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Arts and Humanities
Ethical Theory Final
Terms in this set (61)
Emphasizes the virtues, or moral character.
Being virtuous involves more than just doing the right act.
Cultivating the virtues, and extirpating vices, will help one become a good person.
"What makes an action right is that it is what a virtuous agent would characteristically do"
Emphasizes duties or rules
Emphasizes the consequences of actions
Moral principles as a simple code.
Rules must be:
- A decision procedure for determining the right action in any particular case
-Stated in terms that a non-virtuous person could understand and apply them correctly
Virtue Ethics rejects this conception of morality (but so does deontology and pluralist consequentialism)
Is virtue ethics a genuine rival to deontology and consequentialism?
No, because there's no way to find out how the virtuous agent would act.
Traditional View (Hume)
Reason, rather than passion (desire) should direct our actions.
Hume's counter-claim: Reason alone can neither initiate action, nor can it oppose passion in directing the will.
Why can't desires be contrary to reason?
Because they cannot be accurate or inaccurate, true or false
The view that the only entities and properties that exist are the ones investigated by science
Those who identify the property of being good with some natural property, such as being pleasant, or being what we desire to desire
Importance of Moore
Despite his errors, Moore shows that the following are the only possibilities:
1. Accept naturalism; moral claims cannot be investigated by science; so there are no moral facts.
2. Accept naturalism; moral facts are natural facts; so they can be investigated by science.
3. There are moral facts; moral claims cannot be investigated by science; so, there are non-natural facts.
1. Moral judgments are meaningless (nonsense, lack significance)
2. Moral judgments cannot be true or false
3. No disputes about questions of value
(1) if taken literally, is silly. Ayer allows that commands have meaning.
Conception of the Good Life (Aristotle)
Eudemonia, living well, flourish.
To Aristotle, this is a life that consists in virtuous activity and contemplation as well as being supplied with adequate external goods.
"The human good turns out to be an activity of our rational natures that expresses what is excellent about our rationality."
Method of Moral Philosophy, and Limits of Moral Reasoning (Aristotle)
Begin with common beliefs, move to more educated ideas, then make arguments based on both and additional thought.
Limit is the amount of precision that the subject allows.
Good of a thing depends on that thing's function.
Function of a human being is life that expresses reason.
The good of a human being is, therefore, some kind of a life that expresses reason.
So, Good -> Reason
Definition of Virtue
A state that decides, consisting in a relative mean, which is defined by reason, which is determined by the virtuous person.
Differences between virtuous person and strong-willed person
Virtuous person wants good, aims at good, and acts good.
Strong willed person wants bad, but aims at good and acts good.
Account of virtue as mean between extremes
Virtue is a mean relative to every circumstance between excess and deficiency-- having right beliefs at the right time about the right things.
What is virtue ethics, according to Hursthouse?
A theory that tells what right action is which is different from consequentialism and deontology (agent-centered)
How should one decide what is the right action, according to virtue ethics?
An action is right iff it is what the virtuous agent would do, virtuous agent is one who has virtuous character traits. Virtuous character traits are x
What difficulties might there be with this procedure?
Uninformative, too general, can't tell us how list of virtuous is even selected. Who decides list?
Can't always do what the virtuous would do in a circumstance.
What does it mean to say that ethics is uncodifiable?
To reject the conception that morality can be a code. Can't be reduced to a simple code that the non-virtuous person could always follow
Why, according to Hume, are no desires "contrary to reason"?
Desire cannot be contrary to reason because desire is not reasonable or unreasonable; it plays a different role that cannot conflict with the role reason plays
(Desire plays the role of motivating us, reason tells us how to satisfy our desire. Reason is only concerned with relations of ideas, and matters of fact; Desire is neither of these. So they play separate roles)
What consequences does this have for morality and why?
Morality must be based on desire rather than reason.
No moral truths can be discovered by reason.
(Belief, reason, represents the world in a way that can be T/F.
Desire makes no claim to T/F so morality, which is based on desire, cannot have a traditional sense of truth.)
No moral matters of fact because morals are dictated by desire.
What moves us to act?
Desire and belief cooperate to produce action. We must have desire to initiate action by giving us an aim, then belief (and hence reasoning) tells us how to satisfy desire.
No belief (and no reasoning) can move us to act unless there is a desire that this information can help us to satisfy.
What is the relationship between reason and desire?
Desire supplies end, reason tells us how to satisfy end.
Reason is servant to desire.
What is the main difference between beliefs and desires?
Desire is not T/F and does not tell us how the world is.
Reason is T/F and represents the world as is.
(Desire motivates ought and reason tells how to change is to ought)
To what kinds of judgment does Hume compare judgments of virtue and vice?
Agreeable vs. Disagreeable Judgments
Judgments of virtue are comparable to judgments that produce feelings of agreeableness.
Judgements of vice are comparable to judgments that produce attitude or feelings of disagreeableness.
What is the source of our moral judgments?
Moral judgments come from
. We approve of what makes life go better and vice versa for disapprove.
From what point of view do we judge something to be good or bad, virtuous or vicious?
"The general point of humanity"
The point of view of humanity rather than our own personal point of view
What is the difference between natural and artificial virtues?
Natural virtues, such as benevolence, can exist in absence of society and law, whereas artificial virtues, such as justice, cannot.
So artificial ones are a social construct and do not exist outside of this context.
What kind of property is goodness, according to Moore?
Goodness is goodness.
Why can't it be defined?
Goodness cannot be defined because it is a simple quality that is itself. Like the color yellow, it cannot be further simplified; it is yellow.
What is ethical naturalism, and what fallacy does Moore claim it commits?
Ethical naturalism is an attempt to define ethical terms in terms of natural terms.
Idea that ethics needs to be identified in terms of entitities and properties that are investigable by sciences.
Like saying good is pleasant. Moore says this commits the naturalistic fallacy-- identifying property of good with some natural property.
What is the open question argument?
For any definition of good (natural), you can always ask, but is it good? (It's pleasant, but is it good?)
Moore wants to show that since its not analytic, and therefore not obviously true, it is really of no use. Because it leads to an "open question," (but is it really good?)
What is it supposed to show?
That such a definition is not obviously true, therefore not analytic, therefore useless because it creates open question.
What is the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions?
Analytic propositions such as "cardiologists are doctors" are true due to knowing the meanings of the constituent words.
Synthetic propositions such as "cardiologists are rich" is only true by both knowing the meaning of the words and something about the world. So, truth for synthetic depends on knowledge of world as well as meanings of constituent words. Also, synthetic are tested by observation (analytic are relations of ideas, synthetic are tested by observation, and if not verifiable.. useless.)
What does Ayer say we are doing when making ethical claims?
We are making a synthetic proposition. When we make ethical claims we are "evincing approval or disapproval of something."
"Boo-harah" theory of ethics; We are expressing feelings (but don't necessarily have them)
What is Ayer's objection to utilitarianism and subjectivism?
Both commit naturalistic fallacy and fall victim to open question argument.
But if you change "is" to "I approve of" then you wouldn't be contradicting yourself in open question argument, so he doesn't have this problem.
What is Ayer's objection to the "absolutist" view of ethics?
Ethical terms that are used normatively (absolutist) do not express any empirical propositions.
But descriptive ones could because they could describe feelings of society.
So absolutist ethics are useless because the concepts they use are unanalyzable due to the fact that they are "pseudo-concepts"
(absolutist claims are Synthetic without verification?)
What is the verification principle?
Only significant propositions are analytic propositions and verifiable propositions
What is an objection to the verification principle?
This is not an analytic or empirically verifiable, so its useless by its own admission
How is Ayer's view different from what he calls "orthodox subjectivism"?
Subjectivism sees ethical remarks as properties that can be true or false because they state "I have x feeling."
Ayer claims that ethical remarks merely express feeling and so cannot be true or false (difference between "I have pain" and "ouch")
What is the story of A, B, and C supposed to show?
This is supposed to show that moral judgments are implicitly prescriptive and universal.
If B wants to put A in jail for x then if B is in the same relation to C that A is to B, he must also say it is right for C to put himself in jail.
So universal because it applies to all situations that are the same.
Prescriptive because you are prescribing action that is based on circumstance.
What are the two logical features involved in every moral judgment?
Prescriptive and Universalizable.
So it is an imperative in that it is prescribing action and it must be consistent in all cases, so universal. Have to have both.
What are the four necessary ingredients of moral arguments and what roles do each of them play?
1. Logic (universalizable and prescriptive)
2. Facts (need facts of case needed as first requisite and basis of moral judgment)
3. Inclinations (need these because moral argument would be useless to a person who is apathetic. He wouldn't mind being put in jail or anything happening to him as consequence of his moral judgment. Has no preferences.)
4. Imagination (for cases where you are not in same position that you are judging, you can use imagination to put yourself there so that you can make a judgment which better takes into account preferences)
How might Hare's theory lead to a kind of utilitarianism?
The right thing to do is
act which as the greatest weight of preference in its favor
, so when we consider everyone effected, assuming that everyone's preference weighed out is good (the most people getting what they want) then we have a form of preference based utilitarianism (maximize preference satisfaction [this is good]) so we are maximizing good as a rule.
What is Mackie's view concerning moral values?
"There are no objective values"
So no real moral values.
How can Mackie deny that there are objective values and yet maintain that there is a difference between kind and cruel actions?
Because we have agreed standards for judging things, we can make a difference in relation to these standards we create. But there is nothing to back up the standards and make them objective.
How does Mackie's view differ from Ayer's view?
There is a descriptive difference between moral judgments that allows them to have truth value based on standards. And so we can have moral disputes as well.
How does Mackie's view differ from orthodox subjectivism?
Mackie says that our ethical claims are an attempt to express objective claims, not just feelings. So to Mackie, our ethical claims are based on standards that we accept, not totally feelings.
Orthodox subjectivism claims that our ethical statements are purely subjective and so can't be true in any sense.
In what sense can value statements be true or false, according to Mackie?
In a first order sense, they can be true in relation to accepted standards but not in relation to objective values (because there are none).
What is the argument from relativity?
Disagreements in science can be explained by inadequate evidence/procedure, but disagreements in morals cannot.
People around the world in different cultures have different moral views relative to themselves.
But they cannot be resolved, so there cannot be a matter of fact.
What is the argument from queerness?
Metaphysically strange, also how could they affect us?
Epistemologically- how could we ever detect them? and what would be the relation between an act's rightness and the properties that make it right?
How can we figure this stuff out is weird.
How satisfying are these arguments and what are some objections to them?
Somewhat satisfying but there are inadequacies in both.
Relativity- We can explain this by the extreme difficulty in ethical thought as well as factors that cause difficulty and problems. (Prejudice, complexity of topic, ignorance of relevant non-moral facts, need of better judgment).
Queerness- all normative facts including theoretical ones have these problems.
So if he is an error theorist about ethical facts, he has to be about all normative facts. Which is like cutting of the branch he is sitting on.
According to Mackie, what explains our tendency to believe that there are objective moral values? That is, what is his error theory?
"If a fungus fills us with disgust, we call it disgusting"
Projection of moral attitudes on the world.
Also, social attitudes are objectified to create an absolute authority in morality making a system of law in a sense where the lawmaker is removed.
Or, reversing dependence on objective values so our desire depends on goodness instead of goodness coming from desire. We fall victim to all, if not some of these.
According to Harman, what is the difference between moral principles and scientific principles?
Moral principles are not needed to explain moral observations, but scientific ones are, so moral principles should be cut out of explanation whereas scientific ones should not be.
Theory of proton explains why one observes a proton, but moral fact of cruelty does not explain why one observes a cruel act.
What is an observation, in his view?
An observation is a theory laden perception, a perception that depend on theory because it involves forming belief.
to confirm or disconfirm theory
What role do observations play in moral and scientific reasoning?
In science, observation plays an
In case of electron, the presence of the electron explains the observation of it. If it had not been there, the scientist would not have observed it and his theory would be disconfirmed because it did not explain what he saw.
In moral reasoning, observation does not disconfirm moral theory because even if it had not been cruel, one would still have observed it to be.
So because the moral theory does not explain the observation, either way the observation
confirm or disconfirm the theory.
So observation has
no explanatory role
What is the example of the physicist and the cloud chamber supposed to show?
That our moral theory does not explain why we see what we see, whereas scientific theory explains what we see.
Also, that scientific observation plays role in confirming theory, whereas moral observation cannot.
What is Sturgeon's response to Harman?
Harman is offering a counterfactual to show a difference, but either way you interpret the counterfactual claim (if it had not been cruel, one would still have taken it to be), he fails to show a difference between science and morals.
Why does Sturgeon hold that Harman has failed to show a significant difference between moral and scientific observation?
1st way-- If our theories about sci/morals are reasonably correct (roughly same world), then counterfactual fails to show difference ("if the kids had not been wrong, we wouldn't have judged them to be.. just like science.. if the proton wasn't there, we wouldn't have judged it to be").
There is no difference here between the two so this was of taking the counterfactual doesn't prove anything.
2nd way-- True skepticism (in a different world), if the kids had really been right and yet we judged them to be wrong because observation remained the same, and the world was really different, then moral theory does not explain observation.
But same is true of science. If we judged the proton to be there but it wasn't because the world was truly different like the morality case, then our scientific theory does not explain our observation.
There is no difference either way one interprets the counterfactual that Harman gives.
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