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GASTON PHI 210 - Moral Philosophy Subject Outline

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Ethics and MetaphysicsEthics and EpistemologyMoral JudgmentsEvaluationsIntrinsic ValueExtrinsic ValueMETAETHICSNormative EthicsMoral DiversityI. ETHICAL RELATIVISMCultural RelativismPersonal RelativismII. CONSEQUENTIALISMMoral RuleIII. NON-CONSEQUENTIALISMThe Categorical ImperativeETHICSETHICS / MORAL PHILOSOPHYThe branch of philosophy concerned with:(1) conduct and character(2) the systematic study of the principles, standards, and methods for distinguishing right from wrong, good from bad, and better from worse.Thus it is concerned with,(3) the question of the proper goals, ideals, and values of life and with the principles for guiding conduct, and(4) it aims to determine the meaning andbasis of judgments of morality and value.The task of moral philosophy, then, is toanswer such philosophical questions as:- What does it mean to say that something is right or good?- What makes right actions right?- How can disputes about moral questions be resolved?2What Do Moral Philosophers Do?“[Moral philosophers] analyze concepts, examine the hidden presuppositions of moral opinions and theories, offer criticism and constructive accounts of the moral phenomena in question, and criticize strategies that are used to justify beliefs, policies, and actions. They seek a reasoned defense of a moral viewpoint, and they use considered judgments and moral frameworks to distinguish justified moral claims from unjustified ones. They try to stimulate the moral imagination, promote analytical skills and weed out prejudice, undue emotion, false authority, and the like.”*ETHICAL THEORY* Tom L. Beauchamp, “The Nature of Applied Ethics,” in A Companion to Applied Ethics, R. G. Frey and Christopher Heath Wellman, eds. (Blackwell, 2005), Blackwell Reference Online. 22 January 2015 http://www.blackwellreference.com/subscriber/tocnode.html?id=g9781405133456_chunk_g978140513345633A theory which tries to elucidate (among other things) the distinction between:- right and wrong(actions, choices, decisions, policies)- good and bad(things, goals, states of affairs)- praiseworthy and blameworthy- virtuous and vicious- good and evilCRITERIA FOR4A GOOD ETHICAL THEORY1.- Clarificationi.e., explanatory power2.- Internal Consistency(absence of self-contradiction)3.- Clarity4.- Simplicity5a) Theoretical: fewer and/or easier to understand basic concepts [a virtue of utilitarianism]b) Practical: requires less data/information to apply [a vice of utilitarianism—much data required]5.- Enlightenmentguidance for solving moral problems6.- CompletenessINTERCONNECTIONS BETWEEN6ETHICS AND OTHER BRANCHESOF PHILOSOPHY7Ethics and MetaphysicsDo moral facts (or properties) exist?If so, what are they like?Ethics and EpistemologyIs there such a thing as moral knowledge?How can we know whether our moral judgments are true or false?ETHICS8(MORAL THEORY)v.AXIOLOGY(VALUE THEORY)Some make this distinction on the ground that there are important differences between:Moral Judgmentsin which something is judged:rightwrongpermissiblesupererogatoryAND9Evaluationsin which something is assessed as good or badHOWEVER,Others do not think the distinction important, regarding both as essentially different from statements of fact and of logical truthINTRINSIC v. EXTRINSIC VALUE10Intrinsic Valuea thing is claimed to be valuable (i.e. good) in and of itselfExtrinsic Valuea thing is claimed to be valuable (i.e. good) in virtue of its relation to something else.NORMATIVE ETHICS11v.METAETHICSNormative EthicsAims to set down or give rules, directions, etc.It is prescriptive - OUGHTIt is not (or at least not necessarily) prudentialContrast: the aim of social science is generally descriptiveMetaethics12The analytical study of the discipline of ethics itselfDoes not aim to be normativeSince the term (but not the inquiries which form the basis of it) came into use in the twentieth century, it is a new name for an old disciplineThe Is/Ought ProblemCan an “ought” (moral judgment) be deduced from an “is” (statement of fact), and just what is the relation between facts and values?Moral Skepticism13Skepticism about the possibility of objectively valid moral judgmentsthis is not to be confused withMoral DiversityThe uncontroversial empirical fact that thereis variety in the beliefs, principles, and practices that are found in cultures and in individualsthe consideration of which may lead toETHICAL THEORIES14I. ETHICAL RELATIVISMDenies (1) that there is such a thing as objectivity (i.e., a reality that transcends individual beliefs)(2) that there are absolutes in ethics(e.g., moral truths)Ethical relativism holds that15(3) moral appraisals are essentially dependent upon the standards that define a particular moral codeHence(4) ethical relativists tend not to distinguish between normative and factual statements.According to ethical relativism(5) there are no universal, objective, or absolute ethical truths. and(6) there are no universally valid ethical/moral beliefs, principles, practices, etc.ETHICAL RELATIVISMS16Cultural RelativismAt the most, there are ethical truths relative to a particular culturePersonal RelativismAt most, there are ethical truths relative to an individual believer 17II. CONSEQUENTIALISMconsequentialist theories areTELEOLOGICALtelos = end; our only duties have reference to endsConsequentialism is the view that the only thing that counts in determining the rightness or wrongness of an act are its consequences. 18but consequences for whom?Egoistthe agentUtilitarianeveryone affected by the act.19PSYCHOLOGICAL v. ETHICALEGOISMPsychological Egoism the theory that all human actions are motivated by self-interest. Ethical Egoismthe view that each person ought to do what will best advance her own interests.20UTILITARIANISMThe theory that actions are right because of the good they produce, wrong because of the harm they produce—the concern being with everyone affected by the act.JOHN STUART MILL'SGREATEST HAPPINESS PRINCIPLE"actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absenceof pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure." (Utilitarianism)What do we mean by "principle"?21MORAL PRINCIPLES22v.MORAL RULESMoral Principle An abstract generalization concerning the criteria for determining the morality of actions, i.e., their rightness or wrongness.


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