Nowadays there are a number of theories explaining us the most favorable mode of life, outlook and attitudes towards the society. In other words, there are many philosophical theories, which have considerable theoretical basis, but seem irrelevant nowadays. The author of the present essay is going to discuss some of them.
Consequentialism is the principle, created by Scheffler and Darwall, that what eventually happens in assessing acts or policies are the consequences of choosing certain action rather than another. This doctrine is teleological in nature, since it concentrates on goals and outcomes of actions, stressing the results rather than means. In brief, no specific individual (in other words, agent) is seen to be more or less important than other. As for me, this theory neglects human personality as an ‘executor’, who uses various means – from honest to completely deceptive ones.
Cultural relativism is the doctrine which claims that human’s personal principles and activities make sense to the extent of his/her culture. Von Humboldt defines culture as “the totality of the mental and physical reactions and activities that characterize the behavior of the individuals composing a social group collectively and individually in relation to their natural environment, to other groups, to members of the group itself, and of each individual to himself” (answers.com, 2005). As for, globalization taking place in the contemporary world, changes these cultural discourses, and people, traveling more and more around the world, are becoming less dependant on their native culture.
Egoism, in terms of ethics is the doctrine which claims that the results and motives of human actions should bring some good to an agent. Egoism stresses on mercantile side of human nature, viewing altruistic actions as containing hidden mercantile sense. To my view, this theory doesn’t take into account the fact that humans are irrational creatures and might have extremely strong emotions such as love, affection, attachment, which force them to act unselfishly.
Absolutism “is the position that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act” (ibid). Absolutists divide actions into two categories: moral and immoral acts, but human behaviour is extremely controversial and some acts can be viewed as moral and immoral at the same time, since the scale of values varies from person to person.
Emotivists state that ethical statements (such as ‘Killing is wrong’) need no substantiation, since they are themselves the expressions of individual’s emotional reaction, desire and reluctance, satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Emotivists need no facts, which would verify certain statement, because the statements are conveyed by people themselves and thus these ethical principles are seen as individual rules. On the other hand, emotions are extremely unstable and may lead to fatal consequences.
To my view, pluralism is most suitable and relevant nowadays, in terms of existing situation in the world. Pluralism holds that our world is understandable in terms of many ideas and doctrines, which can be sometimes interwoven. Pluralism approves that human development is connected with dynamically changing philosophical principles and values, which also experience some kind of ‘maturation’. Furthermore, it looks like pluralism ‘reconciles’ waves of philosophic thought and finds consensus between opposing theories. As for me, pluralism is a logical background for democracy, which is now seen as a highest stage of the development.
1) Philosophical theories, 2005. http://www.answers.com
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