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FSU PHI 2630 - PHI FINAL STUDY GUIDE

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PHI FINAL STUDY GUIDE1. Title/Author/General Topic/Summary of Argumenta. FE, Ch. 17, “Virtue Ethics” – Russ Shafer-Landaui. Virtue ethics is concerned both with the right thing to do and with achieving our full potential goodness as human beingsii. Schafer explains to us why both of these aspects of ethical theory are important through his example of the begrudging police officer1. We should focus more on the moral character rather than moral duty2. The police officer would steal, cheat, and lie if he could get away with it. But he doesn’t. We cannot criticize him for what he has not done. In that reason, we must analyze his moral character, in which we can refer to virtue ethics.iii. Virtue Ethics Theory1. A focus on learning how to become good – i.e., an educational theory2. A focus on developmental moral psychology and the role of role models in moral education3. A good resource for exploring non-western views4. An understanding of how acquiring the virtues gives us a new ability to see the world around us5. It understands “the virtues and vices as the primary mode of assessing character.”6. Objections:a. Some argue character traits don’t existb. Many ethicists think that virtue ethics doesn’t give an adequate answer to the question, “what should I do?” b. WV, pg 1-8 - Rebecca L. Walker & Philip J. Ivanhoei. The introductionii. Everyone knows what moral and immoral things areiii. We all want virtue ethics to be installed into our childreniv. Focusing on the role of the virtues or a virtue ethical approach to these topics, present sustainedpractical examples of virtue analyses at work engaging practical moral problems, and promote awider understanding of the virtues and virtue ethics by offering a variety of theoretical perspectives under the umbrella of virtue-based analyses.v. Explains what virtue ethics is, why it’s important and what the objections are.1. A focus on learning how to become good – i.e., an educational theory2. A focus on developmental moral psychology and the role of role models in moral education3. A good resource for exploring non-western views4. An understanding of how acquiring the virtues gives us a new ability to see the world around us5. It understands “the virtues and vices as the primary mode of assessing character.”6. Objections:a. Some argue character traits don’t existb. Many ethicists think that virtue ethics doesn’t give an adequate answer to the question, “what should I do?” c. WV, “Caring as Relation and Virtue in Teaching” - Nel Noddingsi. Meaning, in order for caring to be achieved, both people make contributions to the relationship1. Distinguishing this type of caring from a type where we are focused only on one persona. Doesn’t much take others’ wants, needs, actions, or attempts at communication into accountii. 2 types of relational caring1. Case 1: Step 1a. A is attentive to B. When B needs something, A puts aside her needs (temporarily) and tends to B’s needs, positively.PHI FINAL STUDY GUIDE2. Case 1: Step 2a. A has motivational displacement and her motive energy begins to flow towards B’s needs. Things can block this flow – A’s disapproval; B’s needs are too great; A doesn’t fully understand…etc. But as long as A is attentive, flow of energy continues positively3. Case 1: Step 3a. A acts or responds to B4. Case 1: Step 4a. B also makes a contribution5. Case 2 caringa. A doesn’t listen/half-listens. Selective hearing, see’s B’s bodily language/words, but assesses/evaluates/diagnoses B’s conditions and infers a need, and the acts tosatisfy that need – one which may be entirely different from the one expressed by Bd. WV, “Famine, Affluence, and Virtue” – Michael Slotei. Caring is an overall attitude or motivational state.1. Roughly, an ethics of caring holds that an act is morally right or permissible if it doesn’t exhibit a lack of caring (not mere neutrality), and wrong if it does.2. “[W]hen I speak of acts exhibiting a caring attitude or one inconsistent with caring, the caring I am speaking of includes attitudes toward distant and personally-unknown others.” (548 Sympathy vs. Empathyii. “An ethics of caring will hold that it is virtuous to be more concerned about near and dear than about strangers or those one knows about merely by description; but it will also insist that an ideally or virtuously caring individual will be substantially concerned about people who are distant from her.” (549)1. That we have special or stronger moral obligations to those who are (physically or sentimentally) closer to us is commonsensically appealing.iii. Rather than “sympathy” (the word Hume uses in forming his sentimentalist theory, which today means, roughly, a favorable attitude toward someone), Slote is concerned with “empathy” (the state or process in which one takes on the feelings of another)1. Question: Is the development of empathy necessary to one’s development of altruistic concern for others? 2. Psychology, generally, hypothesizes that caring works via empathy, and that morally good caring can be specified in relation to the development of human empathy. iv. If we believe that empathy has moral force or relevance, then we can argue that: 1. Since it is easier to empathize with another adult human than with a squid…2. It is as such morally worse to harm an adult human than to do the same to a squid.3. That is, we can say that an action is right or wrong depending on whether or not such actions reflect a deficiency of normally or fully-capable caring motivation.4. It would then (other things being equal) be morally worse to prefer a fetus or embryo to a born human being “because such a preference runs counter to the flow of developed human empathy…” (550)5. Contra Singer, then, a failure to save the life of a distant child (by making a charitable donation) is not as morally bad as failing to save the life of a child drowning in front of you. v. Singer holds that spatial distance simply cannot be morally relevant to our obligations to aid others1. Empathy gives us a firmer basis than distance for distinguishing the strength of our obligations in the cases Singer compares. 2. Spatial distance and (decreasing) empathy do, in fact, correlate in a wide variety of cases.PHI FINAL STUDY GUIDE3. Such a view can not only help to explain why failing to help in the drowning case seems worse than a failure to give to famine relief, but it can also


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