Philosophy of Ethics Pt.2

In this lecture we looked at different theories from philosophers such as Kant, John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham.

Kant’s theory and interpretation of his Categorical Imperative;

‘The best known representative of deontological ethics is Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804).’

Kant thought that there exists only one very general ‘perfect’ duty which is absolute:

“Act as if the maxim of thy act were to become by thy will a universal law of nature”

The morally important thing is not consequences but what choosers think when they make choices

Only one kind of thing is inherently good and that is good will.

‘Even if Kant has not arrived at absolute duties in any impeccable way, he may have hit on a crucial moral truth.  He may be right in his insistence that, in addition to a class of less strict, ‘imperfect’ duties (such as the duty to help each other), there exists a class of absolute moral duties (such as the duty never to kill an innocent human being).’

From: Understanding Ethics: An Introduction to moral theory TorbjornTannsjo 2008


We then discussed our 2000 word essay and were given an essay plan and given a structure to follow:

  1. Introduction – set out what your essay will cover
  2. Define what you understand by the phrase “The End Justifies the Means”. Use theory quotes for this section and the following section…
  3. Introduce the theory system that you will use to consider this idea.
  4. Analyse the concept of the End Justifies the Means in the light of this theory and apply your ideas to photojournalism. Again use quotes to back up your ideas.
  5. Form a conclusion about whether the ends justifies the means.


I have chosen to write my essay based on the question, A photojournalist has to get the picture.  Does the end justify the means?

I then did a short answer in the lecture:

A photojournalist has to get the picture. Does the end justify the means?

There are many points of view on whether, does the end justify the means. The phrase ‘The Ends Justifies the means’ often affects the work of Journalists and Photojournalists. If our ethics are based on our actions what should those actions be in accordance with moral duties? How far should a Journalist go morally in order to succeed in a ‘task’ they have been set. In the utilitarian view, it may be considered ethical to harm one person for the benefit of the larger group.

On September 11th 9/11 Twin Tower attack, Richard Drew created a piece of history when he captured a now world-wide famous image ‘The Falling man’. The image shows a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Centre to his death. The image has gone on to represent the horror of the Twin Towers.

However utilitarianism implies an act is morally right if that act causes ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number” this relates to the Falling Man image, the image could have greatly upset the family of the man the image focuses on, however as it represents the tragic event in such a brutal way, it has gained popularity and great understanding as to what happened that day.




Classic Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

(100 WORDS)


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