PHI 180-13 Ethics
Terms in this set (31)
What is Ethics?
The study of right/wrong, good/bad, different moralities & beliefs, societal codes of conduct.
What are theories?
Descriptions that explain & justify a set of statements and tries to be true.
Two kinds of theories
1. Ethical/normative (standard) theories - try to set up values. Ex. Murder is wrong.
2. Meta-ethical theories - theory that all we are doing is expressing our opinions - culture supporting certain values.
Ethical and normative theories do 2 different things
1) provide either/or theory of obligation and/or theory of value.
Theory of obligation - actions people SHOULD take.
Theory of value - something worthwhile or avoided. Respect peoples' will
Divine Command Theory
Is both theories normative and meta-ethical. The problem exists when used normative. An action is right (or wrong) if God commands it (or forbids it). This theory is incomplete because there is no info about right/why. DICTATOR
(philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved. Something is true for me and not for you.
There are no universal moral truths. Different cultures define the right of good for themselves.
Cultural Differences Argument
Different cultures have different moral codes (a lot of diff views), There is no universal moral code. (note: if everyone has a moral code than how can there be no universal code?) People disagree therefor there is no truth=false. UNIVERSAL
3 possible universal truths
1. "progress" is an incoherent concept - things don't get better or worse things are just changed.
2. no cross cultural critique "shush it".
3. No indiv non-conformist possibilities.
Pressures to conform - you just follow society.
Deals with the nature of moral judgment. It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles.
Is concerned with the content of moral judgments and the criteria for what is right or wrong.
Looks at controversial topics like war, animal rights and capital punishment.
Ethics is about the 'other'
At the heart of ethics is a concern about something or someone other than ourselves and our own desires and self-interest.
Ethics is concerned with other people's interests, with the interests of society, with God's interests, with "ultimate goods", and so on.
So when a person 'thinks ethically' they are giving at least some thought to something beyond themselves.
Four ethical 'isms'
•I might be making a statement about an ethical fact •"It is wrong to murder" •This is moral realism.
•I might be making a statement about my own feelings •"I disapprove of murder" •This is subjectivism.
•I might be expressing my feelings •"Down with murder" •This is emotivism.
•I might be giving an instruction or a prohibition •"Don't murder people" •This is prescriptivism
is based on the idea that there are real objective moral facts or truths in the universe. Moral statements provide factual information about those truths.
teaches that moral judgments are nothing more than statements of a person's feelings or attitudes, and that ethical statements do not contain factual truths about goodness or badness.
In more detail: subjectivists say that moral statements are statements about the feelings, attitudes and emotions that that particular person or group has about a particular issue.
If a person says something is good or bad they are telling us about the positive or negative feelings that they have about that something.
So if someone says 'murder is wrong' they are telling us that they disapprove of murder.
These statements are true if the person does hold the appropriate attitude or have the appropriate feelings. They are false if the person doesn't.
the view that moral claims are no more than expressions of approval or disapproval.
This sounds like subjectivism, but in emotivism a moral statement doesn't provide information about the speaker's feelings about the topic but expresses those feelings.
When an emotivist says "murder is wrong" it's like saying "down with murder" or "murder, yecch!" or just saying "murder" while pulling a horrified face, or making a thumbs-down gesture at the same time as saying "murder is wrong".
So when someone makes a moral judgment they show their feelings about something. Some theorists also suggest that in expressing a feeling the person gives an instruction to others about how to act towards the subject matter.
Think that ethical statements are instructions or recommendations.
So if I say something is good, I'm recommending you to do it, and if I say something is bad, I'm telling you not to do it.
There is almost always a prescriptive element in any real-world ethical statement: any ethical statement can be reworked (with a bit of effort) into a statement with an 'ought' in it. For example: "lying is wrong" can be rewritten as "people ought not to tell lies".
An extension of Aristotle's thoughts and christian doctrine. Transitional figure. He believes in one God. Nothing can exist without this one God.
Natural Law Theory
The theory that morality is a function of human nature and reason can discover valid moral principles by looking at the nature of humanity and society. Natural law is the imprint of Eternal Law on its creatures.
God's will,God's wisdom as manifested in all acts and movements.
Law promulgated by human authority, either civil or ecclesiastical. In order to be legitimate,Aquinas says human law must be consistent with laws of God, conform to the natural law, and promote the good of society.
This is the Bible, which Aquinas believed reflects the eternal law of God. However this can only be seen by those who believe in God. This can't be proven.
All things have in common that they exist and procreate. Suicide is wrong! Must have sex naturally or it is perverse.
Four different levels of law
Eternal, Divine, Natural, Human
Two sources of moral error
1. Bad ideas/information.
2. Evil will.
A theory associated with Jeremy Bentham that is based upon the principle of "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." Bentham argued that this principle should be applied to each nation's government, economy, and judicial system.Lying in and of itself is right/wrong. "The ends justifies the means".
A person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self gratification. The only thing that has intrinsic value is pleasure. Mental please includes not just base things. Hedonist cannot be an egotist-must be utilitarianist.
Enlightened Self Interest
Act like you care so it comes back to you. Investment.
This man believed that relying on consequences to make ethical decisions is not a valid way. People must always be treated as "ends in themselves". What makes an action morally worthy is the intent with which its performed-not the good/bad consequences of the action.
The normative position that judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to a rule or rules. Sometimes described as "duty", "obligation", or "rule" based ethics.