Ethical Philosophers and their Philosophies

  • Period: 469 BCE to 399 BCE


    Socrates was an Athenian philosopher, he worked to examine the foundational beliefs that were common in Greece during his time, and was accused of corrupting the minds of the youth. Socrates pondered on the existense of the weakness of will- doing wrong when you geniunely know what is right but ended up thinking otherwise. He imposed that no person commits an evil act knowingly and that doing wrong arises out of ignorance.
  • Period: 428 BCE to 348 BCE


    Plato is one of the greatest philosophers and he held that moral values are absolute in a way that they never change. He also made the implication that values are universal as they apply to all creatures throughout time. Plato's notion mainly circulates on happiness and morals, he aims to challenge the views of most people as many think that virtue is a minor good or an impediment to living a happy life. For him this is incorrect, it is only by being virtuous that we can hope to be happy.
  • Period: 384 BCE to 322 BCE


    Aristotle is simply known as "The First Teacher," in Arabic Philosophy. His ethics is concerned with action, not as being right itself irrespective of any other consideration, but with actions conducive to man's good. Aristotle also argued that virtues are good and positive habits that we acquire, and that these habits regulate our emotions. An example would be in response to a natural fealing of fear, one should develop the virtue of courage which allows a person to be firm when facing danger.
  • Period: to

    Thomas Hobbes

    Hobbes is an English philosopher and is best known for his vision which was strikingly original and relevant to contemporary politics. His main concern was the issue with social and political order as for him people would act on their evil impulses if left alone for themselves. Thomas' philosophy of moral positivism anticipates the chaotic outcome if laws are not abided so he imposed alternatives: giving obedience to an unaccountable sovereign.
  • Period: to

    Jeremy Bentham

    The first account of utilitarianism was developed by Bentham but the core insight motivating the theory actually occurred earlier which imposed that morally appropriate behavior will not harm others but rather increase happiness or utility. The utilitarian ethics is best explained by the maxim, "Do whatever produces the greatest good for the greatest number." This implies that what makes an action right is its consequences and not the motive. An act is therefore good if it gives good results.