Click this link to access my writing on the Nature of Ethics





  1. Morals: deeply held convictions about right and wrong
  2. Ethics 1: reasoning process used to justify moral positions
  3. Ethics 2: standards within a specific community which that individuals are held to
  4. Moral: holding to someone’s specific standard of right and wrong
  5. Immoral: veering off of someone’s specific standard of right and wrong
  6. Amoral: seen as outside of the realm of morality
  7. Illegal: veering off of a specific statute or case law rule
  8. Legal: holding to / not veering off a specific statute or case law
  9. Autoarchic morals: moral standards that originate within oneself/humanity
  10. Heterarchic morals: moral standards that come from outside oneself/humanity, i.e. from someone/something else
  11. Sources Of Morals: God, natural law, religious texts, parents, society, values, presuppositions – all applied through logic
  12. Moral absolutes: moral standards that are deemed correct no matter when or where they are applied
  13. Relativism/pluralism: there are no right or wrong positions, all competing positions are equally good and valuable
  14. Absolutism/Universalism: there is a right position, and all other competing positions that disagree with the right position is wrong


  1. Logic: principles of correct thinking
  2. Argument: a set of statements with a reason/conclusion structure
  3. Category Error: attempting to put something into a category which it logically cannot fit
  4. Analytic Truth: a position that is the case simply by definition
  5. Enthymeme: an argument that has one of its premises stated and the other is left unstated (implied)
  6. Premise – a reason, technically, a reason in a formal argument
  7. Imply: to leave something unstated which logically needs to be present
  8. Infer: (literally – to carry in) to fill in what someone has left unstated
  9. Deductive argument: an argument that moves from (more) general premises to (less general) specific conclusions
  10. Minor Term – the complete subject of a categorical deductive argument
  11. Major Term – the complete predicate of a categorical deductive argument
  12. Middle Term – the term that appears in the explicit premise that does not appear in the conclusion; the predicate of the minor premise; the subject of the major premise
  13. Distribute – to add a adjective to a term so as to extend its number to the entire set of those things, e.g. all, every, each, any, no, none, etc.
  1. Inductive argument: an argument that moves from specific test cases or examples to a general conclusion
  2. Validity: the quality of an argument when it is structured correctly and tus the conclusion follows from the premises
  3. Descriptive statement: a sentence that talks about reality
  4. Prescriptive statement: a sentence that tells how thing should / ought to be
  5. Truth (correspondence theory): the condition when descriptive statements match up with reality
  6. Truth (coherence theory): the condition when statements within a system of thought match up / do not contradict with each other
  7. Reality: that which exists even when no one is there to perceive it
  8. Sound Argument: the quality of an argument when it is valid and all the statements are true
  9. Sound 1: vibrations within a certain range of frequencies that auditory organs can perceive
  10. Sound 2: the process of an auditory organ receiving perceptible vibrations within a certain range of frequencies
  11. Relativism/Pluralism: a belief that there exist NO correct answer to a certain issue and therefore all positions are correct/ ok; there is no wrong answer
  12. Universalism/Absolutism: a belief that there IS a correct answer to a specific issue and that any and all positions that are contrary to that position are wrong; there is a right and wrong answer
  13. Venn Diagram – a graphic representation of an argument, translating the premises from sentences to sets, attributed originally to a mathematician named Venn



  1. Teleological: argues for a moral conclusion based on the conclusion/outcome
  2. Deontological: argues for a moral conclusion based on the essence or origi
  3.  Naturalistic: argues to moral conclusions without reference to 1) god; 2) a spiritual realm; 3) life after death; or 4) man’s superiority to the other animals
  4. Idealistic Ethics: argues to moral conclusions using reference to either 1) god; 2) a spiritual realm; 3) life after death; or 4) man’s superiority to the other animals





Naturalistic Greek Schools-  (note: one question that all the early Greeks were concerned with was, “how can something stay the same when it is always changing)

  • Classical Naturalistic Schools
  1. Sophism: Everything changes, including moral standards, hence, there is no eternal unchanging good
  2. Cyrenaicism: live for the pleasures of the moment
  3. Hedonism: live for the most intense pleasures of the moment
  4. Epicureanism: live for the pleasures of a lifetime – spread them out over time
  5. Cynicism: since humans are animals, we should live like them, and not use artificial moral standards imposed by society


– Modern Naturalistic Schools-

  1. Ethical Relativism (modern version of Sophism): all morals are relative.
  2. Ethical Egoism: whatever you think is right, is right, and is for everyone else.
  3. Pure Conseqentialism: nothing is morally right or wrong in itself; things are judged based on the outcome.
  4. Utilitarianism/Least Harm Theory: whatever brings the greatest benefit to the most people is morally right / whatever brings the least harm to the least people is morally right
  5. Rule Based Morality: whatever those in authority over you say to do is morally right
  6. Pragmatism: whatever works to brings about your goal is morally right
  7. Nihilism: whatever brings about the survival and improvement of the herd = race, nation, tribe, etc, is morally right
  8. Existentialism: whatever is done on the basis of free, unhindered rational choices is morally right
  9. Innocence By Comparison Theory: whatever can juxtaposed against a worse act is morally justifiable
  10. WGACA Theory: there is a non-divine force in the universe (a natural law) that ensures that no bad deed goes unpunished and no good deed goes unrewarded.



  • Non-Religious Idealistic Schools


  Idealistic Greek Schools-

  1. Plato’s Theory: actions/attitudes are morally right in the physical realm when they match up with their ideal counterpart in the spiritual realm
  2. Virtue Ethics (Aristotle’s view – also known as Nichomachean Ethics): things/people are morally right when they are doing well that which they were created to do, i.e. fulfilling their purpose

 Modern Idealistic Schools-

  1. Karmic Justice Theory: Karma determines what is right and wrong – and enforces judgment.
  2. Divine Command Theory: morals are determined by god’s prescriptive and proscriptive commands.
  3. Divine Spark Theory: all people have a divine spark of god’s life in them. As god is the source of morality, when one wants to identify if an act is morally right or wrong, all you need to do is get in touch with your divine side.
  4. WGACA Theory: there is a moral energy in the universe and this energy will ensure that all acts will be justly recompensed
  5. Kant’s Theory: all humans are born with an innate category of right and wrong. Individual experiences determine what is right or wrong for that individual. The test for morality is to ask, “what would be the outcome if all people were to do this certain act?” If the result would be positive, then the act is moral; if the result would be negative, then the act would be immoral.


 – Religious Idealistic Schools


  1. Eastern Religions
    1. Hinduism
      1. Classical
      2. Modern
    2. Buddhism
    3. Taoism
    4. Confucianism


  1. Western Religions
    1. Judaism
    2. Christianity
      1. Classical
      2. Roman Catholic
      3. Protestant

        C. Islam

  1. Koranic Islam
  2. Radical Islam


V. Social Ethical Schools

  1. Social Contract Theory: morals are determine by the agreed upon responsibilities that each society expects from its citizens
  2. Cultural Relativism: there are no universal moral standards; each society determines its own morality.
  3. Ethics of Care: The moral theory known as “ the ethics of care” implies that there is moral significance in the fundamental elements of relationships and dependencies in human life. Normatively, care ethics seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting the well-being of care-givers and care-receivers in a network of social relations.
  4. Ethics of Justice:


Deductive Arguments


Deductive Argument – an argument that moves from general premise to a specific

conclusion (or less general conclusion); there are three major types of deductive arguments:


  • Deductive Categorical: begins with a categorical sentence

Note: these have only one possible hidden premise, one which is constructed of the middle term and either then minor or major term (see 6 Steps to Correctly

  • Hypothetical Categorical: begins with a hypothetical sentence
  • Disjunctive Categorical: begins with a disjunctive sentence



Steps To Correctly Infer A Hidden Premise In A Categorical Deductive Argument

  • Identify the minor term
  • Identify the major term
  • Identify the middle term
  • Double all terms
  1. a) the minor term must be used as the complete subject of one of the premises
  2. b) the major term must be the complete predicate of the OTHER premise
  3. c) the middle term must be used once as a subject of a premise and once as the predicate of the other premise
  • Distribute the middle term that is in the subject position
  • Make sure hidden premise is grammatically correct


Inductive Arguments


Inductive Argument – an argument that moves from specific premises to a general conclusion (or less specific conclusion)

Necessary Conclusion – a conclusion that has to follow from the premises (ONLY possible with a deductive arguments, and only then, when they are valid)

Probable Conclusion – a conclusion to an inductive argument whose sample set comprises more that 50% of the set (the highest degree of certainty attainable with inductive arguments)

Possible Conclusion – a conclusion to an inductive argument whose sample set comprises 50% or less of the set

Safety Of Inference – (warrant) the criteria of how possible the conclusion follows in an inductive argument; this safety increases as the ratio of the sample set to the whole set increases in size, e.g. moves from 20% to 30% and is accomplished by either increasing the sample set size or decreasing the whole set size

3 Responses to Ethics

  1. Jim Shaul says:

    What happens when kindness is confused with weakness?

    The answer to the question depends on the motive of the person exercising kindness. Let us use the following scenario: Betty goes to feed the homeless, giving away free food and coffee. One of the homeless, Bob, gets some food, complains that Betty did not also give him money and clothing, and ends up complaining that the food (which he consumes completely) wasn’t all that good anyway. Let’s look at two scenarios:

    1) If Betty was motivated by nothing more than human kindness to other humans, then Bob’s response is irrelevant. She did what she came to do, and Bob’s response cannot undo what she did. If she continues to come and bring food even with Bob’s persistent negative attitude, she is still exercising kindness and receiving emotional reward.

    2) If Betty was motivated by human kindness plus she wanted recognition of that kindness, then the same response by Bob would be relevant as it did not allow Betty to receive recognition. If her need for recognition is greater than her need for showing human kindness, then she will have to make adjustments to what or how she does that, finding ways to have both motives satisfied.

    In scenario 1, Betty is being kind and not weak. She is doing what she intends and does not let others take that away from her. Even if Bob thinks he is taking advantage of Betty and some perceived weakness in her, Betty is not being weak.

    In scenario 2, Betty is being weak, as weakness is lacking the strength necessary to accomplish the task at hand. Betty is allowing others to interfere with her intentioned behavior and rewards.

    Clearly people looking on the outside may attribute weakness to Betty in scenario 1 if they judge that Bob is taking advantage of Betty. Betty may choose to defend herself or not.

  2. Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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