CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1 INTRODUCTION
This chapter examines the concept of ethics and the moral theories that provide guidance on right and wrong actions. It examines the understanding of ethics in general and virtue ethics in particular, drawing its point of departure from Aristotle’s theory of virtues. The chapter examines the ultimate goal of human life, and the application of the theory of virtues in the contemporary era.
Ethics is understood as the study of morality; or the examination of the morality of human actions, behaviours and their consequences. Various philosophers distinguish between ethics and morality, claiming that while ethics relates to the examination or critique of specific moralities, morality relates to virtues, principles or systems of rules (Paulo, 2016: 11-12). However, ethics and morality are often used interchangeably in ordinary language (Thiroux and & Krasemann, 2015: 2).
There are various ethical theories that provide guidance on right and wrong conducts, notably deontology, utilitarianism and virtues ethics. There is lack of consensus among these theories on the determination of morality. While deontology prioritises the adherence to duties, utilitarianism lays emphasis on the greatest happiness principle, while virtue ethics hinges on the importance of good character in producing right actions (Sim, 2010: 195-196). The conflicting nature of their emphasis makes it difficult to have a sole measurement of right and wrong. It is however noted that our moral judgements tend to be largely measured in line with the utilitarian provisions (Sheskin, 2015: 2).
In his consideration of the ultimate goal of human life, Aristotle (Polansky, 2014: 14; Guseynov, 2016: 486) notes that human beings generally consider happiness to be the highest good. However, they do not have a general consensus on what constitutes happiness. While some see honour as the ultimate goal, others consider it to be either wealth, glory or pleasure. However, Aristotle posits that these cannot be the main objective of all human endeavours because they are very shallow. Rather, he considers true happiness (eudemonia) as consisting of a life of contemplation, while a life of virtue plays a central role in the realisation of true happiness.
One of the major points of note in this chapter relates to Aristotle’s claims that human beings have natural virtues and are therefore naturally able to act virtuously (Winter, 2012: 101). If this is the case, then why do many people, including politicians, bureaucrats and leaders find it daunting to act and behave ethically, but instead engage in all forms of unethical conduct that bring harm to their people and societies? These challenges will be examined in the next chapters.
WHAT IS ETHICS
When most philosophers refer to ethics, they, according to Paulo, (2016: 13) are considering human actions and behaviours from a moral perspective and their impacts on others in line with rules and moral principles. Ethics, according to Thiroux and Krasemann (2015: 1-2) is the study of morality; and its concerns relate to what is wrong or right in the conduct and behaviour of human beings. A number of academic philosophers place a distinction between ethics and morality,
such that morality is a certain system of rules, principles, values, or virtues, whereas ethics is moral philosophy, that is, the theory of morality. According to this view, ethics has to do with the examination, justification, or critique of particular moralities. This understanding of morality is very wide, for it includes not only the traditional moralities based on Aristotelian virtues, on the Kantian categorical imperative, or versions of consequentialism, but also less elaborated forms of normative systems that regulate human conduct (Paulo, 2016: 11-12).
In ordinary language, however, ethics and morality are frequently used interchangeably in the sense of referring to a person or an action as ethical or moral; as unethical or immoral (Thiroux and Krasemann, 2015: 2). If there is any distinction that is made between ethics and morality in ordinary language, this lies in the connotation, whereby Morality sometimes has a more traditional, oftentimes religious, conservative, or outdated, doctrinal ring to it; the connotation of ethics is, in contrast, more neutral and modern. It is, thus, not surprising to see that the practical approaches to right or wrong human conduct in medicine, business, or environmental issues have been called applied ethics rather than applied morality (Paulo, 2016: 12).
In other instances in ordinary language, the terms morality or immorality are associated with issues relating to sexuality, while the terms ethical and unethical are used in discussions that relate to the conduct of professional communities and business towards the public or their members. However, these words are no longer commonly used as often as the terms right, wrong, good or bad are currently used (Thiroux and & Krasemann, 2015: 2). The kinds of questions that ethics poses include:
what constitutes any person or action being good, bad, right, or wrong and how do we know (epistemology)? What part does self-interest or the interests of others play in the making of moral decisions and judgements? What theories of conduct are valid or invalid and why? Should we use principles or rules or laws as the basis for our choices, or should we let each situation decide our morality? Are killing, lying, cheating, stealing, and certain kinds of sexual acts right or wrong, and why or why not? (Thiroux and & Krasemann, 2015: 2)
A large proportion of all the theoretical problems that have preoccupied the thoughts of philosophers from the advent of the history of philosophy concern ethical problems. Both the Nicomachean Ethics and the various platonic dialogues have been largely dominated by the issues of justice, virtue and other related questions. In other cases, ethical problems directly concern human daily lives, and require that actions be taken by individuals, groups or organisations (Kucuradi, 2016: 63-64).
The field of ethics, according to Inwood (2014: 2) was founded by Aristotle as a discipline. He is not claiming here that no other theorist or philosopher has contributed immensely to the field of ethics prior to Aristotle. Rather, he is claiming that the first clear boundaries to the discipline of ethics was set by Aristotle, who identified distinctive high level principles that define the field of ethics; provided a framework for working within the principles, and postulated precise, vital and lasting treatises on ethics. He recognises Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics as “the most consistently studied treatise in the history of ethics; it has done more than any other text to give the field whatever unity and cohesion it has” (Inwood, 2014: 3).
This research wonders what the need is for ethics when there are clearly defined rules and regulations that ought to hold people accountable for their actions and behaviour. Most people concede that there are differences between ethics and law. This variations is seen in the fact that
Law is a highly institutionalised system, strictly regulating human conduct and consisting of largely contingent rules that every individual has – under the threat of coercion – to follow. Ethics in contrast, is primarily a personal matter, allowing for ad hoc reasoning and demanding existential decisions (Paulo, 2016: 11).
This study notes that this is a very critical distinction between ethics and law because when we consider human actions and behaviours, it can be noted in many cases that many people obey the law not because they sincerely want to do that, but out of fear of reprisals. In many instances, such people would not do the right thing if they realise that their intended actions and behaviour would not be exposed. There are various standards of right and wrong as will be noted in the following sections. These variations are problematic for good human relations and for issues of justice and fairness when people hold on to different conceptions of morality. Therefore,
There is a sense of urgency built into the nature of ethics. As regards the proper standards of conduct, many have been afraid that unless such standards can be delivered, we are left vulnerable to relativism, amoralism and general disorder. No matter whether philosophers look at ethics as something divine, as a social contract, as standards we are bound to through our rationality, or a system built upon certain moral sentiments, they seem to agree on one thing: we need ethics. Certain normative guidelines are necessary for proper living – especially for living together with others (Martela, 2017: 59).
MORAL THEORIES THAT PROVIDE GUIDANCE ON RIGHT AND WRONG ACTIONS
Various schools of thought, including virtue ethics, utilitarianism and deontology provide opposing standards or moral theories that over the ages have become dominant in the determination of right and wrong actions (Chappell, 2009: 206; Sim, 2010: 195). These three theories, “disagree about the measure of morality, prioritising virtues, social utility or duty” (Sim, 2010: 195).
According to Thiroux and Krasemann (2015: 30), the consequentialist (utilitarianism and ethical egoism) and the non-consequentialists (deontology) are the two major moral positions that have emerged in the history of ethics. The consequentialist, which refers to the consequences of individual behaviour and actions as the determinant of right actions is traditionally referred to as teleological. The nNonconsequentialismt does not concern itself with consequences. According to Gaworonski [MK8]et al., (2017: 343), the distinction between these two moral positions has shaped research on moral dilemma judgements. In most cases, virtue ethics has mostly been defined against other ethical theories like utilitarianism and deontology. Whereas virtue ethics emphasises the virtues of character to measure right actions, utilitarianism emphasises the adherence to the greatest happiness principle and deontology emphasises the adherence to duties to produce moral actions […]. Non-virtue ethical theories like utilitarianism and deontology are said to differ from virtue ethics in their reliance on general rules or principles for prescriptions about moral actions, as well as universal laws or principles for the assessment of moral actions (Sim, 2010: 195).
Chappell (2009: 207-208) disagrees with the manner in which these moral theories tend to wrongly base everything on a specific determinant of right and wrong, good or bad in all cases. This tendency, according to Gaworonski et al., (2017: 343) creates a potential conflict among these theories, which are two principles that play a fundamental role in research on moral judgement. This conflict according to Dougherty (2011: 527) creates lack of consensus on what constitutes right and wrong actions. For instance, he claims that if deontologists believe that killing must be avoided at all times, then they will disagree with the consequentialists (‘utilitarians’) view that human beings are morally obligated to reduce the extent or number of bad things that occur in the world. A deontologist would say that it is wrong to kill anyone since killing is an action that must be avoided at all costs. The prevention of other killings is not a sufficient reason according to the deontologist to kill other people.
The word Deontology was created by Jeremy Bentham and represents the science of duties or what is proper for a person to do. Deontology is that branch of knowledge that concerns itself with moral obligations. Bentham’s deontology is utilitarian in contrast to Kant’s deontology. In a broad original sense, any ethical system that prescribes concrete actions is deontological. Bentham’s deontology appears not to be enjoying any interest among contemporary moral philosophers who consider deontology as a form of ethical theory that is not utilitarian or teleological (Timmermann, 2015: 76-77).
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.3 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.4 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
1.6 ORGANISATION OF CHAPTERS
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 WHAT IS ETHICS
2.3 MORAL THEORIES THAT PROVIDE GUIDANCE ON RIGHT AND WRONG ACTIONS
2.4 THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF HUMAN LIFE
2.5 APPLICATION OF VIRTUES THEORY IN THE CONTEMPORARY ERA
CHAPTER THREE THE PHILOSOPHIC IDEAL STATE
3.2 DESIRABLE ENDS OF THE IDEAL STATE
3.3 FEATURES OF A GOOD POLITICAL SOCIETY FOR PLATO
3.4 CONCEPT OF JUSTICE IN THE ARISTOTELIAN IDEAL STATE
CHAPTER FOUR ETHICS AND GOVERNANCE IN INDIGENOUS AFRICAN CONTEXT
4.2 WESTERN CYNICISM TOWARDS AFRICAN ETHICS AND MORALITY
4.3 INTERROGATING ETHICS AND MORALITY IN TRADITIONAL AFRICAN SOCIETIES
4.4 THE HUMANISTIC NATURE OF TRADITIONAL AFRICAN ETHICS
4.5 DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN INDIGENOUS AFRICAN CONTEXT
CHAPTER FIVE FAILURE OF POST-COLONIAL AFRICAN STATES
5.2 CONCEPTUALISATION OF A FAILED STATE
5.3 CHALLENGES CONFRONTING POSTCOLONIAL AFRICAN STATES
5.4 DEMOCRATIC FAILURES IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN AND NIGERIAN CONTEXTS
CHAPTER SIX A NEW FRONTIER IN PROMOTING THE ETHICAL AND IDEAL POST – COLONIAL AFRICAN STATE
6.2 RAWLS CONTRACTARIAN THEORY OF JUSTICE
6.3 THE ROLE OF ETHICAL LEADERSHIP IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE STATE
6.4 THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP IN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
6.5 OPTIONS FOR AN ALTERNATIVE DEMOCRATIC ORDER
6.6 PROPOSALS FOR DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN AFRICA
6.7 FURTHER RECOMMENDATIONS
CHAPTER SEVEN nRECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION 202
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT