Why needed

 Information scarce

 Scientific investigation

 Single principle theorists

 Many moralities theorists

 Drop moral philosophy
 and develop moral
 science theorists

 20th century emotivists

 Mechanical

 Phylogenic

 Genetic

 Intentional

 Criteria for a model

 Organismic/Personalistic

 General systems theory

 Emergent ethical theory

 Stages

 Thema

 Key points

For the future

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

 

1959

 

Single Principle Ethical Theorists

  

Each of these theorists formulates his principle of morality and each attempts to distinguish between right and wrong with reference to that principle. Those who have contributed single principle or absolutistic ethical theories are legion, to mention one would only be to slight another. In general the theorists dominated thought about ethical behavior up through the eighteenth century and also into much of the nineteenth century. 

 

The problem with the single principle theories is that they are carefully reasoned opinions but are, by and large, not open to research investigators and thus are not open to disproof. 

 

The Many Moralities Theorists

 

The representative theorist here is of course, Nietzsche. The difference between the Nietzsche-like theorists and the single-principle theorists is clear and distinct. The many moralities theorists insist that there are many moralities which are actually mores and not morals. They are mores not moralities because they are relative to culture.

 

But the difference between the multiple morality theorists and the single principle theorists involve more than this one point. The multiple moralities theorists see a different approach to the problem of understanding moral behavior. Their problem is not what is the principle of morality, but rather, what are the answers to two questions. What is the natural history of each morality? And, are there commonalities from one set or mores or ethics to another set or mores or ethics? 

 

In a scientific sense those who share the Nietzsche position have advanced over the single principle theorists. The multiple moralities position allows for empirical findings, for the possibility of disproof and it allows the possibility of prediction. Yet, from another angle the Nietzsche-like position presents problems. It argues that moral judgments are not fact but only feelings which are in turn symptoms of most valuable facts concerning cultures. This position may lead and mislead at one and the same time. The many moralities theorists see that ethics are symptomatic but they may lead us to the wrong conclusion as to what it is they are symptomatic of. Furthermore, these theorists have not gone on to design models consistent with their position; they have not gone on to draw hypotheses which could stem from such a model; they have not gone on to extensively test their hypothesized position and they have not gone on to reconstruct their theory as new evidence has come to be.

 

 

<<back  next>>


Copyright 2001 NVC Consulting