Theory of Ethics- Philosophy 2310
Terms in this set (72)
a statement which is presented as true but without any evidence
A series of statements presented as evidence for or proof of a given conclusion
A statement about what we ought to be the case and/or what we ought to do
A statement about what is the case and/or how people actually tend to behave
Any theory concerned with justifying normative statements
Is the field of philosophy concerning the foundation for normative statements
Refers to any position which denies that there exist true moral statements
Anything which is present to the mind is either an impression or an idea
1. Impressions of sensation
2. Impressions of reflection ( found in emotional experience)
Why does Hume believe that moral statements cannot be generated by reason?
1. Morals influence actions/ affections ( we act out of passion)
2. Reason discovers truth/falsehood in relation between objects/relation between ideas ONLY
What is Hume's conclusion?
There is no truth in moral statements, the best we can do is come to a general consensus.
What does Hume's moral skepticism lead to?
Refers to any meta-ethical theory which holds that normative statements' truth/falsity are determined by/for some subset of the population
relative to families/societies/individuals
What are the two forms of Moral Relativism?
1. Cultural Relativism
2. Ethical Egoism
Refers to the belief that moral claims' truth/falsity are determined by the culture/society in which those claims are made
Refers to the position that one ought to always act in their own self-interest
There is only one thing that motivates human beings: self-interest
Therefore, altruism cannot exist
NOT a moral theory
What is the supreme value for Confucius?
What does Confucius say we ought to do?
Because social harmony is the highest fulfillment and purpose for human beings, we ought to do whatever it is that will produce/preserve social harmony
We all have a duty to respect and obey our ancestors, parents, and other elders within our family
essential to social harmony because they impose duties on all members of society
Divine Command Theory
An action is morally required because God commands and immoral because God forbids it
Natural Law Theory
An action is right because it is natural and wrong because it is unnatural
What makes a good human based on Natural Law Theory?
A good human being is a person who fulfills their human nature and a bad person is one who doesn't
What are the two requirements of natural law theory?
1. That we know what our human nature is
2. That we know whether or not various actions fulfill it
The ethical theory that we ought to do whatever produces the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain for all beings
Who was the first Utilitarian?
What is utilitarianism a form of?
Refers to an ethical theory which determines whether or not an action is right based on the empirical consequences of that action
What is Utility according to Bentham?
The tendency of an object, state of affairs, or action to produce pleasure or minimize pain
What are the final causes of human action/life according to Bentham?
The pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain
How should we determine what we ought to do according to Bentham?
The morally correct thing to do is determined by a utilitarian calculation- add all the pleasure subtract all the pain and compare the total of different actions
What does Bentham say about qualitative pleasure/pain?
It does not exist. There is no hierarchy. Only greater/lesser quantities of pleasure/pain
What is Bentham's conclusion?
The end justifies the means
One must act to get happiness (Bentham's form of utilitarianism)
What revisions does Mill make to Bentham's system of Utilitarianism?
1. There ARE qualitative hierarchies of pleasure- some pleasures are more desirable than others even in lesser quantities
2. Introduces secondary moral rules
Secondary Moral Rules
Fidelity, fair play, and honesty
If you follow secondary rules then we know that our pain/self-sacrifice will bring greater pleasure to the world (Mill's Utilitarianism)
Social Contract Theory/Contrarianism
Refers to any theory which holds that there exist moral obligations which are derived from an agreement between the members of a shared body politic
What is Contrarianism a form of?
A form of proceduralism, which holds that the correct moral views are those that permitted by free, equal and rational people on the condition others obey those rules
What is Hobbes view of human nature?
Humans are driven by imagination and a progression of one desire after another without any relation between desires. People are NOT governed by reason, even when they can reason.
What is Hobbes view on Human beings?
Human beings are almost exactly equal in their capacities, nobody is strong/smart enough to outdo the rest of humanity.
Why does Hobbes think an absolutist government is necessary?
Human beings are inevitably led into conflict with each other
human life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
What does establishing the Leviathan do?
We give up our right of nature for a more limited civil, moral, and political rights
Right of Nature
Our ability to do whatever we can to help us survive
When we are in the state of nature we have the right of nature
Law of Nature
General rules that prevent us from doing things which might endanger, harm, or kill us
We NEED a leviathan to keep peace
State of Nature
War of all against all
Human life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
How does Rousseau differ from Hobbes in Social Contract Theory?
1. Human nature is basically good- "noble savage" most vicious tendencies are because of private property
2. Denies that a force can ever be the basis for moral duties or rights- unanimous consent is needed
Why does Rousseau believe that a person cannot give up their rights/ enslave themselves?
In giving up their rights/enslaving themselves they would being giving up the capacities that make them human/ capable of forming/respecting a social contract
What two things are required of the Social Contract according to Rousseau?
1. Natural Right must be protected by the contract
2. Popular will- the state is only necessary/ required insofar as its existence/actions are in keeping with the will of the people
Contrarianism according to Rawls
Rawls introduces the concept of the veil of ignorance behind which we know that we have certain basic human needs/want but know nothing of religious identity, ethnicity, social or economic status, sex, or moral character
Why is is Rawls version of Contrarianism an improvement over earlier versions?
why rational people will select choices that rational and fair for everyone
The fool is someone who admits to breaking his promises, is unjust, but doesn't care if he behaves justly or not
What is an argument against Rawls version of the Social contract?
Why should I follow the rules of someone completely unlike me- a contractor behind the veil of ignorance?
What is an argument against Hobbes's version of the social contract in comparison to Rawls ?
Rules agreed upon from behind the veil of ignorance are more likely to be fair than those agreed upon by people with different abilities and amounts of power
Any situation in which all people would be better off if all could agree to scale back their pursuit of self-interest
When lots of people cooperate in a way that brings about a common good, all people can benefit from it, even those who didn't contribute
An action that is above and beyond the call of duty
A standard of Rightness
Tells us the condition under which actions are morally right
A decision Procedure
A method that allows us to reliably make the right decisions about what to do
Argument from Value Measurement ( against Utilitarianism)
1. Utilitarianism is true if there is a precise unit of measurement that can determine the value of an action's result
2. There is no such unit of measurement
3. Therefore, utilitarianism is false
Argument from Injustice (against Utilitarianism)
1. The correct moral theory will never require us to commit serious injustices
2. Utilitarianism sometimes requires us to commit serious injustices
3. Therefore, utilitarianism is NOT the correct moral theory
What are Bentham's Four Sanctions?
1. Physical- bodily pleasure/pain
2. political- product of institutionalized human agency, reward/punishment
3. Moral/Popular- the product of chance human agency
4. Relgious- the product of divine agency
Bentham distinguishes between causes of but NOT types of pleasure
The Self-Reliance Argument (Ethical Egoism)
1. If everyone were to mind his own business and tend only to his own needs, then everyone would be better off
2. We ought to do what will make everyone better off
3. Therefore, we ought to mind our own business and tend only to our own needs
The Libertarian Argument (against Ethical Egoism)
Our moral duties have only two sources:
*Therefore, if I have NOT consented to help someone and owe him no reparation for harm, I'm not obligated to help him
The Best Argument (Ethical Egoism)
1. If you are morally required to do something, then you have good reason to do it
2. If there is a good reason for you to do something, then doing it must make you better off
3. Therefore, if you are morally required to do something then doing it must make you better off
Argument of Psychological Egoism
1. Whenever you do something, you expect to be better off as a result
2. If you expect to be better off as a result of your actions, then you are aiming to promote your self-interest
3. Therefore, whenever you do something, you are aiming to promote your self-interest
The Argument from Avoiding Misery (Ethical Egoism)
1. If we would never do an action that promised only person misery, then all of our actions are done in an effort to avoid such misery
2. We would never do an action that promised only personal misery
3. Therefore, all of our actions are done in an effort to avoid personal misery- and that is self-interested motivation
What are two Egoistic Strategies
1. Appeal to the guilty conscience
2. Expand the realm of self-interest
The only primary source we read that talked about Divine Comand theory
What is Euthyphro Question?
Are acts pious because the gods love them, or do the gods love actions because they are pious?
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