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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

(p.23) 2 Main Features of Some Western Ethical Theories
Consequences of Compassion

Charles Goodman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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