Philosophical Perspectives on Religion, Ethical and Moral Values (4)

Ethics in History & Culture

The ethics of the ancient people are tied to their philosophy of life. Ethical ideas systematically defend and justify the moral standards and values placed on actions, decisions, and institutions. An ethical matter raises the question of the righteousness or unrighteousness (rightness or wrongness) of an action performed voluntarily.

Maclntyre’s (1981, 1985) work has been highly influential in the contemporary movement in moral philosophy known as ‘virtue ethics.’ In some aspects, this is a revival of the Aristotelian conception that stressed how the virtues necessary for a fulfilled life require training and habituation within a particular moral culture. Maclntyre (1985, 187-188) defines the virtues as qualities necessary to achieve the goods ‘internal to practices’; these include arts, sciences, politics, family life, and ‘any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity’; involving ‘standards of excellence.’ Maclntyre’s virtues are required to sustain households and communities where humanity can seek good together. He insists that moral identity is necessarily shaped by tradition.

Ayantayo (2017, 4) describes three significant ethical concerns:

  1. What do actions and intentions mean?
  2. What constitutes a good or bad action, and who determines what constitutes a right or wrong action?
  3. Why is there concern for the type of action or intention a person performed or muted at one time or the other?

Human action or intention is performed voluntarily; they are not performed under duress, coercion, force, and pressure (Lillie, 1961, 1-2). When it comes to ethical issues, every person is constantly confronted with two courses of action: good and evil, from which one willingly chooses.

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