Thinking about Ethics

Thinkingabout Ethics


Thinkingabout ethics

Differencebetween moral motivation and moral justification

Moral motivation can be described as the process through which peopledeliberate upon their decisions about what is ‘wrong or right, goodor bad.’ According to (Besser-Jones, 2008), such judgments tend tohave a hold on a person. These moral decisions motivate a person tosome extent to act in accordance with them although in the end, onemay fail to behave in the way he or she thinks should have behaved.On the other hand, Bhuyan (2007) defines moral justification assimply the process through which a person evaluates a morallydebatable act and attempts to make it look right. It can be describedas the act of transforming unacceptable actions through believablearguments into something acceptable.

Differencebetween natural and transcendent morality

Natural morality can be described as the morality acquired throughevolution. It is argued that human beings are social animals andinherit moral values through the evolution of morality. As thesociety evolves, it gains more knowledge about the distinctionbetween what is good or bad, right or wrong hence improving theirnatural morality (Curran &amp Fullam, 2011). On the other hand,transcendent morality can be described as the morality acquiredthrough religious teachings. The moral values taught in religiousclasses help people to distinguish between right and wrong. It isargued that without God, it is impossible to have objective moralvalues which help in shaping morality in human beings.

Differencebetween moral and aesthetic judgments

According to Curran &amp Fullam (2011), moral judgments arefundamentally practical while aesthetic judgments are either motpractical or no importantly practical. By making a moral judgment,one commits himself to some course of action or in other words, somecertain way of living. The notion of personal commitment to action iscritical to moral judgments, even if the action is visualizedindirectly. Moral judgments can therefore be described as theessential judgments which should be acted upon. Aesthetic judgmentson the other hand are not basically connected to action. In order tomake an aesthetic judgment or subscribe to an aesthetic principle,one does not have to commit himself to any particular course ofaction of the way of life. According to (Curran &amp Fullam, 2011),it is impossible to act upon an aesthetic principle although it isconceivable to act in harmony with one.


An objectivist holds the notion that feelings are a source of moraltruth and any lack of feeling of that appropriate feeling is morallywrong.

Sentimentalismand intuitionism

Sentimentalists consider feelings as an essential element in ethicaldecision-making and behavior (Besser-Jones, 2008). Sentimentalistsconsider feeling as a source of moral and ethical truth as opposed tobeing an element of moral motivation. They also consider feelingbeing more critical to the ethical truth than just reason which isconsidered an essential element towards the ethical truth.

Intuitionists on the other hand differ from sentimentalist in thesense that they neither believe in reason nor feeling to be vitalaspects of ethical truth (Bhuyan, 2007). They hold the notion thatpeople should instead pay close attention to every detail andunderstand clearly the language of morality, being open to our moralexperiences as well as consideration of all important factors withoutbeing bias.

Of the two theories, sentimentalism seems to hold a more commonlyacceptable stand considering that intuitionism entailsindividualistic analysis of the situation in relation to ethicaltruth, especially when intuition differs, as opposed tosentimentalism which requires one to base judgment on being fullyinformed of the situation.

Objective andsubjective sentimentalism

Subjective sentimentalism is extrinsic whereas objectivesentimentalism is intrinsic (Besser-Jones, 2008). The latter is inthe sense that subjectivism moral values are bound to will both humanand divine as objective moral values are not dependent on anyexternal factors. Whereas objectivism is based on the sense ofaspiring to be perfect to avoid set punishments as per the lawsubjectivism is, on the other hand, geared towards granting pardonand grace in case of wrong doing depending on the external forces.

Subjective sentimentalism is positive in the sense that one getsguidance towards his action as a result of external factors likedivine or human will, in determining what is right and wrong. Thelimitation is that one’s life is at the mercy of external factorsrather than having the self-determination to select what is decent orevil. Objective sentimentalism on the other hand encouragesresponsibility by advocating for absolute morality by emphasizing onthe knowledge that moral laws cannot be altered to accommodate one’swrongdoing and thus, there are serious consequences for our actionsas per the set laws (Kupperman, 2009). This in a way creates a senseof responsibility to the people in the society. The limitation isthat the attaining perfection as humans is quite difficult anddeprives people of the free will.


Besser-Jones, L. (2008). Social Psychology, Moral Character, andMoral Fallibility. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research,76(2): 310-332.

Bhuyan, N. (2007). The Role of Character in Decision-Making. TheJournal of Value Inquiry, 41: 45-57

Curran, C. &amp Fullam, L. (2011). Virtue: Readings in MoralTheology. Paulist Press: New York.

Kupperman, J. (2009). Virtue in Virtue Ethics. Journal of Ethics,13: 243-255.