Prima Facie Duty
an excellent, fundamental, non-absolute and permanent reason to do something or refrain from doing something. Examples Fidelity, Reparation, Gratitude, Justice, Beneficence, Self-improvement, and Non-maleficience
Pluralistic, non-absolutis theories
These theories claim that morality is grounded in more than one moral principle, but that none of these principles are absolute (in other words, it claims that all the principles are merely prima facie principles.) This is where W.D. Ross's theory lies
Ross's Argument from additional reasons (against consequentialism)
Dinner date scenario
1) If consequentialism is true, then I have no moral reason to prefer A) to B)
2) However, I do have a moral reason to prefer A) over B) - ) Therefore, consequentialism is false (1,2 MT)
Monistic Absolutism Ethical Theories
Urge on one fundamental principle of morality and claim that it admits of no exceptions. Such as Divine command theory, ethical egoism, consequentialism, Kantianism)
Pluralistic Non-Absolustic Ethical Theories
Claim that morality is grounded in more than one moral principle, but that none of these principles is absolute. (in other words, it claims that all the principles are merely prima facie principles.) Such as W.D. Ross's theory
The Argument from Contradiction
1) If there is more than one absolute moral rule, then they are bound to conflict at some point. (Always keep your promises / Never deliberately harm innocent people)
2) If absolute rules ever conflict then this generates a contradiction.
3) If a theory generates a contradiction then it is false.
- ) Therefore, any theory that endorses the existence of more than one absolute moral rule is false.
Reply to The Argument from Contradiction
Problem with Premise 1
True for positive rules/prohibitions but this is not true for negative rules/prohibitions
Problem with Premise 2
What about moral Dilemmas (Where we have the all-things-considered obligation to perform some action x and the all-things-considered obligation not to perform x)
The Argument from Irrationality
1) If perfect obedience to an absolute prohibition can frustrate the underlying purpose of the rule, then the rule is irrational.
2) Perfect obedience to any absolute prohibition can sometimes frustrate its underlying purpose.
- ) Therefore, absolute prohibitions are irrational. (1,2 MP)
Ex: Never deliberately kill an innocent person. a) kill an innocent person. OR b) allow everyone to die including the innocent person
Social Contract Theory
1) An action is morally right if, and only if, it is permitted by rules that free, equal, and rational people would agree to live by, on the condition that others obey these rules.
2) An action is morally wrong if, and only if, it is not permitted by such rules
Motivations of Social Contract Theory
a) Humans are naturally and unavoidably self-interested.
b) It is rational to promote your self-interest.
c) If everyone directly promotes their self-interest, most or all will
d) Everyone will pursue their self-interest most effectively if they
agree to cooperate and limit their self-interested pursuits via certain rules.
The Fool's Challenge
1) If one can live in a state of peace without complying with the mutual sacrifice of liberty then reason requires noncompliance. 2) One can live in a state of peace without complying with the mutual sacrifice of liberty.
- ) Therefore, reason requires noncompliance.
Objections to The Fool's Challenge
Objection to Premise 2
One cannot be a free rider, as it will always turn out that the risks of being a free-rider always outweigh the benefits
Objection to Premise 1
in a state of peace, rationality requires being a just person
Hobbe's Objection To the Fool's Challenge
1a) If one can reasonably expect to live in a state of peace without sacrificing one's liberty then reason requires noncompliance. (True)
2b) One can reasonably expect to live in a state of peace without sacrificing one's liberty. (False)
Shafer-Landau's objection to The Fool's Challenge
In a state of peace, "it is always rational to be a just person - the sort of person who values fairness, approves of just policies, tries to live an upright life, and becomes upset when learning of injustice"
Argument From the State of Nature
1) If we are primarily self-interested, we are sufficiently equal in strength and there is at least moderate scarcity are true, then the state of nature will lead to the state of war (ever man is enemy to every man)
2) We are primarily self-intereste, sufficiently equal in strength and there is at least moderate scarcity
- ) The State of Nature with lead to the State of War
The First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative
Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law
1) An action is morally right (permissible) if and only if it does not treat a rational being as a mere means.
2) An action is morally wrong (impermissible) if and only if it treats a rational being as a mere means.
Act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means
How Kant derives a duty of self-preservation from Humanity Principle and Categorical Imperative
1) Perfect Duty of Self-Preservation: Never act on the suicidal maxim
"I will end my life when it promises more hardship than pleasure in order to promote my interest"
(treats oneself as a mere means to maintaining a tolerable condition)
2) Imperfect Duty of Self-Development: Avoid acting on the rusting talents maxim sometimes and to some extent.
"I will stop developing my talents, when I am able to do so, so that I can pursue pleasure more effectively." (This preserves but does not further our humanity)
A command to do what is necessary to get what you desire. Example you should fill out an application (to get a job) notice that all hypothetical imperatives have something within those parentheses; these commands are always contingent upon your desires, so if the desire goes away, the imperative goes away. So in this case, if you stop wanting a job-say, because you hit the Powerball-then the imperative to fill out an application disappears
Kants claim that hypothetical imperatives cannot ground morality
1) Morality is either grounded in hypothetical imperatives or categorical imperatives.
2) If Morality is grounded in hypothetical imperatives, then our duties depend on our desires.
3) Our duties do not depend on our desires
c1) Therefore, morality is not grounded in hypothetical
imperatives. (2,3 MT)
The framing Problem
The results of the Categorical Imperative procedure depend on what details are included in the maxim and Kant does not provide a relevance principle. So the worry is that you can play around with the maxims to get whatever result you want.
Notion of Fairness
If our action is right, then we are acting on a maxim (for a reason) that we could rationally recommend to others.
If our action is wrong, then we are making an exception of ourselves.
An action has moral worth if and only if it is done in accordance with duty and for the sake of doing one's duty
Kant's defense of the necessity of dutiful motives
1) The prudent merchant
doesn't overcharge for his own advantage
The Hospital Visit Scenario
An action has moral worth if and only if it is done a) in accordance with one's duty. b) for the sake of doing one's duty. b1) solely for the sake of doing one's duty.
Joe - visits his friend Tom solely because it's his duty. entirely disinclined to do so.
Jeff - Visits Tom because it's his duty. But also because he desires to do so.
b2) for the sake of doing one's duty where this motive is sufficient for the action.
Categorical Imperative Procedure
1) State your maxim: the lying promise maxim. I will make a lying promise (A) when I stand to gain from it
(C) in order to promote my interest (P)
2) Universalize your maxim
everyone will make a lying promise (A) when they stand to gain from it (C) in order to promote their interest (P)
3) Is a world in which this maxim is a universal law possible? 4) Could you achieve the purpose of this maxim in such a world?
Perfect Duty of fidelity
State your maxim: i will make a lying promise to promote my interest
Universalize that maxim: Then, EVERYONE will make a lying promises to promote THEIR interests
Ask if a world in which that maxim is a universal law is even possible: Kant says it would be impossible for such a world to exist, because any world in which everyone made a lying promises in order to promote their interests would be a world in which the institution of promise-making didn't actually exist, because making a promise would be a meaningless gesture. It is, in Kant's terminology, a "contradiction in conception" so when the procedure fails at step 3, this generates a perfect duty against committing the maxim. Thus, we must never make a lying promises simply to promote our interests
Goodness possessed by a living thing in virtue of being an exemplar of its kind (the "life form‟ of its species); intrinsic value
ex. A fast deer A sturdy redwood
Foot's Moral Thesis
The moral virtues are natural features which humans possess in order to fulfill the function for social cooperation.
e.g. loyalty, fairness, kindness, obedience etc.
Argument from moderation
1) If moderation is the defining feature of strength, health, & the arts then it is also so for moral virtue.
2) Moderation is the defining feature of strength, health, & the arts.
- ) Therefore, moderation is the defining feature of moral virtue.
Aristotle's account of Moral Virtue
a) a natural feature which humans possess in order to fulfill
their characteristic function(s) (theoretical & practical reason)
b) A disposition of character to desire, choose for its own sake,
and take pleasure in doing that which is moderate relative to us.
Cowardice, Courage, Rashness
Exceptions of Aristotle's account of Moral Virtue
Vicious actions: adultery, theft, murder Vicious passions: spite, shamelessness, envy Virtues: honesty, fairness (?)