Theory of Morality: Monism, Pluralism, Particularism

When considering the theory of morality. There are many different views about the guidelines humans should follow in order to be a good human and live in a functional environment. Monism, pluralism, and particularism are three different ideas about how one should make decisions. Pluralism seems to be the most plausible in our society. Monism states that there is one principle of rightness. An example of this is utilitarianism. The utilitarian view considers the optional, obligatory and forbidden acts. Action X is forbidden if, and only if, x produces less than maximal utility. Action X is obligatory, if and only if, X maximizes utility.

Action X is optional if X is one of several actions that maximizes utility. Utility measures amounts of happiness. Another example is consequentialism. It is the belief that all acts should have maximally good consequences. When making choices, a human should always measures the good consequences that would come about from the action. These actions can be measured by a multiple number of things such as religion, happiness, flattery, pleasure, etc. The basic idea behind consequentialism is the question of who would want to do anything else besides produces the maximum amount of goodness?

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With monism, right and wrong is considered by the majority of people. Pluralism considers multiple principles of rightness. An example of pluralism is if punching is wrong in a certain instance, it must be wrong in all instances. Pluralism proves this wrong because punching could possibly be a good action when one must defend themselves. Pluralism and consequentialism contradict each other considering that consequentialism is a monistic view. For something to be considered a pluralistic view, it would have to take into consideration that there cannot be a general set of rules for moral choice.

Ross has a non-consequentialist view. His goal is to accommodate the ordinary moral judgments and eliminate inconsistencies. Relationships are considered the basis for duties. Consider the example of having the moral example of keeping a promise. Why keep it? Because you have promised. This is considered a basic duty. This example would be considered a utilitarian view. What if you were in a situation where you would have to break a promise to meet someone for lunch in order to save a life? The maximum goodness would not come out of you keep the promise.

Consequentialism does not consider different circumstances. Ross’ system of basic prima facie duties include: previous acts, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement, and non-malefecence. Previous acts take into consideration fidelity of prior commitments and reparation, to compensate for wrong acts committed in the past. Gratitude repays the generousity of other human beings. Justice gives a balance in happiness. Beneficence, committing goodness. Self-improvement by making a better person, choosing better choices. Non-malefecence is to do no harm, no intention to do harm. ntuitionism is the obvious way of choosing these duties. When making decisions, Ross believes a human must take into consideration prima facie duties and actual duties. Particularism states there are no principles of rightness. It has no general rules. Under the particular view, there is no non-moral property of an act that consistently contributes to that act being right or wrong. Qwith particularism, one cannot know whether an act is right or wrong simply by having one morally relevant property. Two terms explaining this view are atomism and holism.

Atomism states that what makes an act right is not affected by which other non-moral properties are present. Holism considers the view that what makes an act right or wrong depends on the other non-moral properties present. Examples are giving pleasure such as taking a nephew to a baseball game. The nephew could enjoy baseball or not enjoy it at all. It can go both ways. When analyzing consequentialism, one would come to the conclusion that it is a monistic view. Particularism challenges consequentialism when it states to always choose the action with the maximal amount of goodness to come of it.

What if a human was in a situation where one had to make a decision where both outcomes are equally good/bad. The example of whether a perfectly healthy man should be sacrificed for 5 ill humans in need of organs. The goodness of saving 5 lives as opposed to one is considered to produce more goodness than keeping one life. Obviously, this is not how our world works. The rule of consequentialism does not hold it’s own with this example. Consequentialism bases their way of making decisions by using a form of measurement. It seems that not all choices in life are that easy to make, especially by solely measuring happiness.

Particularism focuses more on particular circumstances. What could create more goodness in one situation could do the opposite in another situation. Who is to say what creates the most happiness? One human may believe action a will create more happiness than action b, but another human may believe action b will create more happiness. Consequentialism seems to be a good view for the overall wellness of the environment, but it doesn’t really take into consideration certain instances or circumstances. Particularism can also be considered wrong and bad.

An example of this could be Patty the particularist. If Patty is untrustworthy, then her promises may hold no sincerity. The fact that Patty made a promise holds no truth when any factor can override it. To be honest, I don’t believe any of these views hold a well-appreciated ground when considering moral choices. The one view that seems the most plausible would be particularism. Monism is an ignorant view. One cannot base all decisions on one simple rule. It seems that a human must somehow magically know the answer/decision to make with monism.

In a circumstance, there is only one right answer, but what about the same type of circumstance with different factors? Consideration of different factors in each circumstance should be thought about. It makes sense to have a number of principles of rightness since the circumstance of any type of event is not always the same. Pluralism holds a stronger ground than monism, yet it does not seem as realistic as particularism. Particularism states that there are no certain set of general rules. Rules change when circumstances change.

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Theory of Morality: Monism, Pluralism, Particularism. (2018, Feb 13). Retrieved from