Ethics and Morals

1. Terms

Ethical Relativism

In ethical relativism, it is believed that there are no moral absolutes, and rights or wrongs. Rights or wrongs are supported by dependant social norms. Ethical relativism permits a wide range of cultures and practices. This permits people to adjust ethically as per the culture, awareness, and changes in the society. In this case, the rights or wrongs are all relative, and a group of people might think that something is right; this should not be assumed that it is right. Ethical relativism does not allow complete lay down of ethics.

Rights or wrongs are not complete, and must be determined by a grouping of emotions, experience, social like and logic.

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Altruism means the selfless concern about the welfare of other people. This is a virtue which is traditional, and a foundation of many religious traditions.

Altruism centers its interest on helping others, and doing well without reward. In this virtue, duty focuses on a moral commitment towards a specific individual, for example, a king or a government. Rosen argues that altruism is giving without expecting anything in return, or expecting recognition that might come along with the giving (28). Altruism is also known as an ethical doctrine which claims that individuals are morally made to help others.

Positive Rights

Positive rights permit or make actions; this may be a legal or moral character. Positive rights include police protection and society rights, for example: education, security, and access to health care facilities. Positive rights are associated with second and third making. Other people must provide positive rights in order for them to be satisfactorily – they require action from others. For example, in health care, a doctor must be hired to fulfill a right for health, but he is paid for it, and others must pay the bills.

Negative Rights

Negative rights means rights to not have bad things done to an individual or individuals. For example, right to freedom of speech or autonomy.

They enforce duties on other individuals to leave an individual alone to do things that concern that person, and do as he wishes, such as decision making. Negative rights include freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom to private property, and freedom from crime and slavery.


Utilitarianism is the thought that moral value of an action is decided by its importance in increasing utility, which is preference of satisfaction, and reducing negative utility. The moral importance of an action is determined by its results. Utilitarianism begins by looking at the potential rules of action. For a rule to be followed, an individual looks at what would happen first if the rule was followed. If that rule is observed, and gives more happiness, than otherwise, it is a rule that is considered to be followed at all times.

Psychological Egoism

Psychological egoism is the view that people are at all times motivated by self interest.

This means that when people decide to help others, they do so because of the benefits that they expect to get, either directly or indirectly, hence actions are encouraged by self interest. People have ulterior desires when they help others which may be ultimate desires that one has for something as an end, or extrinsic desires which entails pain avoidance and enjoyment desires.

2. An Issue of Long Standing

A nation is better with many altruistic individuals because it looks into the welfare of others, while the egoistic individual puts weight on people doing what concerns them individually rather than what concerns others. Egoistic individuality is seen as selfish, while altruistic is the opposite.

An egoistic individual acts or does something for his own interest, while an altruist focuses on helping others without getting or expecting anything in return, they are morally obliged to benefit others.

4. Moral Stances

Altruism moral stance is better because individuals look into the welfare of others without any selfish gain. Superstone argues that the advantages of altruism is that it helps people in situations which are out of their control, it can give people choices, and is beneficial for human species survival because they depend on each other (130). The disadvantages include the following: there is no personal responsibility; lowers the recipient because he/she has to depend on others; and can spread weakness throughout time.

On the contrary, psychological egoism should not be considered because people act on the motive of self interest, and they try to conceal their motive of helping others. Ethics egoism falls under psychological egoism, and it claims that people should seek their self interest first even if all persons might not do so. One disadvantage of this theory is that a person obtains knowledge of how to help others when he/she helps herself first, hence this is a selfish moral as compared to the others. In this regard, morals are rules or habits of conduct. They are the thought of what is good or bad and how one should behave. They may be formed within the societies, and become traditions for a period of time.

Moral rules may be different depending on the country or cultures. They are subjective occurrences since most of their rules do not follow advice or objective necessities. These rules are all about how to dress, where and how much one can cover his/her body, how to carry on speeches, what is appropriate to do and what is not, and so when judging peoples’ morals, its better to know where they come from because different societies have different moral beliefs which are deeply influenced by cultures.

Works Cited

Rosen, Frederick. Classical Utilitarianism from Hume to Mill. London: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Superstone, Anita. The Moral Skeptic. New York: Oxford University Press, 20092003. Print.


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