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44 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Moral Luck
Phenomenon in which people are criticized or praised for things which are, in fact, beyond their control

Applying the condition of control eliminates moral luck (tension)

Consequential Luck
If two people do the same action, but one was unlucky enough to have a bad outcome, we would judge them more harshly than the one who was lucky enough to miss the bad outcome. Only difference is in the consequence, not the action or choice they made.

(Drunk Driver example)

Circumstantial Luck
We judge people on the basis of the choices they've made, even though some have different choices available to them than others

May have the same character, but have different opportunities that prevent them/let them act on that character

(Two brothers - Germany & S. America example)

Constitutive Luck
Some people are lucky enough to have the right contents of their character, even though people don't actually have control over a significant aspect of it (nature & nurture) and yet we judge people based on their character
Antecedent Luck
If freewill is an illusion and what we do is predetermined, it doesn't make sense that we have control over what we do, yet we are judged for what we do.
Condition of Control
"No one is responsible for anything not under their control"

Accepting the condition would mean that no one is responsible for anything they do because there is always an element of a situation that is not under our control.

Difficult to ignore, however, because it seems so issential to life

Richard's Reply to Moral Luck/Condition of Control
Must consider what criticism is deserved vs. what criticism is appropriate

Deserved criticism = independent of what we know about the person

Appropraite criticism = dependent on what we know of the person

(Reference the two brothers example - deserve same criticism but would be inappropriate to do so because impossible to know what would have happened if switched)

Doctrine of Double Effect
It is sometimes permissible to bring about, as a foreseen but unintended consequence of one's actions, harm that would never be acceptable to bring about intentionally. (Strategic vs. Terroristic Bomber)
Direct Intention
"What I intend is directly intended by me"
Oblique Intention
"What I forsee, but don't necessarily intend"
Test for Foreseen Harm vs. Intended Harm (DDE)
Would someone go back and do the action again if the consequence didn't happen? Yes - Intended. No- Foreseen.
Problems with DDE
Debasing moral currency - easy to justify most actions.

Foot: cave example where you would have to blow up overweight person stuck to save everyone from drowning --> Wouldn't be allowed to according to DDE and that doesn't seem reasonable

Doctrine of Doing and Allowing
It is sometimes permissible to allow a harm to occur that it would never be permissible to do.

Weighs negative duties > positive duties (think Hospital Scarcity vs. Hospital Lynching example)

Doing = setting a harm in motion

Allowing = just a witness, not an agent in bring about the harm

Positive Duties
Obligation you have to do something in correspondence to a positive right (requires of other people that they do something)
Negative Duties
Obligation you have not to do something in correspondence to a negative right (requires of other people that they not do something to harm that right) --> refusing to kill someone because they have the right to live (duty not to kill them)
Problem with DDA
5 organ transplants needed and begger outside who will die if doesn't get food - can use his organs to save the 5. DDA would say you can allow him to die because both the beggar and five people have positive duties, but the five outweighs the one. --> doesn't seem like it's right
Virtue Ethics
Also known as Aristotelian Ethics

"The right thing to do is determined by what the perfectly virtuous agent would do in that situation."

The right behavior is a mean between two extremes (b/w too much of one virtue and not enough of one virtue) --> mean between foolhardiness and cowardice is courage

Virtue Ethics Premises
1. Man has a function or purpose.

2. This function can be discovered in light of man's distinguishing mark.

3. The virtues are what enable a man to perform his function.

Distinguishing Mark of Humans = Reason/Ability to think

Problems with Virtue Ethics/Aristotles View

Hursthouse Argument 1

1. Every moral theory has two parts --> theory form and moral theory. Theory form is abstract and will not tell you what to do, while moral theory gives you specific acts that must be performed. Virtue Ethics is theory form. We must act as the perfectly virtuous person, but we have to define the virtues that a perfectly virtous person would take first.

Problems with Virtue Ethics/Aristotles View

Hursthouse Argument 2

2. Virtue terms cannot be given mechanical deployment (anytime it is appropriate to use the virtue, there be one common feature in all of its outcomes.) Virtues are too abstract to be mechanically deployed. Ex: honesty vs. telling the truth --> telling the truth always has same end, whereas honesty doesn't.
Problems with Virtue Ethics/Aristotles View Hursthouse Argument 3
3. Virtue ethics cannot handle moral conflict. Virtue terms sometimes do not match up, but becomes trivial because of the fact that moral conflicts are not a reality.
Problems with Virtue Ethics/Aristotles View

Williams Argument

There is no distinguishing mark for human and there are no standards that apply to man judge for being a human being. There is the ability to divorce yourself from the standards of that title. There are other things that distinguish humans but they aren't necessarily standards for manking (ability to make fire -- should we only maximize our ability to make fire? No.) Able to still have virtue ethics while abandoning idea of distinguishing mark.
Non-Connecting Life-Saving Machine

Disconnecting Life-Saving Machine

Providing Lethal Doses of Drugs

Injecting Lethal Doses of Drugs

No principled reason to distinguish NC/DC as legal, while P/I are illegal.

Distinction is supported by DDE/DDA

Thomson Argument against DDE:
Intentions of assisted suicide are hard to know because it raises the question of what could be bad about a death that is desired by the dying person? You can intend the death of someone without malice, but instead as a form of charity.

DDE would say putting in coma, to die later is better than letting someone die immediately.

Thomson Argument against DDA:
A distinction between doing and allowing in these situations would require 3 elements:

- Letting nature that its course (non-interference)

- Withdrawal of help

- Having the right to do so

Last criteria involves moral element (having the right to do so) so DDA doesn't give independent criterioin for moral decision-making.

Singer's Argument (Morality)
If one can prevent a bad thing without incurring a proportinate harm, then one should do it.
Singer's Premises (Morality)
1. If it is within our power to prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing something of equal moral significance, then we ought to do it.

2. It is within our pwoer to do exactly that

Conclusion: We should prevent the bad thing from happening.

Drastic implications but Singer feels it would help people do more than their duty if spread around

Implications of Premise 2 (Singer - Morality)
If we apply money, we should give away most of our money to help those who are starving across the world --> seems radical and would cause drastic change of our lives
Implications of Premise 1 (Singer - Morality)
If we think of a drowning child you can save by sacrificing only your clothes, we would agree we obviously have a moral obligation to save the child. But is there a difference between that and giving our money to a starving child? No but we feel different about the situations.
An act that is better than what you are morally required to do

- Singer's Argument: most acts that we consider supererogatory would be considered ordinary duty

Singer's Argument (Animals)
Fundamental equality and rights must be attributed to non-living human beings, such as animals.

Distinguishing mark of humans (reason) was an accident and implies that some people have more rights than others (mentally handicapped might fall below line distinguishing animal from human -- do they still count?) There is nothing non-arbitrary that you can appeal to that will include all and only humans - it will include animals and severely mentally handicapped people

Singer: Capability for Suffering
anything that has the capability to suffer should be considered and suffering/enjoyment is considered an interest that must be morally acknowledged

- Implies we must all be vegans because killing animals would interfere with their interests (preventing them from experiencing anything else is its own form of suffering)

Argument against Singer Capability for Suffering
would it be wrong to eat animals that die of natural causes? in that case, doesn't bring about any suffering or interfere with interests
Ethical position that judges right or wrong nature of an action according to a set of rules, rather than the right or wrong nature of the consequences of that action or character of the actor in those actions

Deontology: Kantianism
To act in the morally right way, one must act on duty. It is not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong, but the motives of the person who carries out the action. Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will to become a universal law.
the basic standard of morality (right or wrong) is precisely the value of what an action brings into means -- "the ends justify the means"
Consequentialism: Utilitarianism
What matters most is maximizing the amount of happiness
Good Life vs. Moral Life
to live up to our moral obligations, we would have to give up the good life because they often coincide with eachother --> sometimes they don't conflict?
Aristotle (Good Life vs. Moral Life)

Moral life is defined in terms of the good life.

The test of whether or not something is virtuous/moral is dependent on how much it contributes to the good life.

Plato (Good Life vs. Moral Life)


Good life is defined in terms of the moral life.
Nietzsche (Good Life vs. Moral Life)

There is a direct conflict between the good life and the moral life, and in this conflict one should choose the good life.

U/D (Good Life vs. Moral Life)

There is a direct conflict between the good life and the moral life, and in this conflict one should choose the moral life.

Goldilocks (Good Life vs. Moral Life)

The moral life and the good life present independent considerations and there is no clear-cut way to prefer one or the other; it depends on the situation.

Nagel's Argument on Good Life vs. Moral Life
Demand of moral life comes from other people. Good life is individualistic. Prefers U/D because of the universalistic nature of the moral life, but accepts there is some tolerance in moral demands in light of personal interests that require reconciliation. Conflict still exists though so to feel less conflict, we must a) Convert or b) do politics. Moral conversion means altering the way you think about the good life to align it with moral life. Politics means the alter world in such a way that conflict comes up less. Conversion = changing oneself, Politics = changing world