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- The simplest form of relativism.
- There are no objective or universal moral truths.
- Morality is just a matter of personal feeling or opinion
- Sincerely feeling or believing that x is right makes it right
No moral truths can be proved. There can be no certainty
- There are no moral truths. Moral judgments are only expressions of feelings or opinions.
- They only convey and invoke emotion
jean-Jacques Rousseaus Version of ES
- Romantic Sentimentalism/
- Humans are by nature good
NO trans cultural universal morals
A theory in descriptive, not philosophical, ethics
A culture that has the morals they do because they contributed to survival
Divine Command Theory
- An act is right if god approves/commands it, wrong if he disapproves/forbids it
- There are no independent/universal moral standards by which to judge gods commands
- A rational pursuit of comprehensive and systematic knowledge about our world.
- Regarding conceptual and theoretical, not empirical, matters
Autonomous Moral Agent
An independent self governing thinker
Theory of Reality
Theory of Knowledge
One part of axiology
- The sutdy of the values and guidelines by which we live and the justification of there values and guidelines.
- Part of aaxiology
Levels or Spheres of Ethics
- Personal Ethics
- Inter-Personal Ethics
- Social Ethics
- Environmental Ethics
Two Great Philosophical Issues
More Knowledge comes through reason
Most Knowledge comes through the physical sense
2 Main Types of Moral Theory
- Noncognitivist Theories
- Cognitivist Theories
- Moral statements that are neither true not false.
- They can't be scientifically verified and are therefore meaningless.
- So there is no moral knowledge
- Only the statements that are empirically or scientifically verified/falsified are meaningful.
- Problem: Apply the theory to itself and because you can't prove it scientifically then the theory is meaningless
There are moral truths
- Morality is different for different people.
- There are no independent moral values.
- Morality is relative to:
- Cultural Relativism
- Divine Command Theory
There are moral truths to be discovered. There are universal moral Values
- Pursue self interest
- Self always comes first
Natural Law Ethics
Moral law = natural law
Value pleasure, disvalue pain
Character, not born with characters fully formed, they need to be shaped
Two Basic Parts of Ethics
- Theoretical Ethics
- Prescriptive Ethics
Theoretical Ethics (Meta-Ethics)
Concerned with appraising the logical foundations and internal consistency of ethical systems
The Theoretical Ethics Questions
- The meaning of key concepts like right/wrong, good/bad etc.
- Whether there is a correct method for answering moral questions
- Normative ethics.
- The determination of correct moral principles
Prescriptive Ethics Claims and Questions
- Prescriptive (normative)
Empirical or scientific claims/questions about what was, is, or will be the case
- About what ought/ought not be done
- About what is im/permissible, a duty, virtue etc.
- Conceptions of how things ought to be with respect to what is right/wrong, good/bad in human actions.
- They are expressed in moral principles
- Can't just be a matter of rules we need to:
- explain why we have the rules we do
- to resolve conflicts between us
- to ID/justify legitimate exceptions to rules
Aquinas Natural Law Theory
- Morality is grounded in human nature.
- God made us rational in his image
- Only by employing reasons do we discern right from wrong
Natural/Moral law is our way of working towards or participating in the vision
Aquinas Hierarchy of 4 types of Laws
- Natural = moral
Natural Law Principles
- Do good and avoid evil
- The golden rule
- Respect for others
- Human survival is good
Normative Moral Rules
Contain specific content and guidelines for actions. Using reason we derive specific rules from natural laws
Refusal to obey certain laws or policies in order to change them
Thoreaus Conditions for Permissible Civil Disobedience
- Use only moral and nonviolent means
- Try legal change first
- Act openly and publicly
- Be willing to accept the consequences
Satyagraha = CD based on passive resistance and non-cooperation
- Means with knowledge
- This is active and critical; Involves reason and feelings.
- has affective and cognitive elements
3 MAIN FORCES SHAPING CONSCIENCE
- Heredity/Biological Factors
- learning/Environmental Factors
- Conscious moral direction
- Moral sentiments are emotions that move us to feel.
- Helpers High
- Moral Outrage
- Making judgments about what we ought to do .
- Needed to guide/correct uncritical moral sentiments
Weakness of the Will
- Putting non moral values about the moral.
- Giving into temptation
Look at chapter 6 to see if everything below weakness of the will is relevant
The only universal moral principle is: Do what is in your own best (rational) self-intrest
Being arrogant, boastful, self-centered, inconsiderate
A matter of action on one's desires of feelings. NOT Rational
Ayn Rand's Objectivist Ethics
- There is no other source of values than objective reality. Each person is in pursuit of his own self-interest.
- Helping others is morally justified only when we can expect something similar in return
Is made up from two parts the consequentialist part and the teleological part
Consequentialist part of Utilitarianism
- Actions are not intrinsically right/wrong.
- The morality of an act depends on its consequences.
- The aim is the greatest net happiness for all.
- The actions are right if they promote happiness and wrong if they don't
Are intentions morally relevant in Utilitarianism?
- Not to the right or wrongess of an act but they do indicate the moral character of the agent.
- People with good intentions are more likely to do good acts.
Any act that maximized happiness is right
- Only acts licensed by rules which maximize happiness are right.
- Follow the rule, even if doing so doesn't provide maximum happiness in a given case.
Mo Tzu on Utilitarianism
- Adopted the basic Confucian principle of jen (love)
- The good sociert is achieved by actively seeking and promotion the good of the many.
- Do no harm and promote the happiness of others
- Inspired by Epicurus and Hume
- Held that certain character traits are virtues cuz of their utility.
- If a policy produces more pleasure than pain, then it is good and justified. (based on hedon)
Jeremy Bentham Utility criteria
Utility alone is the criterion of good law and political obligation
The Utilitarian (hedonic) Calculus
- Hedon - A unit of happiness
- Made by Jeremy Bentham in order to calculate the utility of actions
John Stuart Mill
- Is a Utilitarian
- Stressed the importance of education in overcoming ignorance and superstition.
- Valued: Pleasure, dignity, and integrity
Bentham Vs. Mill
- Bentham - One pleasure is as good as any other. Only quantity counts
- Mill - There are higher and lower pleasures. Quality is more important
Why did Mill reject Bentham's justice theory?
Justice as impartiality in favor of conception focused on autonomy or self-determination
The "No Harm Principle"
Mill said that it is more important than the duty to maximize happiness
To exclude non-humans in the view of a moral community.
- The Ethics of Duty
- Transcultural, universally binding duties are the basis of morality.
- Duty requires following moral laws/rules. The moral law is an end in itself.
Absolute Duties in Deontology
They are always morally binding regardless of circumstances.
Statement: Most deontologists regard moral duties are pima facie duties
They are morally binding unless overridden by a more pressing moral duty
What is the source of moral duty?
- Kant - Held it must be grounded in reason
- WD Ross - Held that duties are self-evident, known intuitively
Confucius and Deontology
- Combines deontology with virtue ethics.
- The good society can only be achieved by acting in accordance with duties prescribed by the ancient sages
- A Deontologist
- Kant emphasizes the autonomy and dignity of the individual.
- Derived the Categorical Imperative and Hypothetical imperatives
Kants Foundation for Moral Duty
- Objective universal laws can't be derived from sentiment/self-interest.
- Only reason based on objective logical principles can provide the foundation.
- Logical consistency requires absolute moral laws
Tell us to do X IF we desire a certain end
- Has 2 formulations
- Only these determine morality!
- They tell us to do X regardless of self-interest or utilitarian consequences.
Categorical Imperative 1st Formulation
- Act only on that maxim through which you can, and at the same time will that is should become a universal law.
- My own Meaning: You can only act on a principle that can be universally applied with no exception
Categorical Imperative 2nd Formulation
- So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, always as an end in itself, never as a means only.
- So lying is never permissible, but honesty requires respecting a person's dignity.
Sissela Bok on why lying is occasionally permissible
- 3 conditions:
- Alternatives to deception have been exhausted
- It could be made public and acceptable to reasonable persons
- It survives personal soul-searching
- A deontologist
- Developed the Prima Facie Deontology:
- -Even when one ought not to do X, doing X may sometimes be the right thing to do.
- Pleasure is not the only morally relevant consideration
Prima Facie Deontology
- No act is always right or wrong.
- Whether something is a duty depends on the circumstances and consequences there for no duties can be absolute.Duties can come into conflict
What to do when duties come into conflict?
- Part of prima facie deontology
- Use reason to weight the competing duties and decide which is most compelling and try to honor as many of them as possible.
- It is unreasonable to demand predetermined answers to all moral questions
The Duty of Justice
Requires that awe give each person equal consideration
The fair distribution of benefits and burdens in a society.
- Punishment for wrong-doing (based on reason and not revenge).
- The moral order requires that the guilty suffer in proportion to their crimes
- We must distinguish moral and legal rights.
- While alw is typically based on morality they can conflict:
- We can have a moral but not legal right
- We can have a legal right but not moral
Two Main Views of Rights Ethics
- Natural Rights Ethics: Independent and not derived from duty
- Duty-Derived Rights: Rights are derived from duty
Natural Rights Ethics
- Hobbs and Locke
- Moral rights are natural (God-given) and self-evident (not duty derived)
- In a state of nature people are egoists
Hobbes on Natural Rights Ethics
The fundamental rights is self-preservation
Locke on Natural Rights Ethics
Life, liberty and property, protected by a democratic government.
Ayn Rand on Natural Rights Ethics
- In capitalist society, govts sole purpose is to protect individual rights
- Liberty rights are negative
Marxist Critique of Natural Rights Ethics
- It protects the land owning right and the expense of the workers.
- Rights are not based on self-assertion, but on out interests and needs.
2 Models of how we get our rights in Natural Rights Ethics
- Self-Assertion Model
- Interest Model
- Only beings who can make/defend moral claims have rights.
- This leaves out too many beings like animals
- Rights are based on the equal consideration of interests.
- A beings interests depend on sentience and on the concept of a good life for it
- This is the most common view.
- Rights ethics is not an independent theory we are entitled to them, they do not depend on our ability to assert them.
2 Kinds of Moral Rights
- Welfare Rights
- Liberty Rights
To receive certain social goods, like food, housing, education etc.
- The right to be left alone to pursue our legitimate interests.
- Legitimate interests are those that do not violate other peoples interests
Regard welfare rights as important because w/o a minimal standard of living, we cannot pursue our legitimate interests
- Are agent-centered.
- rather than focusing on acts it emphasizes right being and viruous character over right action
Is an admirable character trait or disposition to habitually act in a manner beneficial to self and others.
NOT DONE ON VIRTUE ETHICS