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Ethics Exam II
Terms in this set (42)
Explain the difference between the golden rule and the "what if everyone did that?" test. What problems arise for each? Do you think that they can be remedied?
The golden rule tells you to treat others as you would like to be treated. The problem that arises is that it makes morality depend on a person's desires, therefore if one is a masochist, they would have to cause other people pain. The golden rule focuses on desires.
The question "what if everyone did that" asks about the consequences of an action if everyone decided to do the action. Therefore, this question focuses on consequences. A problem with this is that the practice itself may not be wrong. An example given is that if everyone had gay sex, then there would be no births. But consensual and pleasurable sex in itself is not wrong.
These issues cannot be completely remedied.
What is a maxim and what does it mean for a maxim to be universalizable? Why does the principal of universalizability fail to be a good test of the morality of our actions?
A maxim is the principle you give yourself when you are about to do something. It says what you plan to do and why you are doing it. Universalizability is the feature of a maxim that indicates every rational person can consistently act on it.
1. State maxim clearly
2. Imagine a world in which everyone supports and acts on that maxim
3. The goal of action can still be achieved in that world
This principle of universalizability fails to be a good test of the morality of our actions because it does not have an adequate test of fairness for an action
According to Kant, it is always irrational to act immorally. What reasons does he give for thinking this? Do you agree with him?
Kant explained that when one acts immorally it is because they are acting inconsistently. You make exceptions for yourself. You act morally when your action are universalizable, which means you don't make exceptions for yourself. This is rational - not focused on one's desires or emotions.
What is the difference between hypothetical and categorical imperatives? Why did Kant think that morality consists of categorical imperatives?
Hypothetical imperatives are commands of reason. They command us to do whatever is needed in order to get what we care about. They tell us how to achieve our goals.- depend on what we care about. Categorical imperatives are commands of reason as well. They are rational requirements that do not depend on what we care about. Requirements of reason that apply to everyone who possesses reason - impartial
Don't kill! Be kind!
Kant thought that morality consists of categorical imperatives because the basic rules of morality do not depend on our desires. If they did, then moral rules would fail to apply to everyone because our desires differ from person to person. This would make morality too variable, and make it possible for people to escape from their moral duty just by changing what they want. Kant thought he was defending common sense when he claimed that morality is, in this sense, universal - that everyone who can reason must obey its commands.
Why does the existence of fanatics pose a challenge to Kant's moral theory? How do you think that the Kantian should respond to this challenge?
A fanatic may be absolutely dedicated to their principles, but if those principles are deeply flawed, it would be better morally speaking, for us to have less integrity. Fanatics, maxims, and principles are not universalizable.
Is integrity always a virtue? Why or why not?
Integrity is only a virtue when it is tied to morally legitimate principles. People of integrity may still be doing wrong.
Explain how one would show that a moral duty is absolute according to Kant's moral theory.
Kant argued that a moral duty was absolute if it followed the principle of universalizability. You know what a moral duty is by the action maxim and if that action is universalizable, and if a duty doesn't conflict with another duty.
What is the relationship between Kant's principle of universalizability and the principle of humanity? Do the two ever give conflicting advice? If so, which do you think is a better guide to our moral obligations?
The principle of humanity demands respect and dignity for people by insisting that one treats others as ends and not means. Universalizability focuses on the importance of fairness. These two conflict because you can be fair but still not respect people.
According to Kant, what is the source of human rights? What does his account imply about the rights of animals and disabled humans? Do you find his views on this subject plausible?
The source of human rights to Kant is if someone is rational and autonomous. Animals and disabled humans do not have rights, therefore they do not necessarily need to be treated with respect. Human rights protect rationality and autonomy.
What does Kant mean by "the good will"? How is it possible for someone to do the right thing, but still lack a good will? Do you agree that actions are praiseworthy only if they are preformed from the good will?
The good will is the ability to
1. reliably know what your duty is, and
2. a steady commitment to doing your duty for its own sake.
Acting from the good will is the only way that actions can be truly praiseworthy.
2. Universalizable or
1. Use the Principle of Humanity.
Kant endorsed the principle of lex talionis, which states that we should treat criminals as they treated their victims. What do you think is the strongest objection to such a view? Can this objection be overcome?
It is immoral to stoop to the level of a murderer and a potentially sociopathic murderer at that. It won't teach them a lesson, it's not like they will have a chance to ever again have the chance to lead a normal life in the outside world. The principle of lex talionis is just a cruel ending to a demented life.
Analyze this argument: if there is such a thing as moral luck, then we can be responsible for things that we cannot control. But we cannot be responsible for such things. So there is no moral luck.
Moral luck is found during cases in which the morality of an action depends on factors outside our control. This is a problem of negative responsibility and is therefore wrong. I don't think there is moral luck.
What is autonomy? Do you think people have it? Why or why not?
Autonomy is the freedom to choose one's own actions. I think people have a limited amount of autonomy. But it is true that there are many factors influencing our decisions. Our choices have causes that are ultimately beyond our control and are necessitated to be what they are and therefore are not autonomous.
If rationality and autonomy explain why we are as important as we are, how (if at all) can we explain the moral importance of infants and non-human animals?
Kant tries to explain this by saying that when we hurt infants and non-human animals, we are wronging who these infants/non-human animals belong to. Therefore, they have rights through people who are rational and autonomous, but not on their own.
How does ethical pluralism differ from ethical monism? Which view seems more defensible to you, and why?
Ethical monism include theories that argue there is one supreme rule that serves as the basis of all morality. Ethical pluralism says that there is a plurality of fundamental moral rules. I think ethical pluralism would be more defensible, because it allows for differences in morals between societies and times.
Do you think it would be morally permissible to kill an innocent person to save a thousand innocent people? Defend your answer.
If we wanted to save as many innocent people as possible, then I would say killing one innocent people would be morally permissible. Morality should allow us to prevent catastrophes and absolutes don't let us do that if they say killing an innocent life is wrong.
What is the doctrine of double effect, and how does it threaten consequentialism? Do you find the doctrine to be plausible? Why or why not?
The doctrine of double effect refers to two effects that actions can have: the ones we intend to bring about, and those that we foresee but do not aim for. Provided that your goal is worthwhile, you are sometimes permitted to act in ways that foreseeably cause certain types of harm, though you must never intend to cause such harms. DDE threatens consequentialism because it says that if two options have the same bad results, one might be wrong and the other right. Consequentialists base morality solely on its results. I think it's a good doctrine, because sometimes certain things need to be done and in any other situation it'd be viewed as morally wrong.
Can you think of a general way to distinguish between what we intend and what we merely foresee, such that the harms we intend are morally worse than those we foresee?
I think making people think about what will happen regardless will help distinguish. Say, "I intend to do this, but in order for this to happen, this bad thing needs to happen." Like the person carving up people for organs to give to innocent people. They could claim that their intent wasn't to kill the people in which they got organs from, but merely to help the other innocent people. But obviously this person knows that people can't live without their organs.
If an absolute rule against deliberately killing innocent people is not justified by the need to protect innocent life, then what does justify such a rule (if anything)?
You could make the argument that killing one innocent to protect many innocent lives would justify this rule, there is no moral absolute rule for protecting the innocent since you can still save the innocent by killing the innocent.
Why might the view that there are multiple moral rules generate a contradiction? How can ethical pluralists defend their theory against this possibility?
Because moral rules that contradict each other will and it has happened before. If your rule is keep your promise and not kill people, but if you promise to help out a friend and that friend is trying to get you to help them kill someone, then you'd have to break one of those rules.Ethical pluralists could say that some absolute moral rules have certain limitations and can be honored through inaction. If absolute rules can be obeyed by doing nothing, then they will never conflict.
Is doing harm always worse than allowing harm? Is it always possible to draw the line between the two?
I think doing harm is worse than allowing harm. Refusing to do the harm might have the effect of someone else doing it in your place, but there are just some things that are out of control. Sometimes it is not possible, because sometimes not doing something is also doing harm.
What exactly is a prima facie duty? How does an ethic of prima facie duties differ from monistic and absolutist ethical theories?
A prima facie duty is an 'excellent, nonabsolute, permanent reason to do (or refrain from) something—to keep one's word, be grateful for kindnesses, avoid hurting others. People face with different moral choices when other duties weighed the other one using instinctive judgment. This quick judgment can avoid harm to others, to bring happiness and pleasure.
Do you think that Ross's list of prima facie duties is accurate and complete? If not, either explain why some of those on the list do not qualify as prima facie duties or provide examples of other prima facie duties that should have been included in his list.
No, but the seven duties that he listed must be on the lists. Having sympathetic behavior, for example helping people out of compassion, volunteering in medical outreach or Red Cross.
Does the phenomenon of regret lend any support to Ross's theory? Why or why not?
Yes, because regret is evidence that something of value has been sacrificed. When prima facie duties conflict and one takes priority over the other, the lesser duty doesn't just disappear. Regret is our way of acknowledging this forsaken duty, our way of recognizing something of value was lost in the conflict.
To what extent does Ross's theory provide us with a method for deciding what the right thing to do is in particular situations? Is this a strength or a weakness of the theory?
Ross says that we can never be certain that the balance we strike is the correct one. Our moral duty is not self-evident. We might feel strongly about certain cases, however there is no definite method for guiding us from our prima facie duties to a correct moral verdict. This is a weakness because it leaves you unsatisfied because you aren't given any advice on how you should live.
Do you think that there is a formula determining in every case what our moral duty is? If so, what is it?
I think there is at least a basis of moral rules that a person should follow; what those rules are are entirely up to the person performing their moral duty. If they think they should protect the innocent, then using that moral rule for their duty determines what that person's moral duty is.
What is it for a belief to be self-evident? Do you think that there are any self-evident moral truths?
For a belief to be self-evident, it has to be (1) true and (2) adequately understanding it is enough to make you justified in believing it. Since moral truths are relative to those who believe them, having self-evident moral truths is contradictory, since not everyone believes in the same moral truths.
How does ethical particularism differ from Ross's ethic of prima facie duties? Can you think of any counterexamples of the particularist's central claim?
Ethical particularism differs from prima facie duties because it rejects the idea of moral importance as a duty, and views it in context instead. For the particularist, there is no absolute moral rules. A counterexample would be regretting something you did to another person, even if there are no absolute moral rules. There is always something you regret doing, which is evidence that there is a prima facie duty to not do certain things.
How might a person do the right thing but still fail to be morally admirable? How does virtue ethics account for this?
An example would be when your mom asks you to clean something and you do it but with a bad attitude. Virtue ethics accounts for this because it looks at character and not actions.
How do we come to know the right thing to do is in a particular situation, according to virtue ethics? How does this account of moral knowledge differ from the accounts given by previously discussed theories?
Situations are more complex so you need sensitivity, sound judgments, and emotional maturity. (Character is your emotions and desires).
-What helps you flourish.
-In consequentialism or utilitarianism you're going to apply rules and virtue ethics does not apply a rule.
This also looks at principle of utility which means to weigh outcomes of which brings out more well being.
Aristotle believed that being a virtuous person was essential to one's life going well. What reasons can be given in support of this position?
You need these virtues to flourish but even this isn't all you need because a negative event for example could occur and make you live an unhappy life even though you are doing the most you can. (Hanging upside down in a dungeon example)
What are tragic dilemmas? How might they pose a problem for virtue ethics?
-Tragic dilemmas are a situation where a person's life will be ruined no matter what they choose to do.
-This might pose a problem in virtue ethics because it seems like a virtuous person could choose a tragic choice or decision.
Does virtue ethics demands too much of us? Why/why not?
You might think it is too demanding because it is saying you need to be Ghandi, however virtue ethics responds to this by stating that you only need to act as a virtuous person would act in your given situation.
Virtuous people sometimes disagree with one another about which actions are right. Is this a problem for virtue ethics? Why/why not?
-It casques a contradiction between an action being right and wrong so virtue ethics states that if all virtuous people agree than the action is indeed morally required. If only some virtuous people agree then the action is only morally permitted.
-This is not a problem due to this distinction that is made.
What is the priority problem for virtue ethics? Do you think the virtue ethicist has an adequate reply to this problem?
-The priority problem is that our duty is to do what the virtuous person does but this is not a good explanation for why things are right or wrong.
-If it allows you to flourish you're a better person.
What distinctively "female" experiences do feminists claim are neglected by traditional ethical theories? How should our ethical theories incorporate them?
A. Giving birth and being a mother. This shows connections and importance of relationships.
B. Vulnerability to rape and domestic abuse. This shows vulnerability.
C. Unequal pay and exclusion from certain professions. This shows lack of autonomy.
-They should acknowledge that the moral experience of men and women are different and a complete moral theory should take into account of the moral experience of all humans.
Most ethical theories stress that impartiality is important to acting ethically. Why do feminists ethicists deny this? Do you think they are correct to do so?
They deny this because they prioritize care towards loved ones and care towards loved ones is partial (or not impartial)
Like Ross's pluralism, feminist ethics rejects the notion of a single supreme principle of morality. What are the advantages of this approach and the disadvantages.
Advantages: Flexibility and recognizing the complexity of moral situations.
Disadvantages: Hard to know what to do because there is not a simple answer.
How plausible do you think it is to model the moral relations between people on that of a caring mother to her child?
Not plausible to treat everyone as a mother treated a child and you can't be just if you're being partial.
How is feminist ethics similar to virtue ethics? How do the two approaches differ?
It tells you you should act like a virtuous person but doesn't give you rules to follow.
-Both emphasis development of character and being good people and both play a strong emphasis on emotions
-They differ because virtue ethics is broader.
Compare and contrast the role that virtue ethics and feminist ethics assign to the emotions.
Virtue ethics and feminist ethics help us decide what the right thing to do is with emotions and understand what is relevant in a situation.
Given that feminism is often associated with the idea of women rights, it seems strange that feminist ethics downplays the importance of rights. What are the reasons feminist ethicists give for doing so?
Rights divide us and feminist ethics is looking for connectivity.
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