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Ethics comes from the Greek word “ta
ethickas” – means having to do with good
 Ethics is more interested in the good that
humans tend toward. Ex. Include happiness
and freedom
 Ethics is also interested in that search for
the good
Morality comes from the Latin word
‘moralitas’ - means having to do with the
customs, manners, and habits shaping
human life
 Morality is translating that search for the
good in the way we conduct our everyday
Ethics guides morality
– it gives us the vision
of our action (we can’t
paint without our
Ethics gives us an
understanding of the
essential principles
underlying our activity
Example: Music
Ethics is understanding the musical theory,
reading music, understanding technique
Morality is playing music, hitting the right
notes, performing
People can still play music without musical
You may/may not make good decisions in a
musical arrangement or performance
What does Ethics give us?
Our society is filled with many norms, duties
and many important laws and
 The purpose of ethics is to find the highest
possible good in various circumstances and
under certain conditions (i.e. self defense
vs. Thou shall not kill)
 Goods beat out the rules and norms
 If the rules don’t contribute to that highest
good - the rules need to be reconsidered
4 Types of Ethical Experiences:
#1 The Scream – The Personal Response
There is a scream from someone in trouble
 There is a spontaneous decision to help
 There is a drive to move and act – an
automatic response
Video Clip: Spider Man 3
4 Types of Ethical Experiences:
#2 The Beggar – The Experience of the Other
This can happen when you are face-to-face with
another person
You are responsible to the other
The other’s face takes hostage and elicits a
responsibility from you (can become guilt)
The face stays with you until you decide – it causes an
May not always begin this way
– there are a number of
emotions and many
questions you ask yourself
Video Clip: The Fisher King
4 Types of Ethical Experiences:
#3 “I have to...” – The Obligation Experience
There is an intrinsic duty (i.e. To follow parent’s
 If you choose to ignore the ethical response, the
unrest stays with you
 The order or wish from an authority figure can
invade our consciousness, change our
ethical framework and demand a response
Video Clip: Trailer for Grey’s Anatomy
‘Tainted Obligation’
4 Types of Ethical Experiences:
#4 “This isn’t fair!” – The Contrast Experience
One has a built-in capacity of what the world
should look like
 These experiences lead us to the thought of
“That is not fair!”
 This is a response to a terrifying event that
contrasts greatly with how we think humans
should be acting
 Can cause a change that opposes this
Video Clip: Hotel Rwanda
4 Types of Ethical Experiences
It is important for us to understand that there is
no real ethical theory
 Our Catholic faith hopes that we use our
conscience and search for the good in every
ethical dilemma we face
 What one person believes is duty, guilt,
intolerable contrast, etc. will be different for
every person in every circumstance
Ethical Relativism
Any view that denies the existences
of a single universally applicable
moral standard. In other words,
morality is “relative” from person
to person.
Ethical Absolutism
 The view that affirms the existences of a single correct and universally
applicable moral standard
Moral Absolute/Universal
 Believe that morals are inherent in the laws
of the universe, the nature of humanity, and
the will or character of God, or some other
fundamental source
 The regard actions as essentially moral or
 For example, slavery, dictatorships, child
abuse is absolutely immoral regardless of the
beliefs and goals of a culture that engages in
these practices
 They believe that moral questions can be
judged regardless of the context of the act
1. Love and pursuit of wisdom by
intellectual means and moral selfdiscipline.
2. Investigation of the nature,
causes, or principles of reality,
knowledge, or values, based on
logical reasoning rather than
empirical methods.
3. A system of thought based on or
involving such inquiry.
Catholic Approach to Ethics
There is a philosophical understanding of
the human person as ethical.
 Tradition as the “Book of Nature”.
 We have an innate (born with) search for
the good.
Judeo-Christian Tradition – Search for Good
 Sacred scripture is the foundation in our
understanding of what is good and
understanding ourselves at ethical beings
(Remember Grade 10 – What does it mean to be human?)
How do these goods impact our lives?
 Revelation and Reason
 Good of freedom, of love, of justice, of love
of community, of forgiveness