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The Table of Ancient Ethics and Modern Morality – A Comparison

This self-explanatory table presents a simple but instructive comparison of the defining features of thestereotypes of ancient ethics and modern morality (for a similar table see Bayertz 2005: 117).

No. Criteria Ancient Ethics Modern Morality
1. Basic Question What is the good life? What is happiness and human flourishing? What should one/I do? The question of the good life plays, at best, a sub-ordinate role.
2. What is the Object of Concern? Self-centred: The person’s own interests dominate. Other-related: The interests of other people are most central.
3. What is most important? Pursuit of Goals: Personal perfection, personal projects, and personal relationships. Universal moral obligations & rules: Individuals should seek for impartiality (and hence they alienate themselves from their own personal projects).
4. What is examined? Agent: Most important are the acting person and his/her character (agent-centred ethics). Actions & Consequences: Most important is the correctness of the action & consequence (action & consequences centred ethics).
5. Central Notions Virtues: aretaic notions for example good, excellence, virtue (aretaic language). Norms: prescriptive notions concerning rules, duties, obligations for example must, should (deontic language).
6. Rationality is seen as? Rationality is seen as a capacity of context-sensitive insight and decision-making. Rationality is “mainly” seen as the capacity to (rationally) deduce inferences from abstract propositions.
7. The Goals of human actions The goals of human actions are objective (notion of happiness: for example thinking, pleasure). The goals of human actions are individually defined by the people (subjectivism). No God, no nature.
8. Scope of Morality Adult male citizens with full citizenship. Men, women, children, animals, environment.
9. Individual and Community The individual is in unity with the community (harmony). The individual and the community are rather disconnected from each other.

Table 1: Ancient Ethics and Modern Morality


Date: 2014-12-29; view: 704


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D. The Up-shot | Ancient Ethics and Modern Morality – The Main Differences
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