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Christian and Ethical Beliefs - Normative Ethics

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Christian and ethical beliefs were created to teach and direct human beings. If these beliefs did not exist, there would an uncontrollable eruption of unruly behavior and an imbalance society. Christian ethical beliefs are very important because it molds human mannerisms which are very important in all aspects of life. These moral teachings are valuable and they help individuals think and act a certain way. This paper describes the essential factors of normative ethical theories and its subcategories and how they do or do not align with Christian perspective. Each theory is unique and has its own definition and standards applied towards moral ethics.

Keywords: Normative ethics, Virtue ethics, Deontological ethics, Consequentialist ethics

Normative Ethics

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies morality which is purely based on an individual’s daily judgements, moral rights, and good and bad decisions (Vaughn, 2015, p. 13). This branch is divided into three categories: Metaethics, Normative Ethics, and Applied Ethics (Fieser, 2017). Metaethics is the “analysis of ethical theory itself” and applied ethics focuses on how normative ethics can be applied to particular things such as “policies and procedures of organizations or ethical codes” (McCartney and Parent, n.d.). On the other hand, Fieser states that Normative Ethics distinguishes between the moral actions of right and wrong. It is mainly based on the decision of a particular “moral action” (Cavalier, 2002). Normative Ethics is comprised of three theories which are: Virtue Ethics- “agent/person who acts”, Deontological Ethics- “the act itself”, and Consequentialist Ethics- “the consequences of that act” (Seven Pillars Institute, 2017). The purpose of this paper is to analyze and distinguish each theory and its subcategories. It will explain how each ethical theory is or can be applied to daily life and if it aligns with Christian perspective.  

Virtue Ethics

Virtue is defined as an individual or society that builds and strengthens the value of disciplined behavior which helps themselves evolve morally (Harrington and Keenan, 2010, p.9). It is a form of goodness that enables an individual to obtain through their daily duties (Fowers, 2005, p. 27). Aristotle believed that in order to completely comprehend virtue ethics, one has to examine how people act and perform (Hawks, n.d.). He says that human beings embody virtue qualities which help create emotions (Fieser, 2017). According to Sreenivasan (2002), actions should be judged according to a whole picture because every individual may have multiple reasons for committing that action. The subcategories of virtue ethics include: Eudaimonia, Ethics of Care, Exemplarist, and Platonistic.


Eudaimonia is used by Aristotle to define the most extreme of goods for individuals (Fowers, 2005, p. 35). It is a Greek terminology for well-being or flourishing (Horner, 2009). Horner explains that eudaimonists believed happiness to be the strong foundation of ethical beliefs. The good in eudaimonia is that some individuals take actions for the sake of their own and others take actions for the sake of others (Athanassoulis, n.d.). Eudaimonia aligns with Christian perspective because Christian life is also about the flourishment of everything that God has created in this world (Van der Merwe, 2015)

Ethics of Care

This idea was initiated due to the major differentiation of roles between men and women in society (Athanassoulis, n.d.). Feminist writers, specifically Annette Baier, wanted to change the way society expects women to be more caring and compassion than men (Athanassoulis, n.d.). In her research on moral decision making, Carol Gilligan stated that men focused on “rights, Justice and rules”, whereas women focused on “personal relationships, caring for others, and being aware of people’s feelings, needs, and viewpoints” (Vaughn, 2015, p. 151). This shows that the ethics theory or care was formulated to control the gender thought process. Ethics of care theory vaguely aligns with Christian perspective based on the example used by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a feminist thinker from the 18th to 19th century, who linked the caring qualities of women to the generosity of a poor woman in the bible (Tong and Williams, 2018).

Exemplarist Virtue Ethics

Exemplarist virtue theory is illustrated by the high means of quality in a person, whether they’ve taken right or wrong actions, and are determined by the model of “goodness” (Zagzebski, 2015). The result of “goodness” is produced by the intention of the individuals. (Clark, 2015, p. 249). The exemplarist theory aligns with Christian perspective because according to Van Asselt (n.d.), “Jesus’ death on the cross is viewed as a demonstration of God’s love for humanity” (p.61)


The term platonistic is derived from the name Plato (Hursthouse and Pettigrove, n.d.). Frede (2017) states that “well-being, happiness, and virtues” are extreme characteristics that is required in order to highly maintain moral behavior. Plato believed that human beings have three major parts: “rational”, “appetitive”, and “spirited” (Dorter, 2006). Platonistic theory aligns with Christian perspective because Plato states “our end is to become like God, becoming like God is a specification of what happiness is” (Annas, 1999, pp 52, 53).

                                Deontological Ethics

Deontology comes from the Greek word “deon”, which means duty (Carr et al., 1999). Deontology belief is not only about elucidating the outcomes of an action, but it is also about the various elements other than the good outcome which indicates the righteousness of an action (Alexander and Moore, 2016). This theory is judged case by case and it is stated that “most action may be morally bad but may unintentionally lead to a favorable outcome” (Shakil, 2013). The subcategories of deontological ethics consist of: Kantianism, Divine Command Theory, and Social Contract Theory.


Kantian Ethics is sparingly derived from the Kant’s which theory explains that knowledge only comes from experience and that it requires the belief in “free will, God, and immortality of the soul” (Wood, 2008, p.1, and Jankowiak, n.d.).  Every action is stimulated and planned before it takes place (Shakil, 2013). Morality leads human beings towards the right path which helps them make correct moral decisions and avoid unwanted temptations (2013). “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12, King James Version). Kantian Ethics aligns with Christian perspective because of the dependence of moral rights and laws which directs to the justification of goodness of character.



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