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The nature of ethics (the 4 branches).
1. Descriptive ethics
3. Normative ethics
4. Applied ethics
the study of the actual values, practices, and moral beliefs that people have.
addresses questions regarding the nature of morality.
concerned with what people ought to believe and how people ought to act.
NOT concerned with the general principles regarding how people should act and what people ought to believe, but, rather, is concerned with how people should act and what people ought to believe under particular circumstances.
Distinguishing ethic from other normative institutions.
1. Ethics and etiquette
2. Ethics and the law
3. Ethics and religion
Ethics and etiquette
etiquette is concerned with "right" behavior in the sense of "polite," ethics is concerned with "right" behavior in a deeper sense.
moral judgments and evaluations and legal judgments; some acts are not covered by the law which are thought of the business of morality; some moral theories claim that what matters morally is the intention with which a person acts.
can take the way they think about morality without thinking they are religious; people who believe in God feel that standards of right/wrong or good/bad cannot just depend on God's will
The modern version of Euthyphro's dilemma.
Do the Gods approve of an action because the action is right/good or is it the other way around actions are right/good because the Gods approve of them.
Individual ethical relativism. (IER)
ethical judgments and beliefs are simply expressions of the attitudes or feelings of individual persons.
Cultural ethical relativism (CER)
what is right/wrong, good/bad are relative to cultures or societies. The truth or falsity of ethical judgments depends on the majority attitude in the culture. "right/wrong" simply means "approved of/disapproved" of by a particular culture.
Arguments for and against cultural ethical relativism.
1. Endorsed believers
2. Against believers
3. 3 bad consequences
1. ethical/moral claims are not objectively true or false.
2. Different cultures have different moral codes.
3. What is right is defined by what society thinks is right.
4. We shouldn't criticize other culture's moral codes.
1. Premise: different cultures have different moral codes.
Conclusion: Therefore, there are no objective moral truths.
2. Premise: Different cultures have different beliefs about the shape of Earth.
Conclusion: Therefore, there is no objective thruth regarding the shape of the Earth.
3 bad consequences
1. CER implies that we can justifiably criticize the moral practices of other cultures.
2. CER implies that the way to determine a particular action is morally correct, is to take a poll.
3. If CER is true, then the idea of moral progress or moral reform is incoherent.
The method of reflective equilibrium.
1. Gathering of data through observation.
2. Hypotheses or theories constructed to explain data.
3. Test hypothesis/theories
The structure of moral reasoning.
Premise 1: General moral principle (GMP)
Premise 2: Factual claim (FC)
Conclusion: Derivative/particular moral judgment (DMJ)
*Premises are reasons given to support the conclusion.
Glaucon's challenge (be able to explicate this in terms of different kinds of goods)
argues that justice is only welcomed for its consequences, and that justices in itself is difficult and burdensome. (majority view)
3 good things from Glauson's challenge
1. Intrinsic goods- things are valuable in themselves (pleasure)
2. Intrinsic and Instrumental things- things are valued in themselves and also because of their consequences (knowledge, health)
3. Instrumental goods- things are no valuable in themselves, but we welcome them purely for their consequences (medical treatment)
Glaucon's 3 arguments for his position on morality.
1. to wrong others (steal) is good
2. to be wronged by others (to have someone steal from you) is bad
3. badness of being harmed or wronged outweighs the goodness of harming others
Different historical strategies for responding to Glaucon's challenge.
1. Some philosophers have argued that when interest and obligation conflict, reason dictates that we side with obligation. (Kant)
2. Other philosophers have tried to show that appearances in these cases are deceiving; no such conflict between self-interest and obligation; being moral always in our self-interest.
Reasons for thinking that justice is not only instrumentally good.
1. think that we have moral duties and obligations to the weak. (children, sick, elderly)
2. strong intuition that we do have a reason not to steal, even if we can get away with it; rich and powerful do have a reason to refrain from doing whatever they like, even thought they can escape the bad consequences of immorality.
1. Reason alone cannot be a motive to the will, but rather is the "slave o the passions."
2. Moral distinctions are not derived from reason.
3. Moral distinctions are derived from moral sentiments: feelings of approval/disapproval felt by spectators who contemplate a character trait or action.
4. While some virtues/ vices are natural, others, including justice, are artificial.
-Reason does not have the power to oppose passion.
-reason is a slave to passion
Hume's 2 theses
1. Reason alone cannot motivate action.
2. Reason cannot oppose passion in motivating action.
1.Demostartive- giving a deductively valid argument, in other words, proof.
2. Probabilistic reason- giving on inductively strong argument, in other words, giving reasons that support a likely conclusion.
Argument for Hume's theses 1
1. Reason only works in 2 ways: 1. concerning abstract relations of ideas(reasoning about things known with certainty); 2. concerning objects of experience(things in the world)
2. The first sort of reasoning cannot by itself motivate action.
3. The second sort of reasoning cannot by itself motivate action.
4. Therefore, reason cannot by itself motivate action.
1. Desires- some end or goal.
2. Beliefs- the means necessary to achieve the goals set by desires
* Desire + Beliefs = Action
Arguments for theses 2
1. If reason could oppose passion in motivating action, then reason could give an impulse in the opposite direction.
2. If reason could give an impulse in the opposite direction, then reason could motivate action all by itself.
3. Reason can't motivate action all by itself.(thesis 1)
4. Therefore, reason cannot oppose passion in the motivation of action.
"reason is and ought only to be a slave to the passions"
- Thesis 2 is ambiguous; it can mean on of two things: (1.) Thesis 2A: reason alone cannot prevent a passion from motivating action; (2) Thesis 2B: reason cannot condemn any passion as being unreasonable
1. Passions are not representations of how the world is. (original existences)
2. A mental item (belief, desire, passion) is contrary to reason only if it represents things inaccurately.
3. Therefore, no passion is contrary to reason. (unreasonable)
-Basic desires- desires not based on other beliefs. (thirst)
-Derived desires- desires based on other beliefs
* Preferences determined by basic desires, so they can't be reasonable or unreasonable
2 ways desires can be unreasonable
1. Desires based on a false belief about the existence of an object which doesn't exist.
2. Desires based on a false belief about the means to an end.
1. That is certainly seems at times that reason both produces action by itself and opposes passions desires.
* Hume thinks that it is not reason that is opposed to you drinking the water, simply; you have another desire, namely, the desire not to die or get sick.
Hume explains his response by:
1. Calm passions- passions we have, but that we don't notice, or we are not consciously aware.
2. Turbulent passions- passions that are noticed (by introspection)
Hume's account of moral judgments.
1. How do we discover which actions are right and which are wrong? We don't discover what is right/wrong if by "discover" we mean "use reasoning"; moral judgments are expressions of attitude/feeling/passion.; consult your feelings.
2. What makes actions right/wrong? My feelings are not some objective fact.
3. What reason do we have for doing what is right and for refraining from what is wrong? There are no such things as reasons for actions on Hume's view
Moral must express values because:
1. If we examine the facts of actions which we think are bad, we don't see only badness.
2. Moral judgments cannot motivate and only passions/desires by themselves can motivate
Hume's empirical moral science
1. Identify the moral sentiment (each person does this for him/herself)
2. Collect data about what sort of actions arouse moral sentiment.
3. Propose general principles.
4 kinds of virtues:
1. Character traits that are useful to others
2. Character traits that are useful to the possessor.
3. Character traits that are agreeable to others.
4. Character traits that are agreeable to the possessor.
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