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Arts and Humanities
Terms in this set (60)
minimum concept of morality
• The effort to guide one's conduct by reason
• To do what there are the best reasons for
doing, while giving equal weight to interests of
each individual who will be affected by one's
Inquire about the rightness or wrongness of
actions, character traits, social polices. How
one ought to act.
What is the nature of moral justification?
What makes something right or wrong?
two concepts of bioethics
normative and meta-ethical
the ethical terrain
rules and rights
general principles of normative ethics
1. Respect Autonomy
2. Act beneficently
3. Act nonmaleficently
4. Promote Justice
rules and rights
Specific rules in a context: What are
rights of patients? Obligations of
what do we do here and now
what makes something right or wrong and how do we know it
four levels of moral discourse
General source of ethics
Principles - beneficence,
Hippocratic Oath, Informed
Similar or paradigm examples
challenges to ethical theory
There is no moral facts, no moral truths, no moral
Moral utterances are only expressions of our
emotions or feelings towards something
Morality is relative to the society one lives in.
justification for relativism
1. Different cultures have different moral beliefs.
2. There is no decision procedure for resolving
3. Relativism promotes tolerance.
Moral Relativism towards
Moral relativists cannot promote tolerance if
tolerance can only be right in cultures that
We must be tolerant and open minded, but
Multiculuralism promotes understanding, but
unconditional acceptance of the practices
Utilitarianism principle of utility
What is right should produce
the greatest amount of good (happiness) on
balance. What is wrong produce unhappiness,
pain, or suffering.
A consequentialist ethics:
emphasizes outcomes rather than
motives and duties
consequences count, not
motives or intentions.
The maximization principle:
the more people
affected by an act, the more important it is.
A theory of value:
what is good can be
decided by different ideas of value.
A scope-of-morality premise:
counts once and no more
Value of equality:
take into consideration all
theories of value
What is good is what is pleasurable or
• What is good is relieving pain and suffering
• What is good is that which benefits humanity
or leads to human flourishing
• Utility is maximized by furthering peoples'
a utilitarian should judge the
utility of each particular act when deciding what
is the right moral act.
behaving according to
certain moral rules can serve as ways of
maximizing utility in the long run.
act and rule
how to maximize utility
Objections to Utilitarianism
• It seems impossible to perform a utilitarian
- Not enough time!
- Making predictions about the future is hard
• Divorces morality from what I did, instead only
focuses on what happened.
• It can conflict with our most basic moral
The rightness or wrongness of actions does not
depend on their consequences but on whether they
fulfill our duty.
- Certain types of actions (including murder, theft, and
lying) were absolutely prohibited, even in cases where
the action would bring about more happiness than
- This is a deontological ethics because it emphasizes
motives or duties. Deontological = "duty based"
('deontos' = duty).
how do we understand our duties
• People are only free when they act based on
rationally chosen obligations.
• A right act treats all other humans as ends-inthemselves,
and hence never as a mean-toan-
- Every human has intrinsic worth
is an objective, rationally
necessary and unconditional principle that we must
always follow despite any natural desires or
inclinations we may have to the contrary
There are two questions that we must ask ourselves
whenever we decide to act:
(i) Can I rationally will
that everyone act as I propose to act? If the answer is
no, then we must not perform the action. (ii) Does my
action respect the goals of human beings rather than
merely using them for my own purposes? Again, if the
answer is no, then we must not perform the action.
two tests for kantian ethics
A right act has a maxim that is universalizable.
Respect for persons: We should never act in
such a way that we treat humanity, whether in
ourselves or in others, as a means only but
always as an end in itself.
problems with kantian ethics
• How does one decide between permissible
actions in one particular case?
• Sometimes consequences are so important
that they must be given more consideration
• Treating people always as only as ends-inthemselves
social contract theory
Our moral obligations are determined by the
agreements we have made to each other and
we ought to fulfill our obligations because we
have agreed to them.
Social contract Hobbes
People are fundamentally self-interested,
so, it is rational for us as a group to agree to moral
rules; otherwise, we will protect our interests to
such an extent that violent savagery would result.
social contract kantian/rawlsian
Every person had natural
equality of moral status, which makes each person's
interests a matter of impartial concern. This
impartial concern is expressed in agreements that
recognizes each person's interests and moral status.
In order to decide what the correct ethical
principle is, one must perform a three-part
1. Imagine the world before legal and social
structures and no one knows their position in
society. (Original Position - veil of ignorance)
2. Imagine that in this circumstance everyone
comes together for a big discussion.
3. The outcome of (2) is an agreement as to which
ethical principles are the right ones for everyone.
principle of liberty
- Everyone is to have as much liberty as possible.
- Everyone has the same amount liberty.
principle of equality
- "Difference principle": all goods should be equally
distributed except where an unequal distribution
makes everyone, especially the worst off, better off.
- Equals should be treated equally and unequals
- Equality of opportunity: all the roles of the society are
open to everyone.
problems to social contract
• A problematic notion of rationality - why
should we all be so risk averse?
• The original position does too much work. If
we modify aspects of the original position,
then we can arrive at any theory of justice
natural law theories
Do good and avoid evil
- Ethics is grounded in concern for the
- what is the good life for human beings. But
things are not good because we desire them. They
are good and therefore we ought to desire them.
God's will or plan determine
what is good and evil
Every person, by the virtue of being human,
- Emphasizes autonomy and individual rights.
- Rights derive from some other ethical theory or
from our history.
Feminist approaches to ethics place emphasis
on people who are oppressed and in positions of
- Feminist ethics aim to challenge oppression,
discrimination, exclusion of minority groups.
- Calls attention to the private sphere, i.e. sexuality.
- Criticizes other moral theories from a feminist
An approach to ethics that emphasizes the
virtues, or moral character, in contrast to duties
or rules (deontology) or consequences of
- What would a virtuous person do? What would a
virtuous physician do?
- Compassion, courage, fidelity, courage, etc
1. Autonomy: Respect the capacity of individuals to
choose their own vision of the good life and act
2. Nonmaleficence: Refrain from harming others.
3. Beneficence: Foster the interests and happiness
of other persons and of society at large.
4. Justice: Act fairly, distribute benefits and
burdens equitably, and resolve disputes by
means of fair procedures.
- Reason from paradigm cases.
- The greatest confidence in our moral judgments
resides not at the level of theory, where we
endlessly disagree, but rather at the level of the
case, where our intuitions often converge without
the benefit of theory.
We must supplement our theoretical reasoning
A method which attempts
to harmonize all the elements contributing to
moral judgment, including intuitions about cases,
moral principles, moral theories, and background
theories of moral agency and social organization.
It is "holistic" and non-foundationalist insofar as
it emphasizes the importance of all these
disparate elements fitting together in a
the policy or practice on the part
of people in positions of authority of
restricting the freedom and responsibilities of
those subordinate to them in the
subordinates' supposed best interest.
four different models
respect for autonomy
One should respect the right of individuals to make their own decisions.
One should avoid causing harm to others.
One should take positive steps to help others.
Benefits and risks should be fairly distributed.
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