Aristotle’s contribution to the philosophy of ethics
Aristotle applied the same descriptive, patient and careful approach to his examination of moral philosophy in the Nicomachean Ethics (Vendettuoli 30). In this book, he broadly discussed the various conditions where the moral responsibility might be attributed to the nature of vices and virtues entailed in moral evaluation, individual agents and the various methods of attaining happiness in human life. The main issue for Aristotle is the overall question of a person’s personality or character. In simple words, what it takes for an individual to be a good person (Vendettuoli 35).
Aristotle believed that every activity a person engages in has a final cause, the good at which it aims, and Aristotle argued that there cannot be an immeasurable regress of simply extrinsic goods, there has to be the highest good at which all a person’s activity eventually aims (Vendettuoli 40). This end of the human being’s life could be living well or happiness, but what really is it? Neither the regular ideas of wealth, honor and pleasure nor the philosophical theory of forms provide enough account of this eventual goal, since even people who attain the material goods or attain knowledge may not be necessarily happy.
According to Aristotle, things of any kind of variety have a distinctive function that they are appropriately used to act upon. The good for people then must fundamentally involve the whole correct function of the human life as a whole, and this has to be an activity of the human soul that somewhat expresses the genuine excellence or virtue (Vendettuoli 47). Therefore, individuals should endeavor at a life in full consistency with their balanced natures; for this, the acquisition of material goods and the satisfaction of their desires are far less important than the attainment of a virtue. A happy individual will display a personality that is somewhat balanced between desires and reasons, with self-control characterizing all. According to Aristotle, in this sense “virtue is its own remuneration”. Therefore, true happiness can be achieved only through the cultivation of the virtues that make the human being’s life quite complete. Aristotle is of the view that ethics is not simply a theoretical study. Unlike any other rational capacity, virtues of character are outlooks to act in a particular way in response to related situations, the practices of behaving in a particular way. Therefore, good conduct comes from habits that in turn can only be attained by repetitive corrections and actions, thus making ethics an extremely realistic discipline.
Aristotle is of the view that each of the merits is a state of being that logically hunts its mean virtual to us. Aristotle believes that the virtuous habit of action is all the time an intermediate state between the opposed vices of deficiency and excess: too little and too much are normally wrong; the right kind of action constantly lies in the mean.
Due to the fact that ethics is a realistic and not a theoretical science, Aristotle gave careful reflections to the elements of the nature of human beings entailed in accepting and acting moral responsibility. Additionally, the moral assessment of a person’s action pre-supposes the attribution of accountability to a human being. However, in some cases, this attribution would not be really appropriate. Aristotle is of the view that responsible action must be embarked on a voluntary basis and human being’s actions are involuntary under two distinctive conditions (Vendettuoli 54)
According to Aristotle, pleasure is not a good in itself, because it is quite incomplete in its nature. On the other hand, meaningful actions are often linked with their own respective pleasures. Thus, people are rightly guided in their life by their natural inclination for engaging in some pleasurable activities and not the unpleasant ones. He also states that a person’s genuine happiness lies in action that led to virtue because this provides the true value and not amusement (Vendettuoli 60). Therefore, Aristotle believed that contemplation is the highest form of any moral activity because it is pleasant, continuous, complete and self-sufficient. In intellectual activity, individuals normally approach godly blessedness, while at the same time realizing of all the genuine virtues (Vendettuoli 75).
Locke’s contribution to the philosophy of ethics
In ethics, Locke distinctively distinguishes himself from empiricism and relates with rationalism. According to him, there are no inherent ethical ideas; the criterion of ethical actions is a person’s well being, for experience teaches that an individual tends to flee from pain and tends to pleasure. Locke stands on practical grounds and distinctively remains within the boundaries of the English custom. On the other hand, this practical ground is not synchronized by the savage rights of nature (Vendettuoli 43).
Locke is of the view that rights can be determined from the relations that exist between a rational and dependent person and a noticeably intelligent being that is God. Therefore, the ethical norms are thus rational and are acknowledged with the natural and divine right. Ethical laws must have a due punishment and rewards (sanction) that is imposed on the will in such a way as to control a person from deviating from the tendency, which leads to a person’s well being.
With a person’s own pleasure as the base of morals, it is quite impracticable to talk of free will: Locke states that there is no freedom of choice between two diverse goods; as the greater good compels itself per say upon a person’s will. Furthermore, there subsists freedom of execution, though, in so far as the will is capable not to operate or deliberate after having calculated. In relation to the origin of society, Locke tells apart a natural state and the alteration from this state to the state of society at large through a contract (Vendettuoli 45). Locke is of the view that for a person to better pledge such rights, a person normally enters the society through a contract and has approved some of his normal rights to the most sovereign with the power to defend this rights (Vendettuoli 57).
In any case, according to Locke, there is a nice amalgamation of modern and medieval views given that a person is influenced by the truths of Christianity and if a person is utilitarian then Locke’s philosophy of ethics neatly holds together these two notions by presenting the Almighty as the one strengthening the essential order of the universe, with a system of ultimate pains and pleasures. Thus, while the liberal utilitarian will follow the ethic law because of the pleasure that will be a result of it, the illiberal will follow the law and attain the same outcome because of the hope for heaven and fear of hell.
Rawl’s contribution to the philosophy of ethics
John Rawl argues that self-interested rational people behind a curtain of ignorance would favor two common ethics of justice to constitute the society. The first ethical principle is the principle of equal liberty: each individual has equivalent rights to the most wide-ranging liberties well suited with comparable liberties for all. The second principle is the difference principle: economic and social inequalities should be pre-arranged so that they are attached to positions and offices open to all under the conditions of impartiality of opportunity and to the greatest advantage of the less advantaged people (Vendettnoli 70).
The principle of equal liberty is egalitarian because it distributes broad liberties to all people in an equal manner. The difference principle means that the society might embark on projects that necessitate giving people more income, power, status and others things such as paying high-level white-collar workers more than blue-collar workers if the following conditions are followed:
- The project will improve the lives of people by making the living standards of people easier and improving the lives of the less advantaged people in the society.
- Having a society or community that is devoid of discrimination
Among the three stated philosophers, I mostly connect with Aristotle because of his moral or ethical beliefs that a person’s good will be rewarded with pleasures in life. If a person’s life is filled with virtues and not vices, then the person will most likely live a happy life. My favorite Aristotle’s quote is, “…The perfect man bears the accidents of life with grace and dignity, making the best of all circumstances…” ( ). I am of the view that this quote is quite inspiring in the sense that a person should always endeavor to learn something from all the good and bad experiences in his or her life.
John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were two significant English political philosophers in the 17th century. Thomas Hobbe was an English philosopher renowned for his political thoughts. His vision of the world as a whole is still relevant in the present-day politics. Hobbe’s main concern was the issue of political and social order; how individuals can live together in a peaceful manner and avoid the fear and danger of common conflict. Hobbe’s posed some severe alternatives: people should be obedient to the unaccountable sovereign that is, a group or person authorized to decide all the political and social issues. Or else, what awaits people is a state of nature, which is like civil war, where there is a situation of common insecurity, where everyone has a reason to fear negative outcomes such as violent death and where pleasing human collaboration is all but impossible.
His ethical thoughts are quite difficult to untangle from his political views. Hobe believed people should greatly depend on the situations in which they find themselves in. Where there is lack of political authority, Hobbe was of the view that the essential right of people seemed to be only saving their skins by whichever means. Where there was political authority or order, the duty of the people seemed to only obey the people in power. It is quite evident that for Hobbe, the whole issue of ethics is somehow concerned with human nature, while the fundamental political philosophy deals with whatever will happen when people interact. Hobbe’s major work was “Leviathan”, which was published in the year 1909 (Hutton, et al, 45). Hobbe’s described man in the state of nature as poor, lonely, brutish, horrible and short. It is evident that he did not hold man in high regard. Concerning the philosophy of state, Hobbes was of the view that a government must be present to control the law.
John Locke was actually an Oxford scholar and one of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century. Locke believed that individuals have rights such as the right to liberty, life and property. He also believed people are equal and free and this was part of the justification for comprehending any kind of legitimate political government because of a social contract, where individuals naturally transfer some of their rights to governments to promote the public good and protect the rights of the people. Locke’s major work was “An essay concerning Human understanding” that was published in the year 1894. Locke described man in a more optimistic manner as he was of the view that man is capable and a thinker who is able to co-exist with other human beings in a peaceful manner. Concerning the philosophy of state, Locke’s vision of civil governance is that all people are physically in a state of ideal equality, liberty and freedom, thus, there is no need for any kind of war. Therefore, it is the function of the government to maintain natural law.
Most of Locke’s works concerning political philosophy reveal the concept of consent playing a major role. Locke’s analysis starts with people in a state of nature where people are not subject to any common legal authority with the power to adjudicate quarrels. From this natural state of independence and nature, Locke believes that the consent of a person as the means by which political parties are created and thus people join these parties.
However, both Locke and Hobbes in spite of their different descriptions of man, they both believed in relation to natural law that a person is equal to nature.
From an economist perspective, market failure happens when there is an inefficient allocation of services and goods in a market. In simple words, there exists another particular outcome where the overall gains of the participants of a market from the new outcome outweigh their losses (Winston 26). In normal cases, there is a clear economic case for any government intervention in the markets where there is some form of market failure occurring. In some cases, some governments normally justify this by stating that any intervention is because of public interest. Fundamentally, market failure happens when the different markets do not bring any kind of economic efficiency. Government intervention occurs when different markets are not working in an optimal manner. That is, there is a Pareto sub-optimal allocation of resources in a market industry. In simple words, this means that the market may not always allot scarce resources effectively in a manner that attains the highest total social welfare.
There are many reasons why the normal operation of market forces may not necessary lead to economy effectiveness. One reason is public goods as they are usually not provided by the free market due to their two distinctive characteristic. One, they are non-excludability-where it is not really possible to provide a service or good to one individual without the good being available for other people to enjoy it. The second distinctive characteristic is non-rivalry-where the consumptions of services or goods by one individual will not prevent other people from enjoying the service or goods. Examples of public goods are police services, street lighting, Public Park and beaches and others. Because of the nature of public goods, the private sector is quite unlikely to be willing to provide public goods. Therefore, the government provides them for collective consumption and finances, the public goods through the general taxation of the public.
Another potential market failure is merit goods. Merit goods are those kinds of services and goods that the government is of the view that the public if left to themselves will under-consume and thus ought to be provided free or subsided at the point of use. Both the private and public sector of the economy can provide merit services and goods. The consumption of merit goods is believed to generate positive externality effects where the social benefit from the consumption normally surpasses the private gain. The examples of merit goods are education, health services, public libraries and others.
Furthermore, another potential market failure is monopoly. Very few modern markets meet the rigorous conditions that are required for a completely aggressive market. The subsistence of monopoly power is normally believed to create the potential for market failure and a need for interference to correct for some of the interests penalties of monopoly power (Winston 36). The classical economic case against monopoly is that:
- Price is normally higher and the output is usually lower under monopoly than in a rather competitive market.
- This somehow causes a net economic welfare loss of producer and consumer surplus.
- Price > marginal cost thus leading to allocative inefficiency as well as a Pareto sub-optimal balance (Winston 39).
- Rent seeking behavior by the monopolist may add to the regular costs of domination. This includes high excessive amounts of spending on persuasive marketing and advertising.
Market failure can also be caused by the existence of inequality all through the economy. Wide differences in the wealth and income between diverse groups in the economy lead to a broader gap in the standards of living between those with poverty and the affluent households. In addition to this, the overall society might hold the view that too much inequality in it is undesirable or unacceptable.
Government intervention might seek to correct for the distortions that are created by market failure and to improve the efficiency in the way that different markets normally operate:
- Pollution taxes to correct for any kind of externalities.
- The taxation of monopoly profits that is the windfall tax.
- Direct provision of public goods such as defense.
- Regulation of cartel or oligopolies behavior.
- Policies to introduce competition into the markets that is de-regulation.
- Price controls for the recently privatized utilities.
Government failure happens when the government’s intervention to overcome the market failure miserably fails. Sometimes, government intervention can fail to meet the desired results or can even make the existing problems in policies worse. In some cases, even with the best intentions, some governments rarely get their policy application correct. They can control, tax and regulate but the eventual outcome might actually be a deepening of the market failure or worse, a new market failure might arise and this may require some corrective measures to be implemented. Government failure might range from the inconsequential, when the government intervention is simply ineffective, but where harm is restricted only to the cost of resources used and somehow wasted by the intervention, to cases where the whole intervention produces more and new severe problems that did not previously exist (Winston 59). The outcome of this is that it can take several years for the whole process to reverse. The possible causes of government failure are:
- political self interest
- policy myopia
- regulatory capture
- government intervention and disincentive effects
- government intervention and evasion, policy decisions that are based on imperfect information
- The law of unintended consequences and cost of administration and enforcement in governments.
Market failures are commonly identified with negative externalities. Negative externalities are also known as external costs and they occur when a decision made benefits or costs a third party from the use of public goods (Winston 89). An example of a scenario on this is when air pollution is because of manufacturing and this will impose certain costs on other people when utilizing public air. An example of a public good is the public beach and it is a market failure because there is an inefficient allocation of services and goods in the market.
Globalization is the process by which the regional societies, economies and cultures become incorporated through a worldwide network of transportation, communication and trade. Among the many theories and philosophies of globalization, the theory that fits my view of the world is the world-economy theory. According to Miller (1986 67), a world system is any kind of historical social system of self-governing parts that constitute a bounded structure as well as operate according to the different rules. This theory defines globalization as the process by which the capitalist global system spreads its ideals across the whole world. The good thing about this theory is that the market is more balanced than the governments can ever be. The negative issue about the world-economy theory is that the power in corporate is less concerned than the governments, most of which are normally held responsible to the public.
From the perspective of the MNC, define and discuss the evolving mentality of globalization.
Many globalists are of the mentality that globalization has somewhat undermined the independence of nations because of the huge growing figures of powerful forces and global issues for example terrorism, MNCs, new technologies in communication and others. One mentality of globalization is the belief that global governance is actually hegemonic. Global governance has always been hegemonic in the sense that powerful nations such as the United States still have the ability to veto some of the major decisions concerning globalization that are made by strong and powerful international bodies such as the United Nations’ Security Council (Miller 99). In addition to this, this hegemonic framework is somehow oriented towards protecting the globalist program in relation to globalization. Even powerful nations such as the United States and Canada are overwhelmed by the imperatives of the world’s financial markets. Underlying the global order is a method that actually pursues the universal interests of transnational elite networks and capitalist systems.
Pros and cons of globalization
Globalization has made it easy for business organizations to market and trade off their goods, services, as well as offering a broad range of different options that individuals can chose. Some countries especially the developing countries have benefited the most from globalization because there is a good flow of financial resources and therefore a decrease in the differences in currency. Furthermore, because of globalization, there is constant competition, this keeps he prices of commodities to be quite low, and the outcome of this is that there is a lower probability for inflation to occur. There is also increased communication among different nations because of globalization, this allows for better vision and understanding, and the effect of this is that different countries can exchange their cultures.
One of the disadvantages of globalization is that it is causing some nationalities such as the Europeans to lose jobs since European companies are outsourcing their work to countries such as in Asia, where there is cheap labor. Another con is that business organizations are expanding their businesses in different countries and the result of this is that the qualities of products is transferred to these nations, therefore there is a big chance of depreciation in relation to the terms of quality of the goods and services that these companies are offering. Moreover, there are people who hold the view that globalization is the major cause for the incursion of infectious diseases as well as social deterioration in some other countries (Miller 178). Additionally, because of globalization, it is a fact that poor nations are normally exploited by the rich and wealthy nations because these nations take advantage of their labor force and in the process, establish low wages and poor working conditions for the employees.
Hutton, Sarah, Paul, Schuurman, and G A. J. Rogers. Studies on Locke: Sources, Contemporaries, and Legacy: In Honor of G.A.J. Rogers. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2008. Internet resource.
Miller, Debra. Globalization: Current controversies. Detroit: Green haven Press, 2007. Print.
Vendettuoli, James. Values: The Philosophy of Ethics. Oakland County, MI: Van Anthony Publishers, 1986. Print.
Winston, Clifford. Government Failure versus Market Failure: Microeconomics Policy Research and Government Performance. Washington, D.C: AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, 2006. Print.