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Consequences of CompassionAn Interpretation and Defense of Buddhist Ethics$
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Charles Goodman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195375190

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195375190.001.0001

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Main Features of Some Western Ethical Theories

Main Features of Some Western Ethical Theories

Chapter:
(p.23) 2 Main Features of Some Western Ethical Theories
Source:
Consequences of Compassion
Author(s):

Charles Goodman (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195375190.003.0003

This chapter presents basic features of the three main families of Western ethical theories: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. The main task is to clarify how to distinguish consequentialism in general from virtue ethics in general. Virtue ethicists typically assert eudaimonism is a close connection between virtue and the agent’s own flourishing, whereas consequentialists deny this. Moreover, consequentialist theories endorse agent-neutrality, whereas virtue ethics is agent-relative. Consequentialism is appealing, but faces damaging objections; some of these can be blocked by switching from direct consequentialism to indirect consequentialism. The three families of theories offer different responses to intrinsic value: consequentialism seeks to promote it, deontology to respect it, and virtue ethics to embody it. The chapter discusses the definition of hedonism and presents alternative accounts of well-being.

Keywords:   consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, eudaimonism, agent-neutrality, indirect consequentialism, intrinsic value, hedonism, well-being

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