Moral absolutism

Moral absolutism is an ethical view that all actions are intrinsically right or wrong. Stealing, for instance, might be considered to be always immoral, even if done for the well-being of others (e.g., stealing food to feed a starving family), and even if it does in the end promote such a good. Moral absolutism stands in contrast to other categories of normative ethical theories such as consequentialism, which holds that the morality (in the wide sense) of an act depends on the consequences or the context of the act.

Moral absolutism is not the same as moral universalism. Universalism holds merely that what is right or wrong is independent of custom or opinion (as opposed to moral relativism), but not necessarily that what is right or wrong is independent of context or consequences (as in absolutism). Moral universalism is compatible with moral absolutism, but also positions such as consequentialism. Louis Pojman gives the following definitions to distinguish the two positions of moral absolutism and universalism:[1]

  • Moral absolutism: There is at least one principle that ought never to be violated.
  • Moral objectivism: There is a fact of the matter as to whether any given action is morally permissible or impermissible: a fact of the matter that does not depend solely on social custom or individual acceptance.

Ethical theories which place strong emphasis on rights and duty, such as the deontological ethics of Immanuel Kant, are often forms of moral absolutism, as are many religious moral codes.


Moral absolutism may be understood in a strictly secular context, as in many forms of deontological moral rationalism. However, many religions have morally absolutist positions as well, regarding their system of morality as deriving from divine commands. Therefore, they regard such a moral system as absolute, (usually) perfect, and unchangeable. Many secular philosophies also take a morally absolutist stance, arguing that absolute laws of morality are inherent in the nature of human beings, the nature of life in general, or the universe itself. For example, someone who believes absolutely in nonviolence considers it wrong to use violence even in self-defense.

Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas never explicitly addresses the Euthyphro dilemma, but draws a distinction between what is good or evil in itself and what is good or evil because of God's commands,[2] with unchangeable moral standards forming the bulk of natural law.[3] Thus he contends that not even God can change the Ten Commandments, adding, however, that God can change what individuals deserve in particular cases, in what might look like special dispensations to murder or steal.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Pojman, L. P. A Defense of Ethical Objectivism (p. 50).
  2. ^ Aquinas & c. 1265–1274, 2a2ae 57.2.
  3. ^ Aquinas & c. 1265–1274, 2a1ae 94.5.
  4. ^ Aquinas & c. 1265–1274, 1a2ae 100.8.
Believe in the Stars

"Believe in the Stars" is the second episode of the third season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock, and the 38th overall episode of the series. It was written by executive producer Robert Carlock and directed by series producer Don Scardino. The episode originally aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network in the United States on November 6, 2008. Guest stars in this episode include Remy Auberjonois, Todd Buonopane, Raven Goodwin, and Oprah Winfrey.

The episode's plot concerns a feud between Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) over royalties from Tracy's pornographic video game Gorgasm: The Legend of Dong Slayer. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) attempts to settle the fight with the help of Oprah Winfrey, whom she meets on a return flight from Chicago. Meanwhile, NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) is stung by the revelation that most events from the 2008 Summer Olympics were staged to boost America's image and NBC's ratings. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) attempts to break Kenneth of his moral absolutism.

"Believe in the Stars" received generally positive reception from television critics, with Neal Justin of the Star Tribune concluding it was "the most brilliant episode in the series' history". According to the Nielsen ratings system, the episode was watched by 8.0 million households during its original broadcast, and received a 3.9 rating/9 share among viewers in the 18–49 demographic.

Compassionate conservatism

Compassionate conservatism is an American political philosophy that stresses using traditionally conservative techniques and concepts in order to improve the general welfare of society. The philosophy supports the implementation of policies designed to help the disadvantaged and alleviate poverty through the free market, envisaging a triangular relationship between government, charities and faith-based organisations. The term itself is often credited to the American historian and politician Doug Wead, who used it as the title of a speech in 1979, although its origins lie in paternalism. This label and philosophy has been espoused by Republican and Democratic politicians since then though in recent times it has been strongly associated with former U.S. President George W. Bush, who commonly used the term to describe his personal views. The term has also been used in the United Kingdom by former Prime Minister David Cameron, and in New Zealand by former Prime Minister John Key.

Ethical calculus

An ethical calculus is the application of mathematics to calculate issues in ethics.


In American politics, fusionism is the philosophical and political combination or "fusion" of traditionalist and social conservatism with political and economic right-libertarianism. The philosophy is most closely associated with Frank Meyer.


In most contexts, the concept of good denotes the conduct that should be preferred when posed with a choice between possible actions. Good is generally considered to be the opposite of evil, and is of interest in the study of morality, ethics, religion and philosophy. The specific meaning and etymology of the term and its associated translations among ancient and contemporary languages show substantial variation in its inflection and meaning depending on circumstances of place, history, religious, or philosophical context.

Graded absolutism

Graded absolutism is a theory of moral absolutism in Christian ethics which resolves the objection to absolutism that in moral conflicts we are obligated to opposites. Moral absolutism is the ethical view that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong regardless of other contexts such as their consequences or the intentions behind them. Graded absolutism is moral absolutism but qualifies that a moral absolute, like "Do not kill," can be greater or lesser than another moral absolute, like "Do not lie". Also called contextual absolutism or the greater good view, is an alternative to the third alternative view and the lesser evil view, both discussed below, regarding moral conflict resolution.According to graded absolutism, in moral conflicts, the dilemma is not that we are obligated to opposites, because greater absolutes are not opposites of lesser absolutes, and evil is not the opposite of good but is instead the privation of good. Since evil is the privation of good, only the privation of the greater good counts as evil, since whenever there is a moral conflict, we are only obligated to the greater good. The real dilemma is that we cannot perform both conflicting absolutes at the same time. 'Which' absolutes are in conflict depends on the context, but which conflicting absolute is ‘greater’ does not depend on the context. That is why graded absolutism is also called 'contextual absolutism' but is not to be confused with situational ethics. The conflict is resolved in acting according to the greater absolute. That is why graded absolutism is also called the 'greater good view', but is not to be confused with utilitarianism.

In China They Eat Dogs

In China They Eat Dogs (Danish: I Kina Spiser de Hunde), (1999), is a Danish action comedy film directed by Lasse Spang Olsen.The main roles are played by Kim Bodnia (Harald) and Dejan Čukić (Arvid). Olsen received the Audience Award at Cinénygma - Luxembourg International Film Festival and a Jury Prize at the Montreal Comedy Festival.

Index of ethics articles

This Index of ethics articles puts articles relevant to well-known ethical (right and wrong, good and bad) debates and decisions in one place - including practical problems long known in philosophy, and the more abstract subjects in law, politics, and some professions and sciences. It lists also those core concepts essential to understanding ethics as applied in various religions, some movements derived from religions, and religions discussed as if they were a theory of ethics making no special claim to divine status.

Liberal theism

Liberal theism is the philosophical and religious belief in the existence of a deity without adhering to an established religion.

The exact definition is debatable. Liberal theists often believe that, "all religions lead to the truth." Liberal theists are often influenced by the beliefs in their culture. For example, a liberal theist in the United States is likely to have beliefs strongly influenced by Christianity. It can also be said that all religions began as a form of liberal theism.Liberal theists are more likely to be proponents of moral relativism than moral absolutism. They often claim that there are no black and white concepts, but instead only subjective beliefs. Liberal theism should not be confused with Liberation Theology.

Liberalism can also exist in established religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.

A key aspect of Liberal Theism is the idea that classical theism can be modified. This means a Liberal Christian may not, for example, conform entirely to the description of God in the Bible. He/she would say that we can redefine God. They generally argue that people 2,000 years ago did not necessarily have the correct idea.

Liberal Theism can be seen as a response to the problem of evil argument against the existence of God. The problem of evil suggests that an "all good" and "all powerful" God could not possibly endorse or allow evil actions to occur, for example, the Holocaust. A liberal theist may suggest that perhaps God is not all powerful, that perhaps God is just the "most powerful". That is, that God cannot control some things. This allows for us to say that humans can use their own innate reason to act in an evil way.Liberal Theism also provides an answer to the question, "If God is all powerful, then can he create a rock that not even he can pick up?". A classical theist may spend a lifetime pondering this question without figuring out an adequate answer, but a liberal theist would say that either God is not all powerful, after all, or that it is a moot point since God would not bother in such petty issues as creating and moving rocks.

Libertarian conservatism

Libertarian conservatism or conservative libertarianism is a political philosophy and ideology that combines right-libertarian politics and conservative values. Libertarian conservatism advocates the greatest possible economic liberty and the least possible government regulation of social life, mirroring laissez-faire liberalism, but harnesses this to a belief in a more traditional and conservative social philosophy emphasizing authority and duty. Libertarian conservatism prioritizes liberty as its main emphasis, promoting free expression, freedom of choice and laissez-faire capitalism to achieve socially and culturally conservative ends as they reject liberal social engineering, or in the opposite way but not excluding the above, libertarian conservatism could be understood as promoting civil society through conservative institutions and authority - as family, fatherland, religion, education - in the quest of libertarian ends for less state power.

List of philosophies

Philosophical schools of thought and philosophical movements.

Moral law

The Moral law may refer to:

Moral absolutism, the ethical view that particular actions are intrinsically right or wrong

The Ten Commandments, in Christianity

Moral objectivism

Moral objectivism may refer to:

Robust moral realism, the meta-ethical position that ethical sentences express factual propositions about robust or mind-independent features of the world, and that some such propositions are true.

Moral universalism, the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics or morality is universally valid, without any further semantic or metaphysical claim.

The ethical branch of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism (Ayn Rand).

Moral superiority

Moral superiority is the belief or attitude that one's position and actions are justified by having higher moral values than others.

It can refer to:

Morality, when two systems of morality are compared

Self-righteousness, when proclamations of moral superiority become a negative personal trait

Superiority complex, when the moral superiority is a psychological reaction to insecurity and self-doubt

Mr. A

Mr. A is a fictional comic book hero created by Steve Ditko. Unlike most of his work, the character of Mr. A remained the property of Ditko, who wrote and illustrated the stories in which the character appeared entirely himself. The character first appeared in Wallace Wood's witzend #3 (1967).

Ditko has been quoted as saying that his creation, The Question, is a comics-code acceptable version of Mr. A. Mr. A was inspired by the belief-system and moral absolutism of the philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand.

Norman Geisler

Norman Leo Geisler (born July 21, 1932) is a Christian systematic theologian and philosopher. He is the co-founder of two non-denominational evangelical seminaries (Veritas Evangelical Seminary and Southern Evangelical Seminary). He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University and has made scholarly contributions to the subjects of classical Christian apologetics, systematic theology, the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, biblical inerrancy, Bible difficulties, ethics, and more. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 90 books and hundreds of articles.

Old Right (United States)

The Old Right was an informal designation used for a branch of American conservatism, which never became an organized movement but was most prominent circa 1910–1960. Most members were Republicans, although there was a conservative Democratic element based largely in the Southern United States. They were called the "Old Right" to distinguish them from their New Right successors who came to prominence in the 1950s and '60s. Among the latter were Barry Goldwater, who came to prominence in the 1960s and favored an interventionist foreign policy to battle international communism.

Above all, the Old Right were unified by opposition to what they saw as the danger of domestic dictatorship by President Franklin Roosevelt and The New Deal. Most were unified by their defense of natural inequalities, tradition, limited government, and anti-imperialism, as well as their skepticism of democracy and the growing power of Washington. The Old Right typically favored laissez-faire classical liberalism; some were business-oriented conservatives; others were ex-radical leftists who moved sharply to the right, such as the novelist John Dos Passos. Still others, such as the Democrat Southern Agrarians, were traditionalists who dreamed of restoring a pre-modern communal society. The Old Right's devotion to anti-imperialism was at odds with the interventionist goal of global democracy, the top-down transformation of local heritage, social and institutional engineering of the political left and some from the modern right-wing.

The Old Right per se has faded as an organized movement, but many similar ideas are found among paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians.

Rorschach (comics)

Rorschach is the name of two fictional characters in the comic book limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Brad Anderson respectively released in 1986 and 2017, published by DC Comics. The duo, as with most of the main characters in the series, are modified analogues of Charlton Comics characters, in this case Steve Ditko's the Question and Mr. A. Moore created the first Rorschach, also known as Walter Kovacs, with artist Gibbons, while Johns created the second Rorschach, also known as Reginald "Reggie" Long, with artists Frank and Anderson, based on the original Rorschach.

While Watchmen has an ensemble cast, many consider Rorschach I to be the protagonist as he drives most of the plot forward and serves as the series' narrator. In the beginning of the story, he is introduced as the only remaining active masked vigilante not employed by the government. A ruthless crime-fighter, his beliefs in moral absolutism—good and evil with no shades of grey—have driven him to seek to punish evil at all costs. Rorschach's mask displays a constantly morphing inkblot based on the ambiguous designs used in Rorschach inkblot tests, with the mask's black and white coloring consistent with Rorschach's sense and view of morality.

Reception towards the original character is positive and he has been referred to several times in other comic book stories and has appeared in other forms of media. Jackie Earle Haley portrays Rorschach I in the 2009 film adaptation directed by Zack Snyder, and also voices him in the video games series. Rorschach I later appears in the Before Watchmen comic book prequel, with his own individual issue miniseries. Rorschach II makes his debut in the sequel miniseries Doomsday Clock, which connects the Watchmen universe with the mainstream DC Universe.

Rorschach made his first live adaptation in the 2009 film Watchmen played by Jackie Earle Haley. Rorschach will appear in the upcoming television series of the same name on HBO.

Applied ethics
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