Key ethical theories

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Before I begin, let me first suggest to you the overall task of Christian Ethics. If I speak about ethics, I speak about “Who we are, how we are to perceive our world and how we are to live in this world”. This is the main crux of Christian Ethics. In this assignment I would like to demonstrate a working knowledge of African, Western and African Christian Ethics. I will also look at the differences between selected ethical theories.


Explain Western Ethics and evaluate the effect it has on our understanding of ethics. Underscore both the positives and negatives it has brought about in ethical thinking.

According to Barnhill (2009) the Western tradition has four major approaches to ethics: “The first two listed (Utilitarian Ethics and Deontological Ethics) are modern developments and they dominate modern philosophy. He says that Virtue ethics is as old as Plato and is making a bit of a come-back. Natural law ethics is relatively popular among environmental ethicists”. After reading his Environmental studies, I have come to realise the following: This study speaks about goodness and badness. We can identify happiness with the good and sees virtue as a major part of happiness. We can explain that happiness and virtue should be detached. If we look at virtue it relates to good will, a good will is good in every circumstance and is absolute or unconditional good. It grows when you act for the sake of duty. A human action is morally good and is done for the sake of duty. Western Ethics shows us that an action can be motivated by duty and has moral worth. Not because of the results it achieved, but for satisfying a formal principle. The principle of performing one’s duty, whatever it may be. People have impulses and desires and that is why the moral law appears to us as a law that we must obey. This impulses and desires is our only source for moral judgement. This is our free will. Our free will can create a moral law and we will obey it. The human mind is able to know what is good and evil. To have value judgement is born from inside of us. This is called your conscience. Most people recognize that man is free to make his or her moral decisions. On the other hand, all the things that we do wrong come from our human desires. Men and women should follow the will of God. Use the will of God to make certain decisions in life. There is a universal moral law, the knowledge to free ourselves from human desires. We are free to make good and sound moral judgements. In the approach of care and the community, too much Western Ethics has given individuals the right to think about themselves. We must build love and compassionate relationships among people. The full theory of ethics would have to accommodate all four aspects of Western ethics.

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