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Terms in this set (56)
What is Ethics?
The philosophical study of morality. Ethics deals with morality, but it is not the same as morality. Morality is the subject matter that ethics studies.
Good and bad; right and wrong.
Distinction between "ethics" and "morality."
What is Morality?
Morality consists of the standards that an individual or a group has about what is right and wrong or good and bad.
The term comes from BOTH
the Latin (meaning "mores")
the Greek (meaning "ethos")
Each derives their meaning from
the idea of custom.
Morality Refers to
Certain Practices of Peoples and Cultures
Positive or Descriptive Morality
used to describe actual beliefs and customs of a culture
Refers to philosophical or theoretical reflection on morality
Ethical theories come from moral
Refers to the whole domain of morality and moral philosophy
Both areas are connected by common concerns in different ways through:
Values, Virtues, Principles
Moral Philosophy 2
The systematic endeavor to
understand moral concepts and
justify moral principles and theories.
Moral Philosophy analyzes concepts
and terms like: right/wrong, ought, and good/evil.
Moral Philosophy 3
Seeks to establish principles of right behavior to serve as a guide for individuals and groups.
Investigates which values and virtues are important for a worthwhile life in society
Moral Precepts Concern Social Norms
Morality has a normative aspect in that it has a distinct guiding function which is also shared by religion, law and social etiquette.
Morality functions differently in religion, law and social etiquette.
Morality In Religion
Morality is usually essential to the religion's practice.
The moral principles are grounded in revelation and divine authority of that religious belief system.
Morality and Law
Laws are instituted to promote social and individual well being.
Laws resolve conflicts of interest.
Laws promote social harmony.
Morality also does all of these three.
Ethics may judge that some laws are immoral without denying that those same laws are valid laws.
Law and Morality Differ
According to the concept of 'Intent'
Bad intentions (mens rea) is factored into the legality of a criminal act.
But, no one can be punished for only thinking bad thoughts according to the law.
The enforcement of Law has physical (imprisonment) and financial (fines) sanctions.
Sanctions of conscience, guilt, reputation, etc. enforce morality.
Morality and Etiquette
Etiquette determines what is polite social behavior.
Morality determines what is correct or right social behavior.
Can not obeying social custom in some cases be considered immoral?
Religion, Law, & Etiquette have limitations in society
Religion -Rests on Authority that some people question.
Law - Every social ill does not have a law and all rules cannot be enforced.
Etiquette - Does not go to the depth of what is existentially important
Distinction between normative and factual statements (a.k.a. fact/value distinction). Ethical disagreements are usually not resolved (if they are resolved at all) by appealing to facts.
A normative statement expresses a value judgment of some kind, and its correctness is determined by reference to a norm or standard.
Examples of Normative Statements
Stealing is wrong.
It is never permissible to lie.
You should not cheat on your spouse.
Capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment.
Affluent nations have a moral duty to assist impoverished nations.
Paradox of Ethics
Ethics is enormously important but difficult to think about clearly and responsibly.
Seems like reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements on ethical issues.
Sources of Morality
We can get our sources from
Music Video games
Why is Ethics Important?
Much of what we are and do is determined by our moral values, because our values shape our thoughts, feelings, actions, and perceptions [Beliefs Actions].
PETA vs. PETA
So Why Study Ethics?
On an intellectual level, studying ethics can help you participate intelligently in society's ethical debates (e.g., abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment).
On a professional level, many professions (e.g., law, medicine, engineering, nursing) have rules of professional conduct to which you're expected to adhere.
Consider The Consequences Of NOT Caring
Demotion, termination, monetary fines, loss of company reputation, bankruptcy, imprisonment.
The government may investigate companies suspected of ethical and legal improprieties.
-Arthur Andersen -Adelphia
Need for Morality
Why do we need morality? There are many responses to this question.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) stated:
Humans create a 'social contract or
covenant' to create a standard of
social morals to counteract our
'state of nature' as he saw humanity.
But Don't We Need Morality?
Morality is the force in humanity that can keep us within a human behavior that advocates decency and respect.
Morals are a set of rules that if everyone follows them, nearly everyone will flourish.
Purposes of Morality
These rules restrain our freedom in order to promote greater freedom and well being for us and for all in society.
There are generally five purposes of morals that are related but not all identical.
Five Moral Purposes
-To keep society from falling apart
-To ameliorate human suffering
-To promote human flourishing
-To resolve conflict of interest justly and in a orderly manner
-To assign praise, blame, reward, punishment and guilt in society
The Goal of Morality
-To create happy virtuous people
-To create and support flourishing communities based on order and justice
-To provide guidelines for people to achieve the above
-To promote the good of morality
Extreme view: Morality is the most important subject on earth.
Without it, we can not promote the good of humanity.
Moral rules are not relative.
They are not totally absolute; they can override one another.
Traits of Moral Principles
Central to morality are moral principles which have these five traits:
This refers to the practice or action guiding nature of morality.
This trait of moral principles advises people and influences action.
Moral principles must apply to all who are in relatively the same situation.
They must apply to all evaluative judgments.
They must be used consistently.
An authority that takes precedence over other considerations including aesthetic, prudential and legal concerns.
When principles conflict, one must override the other(s) for an action to be morally justified.
Moral Principles must be known by all and must be made public.
Keeping a moral principle secret would defeat the purpose of having a moral principle.
But cf. "cultural defense
Moral Principles must be workable to all in the general society.
Rules must not be too much for any one person.
Rules must take human limitation into consideration.
Difference in ethical standards occur over time and place.
Most well-known and controversial ethicist in the philosophical world
Peter Singer facts
Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Center for Human Values, Princeton University
Protest Letter: Not everyone was pleased with Singer's hiring by Princeton.
We the undersigned protest the hiring of
Dr. Peter Singer as the Ira DeCamp
Professor of Bioethics at Princeton
University's Center for Human Values.
We protest his hiring because Dr. Singer
denies the intrinsic moral worth of an
entire class of human beings - newborn
children - and promotes policies that
would deprive many infants
with disabilities of their basic human
right to legal protection against
Is There Any Such Thing As Moral Expertise?
Is the layman just as likely to be an expert in moral matters as the moral philosopher?
C.D. Broad's Opinion
"It is not part of the professional business of moral philosophers to tell people what they ought or ought not to do. . . . Moral philosophers, as such, have no special information not available to the general public, about what is right and what is wrong; nor have they any call to undertake those hortatory functions which are so adequately performed by clergymen, politicians, leader-writers . . ."
Peter Singer's Response
First, his general training as a philosopher should make him more than ordinarily competent in argument and in the detection of invalid inferences [logical fallacies].
Next, his specific experience in moral philosophy gives him an understanding of moral concepts [ethical theories] and of the logic of moral argument.
Finally, there is the simple fact that the moral philosopher can, if he wants, think full-time about moral issues, while most other people have some occupation to pursue which interferes with such reflection.
Generally speaking, though, philosophers do not accept a statement solely ...
on the basis of an individual's authority, no matter how eminent.
What Ethics is Not
1. Ethics is not about a set of prohibitions particularly concerned with sex. There are other ethical issues to discuss.
2. Ethics is not an ideal system that is noble in theory but no good in practice.
3.Ethics is not something intelligible only in the context of religion. It is possible to think critically and responsibly about ethical issues independently of religious consideration.
4.Ethics is not relative or subjective.
Is it still possible . . . to give reasons for choosing one way of life in preference to another? Is it all a matter of what will make us happier, or live a more meaningful and fulfilling life?
Some Ways NOT to Answer Moral Questions
Personal preferences and opinions.
Why thinking it so does not make it so.
The irrelevance of statistics.
The Ideal Moral Judgment
6.Valid Moral Principles
No Double Standards Allowed
Have important concepts been analyzed, and if so, have they been analyzed correctly?
Does the author argue from a basis of knowledge of the real-life setting(s) in which a moral question arises?
Is the author rational? (Do the arguments presented observe the rules of logic?)
Is there a lack of appropriate impartiality? (Is someone, or some group, arbitrarily favored over others?)
5. Are things argued for in a state of strong emotion? (Are deep feelings rhetorically vented in the place of hard thinking?)
6. Are the moral principles used valid ones? (Is any effort expended to show that they meet the appropriate criteria?)
Generally there are four domains which evaluate rules of right conduct
Actions are usually termed
right or wrong.
'Right' can be an ambiguous term.
Right can mean
Right Action - 2 Types
Optional Act - An act not obligatory or wrong to do; not your duty to do or not to do
Obligatory Act - An act you must do; you are required to do; you may not refrain from doing it.
One has an obligation or duty to refrain from doing the action.
One ought not to do the action at all.
It is not an act that is permissible for one to do.
These actions are within the range of permissible acts.
These are highly altruistic acts.
These are not required or obligatory acts.
They exceed what morality requires.
They go beyond 'the call of duty.'
'Deon' is from the Greek word 'Duty'
These theories emphasize the nature of an action.
They hold that there is something inherently good or right about certain actions and wrong or bad about other actions.
Actions based on the foreseeable outcome of a course of decision
Theories that focus on consequences in determining what is moral/right or immoral/wrong are termed:
Teleological Ethical Theories
'Telos' is Greek and means goal directed.
Character reflects actions that emphasize virtue.
Virtue empowers character to do good.
Most moral theories consider virtue important.
But, virtue is not always central to all moral theories.
Moral actions take into account the intention or motivation of the actor prior to the act itself.
The full assessment of an act considers intention or motive.
Motive and intent are relevant factors in any given action.
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