45 terms

Normative Ethics


Terms in this set (...)

Establishes a framework in understanding the nature of ethics and addresses the three areas.
Normative ethics
What are the three areas of Normative Ethics?
Virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism.
Describe Normative Ethics.
Directly examines morality in our relationships with others and what we consider our moral duty. Introduces theories that help in evaluating right and wrong practices. Is considered prescriptive over descriptive. Concerned with the STANDARDS in evaluating beliefs.
What is the Golden Rule?
a traditional model of an ethical principle as it relates to normative ethics. Based on the idea that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. DETERMINES RIGHT FROM WRONG.
Break down moral actions and decisions into three parts.
1. The individual who performs the action.
2. The action itself.
3. RESULTS of the actions. AKA consequences.
What is another word for good moral character?
What is the origin of Normative Ethics?
ancient Greece. Rooted in early philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas.
Another word used to signify DUTY BASED theories. Ethical standard of Duty or moral obligation. Certain actions are intrinsically considered good or bad. Non-consequentialism (duty/required principles under this theory regardless of the consequences). Based on ones duty to do the right thing over what happens because of the actions.
Deontology. Deon=Duty
The earliest duty based theory advocated duties that fell under three categories: God, oneself, and others.
Samuel Pufender's Duty based theory.
A second duty based theory that evolved, advocated that there is a "right" or justified claim involved.
The rights theory.
How do rights and duties correlate?
the rights of one person IMPLIES the duty of another person.
Who influences one of the most influential accounts of the rights theory and how do they do so?
John Locke, a 17th century British philosopher. According to him, these rights are natural, god given, and mandated by the laws of nature.
What is included in these rights?
Rights of ones health, liberty, life, and possessions.
How did the rights theory influence Thomas Jefferson?
the writing of the Declaration held the foundational rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
A duty based theory that is strongly influenced by Pufendor in that we are morally obligated to ourselves and others.
Kant's duty based theory.
Kant emphasizes duty as a single standard which he refers to as the categorical imperative (essential thing). What is this?
mandates an obligation of duty to do the right thing. Example: to treat individuals as an end in themselves and not as a means, be respectful. Basically, don't use people.
A british philosopher who has come up with a fourth duty based theory after being influenced by the previous three in that duties are part of natural law. His list is shorter and reflective of concrete moral beliefs.
W.D.Ross. Referred to as his "Moral Guidelines"
What are Ross' Moral Guidelines?
Fidelity (keeping promises)
Reparation (compensating for harm)
Gratitude (being thankful)
Justice (recognizing merit)
Beneficence (improving conditions)
Self-improvement (improving virtue and intelligence)
No-maleficence (not injuring others)
In this theory, the end results or consequences of actions matter most when determining moral responsibility.
Consequentialism (Teleology) Telos means end.
What is central to the Consequentialism theory?
acting with the intent to cultivate the best end results or consequences.
What makes consequentalism cost effective?
tallying the consequences of an action to see if the outcomes of that action are good or bad.
What are the three areas of consequentialism?
Ethical egoism, ethical altruism, and utilitarianism.
What do the three areas of consequentialism have in common?
They all emphasize the outcomes of actions
An area of consequentialism that applies only to the agent/individual performing the action
Ethical egoism
An area of consequentialism that applies to everyone EXCEPT the agent/individual
Ethical altruism
An area of consequentialism that applies to everyone involved in the action.
See page 6
for examples of Virtue, Deontology, and Consequentialism
There are three popular assumptions about the relationsip between morality and religion.What is the first?
Religious belief is necessary if we are to behave morally. Some claim that without belief in the afterlife where virtue is rewarded and immorality is punished that we would lack motivation to avoid immorality if we thought we could get away with it. This line of thought does not show that God exists or the morality depends on God but argues that religious beliefs have certain practical benefits (punishment vs reward).
What is the biggest problem for the first assumption about the relationship between morality and religion?
That genuine moral character requires doing the right thing not out of fear of punishment but because it is actually the right thing to do. Because atheists are just as capable of doing this as religious people, the first assumption is FALSE.
What is the second assumption about the relationship between morality and religion?
That morality must have been created by someone and that the only possible creator is GOD. Such a view leads to the Divine Command Theory. If one adopts the second assumption then Gods commands seem to be arbitrary , in which case God would be imperfect. Those who believe that God is perfect must therefore hold that God commands actions because they are morally right so one must give up the divine command theory and admit God is NOT the creator of morality.
What is te Divine command theory?
The view that an action is morally required just because it is commanded by God and immoral just because God forbids it. Which begs the question: Does God command actions because they are actually right or are actions right because God commands them?
What is the third assumption of the relationship between morality and religion?
Religion is an essential source of moral guidance. Even if the divine command theory is false this assumption might still be correct because a perfect God would be an infallible reporter of our moral obligations.

To defend this view one must be able to defend the claim that God exists and communicates with humans as well as to justify selecting one sacred text out of many and determine a correct method of interpretation.
What is natural law theory?
Actions are right just because they are natural and wrong because they are unnatural.
What are the major attractions to natural law theory?
By grounding morality in human nature, the theory explains how morality could be objective and why it could only apply to humans. It can also help us understand the origins of morality and how we can come to have moral knowledge.
What would need to happen for natural law theory to be plausible?
It's defenders must specify exactly what sense of human nature is supposed to be morally relevant. Some believe human nature consists of what is innately human while others take human nature to mean whatever MOST humans have in common. Still others take it to mean that human nature consists of whatever we were "designed" to do. The problem is that none of these understandings provide a good basis for morality: whether or not an action or trait is morally good does not depend on whether it is innate or acquired. For example, even if most humans were cruel it would still not make cruelty morally admirable. Just because something may be natural doesn't make it morally good. The natural laws tell us how we WILL behave, not how we SHOULD.
The theory that all human actions are aimed at avoiding some personal loss or gaining some personal benefit. If this is true then altruism (direct desire to benefit others for their own sake) does not exist. A descriptive theory about how people actually behave vs how they should behave. Still the truth of this theory would have important ethical implications: we cannot be obligated to behave altruistically.
Psychological egoism
What is an argument for psychological egoism?
The claim that every action is based on the STRONGEST desire of the person performing it. for this to work the egoist must prove that all of our strongest desires are for personal gain but just because something is a desire does not mean that it is for self interest.

A second argument is that people always expect their actions to make them better off. But this does not show that self benefit is the AIM of all our actions rather than just a side effect. Even if this is so it does show that all of our actions AIM at avoiding misery.
If the two arguments for psychological egoism failed what would be the two strategies an egoist might try?
1. To claim that all self sacrificing actions are done to avoid a guilty conscience

2. To claim that when we sacrifice for others we do so only because we would be devastated to see them suffer and this is more for our wellbeing than theirs.

The problem here is that either way it seems to indicate a concern for other people. Because their are many cases of altruism and the arguments for egoism face serious difficulties, psychological egoism is probably false.
The theory that actions are morally right just because they best promote ones self interest
Ethical egoism
One can consistently accept ethical egoism while rejecting psychological egoism. Why is that?
Because ethical egoism is the view that we OUGHT to behave in our best interests and psychological egoism is the view that we ALWAYS behave this way no matter what.
What is the major fault in ethical egoism?
It implies that it is morally right to kill, rape, or steal anytime it's in our best interest. This suggests we should only accept ethical egoism if there are strong arguments in our favor.
What is the best argument for ethical egoism?
If we're morally required to do something then we have good reason to do it. Furthermore we have old reason to do something only if it makes us better off. The latter point is questionable though because there are cases in which we have good reason to do something like give CPR, that doesn't necessarilt benefit us.
What are the three serious problems of egoism?
It violates many widely shared moral beliefs. It cannot allow for the existence of moral rights that protect us from interference from others. For example if violating my supposed rights benefits you, egoism says to do so is morally correct. Egoism seems to arbitrarily elevate the interests of a single person over everyone else. For these reasons we are justified in rejecting egoism.
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