I ask them to imagine that their route to the university takes them past a shallow pond. One morning, I say to them, you notice a child has fallen in and appears to be drowning. To wade in and pull the child out would be easy but it will mean that you get your clothes wet and muddy, and by the time you go home and change you will have missed your first class.
I then ask the students: do you have any obligation to rescue the child? Unanimously, the students say they do. The importance of saving a child so far outweighs the cost of getting one's clothes muddy and missing a class, that they refuse to consider it any kind of excuse for not saving the child. Does it make a difference, I ask, that there are other people walking past the pond who would equally be able to rescue the child but are not doing so? No, the students reply, the fact that others are not doing what they ought to do is no reason why I should not do what I ought to do.
Once we are all clear about our obligations to rescue the drowning child in front of us, I ask: would it make any difference if the child were far away, in another country perhaps, but similarly in danger of death, and equally within your means to save, at no great cost - and absolutely no danger - to yourself? Virtually all agree that distance and nationality make no moral difference to the situation. I then point out that we are all in that situation of the person passing the shallow pond: we can all save lives of people, both children and adults, who would otherwise die, and we can do so at a very small cost to us: the cost of a new CD, a shirt or a night out at a restaurant or concert, can mean the difference between life and death to more than one person somewhere in the world - and overseas aid agencies like Oxfam overcome the problem of acting at a distance.
Our moral code is a codified version of what we believe about morality.
"My first concern, then, is to assess such arguments on their own terms, asking whether these argument do, in fact, establish a duty to give aid. I will argue, in response, that our moral "intuitions" include not only the commitments they emphasize, but also entitlements, which suggests that people who deserve or have rights to their earnings may be allowed to keep them. But the fact that our accepted social moral code includes entitlements is not a complete answer, for it is possible that contemporary moral attitudes are mistaken and our current code is defective."
"The FLO account of the wrongness of killing is correct because it explains why we believe that killing is one of the worst of crimes. My being killed deprives me of more than does my being robbed or beaten or harmed in some other way because my being killed deprives me of all of the value of my future, not merely part of it. This explains why we make the penalty for murder greater than the penalty for other crimes. As a corollary the FLO account of the wrongness of killing also explains why killing an adult human being is justified only in the most extreme circumstances, only in circumstances in which the loss of life to an individual is out-weighed by a worse outcome if that life is not taken. Thus, we are willing to justify killing in self-defense, killing in order to save one's own life, because one's loss if one does not kill in that situation is so very great. We justify killing in a just war for similar reasons. We believe that capital punishment would be justified if, by having such an institution, fewer premature deaths would occur. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing does not entail that killing is always wrong. Nevertheless, the FLO account explains both why killing is one of the worst of crimes and, as a corollary, why the exceptions to the wrongness of killing are so very rare." "The FLO account of the wrongness of killing is correct because it yields the correct answers in many life-and-death cases that arise in medicine and have interested philosophers. Consider medicine first. Most people believe that it is not wrong deliberately to end the life of a person who is permanently unconscious. Thus we believe that it is not wrong to remove a feeding tube or a ventilator from a permanently comatose patient, knowing that such a removal will cause death. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing explains why this is so. A patient who is permanently unconscious cannot have a future that she would come to value, whatever her values. Therefore, according to the FLO theory of the wrongness of killing, death could not, ceteris paribus, be a misfortune to her. Therefore, removing the feeding tube or ventilator does not wrong her. By contrast, almost all people believe that it is wrong, ceteris paribus, to withdraw medical treatment from patients who are temporarily unconscious. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing also explains why this is so.
MAIN POINT: Furthermore, these two unconsciousness cases explain why the FLO account of the wrongness of killing does not include present consciousness as a necessary condition for the wrongness of killing."
Contraception: you take precautions not to let spores get it but one still does, you are not obligated to raise this spore.
"People-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don't want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective; and a seed drifts in and takes root. Does the person-plant who now develops have a right to the use of your house? Surely not - despite the fact that you voluntarily opened your windows, you knowingly kept carpets and upholstered furniture, and you knew that screens were sometimes defective."
According to this theory, certain things are good or bad for people, whether or not these people would want to have the good things, or to avoid the bad things. The good things might include moral goodness, rational activity, the development of one's abilities, having children and being a good parent, knowledge, and the awareness of true beauty. The bad things might include being betrayed, manipulated, slandered, deceived, being deprived of liberty or dignity, and enjoying either sadistic pleasure, or aesthetic pleasure in what is in fact ugly. Spinach: If the joke works the subject matter is all about us, our responses, our likings, preferences, etc. (ex. subjective matters- being glad you do not like spinach because if you did then you would eat it and spinach is gross; not taking into account that if you did like spinach then you would not think it was gross) and if the joke doesn't work the subject matter is more objective (ex. being glad you didn't live decades ago because then you would think the Earth revolves around the Sun- this is a normal and factual statement to make). When this test is applied to moral issues (ex. racism) it falls on the objective side (being glad you didn't live in the 19th century because then you would have accepted slavery and racism is a perfectly rational statement to make)
Disagreement: phenomenal state of someone engaged in a moral disagreement: feels like an objective matter (like scientific, not about taste). Test about what it feels like to engage in disagreement. Disagreement about chocolate is just you stating your preference and maybe trying to convince the other to agree but in global warming case, it feels like trying to prove an objective truth, one that exists independent of our beliefs and preferences. When discussing moral issue you care deeply about (ex. abortion) it feels like you're disagreeing over factual matters, it's an objective matter of fact that exists independently of us and our disagreement. Phenomenology of deliberation indicates morality is objective.
Counterfactual: transport yourself back to ancient time with slavery, was accepted. You still think it's wrong which makes you think that the wrongness of slavery does not move with people's intersubjective attitudes. "Had our beliefs and practices been very different, would it still have been true that so-and-so?" For subjective matters, such as fashion, that is not true (if top hats are out of style but then everyone starts wearing top hats again then top hats are no longer out of style). For objective matters it is still true regardless of beliefs/ practices (in the past when people did not think that cigarettes were bad for you so they still smoked them, cigarettes were still indeed bad for your health, even though people did not believe it it was still true). For moral issues, if they are objective (which this tests suggests) then the moral truths hold even if no one believes it is wrong (ex. even if gender discrimination was practiced and people at the time did not believe it was wrong, the wrongness remains; even if the people accept gender-based discrimination, the discrimination is not acceptable)
Terrorism is distinctly different than other violent acts. It sets off a moral cascade, not only do terrorists harm those they maim and kill, they intentionally harm the wider group by intentionally inducing fear. They try to make people afraid of doing daily activities; choose random people to unnerve the public. With enough fear you can't function normally, go out in public, communicate with strangers. Bad effects of fear are not overcome by ignoring it or the lack of logistical disruptions, still distraction, worse performance, etc. Terrorists treat physically unharmed public as means to an end of inducing fear to disrupt social structure.
To have an asymmetric response to Paris and Beirut attacks is to express one's view that Parisian lives are more valuable than Lebanese lives and since this is false, one is not morally justified in having an asymmetric response. - Impartial response
Many Americans have a relationship with Paris, France that they lack with the Lebanese. It's morally permitted to have a partial reaction towards things you have a certain relationship with. Furthermore, we are plausibly victims of the Paris attacks- ISIS is trying to make us afraid by attacking Paris but not by attacked Beirut.