PHI2604 - Quiz 2 (chapter 16)
Miami Dade Community College - Pant, Arunima Covers chapter 16 on Ethical Pluralism: Prima Facie Duties and Ethical Particularlism from The Fundamentals of Ethics book by Shafer-Landau
Terms in this set (35)
What is a monistic moral view?
The view that there is just a single absolute moral view.
True or False: Some [moral] absolutists reject monism. They think that there a number of moral rules that may never be broken.
Theories that reject both monism and absolutism [are] _____; they endorse the existence of at least two fundamental moral rules. And each of these rules is _____; in some cases, it is morally acceptable to break them.
Who was the Oxford professor and philosopher that developed a version a pluralism which rejects monism and absolutism?
According to Ross, what is a "prima facie duty"?
An excellent, nonabsolute, permanent reason to do (or refrain from) something - to keep one's word, be grateful for kindness, avoid hurting others, and so on.
True or False: Each prima facie duty is of fundamental importance, cannot be derived from one another or from any other more basic principle, and may sometimes be overriden by other such duties.
Why was Ross convinced that absolutism in all of its forms is implausible?
Because he believed that those which endorse more than one absolute rule are bound to yield contradiction, are too narrow, and fail to see that there are a number of independently important moral considerations (e.g., he accepted the utilitarian emphasis on doing good and preventing harm to others, but also agreed with Kant that justice was morally important in its own right).
What were the 7 prima facie duties identified by Ross that are each meant to represent a distinct basis of our moral requirements?
1. Fidelity: keeping our promises, being faithful to our word.
2. Reperations: repairing harm that we have done.
3. Gratitiude: appropriately acknowledging benefits that others have given us.
4. Justice: ensuring that birtue is rewarded and vice punished.
5. Beneficience: enhancing the intelligence, virtue, or pleasure of others.
6. Self-improvement: making oneself more intelligent or virtuous.
7. Nonmaleficence: preventing harm to others.
True or false: Ross made no claim to have provided a complete list [of prima facie duties other than the 7 he identified]. He allowed that there might be other prima facie duties. But each of these 7, he thought, definitely belonged on the list.
prima facie duty
can be misleading. That's because these things are not really _____, but rather permanent moral reasons that partly determine whether an action truly is, in the end, morally _____.
Suppose that there are situations in which there is
no reason at all
to benefit others. If that were so, would there be a prima facie duty of beneficience? Why?
No, because a prima facie duty is a permanent moral reason to determine whether an action is morally required, so the prima facie duty of beneficience assumes there is
a strong reason to benefit others.
True or false: Even if Ross's group of seven rules includes too much, or too little, this would nut undermine the ethic of prima facie duties, it would instead (and importantly) show that his list was off base, and that a better list might make the cut.
What are 4 advantages of Ross's view?
Pluralism (more than just a single fundamental moral consideration), that we are sometimes permitted to break the moral rules, that it makes good sense of our experience of moral conflict,
Why is pluralism considered an advantage and the greatest attraction of Ross's view?
Because it accomdates our sense that there is more than just a single fundamental moral consideration (e.g., it does seem that the very fact of our having promised to do something generates
reason to follow through, even if doing so fails to bring happiness, reward virtue, prevent misery, etc.)
Why is the idea that we are sometimes permitted to break the moral rules considered an advantage of Ross's view?
Because it easily explains the widespread belief that the moral rules may sometimes acceptably be broken (e.g., breaking a promise to meet a student for coffee if your daughter has a medical emergency and needs to be taken to the hospital).
How does Ross's view make good sense of our experience with moral conflict?
Because when duties conflict- they can't be fullfilled, which leads to contradiction in absolutist views, but is avoided with Ross's theory [because prima facie duties are considered very strong moral reasons for committing an action, not absolute rules] (e.g., a single mother choosing between her duty to report to work if she takes up a job or taking care of her child that is too sick to go to school/work can make the decision by considering which of the two prima facie/standing duties is most important/absolute, given the context.)
What is [moral] regret? Why is it considered an advantage of Ross's view?
Evidence that something of value has been sacrificed. It is considered an advantage of Ross's theory in that we think it's right to feel regret when moral claims conflict and we can't honor them all[, such as when] prima facie duties conflict, and one takes priority over the other [...] the lesser duty doesn't dissapear.
How does Ross's view provide a direct reply to all 3 anti absolutist arguments?
It responds to the Argument from Contradiction by showing that conflict among moral rules does not entail contradiction, since the moral rules he favors are not absolute; to the Argument from Disaster Prevention by agreeing with its claim that any moral rule may be broken to prevent a catastrophe, because none of Ross's moral rules are absolute; and to the Argument from Irrationality by agreeing with its charge that absolutism is inconsistent, since the values at the heart of its rules can sometimes be be better served by violating those rules, such as Ross's belief that we can break a promise in the scenario that we must do so to ensure many more are kept.
Why does Ross deny the push to consequentialism that lies at the heart of the absolutist Argument from Disaster prevention and Argument from Irrationality?
Because both arguments try to show that the morality of our actions always depends on their results, and are therefore consequentialist reasons for rejecting absolutism. While Ross did believe that moral rules are not absolute, and that results are morally important, he denied that they are all-important (e.g., Justice or improving oneself are sometimes more important than doing what is optimific).
True or false: Ross had us imagine a situation in which we are faced with a choice. We can benefit a person A by keeping our promise to him, or a Person B slightly more (though we have made no promise to him, and he has no expectation that we will benefit him). If we benefit B, we break a promise. Ross thought it obvious that we ought to keep our promise to A, showing that there is both a prima facie duty of fidelity, and that consequentialism is mistaken.
What may be the hardest problem for Ross's view?
Ross thinks that there is no fixed ranking of the various prima facie rules, no permanent ordering in terms of importance. The problem is that if we can't provide a fixed ranking of moral principles, then it isn't clear how we are to decide what to do when they conflict. That is because prima facie duties have no moral weight, they are always important, and their importance depends on the specifics of the situation, yet there are no guidelines we can use from case to case to help us know when a prima facie duty takes precedence over a competing duty.
Why is knowing the fundamental moral rules one of the hardest problems in ethics?
Because if the rule really is fundamental, then there are no deeper rules from which it derives its force. In this way, when we call such a rule into question, how can its correctness be defended?
What are the three traditional strategies for dealing with the problem knowing what the fundamental moral rules are?
Skepticism (denies that we can know what the fundamental moral rules are, because of "infinite regress"), coherentism (we can justify any moral claim by showing that it receives support from, and lends support to, a large number of our other beliefs), and self-evidence (a [moral] claim is self-evident just in case it is true, and adequately understanding it is enough to make you justified in believing it).
What is infinite regress?
A never-ending chain of questions and answers that skepticism refers to when it claims that we can't have knowledge of what the fundamental moral rules are, because it seems we defend rules by introducing another rule to support it (e.g., what's wrong with teasing children?
It humiliates them.
What's wrong with humiliating children?
It is emotionally painful.
What's wrong with imposing emotional pain? And so on and so forth.)
What is circular reasoning and why is it considered a problem for coherentism?
Circular reasoning amounts to defending a belief by a set of other beliefs whose justification ultimately traces back to the original claim in question (e.g., Abortion is immoral.
Because it kills a fetus.
Why is killing a fetus immoral?
Because that would be aborting it, and abortion is immoral.)
It is a problem for coherentism because it never justifies anything, according to the critics.
How do coherentists respond to the problem of circular reasoning?
By claiming that if the circle of reasons/beliefs is big enough, the beliefs in it may indeed be justified. For some especially well established beliefs (e.g., there is a physical world), there may literally be hundreds of other beliefs that support them, and are supported by them. This creates a broad network of mutual support, with the different beliefs reinforcing each other.
How does coherentism, if true, support Ross's view?
Because prima facie duties also receive a lot of support from other beliefs, including many of our beliefs about what is morally important in specific situations. There is abroad network of mutually supporting beliefs that contain Ross's principles of prima facie duties. Further, the thought that these duties have different weight in different contexts also recieves strong support from our considered moral beliefs.
Did Ross's picture of moral knowledge prefer coherentism? Why?
No, because Ross believed his 7 principles of prima facie duties were
, or that we can know them just by thinking about what they really stand for (i.e., if we can rid ourselves of distorting influences such as bias, hasty judgements, etc., we will be convinced that there is always something right about keeping promises, preventing harm, etc.)
True or false: Ross thinks that his theory of prima facie duties, and his confidence in their self-evidence, is in deep harmony with common sense.
True or false: Ross resisted consequentialism despite its charms of imposing order, system, and a unifying principle onto our moral thinking, because they conflict with our deepest beliefs about what is truly morally important.
What are the data of ethical thought, according to Ross?
Those moral beliefs that have survived very careful reflection.
Ross acknowledged that our actual, all-things considered moral duty on any given occasion is _____ something that is self-evident. [...] There is no definite method for guiding us from an understanding of the prima facie duties to a _____ moral verdict in any given case.
True or false: both virtue ethics and feminist ethics also deny that there is any surefire method for discovering moral truth.
The absence of a _____ procedure for arriving at conclusions is actually the
situation across all areas of thinking (except mathematics and its associated disciplines). [...] Science does not offer us a _____ procedure for identifying [better theories].
What are 4 examples of theoretical virtues?
Parsimony (employing fewer assumptions than competing theories); conservatism (preserving as much as possible of what we already believe); generality (explaining the broadest range of things); and testability (being open to experimental challenge and confirmation).
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