that moral behavior varies among individuals, groups, cultures, and across situations

Absolute ethics

The belief that there is a single correct moral standard that holds for everyone, everywhere, in any situation

non-consequentialist theory

Judges an action based on the motives for doing it as opposed to the consequences that will follow this action.

Divine Command Theory

This is a non consequentialist normative theory that states that we should always do the will of God; whatever the situation, if we do what God commands then we are doing the right thing.

Natural Law Ethics

Humans should live according to nature. For example, the Stoics believes that there is a universal natural order in the world put there by God that the human mind can discover, the extent to which humans live by this will allow them to flourish and be happy.

Aquinas' Principle of Double Effect

Actions sometimes produce more than two or more effects, killing in self defense saves one life and takes the life of the attacker; however in these cases it is the intention that matters.

Kant's Categorical Imperative

We should do something only if we are willing to have the reason governing our action become a universal law that everyone follows or Act as if the maxims you choose to follow always became universal laws of nature

Autonomy of the Will

This was Immanuel Kant's idea that one should choose for themself the moral principles that they will follow.


This refers to allowing someone or something else to decide the moral principles that one will follow; the opposite of the idea of autonomy of the will.

Good Will

According to Kant this is the ability to choose what we will do; it is at the core of who a person is. Things such as intelligence, courage, wealth and happiness can only be good if the person uses them for a good purpose or if the will deserves them.

Kant's 4 Duties

imperfect duty to oneself, perfect duty to others, imperfect duty to oneself, imperfect duty to others


Everything that happens, inclusive of human action is determined by previous events, as well as biological and psychological laws that govern human nature. There can be no freedom; because human actions are completely determined by prior events. Rules out the ideas of personal freedom and being responsible for our actions.


Directly rejects the idea of determinism; because they believe that we have control over what we do; this idea holds that we are radically free. By saying that these are the things which affect what we do, we are simply having a form of 'bad faith' and avoiding the responsibility that comes with our radical freedom. We are fully responsible for our behavior and actions; nothing else.


Combines both of the previous ideologies. A person's behaviors and actions are caused or can be causally linked to their antecedent upbringing and heredity. Human actions are predetermined, but only to a certain extent; because a person's morals affect their actions; in this sense they can agree with the determinist.


the result or the consequence of an act is the real measure of whether it is good or bad

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