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categorical imperative
Kant’s unconditional precept that we must “act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law”; to act on the basis of good will rather than purely self-interested motives and never treat others as means toward an end without consideration of them as ends in themselves
an ethical theory in which actions are judged solely by their consequences without regard to character, motivation, or absolute principles of good and evil and separate from their capacity to produce happiness and pleasure
the happiness or human flourishing that results from virtuous activity; it is more than contentment or satisfaction
golden mean
in Aristotelian virtue ethics, the aim of ethical behavior, a value between excess and deficiency
harm principle
the idea that the only purpose for which the power of the state can rightly be used is to prevent harm to others
a person who is gracious, magnanimous, and cultured; a flourishing human being
justice as fairness
Rawls’s summary of the essence of his theory of justice
justice theory
the idea of fairness applied beyond the individual to include the community as well as analysis of social injustice with remedies to correct it
the proper order of the universe and the customs and rituals that support order and harmony on Earth
managerial ethics
a way of relating to self, employees, and the organization that balances individual and collective responsibility
original position
in Rawls’s justice theory, a hypothetical situation in which rational people can arrive at a contractual agreement about how resources are to be distributed in accordance with the principles of justice as fairness
prudence or practical wisdom; the intellectual virtue Aristotle considered most important
expediency; a practical consideration of the relative rightness of options when considering a moral dilemma
social contract theory
a theory that holds the natural state of human beings is freedom, but that human beings will rationally submit to some restrictions on their freedom to secure their mutual safety and benefit
unanimity of acceptance
in Rawls’s theory, the requirement that all agree to the contract before it goes into effect
utility function
a measure, in “utils,” of the value of a good, service, or proposed action relative to the utilitarian principle of the greater good, that is, increasing happiness or decreasing pain
veil of ignorance
in Rawls’s theory, a condition in which people arrive at the original position imagining they have no identity regarding age, sex, ethnicity, education, income, physical attractiveness, or other characteristics; in this way, they reduce their bias and self-interest
virtue ethics
an ethical system based on the exercise of certain virtues (loyalty, honor, courage) emphasizing the formation of character
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