Character Ethics & Moral Quandries

Buddhist Ethics
 The craving for individuality (including
life, pleasure, power) produces suffering—
which is ended through virtue and meditation
 Being virtuous requires us to respect ourselves
and others, and to be patient, moderate, and to
maintain a clear and balanced mind
 Personal enlightenment consists not in merely
following rules but in seeing one’s place in the
Challenges to Ethical Theorizing:
 Morality is not a pursuit of abstract principles;
it is an attempt to give our lives order. This
requires that it assumes changeable values
 Instead of discussing morality in terms of acts
or judgments based on rules or principles, we
should focus on developing a good character
or maintaining personal relationships
Virtue Ethics
be moral means being sensitive to the
social and personal dimensions of life
“Rational” actions are not based on abstract
principles but on moderation (golden mean)
– Objection: this does not provide the specific
moral guidance needed in difficult situations
Feminist Ethics
Carol Gilligan
Nel Noddings
is not about abstract principles,
rights, or impartial (typically male) theories of
justice, but about caring for persons and
maintaining relationships (Gilligan)
The (feminine) virtue of caring for others in
specific situations is the basis upon which all
ethical thinking is grounded (Noddings)
 Different ethical theories highlight different
features of moral situations. For example:
Abortion: what makes a being morally
significant? whose interests need to be
considered? what impact will the decision
have on the development of one’s character?
Euthanasia: is life always better than death?
should consequences or how we would like
to be treated influence our judgments?