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79 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
Benefits Argument/ Consequential/ Utilitarianism
Weighing the consequences in ethical deliberations. What action will create the most benefits as it's consequence?
Slippery Slope Argument
That some perceived positive action in one case will change the societal norm for all actions in similar future cases that will be negative.

(ex. If we let this particular mentally ill person die, is it okay to just kill all mentally ill, disadvantaged, or disabled people?)
Denotology / Absolutism
Absolute rules/ commandments. "Thou shalt not kill."

(three things)
1) Consequentialist: the right action produces good consequences

2) In assessing consequences the only thing that matter is the amount of happiness created

3) Impartiality: Everyone counts, no one's happiness is more important than anyone else
In general theories need:
explanation, clarification, analysis, illustration, counter examples, should be internally consistent
The government is your daddy because this is the only way to protect people from themselves

(ex. seat belt laws)
Ethical Egoism
Self-interest matters most
Active- Euthanasia
To kill
Passive Euthanasia
To let die
Utilitarianism Debates

8 things
1) Is pleasure all that matters?
2) Are consequences all that matters?
3) Too demanding
4) Violation of "Rights"
5) Violation of Justice
6) Does not acknowledge backward looking reasons
7) Absolutisim/ Denotological rule based moral theory

8) even if consequences were all that mattered, "utility" is a problematic concept:
- What is utility?
- Happiness isn't all that matters
Utilitarianism Defenses

5 things
1) The arguments make unrealistic assumptions

2) The principle of utility is a guide for choosing rules, not acts

3) Common sense is wrong/ Gut reactions can't be trusted when cases are exceptional

4) All values have a Utilitarianism basis

5) We should focus on ALL consequences
Rule Utilitarianism
Rules that we should follow to maximize happiness
Act Utilitarianism
Right and wrong depends on the consequences of the particular act
Rule Utilitarianism Flaw
Sometimes breaking the rule achieves the most happiness or greater good, but acting on a case by case basis makes it Act-Utilitarianism.
Hypothetical Imeratives
(Kant) Tell us what action to take according to our desires.

(ex. you ought to take the SAT to get into college.)
The First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative
Actions based on reason, not on desire.

Kantian speak:
"Act accordingly to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become universal law."

Plain English:
Follow strict rules that can only be applied to everyone without causing chaos.
Categorical Imperative Flaws and Criticisms

5 things
1) Anscombe: Kant doesn't provide us with clear guidelines for deciding what our maxim is: The rule (such as Do Not Lie) can be redefined to defy Kant's reasoning by saying "I will lie when doing so will save someone's life."

2) We can never know that good results will follow from lying or not lying

3) Conflicts among rules-- We will not be blameless if by telling the truth someone dies (Kant fails on lying)

4) Rule-worship-- following rules no matter what is irrational

5) Negative-- Don't do these things---> but what should we do?
Categorical Solution
All that Kant's basic idea requires is that when we violate a rule, we do so for a reason that we would be willing for anyone else to accept
`The Second Formulation of the Categorical Imperative
You cannot use others for your own means to an end, but always as ends in themselves.
Eye for an eye policy

2 things
1) Is the byproduct of what we see therefore,

2) It can only be sought indirectly
Hedonic Utilitarianism

Apart from pleasure and pain, nothing has any value at all.
Actions that bring more pleasure than pain into the world are good. Actions that bring more pain than pleasure into the world are bad. Whatever action maximises the balance of pleasure minus pain is the right thing to do.
Non-Hedonic Utilitarianism

3 things
1) On this view the non-pleasurable can be good.
2) one must always act so as to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.
3) Bentham treats all forms of happiness as equal, whereas Mill argues that intellectual and moral pleasures are superior to more physical forms of pleasure.
Illegitimate Preferences?

(for happiness)
4 things
1) Wicked (sadism for self pleasure)
2) Debased (self regarding)
3) External (racism, sexism)
4) Irrational/ Misinformed ( steroids)
Utility Monster
Someone who always increases his utility in terms of resource consumption
Maximize the greatest amount possible
Raise the welfare of the worse off
Adaptive Preference
The change of ones desires based on situation or social status.

(ex. Oppressed woman doesn't naturally want to be subservient, but because of societal pressures her desires have changed).
Autonomy / Rational Self-Determination
Set laws for self
Ruled by the other
Absolutism/ Kantian-ism

3 things
1) The Categorical Imperatives
2) Contradiction in Conception
3) It is irrational to act immorally
Contradiction in Conception
Undermining the system.

(ex. breaking promises. Lending would not exist if everyone broke promises.)
Bentham's view of Retributivism
It only creates misery and unhappiness without any compensating happiness
Kant's Retributivism

3 things
1) Everyone approves of punishment. It is good in itself because extra suffering is borne by those who deserve it

2) People should be punished for their crimes and no other reason

3) Punishment should be proportioned to that of the seriousness of his crime
Utilitarian Retributivism

4 thungs
Punishment can create happiness in the following ways:

1) Gratification
2) Imprisonment and execution takes the criminal off the street
3) Crime deterrent for would be criminals
4) Rehabilitation
Categorical contrasts with Utilitarianism

4 things
1) Kant's view of a moral patient: animals have no moral worth.

2) Taken into account are not forward looking but backward looking reasons

3) Self-Overcoming: distinction between inclination and duty-- duty is more important

4) While utilitarianism justifies paternalistic legislation Kant believes that we are capable of rational autonomy (we can make decisions for ourselves).
The Social Contract Theory
Morality consists in the set of rules governing behavior, that rational people will accept on the condition that others accept them as well
The Prisoner's Dilemma
When you and the other prisoner act selfishly the results are worse than if you had cooperated together
SCT's Matrix

4 things
And what is the point of the matrix?
A) Freerider: you are selfish while others are benevolent

B) Ordinary Morality: Everyone is benevolent

C) State of Nature: Everyone is selfish

D) Sucker's Payoff: you are benevolent while others are selfish

----> According to this matrix our best option (for self-interest's sake) is to be selfish. But if we apply this notion universally, we'll end up in Hobbe's State of Nature.
Advantages of the SCTM

4 things
Provides plausible answers to difficult questions:

1) What moral rules are we bound to follow, and how are those rules justified?
----->>>> The ones that facilitate harmonious living (Do not murder, assault, lie) Not ones that condemn sexual promiscuity, for example.

2) Why is it rational for us to follow the moral rules?
---->>> If we agree, we benefit; golden rule.

3) Under what circumstances is it rational to break the rules?
---->>> If someone else doesn't hold up their end of the bargain then we are released from our obligations. This justifies criminal prosecution.

4) How much can morality demand from us?
---->>> Rational people will not agree to rules so demanding that others won't follow them.
Difficulties for the SCTM

3 things
1) Based on historical fiction (not a real contract).
---->> Solution: It is implicit because we generally follow the rules, encourage others to, and accept it's benefits.

2) People don't' choose to be born into our societies.
----->> Solution: Participation is rational and in one's best interest

3) Some individuals cannot benefit us, therefore their interest don't matter: infants, animals, future generations, the oppressed, the disabled, etc.
The Divine Command Theory
Nothing is good or bad except when God's thinking makes it so.
Rationally sought after self-interest
Morality for the SCT
A set of constraints which allows/ facilitates the pursuit of self-interest
Strait-forward maximizer
One who will get theirs in the end
Constrained maximizer
One who realizes they need to constrain themselves in the short term in order to maximize happiness in the long term
Descriptive theory
Describes how things are
Prescriptive Theory
Describes how things should be
Veil of Ignorance
People enter a social contract without knowing the details (race, religion, gender could be favored or stacked against them).
For the DCTM one should assume:

4 things
1) God exists (and we know this)

2) God has issued commands

3) We know what these commands are

4) There are no questions of interpretations (multiple scriptures, poetic language, written in irrelevant time period, conflict among rules).
What makes right actions right?
(for the DCTM)

2 reasons
1) Content of morality

2) Theory of moral motivation ( you will be punished or rewarded)
DCTM Interpretive Dilemma

2 things
Which of the two versions do we mean?

1) Is it wrong because God forbids it?

2) Or does God forbid it because it is already wrong?
Consequences for the first dilemma in DCTM:

(Wrong because God forbids)

4 things
1) God's commands are arbitrary and he has no reasons. (wills it so, is whimsical)

2) Gods commands are "good" because they are commanded by God-----> remains unclarified.

3) Weird/ Mysterious: The entity being wronged is always God.

4) Provides the wrong reasons for moral principles (it is doubtful what God's will is--- it is not doubtful that child abuse is wrong.)
Consequences for the second dilemma in DCTM:

(God forbids cause its wrong)
Indicates that there's a standard independent of God's will (making it not the DCTM).
Is polytheism any better than monotheism in terms of morality?
No it is unaccountable, incoherent, and a violation of the law of contradiction in philosophy.
God's decreeing makes it so
God has a good reason (it's already wrong and God conveys this truth to us).
Virtue Theory of Morality
Instead of asking "what is the right thing to do," we ask, "what traits of character make a good person."
A commendable trait of character manifested in habitual action
Why do we need virtues?

4 things
1) Courage is good because we need it to cope with danger

2) Generosity is good because there will always be people who need it

3) Honesty is good because without it relations between people would go wrong in all sorts of ways

4) Loyalty is good for friendship, without friends we would be worse off
Are the virtues the same for everyone?

2 things
1) Certain virtues will be needed by all people at all times.

2) The character traits that are needed to occupy the variety of societal roles will differ.
How do we come up with virtues?
The major virtues are mandated not by custom but by facts about our common human condition.
Two advantages of Virtue Theory:
1) Moral motivation: Acting from an abstract sense of duty, like rule based theories, is not the same as acting out of love or virtue. We need a theory that emphasized personal qualities.

2) Doubts about the ideal of impartiality: There is nothing wrong with being partial to family members over strangers.
Radical Virtue Ethics

3 things
An alternative to other theories, and a complete moral theory in itself

1) Rids the concept of "morally right or wrong action." Instead we would use the vocab of virtue: "that was unjust, intolerant, cowardly."

2) The right thing to do is whatever a virtuous person would do

3) The reasons cited will always be connected with the virtues
Criticisms of Virtue Ethics

3 things
The problem of incompleteness:

1) It cannot explain why a virtue is good or bad; any explanation would take us to a different theory

2) If it cannot give us reasons for it's virtues, it cannot tell us whether virtues apply to difficult situations

3) It cannot help us deal with cases of moral conflict (like honesty and kindness) "you should act virtuously in this situation," does not help us decide which virtue to follow
A deficiency or excess of a virtue
Cultural Relativism

5 things
1) Different cultures have different moral codes

2) The moral code of a society determines what is right within that society

3) No independant standard of right and wrong exists.

4) the moral code of our own society has no special status; it is one among many

5) It is arrogant for us to judge other cultures so we should be tolerant of them
The cultural Differences Argument,

2 things


Why is it invalid?

3 things
1) Different cultures have different moral codes

2) Therefore there is no objective truth in morality

fails because:

1) Does it follow from the mere fact of disagreement that there is no objective truth in the matter? No. It could be that one of them is simply mistaken.

2) There is no reason to think that if a moral truth exists, everyone must know it

3) The conclusion does not follow the premise, thus the CD argument fails.
The problems with Cultural Relativism
1) We could no longer say that the custom of other societies are morally inferior to our own

2) We could no longer criticize the code of our own society

3) The idea of moral progress is called into doubt (by what standard do we judge the new ways to the old ones?)
Two positive aspects of Cultural Relativism
1) Warns us of the danger of assuming that our morality is based on some absolute rational standard. Many of the practices and attitudes we find natural are only cultural products

2) Keeping an open mind helps us discover the truth, whatever it might be
The 5 claims of Cultural Relativism and criticisms:

5 things
1) Dif Soc Dif Codes:
----> This is true but there are some values all cultures share and the reasons for differences are often factual than value related

2) The action is right within society:
----> There is a difference between what the society believes and what is really true-- it is possible that one is wrong. We see that societies endorse grave injustices and are in need of moral improvement

3) no objective standard:
----> We must appeal to principles untethered to culture in order to challenge grave injustices: it always matters whether a practice promotes or hinders those affected by it

4) Our societies moral code is not special:
----> This is true, but it also implies that there is no possibility that one moral code might be better or worse than others

5) no arrogance, only tolerance:
----> In general we should be tolerant, but we cannot be tolerant of everything, otherwise we cannot make moral progress. (If we did not think that some things were better than others, there would be nothing to tolerate).
People have different opinions, but where morality is concerned there are no facts and no one is right. People just feel differently and thats it.
Simple Subjectivism
When a person says something is morally good or bad, this means that he or she approves or disapproves of it and nothing more
Simple Subjectivism Criticisms

2 things
1) Cannot account for disagreement: When one person says "X is morally acceptable," and someone else says "X is morally unacceptable," they are disagreeing. However if SS is correct there is no disagreement, because what they feel is what they feel, the fact that they feel that way is true.

2) SS implies that we're always right: So long as someone honestly represents his own feelings his moral judgments will always be correct. This contradicts that we sometimes make mistakes.

----> SS can't be correct
Emotional responses that are not statements but commands or non-commands that cannot be true or false
Two advantages of Virtue Theory:
1) Moral motivation: Acting from an abstract sense of duty, like rule based theories, is not the same as acting out of love or virtue. We need a theory that emphasized personal qualities.

2) Doubts about the ideal of impartiality: There is nothing wrong with being partial to family members over strangers.
How does Emotivism stand up against SS arguments?

2 things
1) Moral disagreement:
--> There are two kinds of disagreement:
a) disagreement about attitude (we believe different things, both cannot be true)
b) disagreement in attitude (we want different things, both cannot happen)

Emotivism is the second kind (b).

2) We are always right:
--> We can't criticize SS because they're always true. We can't criticize Emo because they aren't judgments at all, but expressions of attitude that are neither true or false.
Emotivism problems

2 things
Cannot explain the role reason plays in ethics. It makes two mistakes:

1) There are moral facts just as there are objects

2) Values are nothing more than the expression of feeling
Are there proofs in ethics?

3 things
1) The fact that ethical reasoning differs from scientific reasoning does not make it deficient

2) The most difficult issues are often debated leaving a feeling of unconclusion despite simpler matters in both science and ethics that are unanimously agreed upon

3) These are different:
a) proving an opinion to be correct
b) persuading someone to accept your proof