Practical Ethics and Moral Philosophy

4 April 2015
This paper compares and contrasts the ideas put forth in the works of two modern philosophers, James Rachels and Anthony Weston, focusing specifically on their views of ethics and how it impacts on our lives.

The following paper explores the question “What is the right way to behave” by looking at the many moral theories that try to conceive a universal set of rules to follow regardless of the circumstances. The writer examines how modern moral philosopher James Rachels addresses the problems with classic theories and tries to reconstruct Utilitarianism in order to address his values. This paper then compares Rachel’s views to Anthony Weston’s who abandons the need for moral theory and points out the value of reformulating the questions that moral theory is meant to address.
“Both James Rachels and Anthony Weston are philosophers interested in exploring the concept of Ethics and how it impacts our lives. We all are faced with decisions about how to act and there are numerous ways for us to come to a decision. Rachels approach is systematic in exploring various ways to decide what is right and wrong. All of these theories he puts forth are imperfect because they are effective only in select circumstances. Rachels believes that there are some universal truths that permeate Ethics; therefore, he favors theories that incorporate aspects of his “Minimum Conception of Morality”. Weston on the other hand does not address universal truth. Instead he sees Ethics as a study in problem solving. In his examples of decision making, he steers away from rigid right and wrong answers to questions of morality. Instead he encourages the reader to be more creative in discovering other options than the ones we are first inclined to see. Both philosophers agree that Ethics requires us to think for ourselves and that there are real problems to be solved but how they go about solving them is very different.”
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