Tag Archives: ethics

Lesson 18: Ethical Philosophy


Key Terms for Ethics:

  • Ethics: standards of behaviour the society wants to set; system of principles of what’s right & wrong, coming from moral values/ internal senses
  • Ethical egoism: we should behave in a way that promotes our personal happiness, in the long run.
  • Altruism: we should sacrifice our personal interests for those of others
  • Utilitarianism: maximizing the overall benefit for everyone involved OR the proper course of action is one which maximises the overall “happiness”
  • Moral duty: we do something because we know we should do it/ regardless of the benefit to self
  • mens rea: guilty mind
  • actus rea: guilty actions
  • Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”


  • Consequentialism / Ultilitarianism
  • Situational Ethics
  • Duty Ethics / Emmanual Kant and the Categorical Imperative
  • Deontology
  • What according to utilitarianism makes an action morally right?
  • What is the difference between utilitarianism and hedonism?
  • What arguments can be used to defend utilitarianism?
  • Why does utilitarianism sometimes recommend actions that go against conventional morality?
  • How do we know what is morally correct?
  • Is knowledge of morals like or unlike other areas of knowledge?

More useful links:

Consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist theories of ethics

Categoricalism vs Consequentialism pdf

Useful ToK terms


Lesson 15 & 17: Ethics

Friday 24th January 2014


  • How can we prove or verify what is good action in complex situations;
  • To what extent are knowledge claims in ethics open to bias and other limitations;
  • What are the strengths and limitations of emotion and reason when deciding on courses of action.


What is the moral relativism?

  • is the idea that moral principles have no objective standard
  • is the individual moral practice where personal and situational encounters supposedly dictate the correct moral position. This may differ from one’s view of what is morally correct to another’s view despite looking at the same thing/being in the same scenario
  • Relativism can be described with the slogan= “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”


How to judge what is right and wrong? Do we judge…

  • By what is stated in the Law?
  • By what we’ve been taught by our parents/teachers/role models?
  • By what we’ve experienced?
  • By what we’ve seen first hand?

How do we act on what we think is right or wrong? What drives us to act: the motives VS the consequences

Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment

More useful links:

School ToK blog – Ethics

Ethics tok.net