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Introduction to Ethics

Introduction to Ethics

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Introduction to Ethics

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  1. Introduction to Ethics

  2. Moral Absolutism “I do, what I do, because, it’s the right thing to do.” ~ Jimmy Carter Sentimentalism “What is moral is what you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” ~ Ernest Hemmingway Pragmatism “Truth is defined as whatever it is useful to believe.” ~ William James Faith “ For me, as for others, faith provided the meaning of life and the possibility of living”. ~ Leo Tolstoy

  3. Ethics • Ethics is the branch of philosophy that studies questions about right and good. • Moral theories provide a frame work for answering such questions and for evaluating human action.

  4. Are There Ethical Facts • It is a fact that the Rocky Mountains are located in North America. • Are there similar sorts of facts in ethics? • If so, why do so many people disagree about what is right and wrong.

  5. Ethical Skepticism • This view claims that moral knowledge is not possible. • This view claims that we cannot, as rational human beings, determine what is objectively right or wrong.

  6. Relativism • Species Relativism • Descriptive Relativism • Cultural Relativism • Religious Relativism • Individual Relativism

  7. Species Relativism • This view claims that ethics is relative to our species, or relative to humanity as a whole.

  8. Descriptive Relativism • Descriptive Relativism says that as a matter of empirical fact, different cultures have different beliefs about what is morally right and what is morally wrong. • This seems to be true.

  9. Cultural Relativism • This view claims that ethics is determined by each culture. What is right and wrong ought to be determined by culture.

  10. Religious Relativism • Morality is determined by God or religion. • This view is what many people subscribe to, however with more than 10,000 different religions which one is the right one?

  11. Individual Relativism(Subjectivism) • This view claims that each person ought to determine what is ethical for themselves. • As long as you do what you think is right, then you have acted correctly.

  12. Law vs. Morality

  13. Immoral Laws? • Not all laws are moral.

  14. Morality may different across the world, but not all morals are equal!

  15. Value • What has value?

  16. Value Concepts • Intrinsic Value • Extrinsic Value

  17. Intrinsic Value • Intrinsic value is value that a thing has in and of its self. • Often valuable as an ends. • Examples: • Happiness, Love, Honor, Family, Health, and Freedom

  18. Extrinsic or Instrumental Value • Something has extrinsic if it is valuable as a means to acquiring or attaining something we value in virtue of itself. • For example money has little or no intrinsic value, it’s just bits of paper or metal, but it has great extrinsic value in that it can used to acquire other items which we do value.

  19. Moral and Non Moral value • Moral evaluation is restricted to moral agents. • One must be a rational agent in order for one to evaluate the morality of your actions • These beings may still have moral worth.

  20. Non Moral Value • Objects, experiences, and states of affairs can all have value. They may have intrinsic or extrinsic value, but it is not moral value. • Some ethical theories evaluate actions in terms of how well they promote non moral value.

  21. Goals of a Moral Theory Theoretical Goals • Explains why something is moral. Practical Goals • Procedures for evaluating morality of action.

  22. Relation of Moral principles to Theory • Moral principles often encompass an expression of both theoretical and practical goals. • Example: “Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” - Immanuel Kant

  23. Structure of Moral Theory • Theory of Right • Theories which focus upon right and wrong action. • Theory of Value • Moral Value • Non Moral Value

  24. Basic Moral Concepts • Deontological concepts • The prefix “deon” comes from the Greek and means duty. • Normative in nature- what we ought to do. • Obligatory Actions • Prohibited Actions • Optional Actions

  25. Obligatory Actions • Actions that one ought to do. • Actions we have a duty to perform. • They are required of us. • They are the “right” thing to do. • Failure to perform them means we have acted incorrectly, wrongly or immorally.

  26. Prohibited Actions • Actions that one ought not do. • Actions we have a duty not to perform. • It is required of us to refrain from performing them. • They are the “wrong” thing to do. • To perform them means we have acted incorrectly, wrongly or immorally.

  27. Optional Actions • Actions that are neither obligatory nor wrong. • We are not required to perform them • We are not required to refrain from performing them • Such actions are neutral

  28. Main Ethical Frameworks • Deontological Theories • Divine Command Theory • Kantian Ethics • Teleological Theories • Utilitarianism • Egoism • Hedonism • Virtue Ethics • Relativism

  29. Deontological Theories • Determine right or wrong on the basis of action • Divine Command Theory

  30. Teleological Theories • Also know as Consequentialist • Determine right or wrong on the basis of Consequences. • Utilitarianism • Egoism • Hedonism • Example: Robin Hood

  31. Deontological Theories • Kantian Constructivism

  32. Immanuel Kant

  33. Kantian Moral Theory • According to Kant our moral duty is knowable by means of our rationality. Our rationality allows human beings to be conscious of rules of behavior, which he considers to be both Universal and Necessary.

  34. Categorical Imperative • Categorical Imperative- It commands certain conduct immediately. • Categorical- it applies instantly to all rational beings • Imperative- a principle on which we ought to act • "Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law".

  35. A Rule of Logic • Lying, Cheating, Stealing and Killing are all wrong for Kant. • However they are wrong, not based upon the consequences, but because according to Kant, they violate a rule of logic. • For Example, if we all lied, all the time, then there would be no truth in the world. As such, truth would be meaningless- Logically, it would not exist- as a consequence… hard to avoid speaking in Terms of consequences.

  36. Kant thinks that certain moral rules apply to everyone all the time. A rule such as lying is wrong, applies to everyone, and therefore morality commands that we never lie no matter what situation we find ourselves in. The beneficial consequences of our action do not justify any action that violates the categorical imperative.

  37. Plato 428-384 B.C. • Plato, the student of Socrates, founded the first University in the year 387- called the Academy. • Science and knowledge were the chief goals of study. • The mind was trained to cut thru rhetoric.

  38. Division of the Soul • According to Plato the soul is divided into three parts. • Tripartite conception of the soul. • Reason • Spirit • Appetite

  39. Reason • Reason guides us rationally towards reasonable goals

  40. Spirit • Spirit gives us the ability to comply with reason, to be brave and follow thru with our goals

  41. Appetite • The appetitive side of our soul drives our impulses and desires. • Reason, according to Plato, must keep the desires in check. • Allowing our passions to make decision will lead to chaos and ruin.

  42. Plato and ignorance • Ignorance leads to evil. • Plato claims that no one knowingly does wrong. • Akrasia- or weakness of the will, does not exist. • People simply do not understand the harm they are doing by performing certain actions.

  43. Teleological Theories • Focus on the consequences of actions. • Right actions are equated with those that produce things of value.

  44. Utilitarianism • Utilitarianism- an act is good if it maximizes the greatest amount of good.

  45. Jeremy Bentham Quantitative Utilitarian

  46. Bentham claims that: • "Nature has placed mankind under to sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as determine what we shall do"

  47. Principle of Utility • By the principle of utility he means, "that principle which approves and disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish happiness".

  48. Hedonic Calculus • Acts of pleasure- consider • Intensity • Duration • Certainty • Propinquity- nearness • Consequences- • Fecundity- the chances that it will be followed by more of the same, purity- the chances that the pleasure will not be followed by pain • Extent- the number of people it affects