1. Normative Ethics - The search for, and justification of, moral standards, or norms;Most often the standards are moral principles, rules, virtues, and theories, and the lofty aim of this branch is to establish rationally some or all of these as proper guides for our actions and judgments.
2. Metaethics - The study of the meaning and justification of basic moral beliefs; In normative ethics we might ask whether an action is right or whether a person is good, but in metaethics we would more likely ask what it means for an action to be right or for a person to be good.
3. Applied Ethics - The use of moral norms and concepts to resolve practical moral issues; The usual challenge is to employ moral principles, theories, arguments, or analyses to try to answer moral questions relate to a particular professional field such as law, business, or journalism, so we have specialized subfields of applied ethics like legal ethics, business ethics, and journalistic ethics.
1. Normative Dominance - In our moral practice, moral norms are presumed to dominate other kinds of norms, to take precedence over them. Philosophers call this characteristic of moral norms overridingness because moral considerations so often seem to override other factors.
2. Universality - Moral norms have universality: Moral principles or judgments apply in all relevantly similar situations. Universality is not unique to moral norms; it's a characteristic of all normative spheres.
3. Impartiality - Implicit in moral norms is the notion of impartiality - the idea that everyone should be considered equal, that everyone's interests should count the same. From the perspective of morality, no person is any better than any other. Everyone should be treated the same unless there is a morally relevant difference between persons. The requirement of moral impartiality prohibits discrimination against people merely because they are different - different in ways that are not morally relevant. On the other hand, if there are morally relevant differences between people, then we may have good reasons to treat them differently, and this treatment would not be a violation of impartiality.
4. Reasonableness - To participate in morality - to engage in the essential, unavoidable practices of the moral life - is to do moral reasoning. If our moral judgments are to have any weight at all, if they are to be anything more than mere personal taste or knee-jerk emotional response, they must be backed by the best of reasons. They must be the result of careful reflection in which we arrive at good reasons for accepting them, reasons that could be acknowledged as such by any other reasoning persons. Both logic and our commonsense moral experience demand that the thorough sifting of reasons constitutes the main work of our moral deliberations - regardless of our particular moral outlook or theory. Our feelings, of course, are also part of our moral experience. Critical reasoning can help restrain terrible impulses. It can help us put or feelings in proper perspective and achieve a measure of impartiality.
1. Moral Obligations - Concern our duty, what we are obligated to do. That is, obligations are about conduct, how we ought or ought not to behave. In this sphere, we talk primarily about actions. We may look to normal principles or rules to guide our actions, or study a moral theory that purports to explain right actions, or make judgments about right or wrong actions.
2. Moral Values - Generally concern those things that we judge to be morally good, bad, praiseworthy, or blameworthy. Normally we use such words to describe a persons (as in "He is a good person" or "She is to blame for hurting them"0, their character ("He is virtuous"; "She is honest"), or their motives ("She did wrong but did not mean to"). Note that we also attribute nonmoral value to things. Only actions are morally right or wrong, but persons are morally good or bad (or some degree of goodness or badness). With this distinction we can acknowledge a simple fact of the moral life: A good person can do something wrong, and a bad person can do something right. The general meaning of right and wrong seems clear to just about everyone. But we should be careful to differentiate degrees meaning in these moral terms. Right can mean either "obligatory" or "permissible." An obligatory action is one that would be wrong not to perform. We are obligated or required to do it. A permissible action is one that is permitted. It is not wrong to perform it. Wrong means "prohibited." A prohibited action is one that would be wrong to perform. We are obligated or required not to do it. A supererogatory action is one that is "above and beyond" our duty. It is praiseworthy - a good thing to do - but not required. Giving all your possessions to the poor is generally considered a supererogatory act.
1. Autonomy - Refers to a person's rational capacity for self-governance or self-determination - the ability to direct one's own life and choose for oneself. The principle of autonomy insists on full respect for autonomy. One way to express the principle is: Autonomous persons should be allowed to exercise their capacity for self-determination. Autonomous persons have intrinsic worth precisely because they have the power to make rational decisions and moral choices. They therefore must be treated with respect, which means not violating their autonomy by ignoring or thwarting their ability to choose their own paths and make their own judgments. The principle of respect for autonomy places severe restraints on what can be done to an autonomous person. There are exceptions, but in general we are not permitted to violate people's autonomy just because we disagree with their decisions, or because society might benefit, or because the violation is for their own good. We cannot legitimately impair someone's autonomy without strong justification for doing so. Respect for autonomy is thought to be prima facie. It can sometimes be overridden by considerations that seem more important or compelling - considerations that philosophers and other thinkers have formulated as principles of autonomy restriction. Another principle of autonomy restriction is paternalism. Paternalism is the overriding of a person's actions or decision-making for her own good.
2. Nonmaleficence - The principle of nonmaleficence asks us not to intentionally or unintentionally inflict harm on others. Nonmaleficence is the most widely recognized moral principle. Its aphoristic expression has been embraced by practitioners of medicine for centuries: "above all, do no harm." A more precise formulation of the principle is: "We should not cause unnecessary injury or harm to those in our care. In whatever form, nonmaleficence is the bedrock precept of countless codes of professional conduct, institutional regulations, and governmental rules and laws designed to protect the welfare of patients.
3. Beneficence - The principle of beneficence has seemed to many to constitute the very soul of morality - or very close to it. In its most general form, it says that we should do good to others. Beneficence enjoins us to advance the welfare of others and prevent or remove harm to them. Beneficence demands that we do more than just avoid inflicting pain and suffering. It says that we should actively promote the well-being of others and prevent or remove harm to them.
4. Utility - The principle of utility says that we should produce the most favorable balance of good over bad (or benefit over harm) for all concerned. The principle acknowledges that in the real world, we cannot just benefit or just avoid harming them. Often we cannot do good for people without also bringing them some harm, or we cannot help everyone who needs to be helped, or we cannot help some without also hurting or neglecting others. In such situations, the principle says, we should do what yields the best overall outcome - the maximum good and minimum evil, everyone considered. The utility principle, then, is a supplement to, not a substitute for, the principles of autonomy, beneficence, and justice. The principle of utility seems to suggest that the latter course is best and that the former is morally impermissible. The principle also plays a major role in the creation and evaluation of the health policies of institutions and society. In these large arenas, most people aspire to fulfill the requirements of beneficence and maleficence, but they recognize that perfect beneficence and maleficence is impossible: Trade-offs and compromises must be made, scarce resources must be allotted, help and harm must be balanced, life and death must be weighed - tasks almost always informed by the principle of utility.
Distributive justice concerns the fair distribution of society's advantages and disadvantages - for example, jobs, income, welfare aid, health care, rights, taxes, and public service. Distributive justice is a major issue in bioethics, where many of the most intensely debated questions are about who gets health care, what or how much they should get, and who should pay for it. Distributive justice is a vast topic , and many theories have been proposed to identify and justify the properties, or traits, of just distributions. A basic precept of most of these theories is what may plausibly be regarded as the core of the principle of justice: Equals should be treated equally. The idea is that people should be treated the same unless there is a morally relevant reason for treating them differently. Libertarian theories emphasize personal freedoms and the right to pursue one's own social and economic well-being in a free market without interference from others. Egalitarian theories maintain that a just distribution is an equal distribution. To achieve this level of equality, individual liberties will have to be restricted, measures that libertarians would never countenance. In a pure egalitarian society, universal health care would be guaranteed. 1. Subjective Relativism - The view that right actions are those sanctioned by a person. Subjective relativism relives individuals of the burden of serious critical reasoning about morality. Subjective relativism also helps people short-circuit the unpleasantness of moral debate. The subjective relativist's familiar refrain - "That may be your truth, but it's not my truth" - has a way of stopping conversations and putting an end to reasoned arguments. Subjective relativism also implies that another commonplace of the moral life is an illusion: moral disagreement.
2. Cultural Relativism - The view that right actions are those sanctioned by one's culture. Cultural relativism seems to many to be a much more plausible doctrine. In fact, many people think it obviously true, supported as it is by a convincing argument and the common conviction that it is admirable consistent with social tolerance and understanding in a pluralistic world. The argument goes like this: 1. If people's moral judgments differ from culture to culture, moral norms are relative to culture (there are no objective moral standards). 2. People's moral judgments do differ from culture to culture. 3. Therefore, moral norms are relative to culture (there are no objective moral standards). Cultural relativism implies moral infallibility, a very hard implication to take seriously. As the doctrine would have it, if a culture genuinely approves of an action, then there can be no question about the actions moral rightness: It is right, and that's that. Cultures make moral rightness, so they cannot be mistaken about it. Cultural relativism implies that we cannot legitimately criticize other cultures. Cultural relativism also has a difficult time explaining the moral status of social reformers.
Arguments denotes not altercation but a patterned set of assertions: at least one statement providing support for another statement. We have an argument when one or more statements give us reasons for believing another one. The supporting statements are premises, and the supported statement is the conclusion. In critical reasoning, the term statement also has a technical meaning. A statement, or a claim, is an assertion that something is or is not the case and is therefore the kind of utterance that is either true or false. An argument provides us with reasons for accepting a claim; it is an attempted "proof" for an assertion. But persuasion does not necessarily involve giving any reasons at all for accepting a claim. To persuade is to influence people's opinions, which can be accomplished by offering a good argument but also by misleading with logical fallacies, exploiting emotions and prejudices, dazzling with rhetorical gimmicks, hiding or distorting facts , threatening or coercing people - the list is long. Good arguments prove something whether or not they persuade. Persuasive ploys can change minds but do not necessarily prove anything. So we formulate an argument to try to show that a particular claim (the conclusion) should be believed, and we analyze an argument to see if it really does show what it purports to show. If the argument is good, we are entitled to believe its conclusion. It is bad, we are not entitled to believe it. 1. Straw Man - The straw man fallacy is the misrepresentation of a person's views so they can be more easily attacked or dismissed. The straw man fallacy proves nothing, though many people fall for it every day. An example of the straw man fallacy is if the biology teacher states that all things evolve, the student could argue that she can't accept that humans come from bugs.
2. Appeal to the Person - Closely related to the straw ,am fallacy is appeal to the person. Appeal to the person is the rejecting of a statement on the grounds that it comes from a particular person, not because the statement, or claim, itself is false or double. For example, you can safely discard anything that Susan has to say about abortion. She's a Catholic. Or, Johnson argues that our current health care system is defective. But don't listen to him, he is a liberal. Both of these arguments are defective because they ask us to reject a claim because of a person's character, background, or circumstances - things that are generally irrelevant to the truth of claims. A statement must stand or fall on its own merits. The personal characteristics of the person espousing the view do not necessarily have a bearing on its truth. Only if we can show that someone's dubious traits somehow make the claim dubious are we justified in rejecting the claim because of a person's personal characteristics. Such a circumstance is rare.
3. Appeal to Ignorance - As its name implies, this fallacy tries to prove something by appealing to what we don't know. The appeal to ignorance is arguing that 1. a claim is true because it has not been proven false or 2. a claim is false because it has not been proven true. For example, no one has proven that a fetus is not a person, so it is in fact a person. Or, it is obviously false that a fetus is a person because science has not proven that it is a person. The first argument tries to prove a claim by pointing out that it has not been proven false. The second argument tries to prove that the claim is false because it has not been proven true. Both kinds of arguments are bogus because they assume that a lack of evidence proves something. But a lack of evidence can prove nothing. Being ignorant of the facts does not enlighten us. Notice that a lack of evidence could prove something, then you could prove just about anything you wanted. You could reason, for instance, that since no one can prove that horses cannot fly, horses must be able to fly.
4. Begging the Question - The fallacy of begging the question is trying to prove a conclusion by using that very same conclusion as support. It is arguing in a circle. This way of trying to prove something says, in effect, "X is true because X is true." An example is, The Bible says that God exists. The Bible is true because God wrote it. Therefore, God exists. The conclusion here ("God exists") is supported by premises that assume that very conclusion.
5. Slippery Slope - The metaphor behind this fallacy suggest the danger of stepping on a dicey incline, losing your footing, and sliding to disaster. The fallacy of slippery slope, then, is arguing erroneously that a particular action should not be taken because it will lead inevitably to key word here is erroneously. A slippery slope scenario becomes fallacious when there is no reason to believe that the chain of events predicted will ever happen. For example, if dying patients are permitted to refuse treatment, then soon doctors will be refusing the treatment on their behalf. Then physician-assisted suicide will become rampant, and soon killing patients for almost any reason will become the norm. The argument is fallacious because there are no reasons for believing that the first step will ultimately result in the chain of events described. If good reasons could be given, the argument might be salvaged.
Moral premises, like nonmoral ones, should be supported by good reasons and be subjected to serious scrutiny. Support for a moral premise (a moral principle or standard) can come from at least three sources: other moral principles, moral theories, or our most reliable moral judgments. The most common way to support a moral principle is to appeal to a higher-level principle (which often turns out to be one of the four major moral principles discussed earlier). Frequently, the higher principle appealed to is plausible, seemingly universal, or accepted by all parties so that further support for the principle is not necessary. At other times, the higher principle itself may be controversial and in need of support. Moral premises can also be supported by a moral theory, a general explanation of what makes an action right or a person or motive good. Another possible source of support for moral premises is what philosophers call our considered moral judgments. These are moral judgments we deem plausible or credible after careful reflection that is as unbiased as possible. They may apply to both particular cases and more general moral statements. Moral premises can be called into question by showing that they somehow conflict with credible principles, theories, or judgments. One way to do this is to cite counterexamples, instances in which the moral principle in question seems not to hold. Moral argument, like any other kind of arguments, usually come to us embedded in larger tracts of speech or writing. Often premises and conclusions are embellished or obscured by other elements - by explanations, asides, reiterations, descriptions, examples, amplifications, or irrelevancies. The following procedures will help to evaluate such arguments:
1. Study the text until you thoroughly understand it. You can't locate the conclusion or premises until you know what you're looking for - and that requires having a clear idea of what the author is driving at. Don't attempt to find the conclusion or premises until you "get it." This understanding entails having an overview of a great deal of text, a bird's eye view of the whole work.
2. Find the conclusion. When you evaluate arguments surrounded by a lot of other prose, your first task is to find the conclusion. There may be a single conclusion, or several main conclusions, or one primary conclusion with several subconclusions. Or the conclusion may be nowhere explicitly stated but embodied in metaphorical language implied by large expanses of prose. In any case, your job is to come up with a single conclusion statement for each conclusion - even if you have to paraphrase large sections of text to do it. When you identify the conclusion, the hunt for premises gets easier.
3. Identify the premises. Like the search for a conclusion, unearthing the premises may involve condensing large sections of text into manageable form - namely, single premise statements. To do this, you need to disregard extraneous material and keep your eye on the "big picture." Remember that in moral arguments you are looking for both moral and nonmoral premises.
A moral theory explains not why one event causes another but why an action is right or wrong or why a person or a person's character is good or bad. A moral theory tells us what it is about an action that makes it right, or what it is about a person that makes him or her good. Moral theorizing - that is, making, using, or assessing moral theories or parts of theories - is normal and pervasive in the moral life, though it is often done without much recognition that theory is playing a part in the deliberations. Whenever we try to understand what a moral property such as rightness or goodness means, or justify a moral principle or other norm, or resolve conflict between two credible principles, or explain why a particular action or practice is right or wrong, or evaluate the plausibility of specific moral intuitions or assumptions, we do moral theorizing. In fact, we must theorize if we are to make headway in such investigations. We must stand back from the situation at hand and try to grasp the larger pattern that only theory can reveal. Moral theories that concentrate on right and wrong actions are known as theories of obligation (or duty) or simply as theories of right action. From the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant comes what is widely regarded as probably the most sophisticated and influential deontological theory ever devised. It is the very antithesis of utilitarianism, holding that right actions do not depend in the least on consequences, the maximization of utility, the production of happiness, or the desires and needs of human beings. For Kant, the core of morality consists of following a rational and universally applicable moral rule and doing so solely out of a sense of duty. An action is right only if it conforms to such a rule, and we are morally praiseworthy only if we perform it for duty's sake alone. In Kant's system, all our moral duties are expressed in the form of categorical imperatives. An imperative is a command to do something; it is categorical if it applies without exception and without regard for particular needs or purposes. A categorical imperative says, "Do this - regardless." In contrast, a hypothetical imperative is a command to do something if we want to achieve particular aims, as in "If you want good pay, work hard." The moral law, then, rests on absolute directives that do not depend on the contingencies of desire or utility. Kant says that through reason and reflection we can derive our duties from a single moral principle, what he calls the categorical imperative. He formulates in different ways, the first one being 'act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." For Kant, our actions have logical implications - they imply general rules, or maxims, of conduct. The question is whether the maxim corresponding to an action is a legitimate moral law. To find out, we must ask if we could consistently will that the maxim become a universal law applicable to everyone - that is, if everyone could consistently act on the maxim and we would be willing to have them do so. If we could do this, then the action described by the maxim is morally permissible; if not, it is prohibited. Thus moral laws embody two characteristics thought to be essential to morality itself: universality and impartiality. To show us how to apply this formulation of the categorical imperative to a specific situation, Kant uses the example of a lying promise. Suppose you need to borrow money from a friend, but you know that you could never pay her back. So to get the loan, you decide to lie, falsely promising to repay the money. To find out if such a lying promise is morally permissible, Kant would have you ask if you could consistently will the maxim of your action to become universal law, to ask, in effect, "What would happen if everyone did this?" The maxim is "Whenever you need to borrow money you cannot pay back, make a lying promise to repay." So what would happen if everyone in need of a loan acted in accordance with this maxim? People would make lying promises to obtain loans, but everyone would also know that such promises were worthless, and the custom of loaning money promises would disappear. So willing the maxim to be universal law involves a contradiction: If everyone made lying promises, promise-making itself would be no more; you cannot consistently will the maxim to become a universal law.Therefore, your duty is clear: Making a lying promise to borrow money is morally wrong. The natural law theory is the view that right actions are those that conform to moral standards discerned in nature and human reason. Undergirding this doctrine is the belief that all of nature ( including humankind) is teleological, that it is somehow directed toward particular goals or ends, and that humans achieve their highest good when they follow their true, natural inclinations leading to these goals or ends. There is, in other words, a way things are - natural processes and functions that accord with the natural law - and how things are shows how things should be. The prime duty of humans, then, is to guide their lives toward these natural ends, acting in accordance with the requirements of natural law. Implicit in all this is the element of rationality. According to the natural law theory, humans are rational beings empowered by reason to perceive the workings of nature, determine the natural inclinations of humans, and recognize the implications therein for morally permissible actions. That is, reason enables human beings to ascertain the moral law implicit in nature and to apply that objective, universal standard to their lives. Natural law theory does not provide a relevant moral rule covering every situation, but it does offer guidance through general moral principles, some of which are thought to apply universally and absolutely (admitting no exceptions). Of course, moral principles or rules often conflict, demanding that we fulfill two or more incompatible duties. We may be forced, for example, to either tell a lie and save people's lives or tell the truth and cause their death - but we cannot do both. Some moral theories address these problems by saying that all duties are prima facie: When duties conflict, we must decide which ones override the others. Theories that posit absolute duties - natural law theory being a prime example - often do not have this option. Among other resources, it uses the doctrine of double effect. This principle affirms that performing a bad action to bring about a good effect is never morally acceptable but that performing a good action may sometimes be acceptable even if it produces a bad effect. More precisely, the principle says it is always wrong to intentionally perform a bad action to produce a good effect, but doing a good action that results in a bad effect may be permissible if the bad effect is not intended although foreseen. In the former case, a bad thing is said to be directly intended; in the latter, a bad thing is not directly intended. Contractarianism refers to moral theories based on the idea of a social contract, or agreement, among individuals for mutual advantage. The most influential contemporary form of contratarianism is that of philosopher John Rawls, who uses the notion of a social contract to generate and defend moral principles governing how members of a society should treat one another. He asks, in effect, by what principles should a just society structure itself to ensure a fair distribution of rights, duties, and advantages of social operation. His answer is that the required principles - essentially principles of justice - are those that people would agree to under hypothetical conditions that ensure fair and unbiased choices. He believes that if the starting point for the social contract is fair - if the initial conditions and bargaining process for producing the principles are fair - then the principles themselves will be just and will define the essential makeup of a just society. At the hypothetical starting point - what Rawls calls the "original position" - a group of normal, self-interested, rational individuals come together to choose the principles that will determine their basic rights and duties and their share o society's benefits and burdens. But to ensure that their decisions are as fair and impartial as possible, they must meet behind a metaphorical "veil of ignorance." Behind the veil, no one knows his own social or economic status, class, race, sex, abilities, talents, level of intelligence, or psychological makeup. Since the participants are rational and self-interested but ignorant of their situation in society, they will not agree to principles that will put any particular group at a disadvantage because they very might well be members of that group. They will choose principles that are unbiased and nondiscriminatory. The assumption is that since the negotiating conditions in the original position are fair, the agreements reached will also be fair - the principles will be just. Virtue ethics is a radically different kind of moral theory: It focuses on the development of virtuous character. According to virtue ethics, character is key to the moral life, for it is from virtuous character that moral conduct and values arise. Virtues are ingrained dispositions to act by standards of excellence, so having the proper virtues leads as a matter of course to right actions properly motivated. The central task in morality, then, is not knowing and applying principles but being and becoming a good person, someone possessing the virtues that define moral excellence. In virtue ethics, someone determines right action not by consulting rules but by asking what a truly virtuous person would do or whether an action would accord with the relevant virtues. Aristotle is the primary inspiration for contemporary versions of virtue ethics. For him, as for many modern virtue ethicists, the highest goal of humanity is the good life, or "human flourishing" (what Aristotle calls eudaimonia, or happiness), and developing virtues is the way to achieve such a rich and satisfying life. Thus virtues are both the traits that make us good persons and the dispositions that enable us to live good lives. The good life is the virtuous life. Unlike many theories of obligation, virtue ethics asks us to do more than just observe minimal moral rules - it insists that we aspire to moral excellence, that we cultivate the virtues that will make us better persons. In this sense, virtue ethics is goal-directed, not rule-guided. The moral virtues - benevolence, honesty, loyalty, compassion, fairness, and the like - are ideals that we must strive to attain. (There are also nonmoral virtues such as patience, prudence, and reasonableness, which need not concern us here.) By the lights of Aristotle and modern virtue ethicists, character is now static. We can become more virtuous by reflecting on our lives and those of others, practicing virtuous behavior, or imitating moral exemplars such as Ghandi, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Socrates. We can - and should - be better than we are. The ethics of care is a distinctive moral perspective that arose out of feminist concerns and grew to challenge core elements of most other moral theories. Generally those theories emphasize abstract principles, general duties, individual rights, impartial judgments, and deliberative reasoning. But the ethics of care shifts the focus to the unique demands of specific situations and to the virtues and feelings that are central to close personal relationships - empathy, compassion, love, sympathy, and fidelity. The heart of the moral life is feeling for and caring for those with whom you have a special, intimate connection - an approach that especially resonates with physicians and nurses. Early on, the ethics of care drew inspiration from the notion that men and women have dramatically different styles of moral decision-making, with men seizing on principles, duties, and rights, and women homing in on personal relationships, caring, and empathy. This difference was highlighted in research done by psychologist Carol Gilligan. Typically men recognize an ethic of justice and rights, she says, and women are guided by an ethic of compassion and care. In her view the latter is as legitimate as the former, and both have their place in ethics. Other research has suggested that the differences between men and women in styles of moral thinking may not be as great as Gilligan suggests. But the credibility of the empirical claim does not affect the larger insight that the research seemed to some writers to suggest: Caring is an essential part of morality, and the most influential theories have not fully taken it into account. These points get support along several lines. First, virtue ethics reminds us that virtues are part of moral life. If caring is viewed as a virtue - in the form of compassion, empathy, or kindness - then caring too must be an element of morality. A moral theory then must be deficient if it made no room for care. Feminist ethics is an approach to morality aimed at advancing women's interests and correcting injustices inflicted on women through social oppression and inequality. It is defined by a distinctive focus on these issues, rather than by a set of doctrines or common ideology among feminists, many of whom may disagree on the nature of feminist ethics or on particular moral issues. A variety of divergent perspectives have been identified as examples of feminist ethics, including the ethics of care. Feminist ethics generally downplays the role of moral principles and traditional ethical concepts, insisting instead that moral reflection must take into account and social realities - the relevant social practices, relationships, institutions, and power arrangements. Many feminists think that the familiar principles of Western ethics - autonomy, utility, freedom, equality, and so forth - are too broad and abstract to help us make moral judgments about specific persons who are enmeshed in concrete social situations. Theoretical autonomy does not mean much if it is so thoroughly undermined in reality. Many theorists in feminist ethics also reject the traditional concept of the moral agent. Though all adherents of feminist ethics support liberation and equality for women, they disagree on how these values apply to specific moral issues. Most support unimpeded access to abortion, but some do not. Kant states, as my concern here is with moral philosophy, I limit the question suggested to this: Whether it is not of the utmost necessity to construct a pure moral philosophy, perfectly cleared of everything which is only empirical, and which belongs to anthropology? for that such a philosophy must be possible is evident from the common idea of duty and of the moral laws. Everyone must admit that if a law is to have moral force, i.e., to be the basis of an obligation, it must carry with it absolute necessity; that, for example, the precept, "Thou shall not lie," is not valid for men alone, as if other rational beings had no need to observe it; and so with all the other moral laws properly so called; that, therefore, the basis of obligation must not be sought in the nature of man, or in the circumstances in the world in which he is placed, but a priori simply in the conception of pure reason; and although any other precept which is founded on principles of mere experience may be in certain respects universal, yet in as far as it rests even in the least degree on an empirical basis, perhaps only as to motive, such a precept, while it may be a practical rule, can never be called a moral law... Kant goes on to state, nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a Good Will. Intelligence, with, judgment, and the other talents of the mind, however they may be named, or courage, resolution, perseverance, as qualities of temperament, are undoubtedly good and desirable in many respects; but these gifts of nature may also become extremely bad and mischievous if the will which is to make use of them, and which, therefore, constitutes what is called character, is not good. It is the same with the gifts of fortune. Power, riches, honour, even health, and the general well-being and contentment with one's conditions which is called happiness, inspired pride, and often presumption, if there is not a good will o correct the influence of these on the mind, and with this also to rectify the whole principle of acting, and adapt it to its end. The sight of a being who is not adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will, enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an impartial rational spectator. Thus a good will appears to constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness. There are even some qualities which are of service to this good will itself, and may facilitate its action, yet which have no intrinsic unconditional value, but always presuppose a good will, and this qualifies the esteem that we justly have for them, and does not permit us to regard them as absolutely good. Moderation in the affections and passions, self-control, and calm deliberation are not only good in many respects, but even seem to constitute part of the intrinsic worth of the person but they are from deserving to be called good without qualification, although they have been so unconditionally praised by he ancients. For without the principles of a good will, they may become extremely bad; and the coolness of a villain not only makes him far from dangerous, but also directly makes him more abominable in our eyes than he would have been without it. A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition, that is, it is good in itself, and considered by itself to be esteemed much higher than all that can be brought about by it in favor of any inclination, nay, even of the sum-total of all inclinations. Even if it should happen that, owing to special disfavor of fortune, or the niggardly provision of a step-motherly nature, this will should wholly lack powder to accomplish its purpose, if with its greatest efforts it should yet achieve nothing, and there should remain only the good will (not, to be sure, a mere wish, but the summoning of all means in our power), then, like a jewel, it would still shine by its own light, as a thing which has its whole value in itself. Its usefulness or fruitlessness can neither add to nor take away anything from this value. It would be, as it were, only the setting to enable us to handle it the more conveniently in common commerce, or to attract to it the attention of those who are not yet connoisseurs, but not to recommend it to true connoisseurs, or to determine its value...