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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 21 November 2007 Referencing Hub media

Is one framework better than another? What do you think?


Michael Reiss: Some people don’t like the idea of all these different ethical frameworks, and they want someone to give them a really clear answer: Which is the right ethical framework? Is one better than another?

And the answer, in my view, is not really. They have each got their strengths, and so speaking for myself, I quite like the idea that you have to look at the consequences, and you have to think of the rights and duties, and in the long run you probably do want to encourage people to develop the virtues.

But there are very respected professional ethicists who sit entirely within a consequentialist framework and try and live their lives only within that one framework. And to a lesser degree there are people who sit just within a rights and duties framework. But one has to say what exactly the rights are depends on person to person. So somebody with a strong religious view might have a slightly different set of understandings about what the rights are from somebody who inhabits what is called a social contract view, where people much more openly debate among themselves what is right.