At the centre of my book-to-be are four chapters, in which I discuss four major traditions in ethics–four different views on ethics. Following other scholars, I discuss the following: consequentialism; deontology; relational ethics (a.k.a. as ethics of care or feminist ethics); and virtue ethics.
One of my arguments is that each ethical view has its own particular merits and its own particular limitations. I therefore suggest using all four in your work, in your project–in parallel or sequential.
While writing my book, I continue to read books, typically one book per week. At the moment I’m reading Mark Alfano’s ‘Moral Psychology: An Introduction‘. Already in its first chapter I found several intriguing ideas that may be practically useful–also for readers of my book-to-be.
Alfano starts his book with a discussion of five key concepts in ethics: patiency; agency; sociality; reflexivity; and temporality. Then he (very briefly) discusses the relative weights that these concepts receive in four different views on ethics–the same four as mentioned above.
This inspired me to draw four spider-diagrams. One for each ethical view. To visualize the various weights that each gives to these five concepts.
Maybe these visualizations can be useful when in doubt about which ethical view is most pertinent at any given moment, for example, to initiate or facilitate a discussion within your work or in a project you work on.
Suppose you need to discuss potential harms of your project’s outcomes, then consequentialism may your first move. Or when you want to focus on human dignity, human autonomy and agency, then you may want to turn to deontology. If your project involves technology that may have a big impact on human relationships (sociality), then you need relational ethics. And when patiency, agency and sociality are all at play, and when you are interested also in changes over time, then virtue ethics can be a good start.