Why needed

 Information scarce

 Scientific investigation

 Single principle theorists

 Many moralities theorists

 Drop moral philosophy
 and develop moral
 science theorists

 20th century emotivists





 Criteria for a model


 General systems theory

 Emergent ethical theory



 Key points

For the future


From the Historical Collection of the work of Dr. Clare W. Graves of William R. Lee, March 2001




There are those who will say that these arguments are ridiculous and this they will support by pointing to the libraries laden down with tomes on ethics. Surely, one must agree, that there is no shortage of information as to what people feel is ethical behavior or feel about ethical behavior, but one must ask how much of this information is more than argument, opinion or just a priority presumptive? An examination of this literature supported Bonnerís statement that there is a dearth of information about ethical behavior which is based upon systematic research. And an investigation of this material suggested five reasons why systematic research based information is scarce.

    1. Many believe ethical behavior cannot or should not be

    2. explored scientifically.


    3. For some reasons investigators have chosen to study limited

    4. aspects of ethical behavior.


    5. Some believe, as just noted, that they know what is ethical

    6. behavior and thus believe that the only task in ethics is to

      learn how to produce the ethically mature person.


    7. Most theories presented are not open to systematic testing

    8. or even to systematic comparison.


    9. Models which exist restrict full and broad, let the chips fall where
      they may, types of investigation.

For centuries many have believed that ethical behavior is not open to scientific investigation. This belief exists today and even in the most fertile of scientific minds. Ethical behavior is and has been to many a "verboten" scientific area because these people place it beyond the realm of man and in the realm of metaphysics or the realm of God. This position was well represented recently when a physicist friend of mine asked: "Are you certain this is a proper field of study for psychologists? Are you not invading Godís realm?" To this a psychologist has but one answer. Psychologists study behavior and one form of behavior is ethical behavior. Much of the research that has been done has been limited to narrow regions of ethical behavior. One thinks, herein, of the Hartshone-May "Studies in Deceit" and the work of Piaget. Other research work has been directed toward uncovering the principles for developing, from a priori assumptions the ethically mature person. Again we point out that Ligonís Union College Character Research Project is representative of the latter type of research. These, and other not mentioned studies, suggest that investigators have been either disinterested in broad systematic explorations of ethical behavior or have been, for some reasons, unwilling, unable, or reluctant to design broad studies which would allow the facts regarding ethical behavior to fall where they may.


There are so many diverse theories of ethical behavior that it is doubtful if anyone can bring order to all that have been presented. Yet, if we are to learn from them so as to develop more adequate models, more representative theories, some order has to be impressed on them. The criterion chosen for ordering is dissimilarity, a criterion which when applied parcels out at least four kinds of markedly dissimilar theories.


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