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Philosophy is the discipline concerned with questions of how one should live (ethics); what sorts of things exist and what are their essential natures (metaphysics); what counts as genuine knowledge (epistemology); and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic). The word is of Ancient Greek origin (philosophia), meaning love of wisdom. Definition of philosophy: Every definition of philosophy is controversial. The field has historically expanded and changed depending upon what kinds of questions were interesting or relevant in a given era.
It is generally agreed that philosophy is a method, rather than a set of claims, propositions, or theories. Its investigations are based upon rational thinking, striving to make no unexamined assumptions and no leaps based on faith or pure analogy. Different philosophers have had varied ideas about the nature of reason. There is also disagreement about the subject matter of philosophy. Some think that philosophy examines the process of inquiry itself. Others, that there are essentially philosophical propositions which it is the task of philosophy to answer.
Although the word “philosophy” originates in Ancient Greece, many figures in the history of other cultures have addressed similar topics in similar ways. The philosophers of East and South Asia are discussed in Eastern philosophy, while the philosophers of North Africa and the Middle East, because of their strong interactions with Europe, are usually considered part of Western philosophy. Branches of philosophy: “The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
” To give an exhaustive list of the main divisions of philosophy is difficult, because various topics have been studied by philosophers at various times. Ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and logic are usually included. Other topics include politics, aesthetics, and religion. In addition, most academic subjects have a philosophy, for example the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mathematics, and the philosophy of history. Metaphysics was first studied systematically by Aristotle.
He did not use that term; the term emerged because in later editions of Aristotle’s works the book on what is now called metaphysics came after Aristotle’s study of physics. He calls the subject “first philosophy” (or sometimes just “wisdom”), and says it is the subject that deals with “first causes and the principles of things”. The modern meaning of the term is any inquiry dealing with the ultimate nature of what exists. Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, and whether knowledge is possible.
Ethics, or ‘moral philosophy’, is concerned with questions of how agents ought to act. Plato’s early dialogues constitute a search for definitions of virtue. Metaethics is the study of whether ethical value judgments can be objective at all. Ethics can also be conducted within a religious context. Logic has two broad divisions: mathematical logic (formal symbolic logic) and what is now called philosophical logic, the logic of language. Greek philosophy and Hellenistic philosophy:
Ancient Greek philosophy may be divided into the pre-Socratic period, the Socratic period, and the post-Aristotelian period (or Hellenistic period). The pre-Socratic period was characterized by metaphysical speculation, often preserved in the form of grand, sweeping statements, such as “All is fire” or “All changes”. Important pre-Socratic philosophers include Pythagoras, Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Democritus, Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Empedocles.
The Socratic period is named in honor of Socrates, who, along with his pupil Plato, revolutionized philosophy through the use of the Socratic method, which developed the very general philosophical methods of definition, analysis, and synthesis. While no writings of Socrates survive, his influence as a “skeptic” is transmitted through Plato’s works. Plato’s writings are often considered basic texts in philosophy as they defined the fundamental issues of philosophy for future generations.
These issues and others were taken up by Aristotle, who studied at Plato’s school, the Academy, and who often disagreed with what Plato had written. The subsequent period ushered in such philosophers as Euclid, Epicurus, Chrysippus, Hipparchia the Cynic, Pyrrho, and Sextus Empiricus. Though many of these philosophers may seem irrelevant given current scientific knowledge, their systems of thought continue to influence both philosophy and science today. Medieval philosophy History:
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe and the Middle East during what is now known as the medieval era or the Middle Ages, roughly extending from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance period. Medieval philosophy is defined partly by the rediscovery and further development of classical Greek philosophy and Hellenistic philosophy, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate sacred doctrine (in Islam, Judaism and Christianity) and secular learning.
Some problems discussed throughout this period are the relation of faith to reason, the existence and unity of God, the object of theology and metaphysics, the problems of knowledge, of universals, and of individuation. Philosophers from the Middle Ages include the Muslim philosophers Alkindus, Alfarabi, Alhacen, Avicenna, Algazel, Avempace, Abubacer and Averroes; the Jewish philosophers Maimonides and Gersonides; and the Christian philosophers Anselm, Peter Abelard, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Jean Buridan.
Early modern philosophy History(c. 1600 – c. 1800): Modern philosophy is usually considered to begin with the revival of skepticism and the genesis of modern physical science. Canonical figures include Montaigne, Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Chronologically, this era spans the 17th and 18th centuries, and is generally considered to end with Kant’s systematic attempt to reconcile Newtonian physics with traditional metaphysical topics. Later modern philosophy History(c. 1800 – c. 1960):
Later modern philosophy is usually considered to begin after the philosophy of Immanuel Kant at the beginning of the 19th-century. German idealists, Fichte, Hegel, Hoelderlin, Schelling, expanded on the work of Kant by maintaining that the world is rational and it is knowable as rational. Rejecting idealism, other philosophers, many working from outside the university, initiated lines of thought that would occupy academic philosophy in the early and mid-20th century: Contemporary philosophy History(c. 1960 – present):
In the last hundred years, philosophy has increasingly become an activity practiced within the modern research university, and accordingly it has grown more specialized and more distinct from the natural sciences. Much of philosophy in this period concerns itself with explaining the relation between the theories of the natural sciences and the ideas of the humanities or common sense. It is arguable that later modern philosophy ended with contemporary philosophy’s shift of focus from 19th century philosophers to 20th century philosophers.
Realism and nominalism in Philosophy: Realism sometimes means the position opposed to the 18th-century Idealism, namely that some things have real existence outside the mind. Classically, however, realism is the doctrine that abstract entities corresponding to universal terms like ‘man’ have a real existence. It is opposed to nominalism, the view that abstract or universal terms are words only, or denote mental states such as ideas, beliefs, or intentions. The latter position, famously held by William of Ockham, is conceptualism. Rationalism and empiricism in Philosophy:
Rationalism is any view emphasizing the role or importance of human reason. Extreme rationalism tries to base all knowledge on reason alone. Rationalism typically starts from premises that cannot coherently be denied, then attempts by logical steps to deduce every possible object of knowledge. The first rationalist, in this broad sense, is often held to be Parmenides (fl. 480 BCE), who argued that it is impossible to doubt that thinking actually occurs. But thinking must have an object, therefore something beyond thinking really exists.
Parmenides deduced that what really exists must have certain properties for example, that it cannot come into existence or cease to exist, that it is a coherent whole, that it remains the same eternally (in fact, exists altogether outside time). Zeno of Elea (born c. 489 BCE) was a disciple of Parmenides, and argued that motion is impossible, since the assertion that it exists implies a contradiction. Plato (427-347 BCE) was also influenced by Parmenides, but combined rationalism with a form of realism. The philosopher’s work is to consider being, and the essence of things.
But the characteristic of essences is that they are universal. The nature of a man, a triangle, a tree, applies to all men, all triangles, all trees. Plato argued that these essences are mind-independent ‘forms’, that humans (but particularly philosophers) can come to know by reason, and by ignoring the distractions of sense-perception. Modern rationalism begins with Descartes. Reflection on the nature of perceptual experience, as well as scientific discoveries in physiology and optics, led Descartes (and also Locke) to the view that we are directly aware of ideas, rather than objects.
This view gave rise to three questions: Is an idea a true copy of the real thing that it represents? Sensation is not a direct interaction between bodily objects and our sense, but is a physiological process involving representation (for example, an image on the retina). Locke thought that a ‘secondary quality’ such as a sensation of green could in no way resemble the arrangement of particles in matter that go to produce this sensation, although he thought that ‘primary qualities’ such as shape, size, number, were really in objects.
How can physical objects such as chairs and tables, or even physiological processes in the brain, give rise to mental items such as ideas? This is part of what became known as the mind-body problem. If all the contents of awareness are ideas, how can we know that anything exists apart from ideas? Descartes tried to address the last problem by reason. He began, echoing Parmenides, with a principle that he thought could not coherently be denied: I think, therefore I am (often given in his original Latin: Cogito ergo sum).
From this principle, Descartes went on to construct a complete system of knowledge (which involves proving the existence of God, using, among other means, a version of the ontological argument). His view that reason alone could yield substantial truths about reality strongly influenced those philosophers usually considered modern rationalists (such as Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, and Christian Wolff), while provoking criticism from other philosophers who have retrospectively come to be grouped together as empiricists.
Empiricism, in contrast to rationalism, downplays or dismisses the ability of reason alone to yield knowledge of the world, preferring to base any knowledge we have on our senses. John Locke propounded the classic empiricist view in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1689, developing a form of naturalism and empiricism on roughly scientific (and Newtonian) principles. During this era, religious ideas played a mixed role in the struggles that preoccupied secular philosophy.
Bishop Berkeley’s famous idealist refutation of key tenets of Isaac Newton is a case of an Enlightenment philosopher who drew substantially from religious ideas. Other influential religious thinkers of the time include Blaise Pascal, Joseph Butler, and Jonathan Edwards. Other major writers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Edmund Burke, took a rather different path. The restricted interests of many of the philosophers of the time foreshadow the separation and specialization of different areas of philosophy that would occur in the 20th century.
Skepticism in Philosophy: Skepticism is a philosophical attitude that questions the possibility of obtaining any sort of knowledge. It was first articulated by Pyrrho, who believed that everything could be doubted except appearances. Sextus Empiricus (2nd century CE) describes skepticism as an “ability to place in antithesis, in any manner whatever, appearances and judgments, and thus to come first of all to a suspension of judgment and then to mental tranquility.
” Skepticism so conceived is not merely the use of doubt, but is the use of doubt for a particular end: a calmness of the soul, or ataraxia. Skepticism poses itself as a challenge to dogmatism, whose adherents think they have found the truth. Sextus noted that the reliability of perception may be questioned, because it is idiosyncratic to the perceiver. The appearance of individual things changes depending on whether they are in a group: for example, the shavings of a goat’s horn are white when taken alone, yet the intact horn is black.
A pencil, when viewed lengthwise, looks like a stick; but when examined at the tip, it looks merely like a circle. Skepticism was revived in the early modern period by Michel de Montaigne and Blaise Pascal. Its most extreme exponent, however, was David Hume. Hume argued that there are only two kinds of reasoning: what he called probable and demonstrative (cf Hume’s fork). Neither of these two forms of reasoning can lead us to a reasonable belief in the continued existence of an external world.
Demonstrative reasoning cannot do this, because demonstration (that is, deductive reasoning from well-founded premises) alone cannot establish the uniformity of nature (as captured by scientific laws and principles, for example). Such reason alone cannot establish that the future will resemble the past. We have certain beliefs about the world (that the sun will rise tomorrow, for example), but these beliefs are the product of habit and custom, and do not depend on any sort of logical inferences from what is already given certain.
But probable reasoning (inductive reasoning), which aims to take us from the observed to the unobserved, cannot do this either: it also depends on the uniformity of nature, and this supposed uniformity cannot be proved, without circularity, by any appeal to uniformity. The best that either sort of reasoning can accomplish is conditional truth: if certain assumptions are true, then certain conclusions follow. So nothing about the world can be established with certainty. Hume concludes that there is no solution to the skeptical argument except, in effect, to ignore it.
Even if these matters were resolved in every case, we would have in turn to justify our standard of justification, leading to an infinite regress (hence the term regress skepticism). Many philosophers have questioned the value of such skeptical arguments. The question of whether we can achieve knowledge of the external world is based on how high a standard we set for the justification of such knowledge. If our standard is absolute certainty, then we cannot progress beyond the existence of mental sensations.
We cannot even deduce the existence of a coherent or continuing “I” that experiences these sensations, much less the existence of an external world. On the other hand, if our standard is too low, then we admit follies and illusions into our body of knowledge. This argument against absolute skepticism asserts that the practical philosopher must move beyond solipsism, and accept a standard for knowledge that is high but not absolute. Idealism in Philosophy: Idealism is the epistemological doctrine that nothing can be directly known outside of the minds of thinking beings.
Or in an alternative stronger form, it is the metaphysical doctrine that nothing exists apart from minds and the “contents” of minds. In modern Western philosophy, the epistemological doctrine begins as a core tenet of Descartes that what is in the mind is known more reliably than what is known through the senses. The first prominent modern Western idealist in the metaphysical sense was George Berkeley. Berkeley argued that there is no deep distinction between mental states, such as feeling pain, and the ideas about so-called “external” things, that appear to us through the senses.
There is no real distinction, in this view, between certain sensations of heat and light that we experience, which lead us to believe in the external existence of a fire, and the fire itself. Those sensations are all there is to fire. Berkeley expressed this with the Latin formula esse est percipi: to be is to be perceived. In this view the opinion, “strangely prevailing upon men”, that houses, mountains, and rivers have an existence independent of their perception by a thinking being is false.
Forms of idealism were prevalent in philosophy from the 18th century to the early 20th century. Transcendental idealism, advocated by Immanuel Kant, is the view that there are limits on what can be understood, since there is much that cannot be brought under the conditions of objective judgment. Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason (1781-1787) in an attempt to reconcile the conflicting approaches of rationalism and empiricism, and to establish a new groundwork for studying metaphysics.
Kant’s intention with this work was to look at what we know and then consider what must be true about it, as a logical consequence of, the way we know it. One major theme was that there are fundamental features of reality that escape our direct knowledge because of the natural limits of the human faculties. Although Kant held that objective knowledge of the world required the mind to impose a conceptual or categorical framework on the stream of pure sensory data a framework including space and time themselves he maintained that things-in-themselves existed independently of our perceptions and judgments; he was therefore not an idealist in any simple sense.
Indeed, Kant’s account of things-in-themselves is both controversial and highly complex. Continuing his work, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Schelling dispensed with belief in the independent existence of the world, and created a thoroughgoing idealist philosophy. The most notable work of this German idealism was G. W. F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, of 1807. Hegel admitted his ideas weren’t new, but that all the previous philosophies had been incomplete.
His goal was to correctly finish their job. Hegel asserts that the twin aims of philosophy are to account for the contradictions apparent in human experience (which arise, for instance, out of the supposed contradictions between “being” and “not being” ), and also simultaneously to resolve and preserve these contradictions by showing their compatibility at a higher level of examination (“being” and “not being” are resolved with “becoming”) . This program of acceptance and reconciliation of contradictions is known as the “Hegelian dialectic”.
Philosophers in the Hegelian tradition include Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, who coined the term projection as pertaining to our inability to recognize anything in the external world without projecting qualities of ourselves upon those things, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and the British idealists, notably T. H. Green, J. M. E. McTaggart, and F. H. Bradley. Few 20th century philosophers have embraced idealism. However, quite a few have embraced Hegelian dialectic. Immanuel Kant’s “Copernican Turn” also remains an important philosophical concept today. Pragmatism in Philosophy:
Pragmatism was founded in the spirit of finding a scientific concept of truth, which is not dependent on either personal insight (or revelation) or reference to some metaphysical realm. The truth of a statement should be judged by the effect it has on our actions and truth should be seen as that which the whole of scientific enquiry will ultimately agree on. This should probably be seen as a guiding principle more than a definition of what it means for something to be true, though the details of how this principle should be interpreted have been subject to discussion since Peirce first conceived it.
Like Rorty many seem convinced that Pragmatism holds that the truth of beliefs does not consist in their correspondence with reality, but in their usefulness and efficacy. The late 19th-century American philosophers Charles Peirce and William James were its co-founders, and it was later developed by John Dewey as instrumentalism. Since the usefulness of any belief at any time might be contingent on circumstance, Peirce and James conceptualised final truth as that which would be established only by the future, final settlement of all opinion.
Critics have accused pragmatism of falling victim to a simple fallacy: because something that is true proves useful, that usefulness is the basis for its truth. Thinkers in the pragmatist tradition have included John Dewey, George Santayana,W. V. O. Quine and C. I. Lewis. Phenomenology in Philosophy: Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology was an ambitious attempt to lay the foundations for an account of the structure of conscious experience in general. An important part of Husserl’s phenomenological project was to show that all conscious acts are directed at or about objective content, a feature that Husserl called intentionality.
In the first part of his two-volume work, the Logical Investigations (1901), he launched an extended attack on psychologism. In the second part, he began to develop the technique of descriptive phenomenology, with the aim of showing how objective judgments are indeed grounded in conscious experience not, however, in the first-person experience of particular individuals, but in the properties essential to any experiences of the kind in question. He also attempted to identify the essential properties of any act of meaning.
He developed the method further in Ideas (1913) as transcendental phenomenology, proposing to ground actual experience, and thus all fields of human knowledge, in the structure of consciousness of an ideal, or transcendental, ego. Later, he attempted to reconcile his transcendental standpoint with an acknowledgement of the intersubjective life-world in which real individual subjects interact. Husserl published only a few works in his lifetime, which treat phenomenology mainly in abstract methodological terms; but he left an enormous quantity of unpublished concrete analyses.
Husserl’s work was immediately influential in Germany, with the foundation of phenomenological schools in Munich and Gottingen. Phenomenology later achieved international fame through the work of such philosophers as Martin Heidegger (formerly Husserl’s research assistant), Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Indeed, through the work of Heidegger and Sartre, Husserl’s focus on subjective experience influenced aspects of existentialism. Existentialism in Philosophy: Although they didn’t use the term, the nineteenth century philosophers Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche are widely regarded as the fathers of existentialism.
Their influence, however, has extended beyond existentialist thought. The main target of Kierkegaard’s writings was the idealist philosophical system of Hegel which, he thought, ignored or excluded the inner subjective life of living human beings. Kierkegaard, conversely, held that “truth is subjectivity”, arguing that what is most important to an actual human being are questions dealing with an individual’s inner relationship to existence. In particular, Kierkegaard, a Christian, believed that the truth of religious faith was a subjective question, and one to be wrestled with passionately.
Although Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were among his influences, the extent to which the German philosopher Martin Heidegger should be considered an existentialist is debatable. In Being and Time he presented a method of rooting philosophical explanations in human existence (Dasein) to be analysed in terms of existential categories (existentiale); and this has led many commentators to treat him as an important figure in the existentialist movement. However, in The Letter on Humanism, Heidegger explicitly rejected the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre.
Sartre became the best-known proponent of existentialism, exploring it not only in theoretical works such as Being and Nothingness , but also in plays and novels. Sartre, along with Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir, all represented an avowedly atheistic branch of existentialism, which is now more closely associated with their ideas of nausea, contingency, bad faith, and the absurd than with Kierkegaard’s spiritual angst. Nevertheless, the focus on the individual human being, responsible before the universe for the authenticity of his or her existence, is common to all these thinkers.
Structuralism and post-structuralism in Philosophy: Inaugurated by the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, structuralism sought to ferret out the underlying systems through analysing the discourses they both limit and make possible. Saussure conceived of the sign as being delimited by all the other signs in the system, and ideas as being incapable of existence prior to linguistic structure, which articulates thought. This led continental thought away from humanism, and toward what was termed the decentering of man: language is no longer spoken by man to express a true inner self, but language speaks man.
Structuralism sought the province of a hard science, but its positivism soon came under fire by poststructuralism, a wide field of thinkers, some of whom were once themselves structuralists, but later came to criticize it. Structuralists believed they could analyse systems from an external, objective standing, for example, but the poststructuralists argued that this is incorrect, that one cannot transcend structures and thus analysis is itself determined by what it examines, that systems are ultimately self-referential.
Furthermore, while the distinction between the signifier and signified was treated as crystalline by structuralists, poststructuralists asserted that every attempt to grasp the signified would simply result in the proliferation of more signifiers, so meaning is always in a state of being deferred, making an ultimate interpretation impossible. Structuralism came to dominate continental philosophy from the 1960s onward, encompassing thinkers as diverse as Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan. The analytic tradition in Philosophy:
The term analytic philosophy roughly designates a group of philosophical methods that stress clarity of meaning above all other criteria. The philosophy developed as a critique of Hegel and his followers in particular, and of speculative philosophy in general. Some schools in the group include 20th-century realism, logical atomism, logical positivism, and ordinary language. The motivation is to have philosophical studies go beyond personal opinion and begin to have the cogency of mathematical proofs. In 1921,
Ludwig Wittgenstein published his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which gave a rigidly “logical” account of linguistic and philosophical issues. At the time, he understood most of the problems of philosophy as mere puzzles of language, which could be solved by clear thought. Years later he would reverse a number of the positions he had set out in the Tractatus, in for example his second major work, Philosophical Investigations (1953). Investigations encouraged the development of “ordinary language philosophy”, which was promoted by Gilbert Ryle, J.L.
Austin, and a few others. The “ordinary language philosophy” thinkers shared a common outlook with many older philosophers (Jeremy Bentham, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Stuart Mill), and it was this style of philosophical inquiry that characterized English-language philosophy for the second half of the 20th century. Ethics and political in Philosophy: From ancient times, and well beyond them, the roots of justification for political authority were inescapably tied to outlooks on human nature.
In The Republic, Plato declared that the ideal society would be run by a council of philosopher-kings, since those best at philosophy are best able to realize the good. Even Plato, however, required philosophers to make their way in the world for many years before beginning their rule at the age of fifty. For Aristotle, humans are political animals (i. e. social animals), and governments are set up in order to pursue good for the community. Aristotle reasoned that, since the state (polis) was the highest form of community, it has the purpose of pursuing the highest good.
Aristotle viewed political power as the result of natural inequalities in skill and virtue. Because of these differences, he favored an aristocracy of the able and virtuous. For Aristotle, the person cannot be complete unless he or she lives in a community. His The Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics are meant to be read in that order. The first book addresses virtues (or “excellences”) in the person as a citizen; the second addresses the proper form of government to ensure that citizens will be virtuous, and therefore complete.
Both books deal with the essential role of justice in civic life. Nicolas of Cusa rekindled Platonic thought in the early 15th century. He promoted democracy in Medieval Europe, both in his writings and in his organization of the Council of Florence. Unlike Aristotle and the Hobbesian tradition to follow, Cusa saw human beings as equal and divine (that is, made in God’s image), so democracy would be the only just form of government. Cusa’s views are credited by some as sparking the Italian Renaissance, which gave rise to the notion of “Nation-States”.
Later, Niccolo Machiavelli rejected the views of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas as unrealistic. The ideal sovereign is not the embodiment of the moral virtues; rather the sovereign does whatever is successful and necessary, rather than what is morally praiseworthy. Thomas Hobbes also contested many elements of Aristotle’s views. For Hobbes, human nature is essentially anti-social: people are essentially egoistic, and this egoism makes life difficult in the natural state of things.
Moreover, Hobbes argued, though people may have natural inequalities, these are trivial, since no particular talents or virtues that people may have will make them safe from harm inflicted by others. For these reasons, Hobbes concluded that the state arises from a common agreement to raise the community out of the state of nature. This can only be done by the establishment of a sovereign, in which (or whom) is vested complete control over the community, and which is able to inspire awe and terror in its subjects.
Many in the Enlightenment were unsatisfied with existing doctrines in political philosophy, which seemed to marginalize or neglect the possibility of a democratic state. David Hume was among the first philosophers to question the existence of God, circa 1700. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was among those who attempted to overturn these doctrines: he responded to Hobbes by claiming that a human is by nature a kind of “noble savage”, and that society and social contracts corrupt this nature. Another critic was John Locke.
In Second Treatise on Government he agreed with Hobbes that the nation-state was an efficient tool for raising humanity out of a deplorable state, but he argued that the sovereign might become an abominable institution compared to the relatively benign unmodulated state of nature. Following the doctrine of the fact-value distinction, due in part to the influence of David Hume and his student Adam Smith, appeals to human nature for political justification were weakened. Nevertheless, many political philosophers, especially moral realists, still make use of some essential human nature as a basis for their arguments.
Consequentialism, Deontological ethics, and Virtue ethics in Philosophy: One debate that has commanded the attention of ethicists in the modern era has been between consequentialism (actions are to be morally evaluated solely by their consequences) and deontology (actions are to be morally evaluated solely by consideration of agents’ duties, the rights of those whom the action concerns, or both).