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Ethics Exam I
Terms in this set (78)
Philosophy (Greek definition)
philia+sophia= love of wisdom
a branch of philosophy which looks at basic assumptions concerning how we should act and what kind of people we should try to be.
Herodotus two claims that each person thinks that
his or her own cultural norms are right or better than those of other cultures
Greeks: Would never agree to eat the bodies of their fathers when they died (The Greeks, it is implied, burn the bodies of fathers after death)-Callatians: Would never agree to burn the bodies of their fathers when they died. (The Callatians eat the bodies of fathers after death).
Cultural Ethical Relativism
An action is right for a person if his or her culture says it is right; it is wrong for the person if his or her culture says it is wrong.
Cultural Ethical Relativism 5 Claims
RELATIVIST claim: Moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint.
2.DIFFERENCE claim: Different cultures have different moral codes (different moral values).
3.NO UNIVERSALS claim: There are no universal values shared by all human societies.
4.NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH claim: No standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others
5.TOLERANCE claim: We should refrain from passing moral judgments on beliefs and practices characteristic of cultures other than our own. It is mere arrogance or intolerance on our part to try to judge the conduct of other people. We should adopt an attitude of tolerance towards the practices of other cultures.
Cultural Differences Argument
Different cultures have different moral codes (different moral values). Therefore, there is no objective truth in morality. Right and wrong are only matters of opinion, and opinions vary from culture to culture.
Herodotus on CER
arguing that Cultural Ethical Relativism is correct, and that this theory can be supported by looking at the variation in moral beliefs among cultures
Ruth Benedict on CER
James Rachels on CER
discusses relativism (& lays out central claims at beginning of article) but thinks that some claims TRUE & others FALSE
Relativist Claim on Slavery
According to relativism, Slavery is not right or wrong. It is only right or wrong depending on what a particular culture says is right or wrong. If the culture says slavery is morally permissible (okay), then for them it is; if the culture says slavery is morally impermissible, then for them it is wrong.
Example to support Difference Claim
Some cultures embrace equality among all races and genders, but some Middle Eastern countries see men as superior to women, for women there have strict rules and laws to abide by.
Example to support the No Universals Claim
In our culture genocide is morally wrong. But it is not wrong in all cultures (in Nazi Germany genocide of Jews was considered morally permissible).
What can tolerance claim imply about:
a. Public nudity
b. The clothing people wear
We should refrain from passing moral judgments on beliefs and practices of cultures other than our own. It is mere arrogance or intolerance on our part to try to judge the conduct of other people. We should adopt an attitude of tolerance towards the practices of other cultures.
According to Benedict, what is the relationship between these psychological ideas (normal, abnormal) and ideas in ethics?
What is considered psychologically NORMAL in one culture may be considered ABNORMAL in another. The psychological categories of NORMAL and ABNORMAL are culturally relative. That is, whether a type of behavior is considered normal is merely a matter of cultural practice.
Normal according to Benedict
Abnormal according to Benedict
Benedict is a relativist about psychology. Explain what this means.
Argument: Psychological abnormality is culturally relative
1.Different cultures believe different sorts of behaviors are psychologically normal and abnormal (support: same examples)
2.The word "normal" means the same thing as "good" (morally acceptable); the word "abnormal" means the same thing as "bad" (morally unacceptable).
3.Morality is culturally relative4.So what is abnormal/ normal in psychology is also relative to particular cultures
What is Benedict's version of the Cultural Differences Argument?
Behavior that is normal in one culture but abnormal in another = Behavior that is good in one culture but bad in another.
In ancient Greece, what sorts of homosexual relationships were considered
Conditions in which homosexual relations between 2 men were accepted
Among some American Indian tribes there is a practice called BERDACHE (practiced by people who consider themselves TWO-SPIRITS). What is
involved in this cultural practice?
People who are biologically born with sexual characteristics associated with a particular gender, but take on the role typical of a person of the opposite sex.
According to Benedict, how was epilepsy historically viewed by Catholics?
Catholic saints had epilepsy, and this was mark of sainthood
Benedict argues that psychological abnormality is culturally relative. What is her
argument for this?
Different cultures believe different sorts of behaviors are psychologically normal and abnormal.
Explain the difference between: Individual Ethical Relativism and Cultural Ethical
INDIVIDUAL ETHICAL RELATIVISM:whatever a particular individual believes is right or wrong, is right or wrong, for them
CULTURAL ETHICAL RELATIVISM: whatever a particular culture believes is right or wrong, is right or wrong for people in that culture.
Explain why CER has an inconsistency in the theory, associated with the idea of tolerance.
The claim: "We should adopt an attitude of tolerance towards the practices of others" is one that the Cultural Relativist is putting forth as a UNIVERSAL MORAL TRUTH meaning we (all people, everywhere) should adopt an attitude of tolerance. But she also holds that there are no universal moral truths (moral truths that apply to all people, everywhere). This is a contradiction, so both claims can't be right.
Contradictions occur when a person asserts 1 thing and its opposite. Contradictions are irrational. The things claimed cannot all be correct.
There are 10 people in the room & there are not 10 people in the room
The triangle has 40 sides.
What is the Which Culture Problem?
Our nation, and many (if not all) others do not have a uniform culture that all people have. Most of us consider ourselves to be members of many groups which may have somewhat different moral codes.
What is normative ethics?
examine the the rules and standards of moral evaluation to determine which rules should be accepted (part of job of ethicist).
What is descriptive ethics?
describe rules that are accepted by X, where X is some person or some group of people (group could be culture, or country, or family...)
James Rachels argues that there is a problem with the Cultural Differences Argument. Explain the problem.
Just because people disagree about morality does not mean that there is no objective truth to be found
Rachels claims that one problem with CER is that, if it were true, we could no longer
say that other societies are morally inferior to our own, and it is important to make
But Rachels thinks that it is important to be able to criticize "less benign practices" - his examples: slavery, genocide. We could no longer say that some moral rules (or practices) are better (or worse) than others.
According to Rachels, Cultural Ethical Relativism suggests a simple test for
determining whether an action is right or wrong (in a culture). What is that test?
consult the cultures beliefs
What is Rachels' criticism of this test of right & wrong?
it is difficult to see the culture as a whole and pinpoint specific answers at times
How does "All cultural groups must place some value on truth telling" show universal value?
When a person in that society speaks, there is no presumption that what they say is true; anything they say is just as likely to be false as to be true.
What was tsujigiri?
Japanese term for a practice when a samurai, after receiving a new katana or developing a new fighting style or weapon, tests its effectiveness by attacking a human opponent, usually a random defenseless passer-by, in many cases during nighttime.
What would CER say about tsujigiri? What claim does it provide support for?
CER would say to support it and be tolerant of it because it is acceptable in that culture
An action is right for a person if it is in his or her own rational self-interest. (normative)
People always act in ways which they think will benefit themselves. (descriptive)
moral & legal rules arise through a social contract (agreement/ promise) that we all (implicitly) make to one another: I will follow the rules if you will, so that we may gain the benefits of living together
In both the book Coral Island and The Lord of the Flies, groups of boys find themselves stranded on islands, without any grown-ups to tell them how to behave.
Explain (briefly) what the boys' lives will be like, according to these works of fiction.
They would live in The State of Nature: The condition in which people live without government: without rules & without anyone to enforce rules: no one to ensure the peace. (no common power to keep them all in awe) = anarchy
In The Lord of the Flies, Ralph (the main character) tries to establish a government and rules for the boys on the island. What is his government missing that would
account for why the situation on the island rapidly degenerates into violence, (based on Hobbes' idea of a state of nature)?
The government must have some sort of person(s) in charge, with the power to make & enforce moral & legal rules
Hobbes presents an argument for the claim that in a state of nature humans will be in conflict with one another = will fight one another (be in a state of war). Explain the argument.
(1)Humans are in a constant state of desire (for those things we want for ourselves).
(2)In a state of nature, humans are equal.
(3)Because of our equality we have hope of being able to obtain those things we desire.
(4)Human desires can often come into conflict.
(5)Therefore, in a state of nature, our conflicting desires cause us to fight
an internal event/ motion towards an object (going towards chocolate cake)
an internal event/ motion away from an object (going away from a dog because you are afraid of it)
According to Hobbes, people are equal if they can do equal things to one another. There is one thing that (in a state of nature) anyone can do to anyone else, and that is the most important thing they could do to the other. What is that?
Hobbes argues that in a state of nature people are EQUAL. What is his argument?
We are all equal with one another in the sense that we all hold the life of each other person in our hands. We have equal power over one another's lives.
According to Hobbes, in the state of nature, people would lose all the benefits of civilization. Why?
"In such condition, there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building..."
According to Hobbes, in a state of nature, people's lives are solitary, nasty, brutish & short. Why?
Hobbes claims that in our normal experiences we show through our behavior that we have the same dark view of humanity that he has. Provide an example of a type of
behavior Hobbes points to that supports his claim.
locking the doors to your house, car, etc.
Suppose a group of boys are living on an island in the STATE OF NATURE. If one boy murders another, has he done anything wrong, according to Hobbes? Why/ why
No, there are no rules.
Why is there no injustice in a state of nature?
In a state of nature: there are no moral or legal rules. There is no property. The only rule: Do whatever you think will benefit you.
Why is the state of nature a state of perfect freedom?
1.To be free means to be able to do whatever one wants without constraints (without being locked up, tied, up, prevented from doing what you want).
2.Rules are constraints: They constrain us not to do particular types of actions.
3.In a state of nature there are no moral or legal rules.
4.Therefore in a state of nature one is in a state of perfect freedom.
Psychological Egoism (PE)
We always do what we think will be good for us (or prevent bad to us).
Provide an example of a behavior that involves SELF-HARM. Why is this an APPARENT counterexample to PE?
suicide, they try to hurt themselves and don't think it will benefit them
Provide an example of an altruistic action. Why is this an APPARENT counterexample to PE?
helping the homeless, it is a selfless act
How would the psychological egoist respond to this
apparent kind of counterexample? (self-harm)
The person who attempts to commit suicide believes that she will be better off if she kills herself than if she does not. She thinks this benefit her. (Though, she may be mistaken).
How would the psychological egoist respond to this
apparent kind of counterexample? (altruism)
The person who does good for others does so because she thinks it will benefit her: because it makes her personally happier to do so, or because if she did not she would feel guilty (not as happy).
How would the psychological egoist explain the action of Wesley Autrey? (train guy)
he wanted to be known as heroic, it made him feel like a good person
an act is right if it is in a person's own rational self-interest.
Explain the difference between acting selfishly and acting in one's own rational self-interest.
Rational self interest is what will benefit you most, based on considering what the likely consequences of your choices are, in the long run (all things considered).•But selfishness is often NOT in our rational self-interest. Selfishness tends to look only at the very short term gains of doing an action.
Explain why it is likely in my own rational self-interest to save the drowning child.
it will benefit you in order to avoid guilt
Hobbes thinks that there are some universal moral laws. How does this arise from the theory of Ethical Egoism?
There are some rules that are in the rational self-interest of all people (RIGHT). These are rules derived by REASON when people consider what is in his/ her own rational self-interest.
What is the Right of Nature? (jus naturale)
the laws common to all human beings
According to Hobbes, what does the RIGHT OF NATURE imply about suicide? Why?
it could be in their rational self interest to end the pain they feel
1st Natural Law
Every man ought to endeavor peace:Our judgment tells us that we ought to give up some of this absolute freedom to do anything at all (state of nature), in order to gain the benefits of society and to gain security
2nd Natural Law
2.In a state of war, people have the right/ freedom to do anything (perfect freedom: including killing, stealing, etc.)
(3)In order to gain peace, each person needs to agree with others to restrict their freedoms (not free to do anything - there are some things we give up the right to do, in exchange for gaining peace).
(4)It is rational to agree to reduce one's freedoms as much as others agree to reduce their freedoms.
(5)Therefore whatever laws apply to one person apply equally to all others.
Inalienable Rights (Hobbes)
Rights where it is not in your rational self-interest to give up your right to this
Why doesn't PE imply EE?
Even if a person thinksthat doing X will benefit them in some way, it does not follow that that they should do X
What are three features of good scientific theories?
a.They are based on OBSERVATIONS
b.They allow us to make PREDICTIONS about the future
c.They help us EXPLAIN why some things happen in one situation & other things happen in a different situation (explanatoriness)
Why doesn't the scientific theory allow for PREDICTION? (PE)
1. Scientific theories are based on OBSERVATIONS. But PE is not.
2. Scientific theories allow us to make PREDICTIONS about the future. PE does not allow us to make any predictions about human behavior.
Why isn't PE EXPLANATORY? Provide an example to help.
Scientific theories help us explain why some things happen in one situation & other things happen in a different situation, PE does not.
EX: NICK shares carrot cake with me on Monday. And ISABELLEdoes not share carrot cake with me on Tuesday. And suppose you accept that People always act in ways they think will benefit themselves. This does not provide an adequate explanation for this difference in behavior between what NICK AND ISABELLE do.
A counterexample is intended to show that the rule or principle is not correct, because the rule or principle comes up with the wrong answer in some situations.
Provide a COUNTEREXAMPLE to Ethical Egoism.
Person with normal emotions vs. Sociopath
James Rachels argues that Ethical Egoism is a form of discrimination. Explain his argument.
Rachels: I should only do those things which are in MY OWN rational self interest; the interests of OTHERS have no value of their own. They only matter if paying attention to their interests in some way benefits ME. But this is deeply unfair & wrong. It is, according to Rachels, a type of DISCRIMINATION: Where I unfairly treat my own group (in this case a group of 1) as having more value than others. This is UNFAIR because my interests (the things that matter to me) are of no more importance than the interests of others.
How does Ethical Egoism unfairly separate people into two groups? What are the two groups? Why is this unfair?
separates people into two groups: self & other -and where one's own interests are treated as having ALL value than the interests of others are treated as having no value
Discrimination involves treating different groups of people differently, in a way which is unfair.
When is different treatment of groups FAIR; when is it
FAIR when there is a relevant factual difference between groups. Different treatment of groups is UNFAIR when there is no relevant factual difference between groups.
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