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PHI 102 Full Course Notes

by: Melody Posthuma

PHI 102 Full Course Notes PHI 102

Melody Posthuma
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This is all the information for the ethics course at Grand Valley that you will need, including reading notes, class notes, and study guides.
SWS Ethics
philosophy, ethics
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This 41 page Bundle was uploaded by Melody Posthuma on Wednesday August 24, 2016. The Bundle belongs to PHI 102 at Grand Valley State University taught by in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see SWS Ethics in History & Philosophy at Grand Valley State University.

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Date Created: 08/24/16
1/9 Class Notes: Ethics: moral philosophy, how to understand morals, how the world works. * Scientists: experts * Philosophy * How can I have a better life? The scientist can’t answer. * What makes a life worth living? * Philosophy - ethics - tries to answer questions. 1. Value Theory: identifies what makes a life good. What are the things that are worth pursuing for their own sake? Happiness improves life. Value that is worth going after. Wisdom only values what makes life good (Plato). If not wise, you’re not living a good life. * Philosophy: love of wisdom, Greek 2. Normalative Ethics (rules): the norms; rules to follow to have a good life. Moral duties? Set of universal rules of morals? Are there any exceptions to moral rules? How do you justify them? 3. Methodics: can there be a correct, true moral theory? What is the relationship b/w moral theory A and theory B. What are the advantages compared to A vs B. * Statos of theory 1 and 2 * Comparing rules vs. values * if you’re questioning if somethings a good ethical theory, you’re doing methodics. Skeptical about ethics: A. Different societies have different people who have different ideas about what’s wrong and right. B. Ethics is human constructed (skeptics say, science and math is human construct) Good starting point for ethics * Clear cut good things * Right or wrong actions * Ethic theories should accept that everyone is morally palpable * Humans can make moral errors * We are not obligated to do the impossible Bad starting points: Genocide is a way to improve your life (not a good moral theory) Argument in philosophy: must have premise at least 1 and must have conclusion. * All humans are mortal (premise 1) * Plato is a human (premise 2) * Plato is mortal (conclusion) Validity: * form * all are x are y, z is x, therefore z is y (valid form) * If the premises are true, then the conclusion follows from the premise Soundness * context of argument * if premises is true, conclusion cannot be false * Every sound argument at the same time a valid argument but not every valid argument is sound and all invalid arguments are unsound * Good argument is both valid and sound 1/14 Class Notes: Hedonism (value theory): most important value in life is happiness. * In order to have a good life, you have to be happy. A life is good to the extent that there is happiness in it, and bad to the extent that it has pain and misery in it. * The happier you are, the better your life is. (this sentence is a good example of parallelism) * Two types of goods: 1. Instrumental Goods (means to an end). An example is chocolate - chocolate is a means to make me happy. 2. Intrinsic Goods: Happiness, Wisdom, etc. (the things that are good in themselves, you do other things to get to them, the “ends”) * Hedonists believe that the most important thing is happiness in life. Pleasures bring happiness. There are physical pleasures (like chocolate) and intellectual pleasures (like reading books). It is not only the quantity of pleasures, but the quality of pleasures is what’s important for Hedonism. They believe intellectual pleasure > physical pleasure. * Epicurus said the best way to get happiness is inner peace by doing philosophy. You do philosophy because it’s a means to an inner peace, not because there’s value in itself. Only good for philosophy is to bring happiness. * J.S.M. II also said that happiness is the most important thing in life. Once you’re capable of experiencing an intellectual pleasure, you will choose that over physical ones. He is very aware that happiness is an end and that intellectual and physical pleasures are means to get there. If you are not capable of the means, then you aren’t required to do that and can be happy through experiencing physical pleasure. “No one capable of intellectual pleasure, will let someone drag them through mud (a physical pleasure).” * Advantages of Hedonism: 1. It is capable of explaining why there are many different ways to a happy life. The common feature is happiness. Contrast this with the objective value theory: There is only one way to being happy in life. Example: if you don’t have wisdom, you won’t ever be happy in life. 2. Personal Authority (Freedom) - responsibility. You are responsible for your happiness or unhappiness. Compare this with paternalism: you are told what is good for you or will make you happy. Ex: parents say going to college will make you happy. 3. Happiness improves an already good life, pain and misery takes away from a good life. * It is raining or not raining now. Means nothing/isn’t important because there are no disadvantages or counter arguments of this statement. * Disadvantages of and Counter Arguments against Hedonism: 1. Paradox of Hedonism: Ex #1: “This sentence is false.” If you assume its true, then its false and if you assume its false it’s true. Ex #2: “Everyone from OH is a liar.” “John is from OH” John says: “I am a liar” P1) If Hedonism is true, then the most important thing in life is happiness. P2) If happiness is the most important thing, it is rational to pursue happiness very hard. P3) People who try really hard to become happy, usually fail C) Hedonism is false. * Not a good argument because it’s invalid. P1) If H. is true, then happiness from evil is as good as happiness form good. P2) Evil happiness is NOT as good as good happiness. C) H. is false. * Check for validity and assume premises are true. It’s validity is good, but now check for soundness: the correctness of the premises. The first premise is correct, but the second is not correct. Trajectory argument: P1) If H. is true, the only important thing is amount of happiness. P2) We care for not just about the amount of happiness, but also the “trajectory of life.” C) H. is false. * Check for validity and soundness. * Check for validity: If you assume the premises are correct, does the conclusion follow? It passed validity. * Didn’t pass soundness because the pursuit of happiness is also important. Everyone wants to get happier and happier, not ending in a miserable life. 1/16 Class Notes: • Desire Satisfaction Theory (DST): Ethics is about living a better life and how improve our lives. We ask for advice on how to live a better life. What makes a person’s life better might not make some other people’s lives better. The DST says that there is no universal theory to explain what makes a life better since there is no universal common feature of a good life. Your life goes well to the extent that you get what you want, and your life goes badly to the extent that you don’t get what you want. The better life all depends on what you care about. • Advantages of DST: (1) Can explain why there are many different ways to a good life. You don’t necessarily have to be happy to have a good life. If all a person in life want to be unhappy, then who are we to tell them they have to be happy to have a good life? (2) Personal authority (3) Avoid objective value • Motivation argument: This argument supports DST. (P1) If X is truly good for you, then you will be motivated to get X. (P2) Many people who don’t care about X and know how to get it, they aren’t motivated to get X. (C) Therefore X will not improve their life. • Motivation argument #2: (P1) If something is truly good for you, then it will satisfy your desires. (P2) If something satisfies your desires, then you will be motivated to get it. (C) if something is truly good for you, you will be motivated to get it. (P1) If x, then y (P2) If y, then z (C) if x, then z • Conflict Resolution: Priority to desires (order) Example: you could play video games or grade papers. Your desire to be a professor is greater than your desire to play video games so you grade papers. You do things you don’t want to do to satisfy your higher desires. Versus hedonists: happiness doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it’s happy. • In order to have a good life, you don’t have to love what you do or be happy - it’s all about desires. 1/23 Class Notes: • Desire Satisfaction Theory: 1) If something satisfies our desires, then it’s good for us. (sufficient condition for having a better life). It doesn’t matter what it is, it is sufficient to improve our lives. 2) If something is good for us, then it satisfies our desires. (necessary condition for having a better life) • If you’re looking for a problem in an argument, first go after the necessary portion of their argument. • Problem 1: Getting what you want might not be necessary to improve your life. Something that is good for us, BUT doesn’t satisfy any desires. (goes after the necessary condition), not necessary external force vs. Paternalism (external force forcing something on you, taking away your personal authority). • Problem 2: Getting what you want might not be sufficient to make your life better. Example: false beliefs • DST version 2: If something fulfills our INFORMED desires, then it’s good for us. • Problem with version 2: Example: someone sees a whale is dying, but then the whale is saved. It doesn’t improve the person’s life, but makes them happier. • DST version 3: If something improves our informed desires and makes us happy then it’s good for us. (added an objective value - happiness) • Problem with version 3: not everyone wants to be happy, we can’t accept the version three because the DST gets rid of all objective values and happiness is an objective value. • DST version 3.5: If something improves our informed desires and those desires are self- directed then it is good for us. • Problem with version 3.5: Disappointment when you get something you really desired. • DST version 4: If something improves our informed, self-directed desires and makes us happy, then it’s good for us. • Problem with version 4: once again there is an objective value in it - happiness Ignorance of desire satisfaction: someone only wanted to be a dad, but the woman never told him that he had a child, so he never got to be happy about being a father. • DST version 5: if something satisfies our informed, self-directed desires, and we have the knowledge of desire satisfaction, then it improves our lives. Problem with version 5: excludes certain people who value objectives value that the DST • disregards. • DST doesn’t care about the source of the desires. Jean Kazez - Necessities • She begins with happiness. She finds people who are happy and asks if they have good lives or not. • 1st Point: If Happiness isn’t necessary for a good life, it is very critical to a good life. • 2nd Point: personal authority (control over your action). You can’t control everything that happens to you in life, but the more control you have provides for a better life. • Trajectory of life - a life that is improving and has direction. Also, staying the same is not an element of a good life. • Morals. The source needs to be something good and people should live with morals. • Kazez combines the good aspects of the DST, objectivist theory, and hedonism to create her views. But it doesn’t mean that her view is completely correct. Richard Taylor - Meaning of Life • Life is meaningful. • All Sisyphus does, is carry a rock up a mountain, which falls and he carries it up again for infinity (endless cycle). Endless cycle = meaningless life • People create offsprings and die, then those offspring create more offspring and die. The cycle continues. But in this cycle, humans build/produce in their lifetime. • Process of living the life is the meaning of life. If you try to search any other meaning, you will collapse into an endless cycle like Sisyphus. 1/30 Class Notes: * How to live a better life: which actions improve our lives? Right or wrong? * Morality: which actions are right and which actions are wrong. * Morality from the lens of religion - religion is a very important guide for moral actions because it talks about how to act morally. * Religion = source of morality. * God = all knowing, all powerful, infinitely good. * Assumptions: (1) Religious belief is necessary to get us to do our duties (in the sense of moral duties). It is necessary for moral motivation. It seems implausible for non-religious people to have moral motivation because they would rather be bad, than good. Follow the moral rules because of fear of punishment is morally unreliable. Morals have intrinsic values, so they should be followed simply for the sake of them. Moral = right action = good person (right action is always a good action: is it right for a religion to have some actions that are considered good, but aren’t by others. Ex: Taliban, human sacrifice) Immoral = wrong action = bad Truth (some people believe the truth of a religion) vs. benefit (some people believe in the benefit of the morals from a religion). You have to justify that a right action is a good action. You can’t always say that a right action is a good action. (2) Morality is created, God is the creator of morals. If God is dead, then everything is permissible. Morality is a nothing but a set of norms (list of rules). If there is a list, someone created it at some point. For sake of argument, assume that God doesn’t exist. If God doesn’t exist, then humans must have created the list. But human beings are imperfect & thus lack authority to make these rules. If you follow a certain list of rules, there should be authority behind the maker of those rules, so God must have created them. We assume that He is perfect, so the morals He created must be perfect as well. (3) Religious wisdom is the key to provide us with moral guidance. Divine Command Theory: #1 Every law requires a law maker #2 Moral laws require a lawmaker #3 Humans cannot be the law maker of morals #4 If humans cannot be the lawmakers, then it should be God #5 Therefore, God created morals. * An action is moral because God commands it and an action is immoral because God forbids it. * Q: Is an action moral because God commands it, or God commands it because it is moral. * In the first option, God commands an action, He’s not infinitely good because for example killing a human being is morally neutral. * In the second option, then God looks at the list and chooses what is moral. So He didn’t create the list. This goes against his perfectness. * Only way to keep that he is perfect, infinitely good, & creator of morals, we must argue that we don’t understand how He makes His decisions. This is when morals become arbitrary (based on random choice rather than system or reason) because we are acting morally only because we are fearing some sort of punishment. * Once you assume one of them, you give one aspect of morality that is defined by God. If you want the full definition of morality, you have to give up one aspect. Do you give up the fact that He is perfect or give up the fact that he is infinitely good? 2/4 Class Notes: • Socratic Method: Religion as the source of morals: (1) Religion is necessary for morality (2) God created morals (decided the morals, some actions were morally neutral X infinitely good or list of morals, already someone else created the list X all knowing & all powerful (3) Religious wisdom is a good guideline for acting morally (conflict resolution) - Religious people don’t want to give up all knowing and all powerful but also don’t want to give up infinitely good, so then they must reject the statement that God created morals. Solution: religious wisdom is a good guideline for acting morally. • Natural Law Theory: by looking at nature of things we can know about morality. Morality is how things ought to be and nature is how things are. Naturalists are trying to derive what should be the case by what the case actually is. DEFINITION: Good humans are those who fulfill their nature and bad humans are those who fail to do so. Moral law is natural law, actions are right because they are natural, actions are wrong because they are unnatural. Depends entirely on human nature. - How Naturalists “Solve” Problems of Ethics: (1) They can explain objective morals - human nature can act as an objective standard. (2) They can explain why morals are only for humans - human nature can morally reason, but no other species or thing can. (3) Origins of morals - there were no humans there is no morality since we are the only ones who can morally reason. The origin of human beings brought the origin of morals. (4) Knowledge of morals - David Hume’s argument against moral knowledge: (1) There are only two types of knowledge: empirical (interaction w/ world, observation) & conceptual (a=c, b=c, a=b) (2) Moral knowledge is neither empirical (if you’ve never seen anyone kill before and you observe someone killing them, you wouldn’t know if that’s moral or not) nor conceptual (3) Therefore, there is no moral knowledge. Look for validity and soundness. - Human Nature: (1) Human nature is what is innate to humans (Hobbes - state of nature is survival, so our nature is to kill) (2) What is common to all humans. PROBLEM: There might not be a common feature of all humans. And the common features have nothing to do with morality. • Consequentialism: find morality from the results of actions. - Moral theory says that = Right: good action, Wrong: bad action. Consequentialism says if an action is good, you did the right thing. - Our aim should be making the world a better place. Do as much good as possible that affects as much people as possible (maximize the amount of good). It helps us to improve our lives as well as others’ lives, it helps make earth better & move beyond our egoism. - What is right is the action that produces the most good. Actions are moral to the extent that they bring good & immoral to the extent that they don’t bring good. - Forward looking moral system. - (1) Determine what’s intrinsically good (2) Determine what's intrinsically bad (3) Possible alternative actions (4) Identify which action will bring the most abundant good (5) Do the best possible one. - Intentions to act vs. actual action: You may have good intentions that end up badly or bad intentions that end up good. You may also have good intentions and don’t act on them or bad intentions and don’t act on them. 2 groups of Consequentialists: intention vs. actual 2/6 Class Notes: * Consequentialism: morality of an action depends on the results of the action. An action is morally right if it results in good. - Intention to act vs. actual action. There is no essential connection between intentions and actions. * What is intrinsically good? Consequentialism is a family of theories because it all depends on the result of an action & how do you find intrinsic good. - Act Utilitarianism: There is only one intrinsic good and that intrinsic good is well-being. Moral duty to improve well-being: actions should generate well-being. - An action is morally right to the extent that it improves well-being (principle of utility) - Maximizing goodness (Well-being): comparing well-being to misery. (1) 50 people well-being to 50 people misery (2) 1 person wellbeing to 0 people misery. Utilitarianism would choose the 2nd option. It’s not always about the amount of people who receive the good, but the maximized amount of good over bad. * Misunderstandings: (1) We must benefit most amount of people - It’s not always about the amount of people who receive the good, but the maximized amount of good over bad. (2) We must always choose the action that creates the most amount of well-being. This is utilitarianism. * Hume’s argument about Moral knowledge: conceptual (2+2 = 4) vs. empirical (making observations). * Moral knowledge: knowing which actions are morally right or wrong (a) Actual results of an action: empirical (ex: you save a drowning child. The child grows up and is Hitler. What you did was acting immorally because you indirectly caused misery in the world). A moral action you did may become immoral when all the results come in. We don’t know the results until the future, so we don’t know if our original actions are moral or immoral. (b) Expected results: common sense from past instances * Moral Duty: you are morally required to improve over all well-being. - Conflict resolution: you have to follow it, but it has the possibility to be morally wrong, but if you don’t follow it then its immoral. It is morally flexible (ex: if you have to kill people, you kill the smaller group of people). No moral rule is absolute. - Danger: too much self-sacrifice + free rider problem. * Problems with utilitarianism: (1) How to measure well-being (identify benefits of an action, harms of an action, determine the difference b/w total benefit & total harm). There’s no way to measure well-being, there’s too much information to process. * Negative responsibility: by not doing something, you are being immoral. 2/11 Class Notes: - Problems of Utilitarianism: Impartiality, self-sacrifice There is nothing intrinsically right or wrong in _____ (moral flexibility) * By lying you can improve overall well-being. * 1 moral rule = improve overall well-being. * It might be perfectly moral to kill an innocent human being. * Morality depends on results of actions. We don’t have control over our morality. - Problem of injustice: it is possible in utilitarianism that injustice can be moral. * Argument of injustice: (1) Any correct moral theory cannot allow for injustice. (2)Utilitarianism allows for injustice (C) Therefore, Utilitarianism is not a correct moral theory. Check validity: assume premises are correct, does conclusion follow from the premises? Yes. Check soundness: You can’t have 2 intrinsically valuable things in utilitarianism (well-being & justice), so they choose well-being. The 1st premise is untrue. - Kantian Perspective: There is an intrinsic value to justice itself. We have control over our morality. Independent and objective. (Compare to Utilitarianism = subjective) * Unfair advantage by not following the rules. That would be inconsistent b/c success is based on everyone following the rules but him. Immorality of action = unfairness, inconsistency. * You are being inconsistent if you’re making an exception to yourself. * (1) What if everyone else does it? (Fair vs. unfair) (2) How would you like it if someone else did that to you? (Consistency) * Test 1: If disastrous results would happen if everyone does X, then X is immoral. * Test 2: The Golden Rule: treat others as the way that you want to be treated. It’s subjective = everyone has different desires. Also, not all actions have other people as their targets. * Needs a principle of morality that’s objective and independent to guide our action, to be able to follow the moral rules and be sure that you are being moral (vs. Utilitarianism - you never know if you’re acting moral, but that’s what you’re aiming for, plus it’s subjective) * The Principle of Universalizability: An act is morally acceptable if your maxim for the action is universalizable. Maxims are all about intentions & universal means it applies to everyone who can reason (rationality). This is independent & objective. * Maxim: the principle behind actions that you construct for your actions. (1) What you’re about to do. (2) Why you’re about to do it. Only you can dictate true intentions of your action - principle that you use to act. The morality of an action depends only on its maxim. The result of an action has nothing to do with morality. Maxims can be right intentions or wrong intentions - you choose. If they are the right intentions, they are moral. If wrong intentions, they are immoral. The wrong intentions cannot be universal. * Test of Universalizability: (1) Formulate your maxim, clearly state your intentions to act and why (2) Imagine a world where everyone supports your maxim and acts on it. (3) Ask: can I achieve my goal if everyone else acts this way? A: Yes = the maxim is right and the action is acceptable. A: No = maxim is wrong and the action is immoral. * If Universalizable = Everyone can stand behind that action. We are not making exceptions to ourselves. Everyone could support our goals. ANNOUNCEMENT * Do not read social contract for next week * No response paper for next week * Social contract is not on the midterm 2/13 Class Notes: - Kantian Perspective: Justice (against Utilitarianism) & independent and objective (against Utilitarianism) - Maxims: what you are about to do and why (intentions of an action), you are in control of yourself. - If you follow the rules of morality you will end up being a moral person no matter what. - Maxims go to actions and there are right and wrong actions. If you do the right actions = moral, if you do the wrong actions = immoral. - Principle of Universalizability: an action is morally acceptable if the maxim is universalizable. (1) Formulate the maxim (2) Suppose a world that everyone supports your maxim and acts on it. (3) Ask yourself: Can I achieve my goal? Yes or No.. If you can achieve your goal the maxim is moral and if not, it’s immoral. - Morality and rationality (logic): conceptual knowledge (Ex: P and not -P) * Morality doesn’t depend on what we want. * You act morally when you act rationally. You act immorally when you act irrationally. * To counter this: you need to have a rational action that’s immoral. * Amoralist Challenge: (1) People act for a reason if they get what they want. (2) Acting morally doesn’t get you what you want. (3) Sometimes there’s no reason to act morally (ex: a cop asks if you have a health emergency you say you do so then you have an excuse for speeding) (4) If there’s no reason to act morally, it’s rational to violate morals. (5) Therefore, it’s rational to act immorally. * Response to the Amoralist Challenge: (1) Hypothetical Imperative (command of reason): what you have to do to get what you want (depends on what you want) (2) Categorical Imperative (command of reason): they do NOT depend on what you want. This is where moral rules come from. * Principle of Universalizability “Act in a way that the maxim of your action can be universalizable” = irrationality of immorality (1) If you are rational, you are consistent (not making exceptions to yourself) (2) If you are consistent, you follow the principle of universalizability. (3) If you follow the P or U, then you act morally. (4) You act morally if you are rational and act immorally if you’re irrational. * Principle of Humanity: “Act in a way that you treat all humans (infinite value) as ends and not means.” Not in moral society if you are mentally disabled, babies, animals, etc. Only thing that makes someone a human is the capacity to think in reason. 2/18 Class Notes: - Principle of Universalizability: Act in a way that the maxim of your action can be universal - Principle of humility: treat all humans including yourself as an end, and not as means. - Autonomy & Respect: through slavery, you violate the autonomy of a human being because you are treating a human being like an object or a mere thing rather than with the respect they deserve. - Every human is infinitely valuable. Slavery diminishes the value of a human which is immoral. - Humanity: those who have the capacity to think rationally. A moral agent thinks rationally. The only thing that makes an object worth receiving respect is their ability to think rationally. - A human feature that is objectively good and independently good. - Good will: good without limits. Problem: there are intelligent people who make good decisions, but also very bad things. Intelligence has its limits. - Good will corrects the bad influence on actions. - Good will has two parts: (a) the ability to know what your moral duties are (b) acting through good will. Moral value comes from acting morally just for the sake of morals. - Shop keeper example: acts morally because of fear of punishment. Kant believes if you act morally out of fear of action, then there’s no value in acting this way. The second store owner always acts morally because he believes that cheating people is wrong. He acts just out of the sake of morals. This has moral value. - Knowing what your moral duties are vs. motivation to act morally. David Hume = have only one motivation from which we act: want, desires. Existence of emotions robs an action of its moral value. - Problems with the Principle of Humility: (1) Principle that tells us to treat other humans as ends (giving them the respect they deserve) is vague. It makes the principle depend on subjective decisions about respect. (2) Deciding what people deserve can be immoral. Punishment = “lex talions” (law of retaliation). Problems = crimes without victims, accidental crimes, punishment itself becomes immoral (murder, rape, etc.) - Problems with the Principle of Autonomy: What if we are not autonomous to begin with (don’t have free will?) (1) Our actions are either necessary or not (2) If our actions are necessary, there is no control over our actions (3) If our actions are not necessary, they are random and we have no control over our actions. (4) We have no control over our actions. Without autonomy, the entire system fails. - Problem of Autonomy - rationality: * Problem of the scope of moral society: moral agents think rationally. Chairs, animals, infants, and the mentally ill are not moral agents so they don’t deserve respect. Could be murdered or tortured and it would be considered moral. - (1) Principle of Humanity says that no rationality no moral agency. (2) If P. of H. is true, animals, babies, etc. are not moral agents. (3) If an animal is not a moral agent then it’s not immoral to torture them. (4) If P. of H. is true, you can torture animals. - Response: Those that are capable of experiencing well-being (moral patients) should also be treated with respect. THE ETHICAL LIFE READING NOTES Introduction: * Philosophy is the love of wisdom: morality is the code that we should live by. * Value theory: what is valuable in and of itself, what is worth pursuing for its own sake. * Normative ethics: identifies the supreme principles of right action. * Divine Command Theory: acts are right just because God demanded them. * Natural law theory: it tries to show that moral action is a matter of acting in a way that respects our nature. * Normative ethics asks how we are to balance the demands of self-interest with the needs and interests of others. * Ethical egoism: always to best advance our own interests no matter how badly off such egoistic pursuits leave others. * Utilitarianism: instructs us always to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number. * Immanuel Kant: the essence of morality is fairness and justice. Kant’s view is similar to the social contract theory. * Thomas Hobbes: fully developed the social contract theory in the Leviathan. The social contract theory says that morality is essentially a cooperative enterprise and that the moral rules are those that self-interest people would obey on the conditions that others do so as well. * W.D. Ross: against the existence of any moral rule in developing his ethic of prima facie duties (duties that can be outweigh by competing duties). the problem is there is no fixed ranking of moral principles and it can be difficult to know what to do when the conflict. Ross thinks that we can know each prima facie moral duty through careful reflection, but it gets complicated in specific situations. Ex: Sometimes it’s more important to prevent harm than to keep your word and sometimes the reverse is true. * Aristotle: developed the first version of virtue ethics: places the virtues at center stage in ethical inquiry. He rejects the idea of a single formula that can provide ethical advice for every occasion. * Feminist ethics: Hilde Lindemann sketches the distinctive features of a feminist outlook on morality with the emphasis on taking the experience of women seriously when developing one’s ethical ideas and ideals, and eliminating the many ways in which sexist assumptions creep into traditional philosophizing. * Metaethics: debates and asks about the status of moral views in both value and normative ethics. Is morality just a convenient fiction or are they true? Does their truth depend on personal opinion, social consensus, God’s commands, or something else? If there are genuine moral truths, how can we know them and do they have authority over us? * David Hume: thought if moral claims were objectively true, then we should be able to discover our moral duty by just thinking hard about it. He argues that no amount of careful reasoning could do that and therefore, morality can’t be objective. * A.J. Ayer: mo moral truths, moral judgments just express our emotions and can neither be true or false. Ex: “genocide is immoral” we are venting our hatred for genocide and that sort of claim can’t be true or false. Since moral claims aren’t tautologies and can’t be confirmed by science, he thinks that moral claims are meaningless. Meaningless claims can’t be true and and thus moral claims can’t be true. * John Mackie: all of our moral thinking is based on an error. * Harry Gensler: arguing against cultural relativism (the idea that a society’s guiding ideals are the ultimate moral standards. * Michael Smith: morality can be objective by arguing that it’s made up of those rules that we would all agree to, were we cool, calm, collected, and fully informed about the world. They are the principles that we would accept were we fully rational and informed. We can gain moral knowledge by becoming ell-informed and by reasoning in sophisticated ways. * Renford Bambrough: tackles the problem of people failing to see how we gain moral knowledge head on, moral rules don’t appear to be purely logical rules nor do they seem to be scientific principles known through evidence we gather from our five senses. Bambrough disagrees that these two kinds of claims are the only ones that we can know. Chapter 1: Letter to Menoceus (Epicurus) * Epicurus (341-270 BCE): the first of the great hedonists, argued that pleasure is the fundamental human good and that the best life is one that is as pleasant as it can be. He encouraged moderation and prudence in all things and counseled us to minimize our indulgence in sensual pleasures. He thought the most pleasant sate was one of emotional tranquility (a peace of mind through a moderate lifestyle and philosophy. Also disagreed that death can harm us. * To seek wisdom. * While he is young, he may at the same time be old b/c he has no fear of the things which are go come. Death is nothing to us and that reality makes the mortality of life enjoyable. Don’t worry about it not because it will pain when it comes, but b/c it pains us in the prospect. When death is not come we are and when death is come we are not. * Believe that God is a living being immortal and blessed according to the notion of a god indicated by the common sense of mankind. You shall not affirm of him anything that’s foreign to his immortality or that is repugnant to his blessedness. * We must remember that the future is neither wholly ours nor wholly not ours, so that neither must we count upon it as quite certain to come nor despair of it as quite certain not to come. * Some desires are natural, some are necessary, and some are both. * For the end of all our actions is to be free from pain and fear and when once we have attained all this, the tempest of the soul is laid; seeing that the living creature has no need to go in search of something that’s lacking nor to look for anything else by which the good of the soul and of the body will be fulfilled. * Pleasure is the starting point of every choice and of every aversion. Not all pleasure should be chosen just as all pain is an evil and yet not all point is to be shunned. Pleasure is the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. * Sometimes we treat the good as an evil and the evil on the contrary as a good. * We are contented with little if we haven’t had much, being honestly persuaded that you have the sweetest enjoyment of luxury who stand least in need of it and that whatever is natural is easily procured and only the vain and worthless hard to win. * It is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs though which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul. * The greatest good is wisdom. We cannot live pleasantly without living wisely, honorable, and justly; nor live wisely, honorable, and justly without living pleasantly. * Review the review questions at the end of the chapter. Chapter 2: Hedonism (John Stuart Mill) * Mill distinguishes b/w higher and lower pleasures, drawing a parallel b/w the evidence we have for something’s being visible (that all of us see it) and something’s being desirable (that all of us desire it). We do and can desire nothing but pleasure and its the only thing worth pursuing for its own sake. * If the sources of pleasure were precisely the same to human beings and to swine, the rule of life which is good enough for the beasts is degrading. * Utilitarian writers place superiority of mental over bodily pleasures. * a being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy and is capable of more acute suffering. It is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied. * Before they devote themselves exclusively to the one, they have already become incapable of the other (discussing bodily and mental pleasures) * Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes, because they have not time or opportunity for indulging them and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures because they are either the ones to which they have access or the only ones they are capable of enjoying. * No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable except that each person so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness. Happiness is a good and each person’s happiness is a good to that person. * Happiness is one of the ends of conduct and one of the criteria of morality. How has it proved itself to be the sole criterion? To show people desire happiness, but that they never desire anything else. * They believe that actions and dispositions are only virtuous because they promote another end than virtue. The ingredients of happiness are very various and each are desirable in itself, they are a part of the end. For example, virtue is not naturally and originally part of the end but it’s capable of becoming so. It becomes desired/cherished not as a means to happiness but as a part of their happiness. * What was once desired as an instrument for the attainment of happiness, has come to be desired for its own sake. In being desired for its own sake, it is desired as a part of happiness. * Whatever is desired otherwise than as a means to some end beyond itself, and ultimately to happiness, is desired as itself a part of happiness and is not desired for itself until it has become so. * Happiness is the sole end of human action and the promotion of it the test by which to judge all human conduct. It must be the criterion of morality since a part is included in the whole. Chapter 3: Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) * Huxley (1894-1963): wrote a dystopian classic where the Savage argues that happiness isn’t the most important goal of human life. The best life includes risk and challenges that will lead to grief and sometimes tragedy. We must choose between guaranteed happiness (Mond) or the opposite (Savage). * “The world is stable now. People are happy; they get what they want and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age...” (Mond) * “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. Happiness is never grand.” * “Now you wallow two or three half-gramme tablets and anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears - that’s what soma is.” (Mond) * “You don’t suffer or oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It’s too easy.” (Savage) * “We prefer to do things comfortable.” (Mond) “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” (Savage) Chapter 4: The Experience Machine (Robert Nozick) * Robert Nozick (1938-2002) contemplated a life in which we are placed within a very sophisticated machine capable of simulating whatever experiences we find most valuable. Problem: It fails to make contact with reality. A good life is not entirely a function of the quality of our inner experiences. Since hedonism measures our well-being this way, it must be mistaken. * We want to do certain things, not just have the experience of doing them. We want to be a certain way , to be a certain sort of person. An experience machine limits us to a man-made reality,to a world no deeper or important than that which people can construct. * The experience machine doesn’t meet our desire to be a certain way. Now imagine a transformation machine which transforms us into whatever sort of person we’d like to be (its not truly us, just someone making us feel that we are this way. We remain unchanged) or a result machine that produces in the world any result you would produce and injects your vector input into any joint activity. What is most disturbing is that they’re living our lives for us. Note that the intricacy in the question of what matters for people other than their experiences. Chapter 5: The Meaning of Life (Richard Taylor) * Richard Taylor (1919-2003) argues that life is meaningless, but that this doesn’t undermine our prospects for a good life. Though nothing we do has any ultimate meaning, we can be quire well off provided that we get from life what we care most about. Satisfying our deepest desires is the key to a good life. * The stone that Sisyphus moves to the top of the hill rolls back every time and the process is repeated forever. Nothing comes of it and the work is simply pointless. * The only thing different now is that Sisyphus has been reconciled to the job and embraced it. * Meaningless is essentially endless pointlessness. * The point of any living thing’s life is evidently nothing but life itself. * We toil after goals and most of them are of transitory significance and having gained one of them we immediately set forth for the next as if that one had never been with this next one being essentially more of the same. This effort is directed only to the establishment and perpetuation of home and family (to the begetting of others who follow in our steps to do more of the same). Sisyphus himself returns to push the stone up again, we leave this to our children. * Our achievements are mostly bubbles and those that last like the pyramids, become curiosities while around them the rest of mankind continues its perpetual toting of rocks only to see them roll down. The picture of Sisyphus is the picture of existence of the individual man, of nations, of the race of men, and the very life of the world. * The question “What for?” is now asked and the answer is so that it may go on forever. It’s not surprising then that men invent ways of denying it (he bashes religion as an example). * Let us suppose Sisyphus succeeded in building a castle. After ages of dreadful toil, all of it is complete and his work is done. He can rest and forever enjoy the result. Now what? Infinite boredom! We were first presented with the nightmare of eternal and pointless activity and are now confronted with the hell of its eternal absence. * Their endless activity which gets nowhere is just what it’s their will to pursue. This is its whole justification and meaning. It is the doing that counts not what they hope to win by it. The point of living is simply to be living. What counts is that one should be able to begin a new task and it counts because it is there to be done and he/she has the will to do it. * The meaning of life is from within us, it’s not bestowed from without and it far exceeds in both is beauty and permanence any heaven of which men have ever dreamed or yearned for. * An activity is meaningful if it has some more or less lasting end that can be considered to have been the direction and purpose of the activity. Chapter 6: Necessities (Jean Kazez) * She wrote The Weight of Things (2007), argues that there are many basic goods that add value to a life, adopts the objective view that certain things make an essential contribution to a good life even if we don’t believe or value those goods. One good is autonomy - to decide for yourself which principles will govern your life and make decisions. She believes a good life improves over time and happiness, self-expression, and commitment to morality are worthwhile activities. * Desires are manipulable, they’re not definitive. The Stoics argue that plain physical pleasure adds nothing positive to a life because of virtue. * Kant says the only thing that’s good w/o qualification is the morally good will. It’s not good when it’s enticing us in the wrong direction or rewards evil deeds. * Happiness is a good thing always. We don’t like to see bad people have it b/c we don’t want them to have what’s good. Whether happiness comes mysteriously, in good ways, or in bad ways, it’s a fundamental good that directly affects how our lives are going. Though, it’s not the only critical thing. * Autonomy is also a good. It’s counterintuitive to say that every increase in autonomy automatically makes a person’s life overall better, b/c there are other things a life needs besides autonomy. In Thomas a’ Kempis’, The Imitation of Christ, he advises to find someone to obey and regards it as good as long as you are following the right person. In Galileo’s Daughter, Dava Sobel writes about the confinement of a convent supposed to facilitate a virtuous life. Some views are wrong such as the idea that the loss of autonomy is conducive to living the best life. * We want our way of pursuing happiness and autonomy to spring from our “selves.” It’s not the disunity of a life that’s bad, but a weak self w//o strong preferences that is indifferent to what are big differences for the rest of us. If being autonomous and self-determining are as important as they seem to be, it must be equally important for a person to have a self that does the determining. * Self-expression is prized in contemporary Western societies. Buddhism encourages the realization of no-self, but it doesn’t encourage us to be like Nowhere Man. It just means to not be rigidly identified with some narrow set of characteristics. * Plato, Aristotle, & the Stoics all regard moral virtue as central to living our lives well. It’s not always a matter of morality making me happy, but it does make a direct difference in how my life is going. Ex: the moment his life improved precedes the happiness payoff, it was when he confessed his crime that established some life improvement before greater happiness came and yielded more. * The Aristotelian virtues are sustainers of stability and balance being angry at the right time, at the right person, to the right decree would save a person from being a doormat or volcano). * If you don’t concern yourself with what you owe others or what they need from you, you will live in isolation. If it would be bad to be the only one of your kind, the last surviving person, then it’s bad to live as if you were. Moral behavior toward others helps us participate in a richer world. Morality is good for us b/c it makes us less alone. * Ethical concern is something of a cure for our sense of finitude = it’s good to do right b/c it expands your life, encompassing others’ feelings, satisfactions, and accomplishments, not just your own. * FIVE NECESSITIES: happiness, autonomy, self-expression, morality, and progress. * We want our lives to go from worse to better in some way. But with God, absence of change is no flaw at all, but no progress for use would be a serious flaw (going from broken to fixed, clumsy to competent, ignorant to familiar). We shouldn’t seek problems so we can rise to their solutions. Progress needs to be moderate, we need to avoid complete stagnation and wherever we start, we should aim higher. * What if your happiness comes from a valueless source like gambling? We want our happiness to at least come from things that have value. We want a ling b/w happiness and these other 4 necessities. There’s no reason for every bit of happiness to be derived from valuable things, but somethings amiss when most of it is not. Chapter 7: Euthyphro (Plato) * Socrates wants to know what is common to all instances of piety. Euthyphro says that piety is what the gods love. Socrates asks the Euthyphro questions: Are acts pious because the gods love them, or do the gods love actions b/c they are pious? Many who are religious endorse the first option - God’s commands are what makes actions right. If He doesn’t exist or issue commands, nothing is morally right. Plato casts doubt on that view. * It is pious to prosecute the wrongdoer and not to prosecute is impious. You shouldn’t favor the ungodly, whoever they are. (Euthyphro) * There are many pious actions. (Socrates) * What is dear to the gods is pious, what is not is impious (Euthyphro) * Socrates talked about how the gods have different tastes and dislikes, so some things gods loves are the things that others hate. So for Euthyphro to punish his father may please Zeus, but displease Cronus & Uranus, etc. Some assert that they wrong one another, while others deny it, but no one among gods or men ventures to say that the wrongdoer must not be punished. * Socrates asked to examine whether the statement Euthyphro made about what is pious and what is impious is sound, or “do we let it pass and if one of us, or someone else, merely says that something is so, doe we accept that it’s so? Or should we examine what the speaker means?” Euthyphro said we must examine it, but the statement that he made was fine. * “Is not being loved by whose who live it because it is something loved, but it is something loved because it is being loved by them? Is something being loved because it is pious or is it pious because of some other reason?” Euthyphro said it was because of some other reason. * “Is it being loved then because it’s pious, but it’s no pious b/c it’s being loved? And yet ti is something loved and god-loved because it is being loved by the gods? Then the god-loved isn’t the same as the pious or the pious the same as the god-loved.” * They agreed that the pious is being loved because it is pious, but it isn’t pious because it’s being loved. Difference: the one is such as to be loved b/c it’s being loved, the other is bing loved because it is such as to be loved. * “When you were asked what piety is... you told me an affect or quality of it... but you have not yet told me what the pious is.” Chapter 8: Natural Goodness (Philippa Foot) * From her book Natural Goodness, she argues that we can derive moral norms from natural norms - those that tell us how things ought to be, given insights about their nature. She argues that we have no reservations about assessing species as better or worse depending on how well they measure up to natural norms. We can derive standards for how we ought to be and do based on insights about human nature. * Secondary goodness: goodness predicated to living things when they are evaluated in a relationship to members of species other than their own. * Natural goodness: intrinsic or autonomous goodness, depends directly on the relation of an individual to the life form of its species. * Moral defect is a form of natural defect. * Michael Thompson’s thesis is to understand certain distinctive ways in which we describe individual organisms, we must recognize the logical dependence of these description so n the nature of the species to which the individual belongs. S’s are F (example: rabbits are herbivores, Aristotelian categorical). He says descriptions of an individual depend on the species to which it belongs, that without this reference, “life activities” like eating or reproducing can’t be identified. * Reproduction isn’t fixed since species are subject to change. * It is only in so far as we have a natural history account that we can have a vital description of individuals here and now. * Thompson says that if we have a true natural-history proposition that S’s are F, then if a certain individual S is not F it’s therefore not as it should be, but rather weak, diseased, or in some other way defective. Thompson hasn’t isolated the kind of proposition that will yield evaluations of individual organisms - what counts as ‘its life’ and what is ‘playing a part’? * These things all have to do, directly or indirectly, with self-maintenance (life characteristic). Anything casually and teleologically related to it is something that ‘plays a part.’ * Purposive language: be careful - beware of saying that an individual S has this purpose when it does this thing. Ex: plants grow upwards in order to get to the light, but it’s fanciful to say that that is what they are trying to do or ‘its end’. * Crucial to all teleological propositions: What part does it play in the life cycle of things of the species s? * An evaluation of an individual living thing,with no reference to our interests or desires is possible with the intersection of Aristotelian categoricals (life-form descriptions relating to the species) and propositions about particular individuals that are the subject of evaluation. * There’s a systematic connection b/w natural goodness and benefit. An animal’s goodness or defect is conceptually determined by the interact of natural habitat and natural strategies (species-general) for survival and reproduction. * Different with humans. The bearing and rearing of children isn’t an ultimate good in human life, b/c other elements of good such as the demands of work to be done may give a man or woman reason to renounce family life. Having children has to do with love and ambition of parents for children, etc. which animals do not have. * The human desire to live often has to do with a desperate hope that something may yet turn out well in the future. For humans, the teleological story goes beyond a reference to survival itself. * What makes a good life? Start with human deprivation. If humans were deprived of physical abilities, mental abilities, and imagination, they are deprived (natural defects). * Humans play special roles in a society’s life - human societies need leaders, explorers, and artists. Failure to perform a special role can be a defect. * Men and women need to be industrious and tenacious of purpose not only to be able to house, clothes, and feed themselves, but to pursue human ends of love and friendship. They need codes of conduct and virtues. * The meaning of “good” and “bad” isn’t different when used for features of plants and humans, but is applied the same way, in judgements of natural goodness and defect, in the case of all living things. Chapter 10: Extreme & Restricted Utilitarianism (J.J.C. Smart) * Act & rule utilitarianism. Extreme utilitarianism makes the morality of actions depnd entirely on their results. Restricted utilitarianism assesses the rights of actions based on whether they adhere to rules that if embraced by all, would yield optimal happiness. Restricted utilitarians insist that we honor the rule even when doing so undermines the ultimate utilitarian goal. * Utilitarianism is the doctrine that the rightness of actions is to be judged by their consequences. We test individual actions by their consequences & general rules are mere rules of thumb which we use only to avoid the necessity of estimating the probable consequences of our actions at every step. Rules don’t matter, save per accidents as rules of thumb and as de facto social institutions with which the utilitarian has to reckon when estimating consequences Moral rules are more than rules of thumb. Rightness of an action is evaluated only by considering whether or not it falls under a certain rule. * Trusting to instincts and to moral rules can be justified on extreme utilitarian grounds. An extreme utilitarian may praise actions which he knows to be wrong if the motive to do actions of this class is in general an optimific one. Particular cases where his own interests are involved his calculations are likely to be biased in his own favor. The extreme utilitarian regards moral rules as rules of thumb and as sociological facts that have to be taken into account when deciding what to do, but in themselves don’t justify any action. * Mill: whatever we adopt as the fundamental principle of morality, we require subordinate principles to apply it by. * Sidgwick’s distinction: a right action may be rationally condemned. * The rule in itself isn’t a reason for our actions. The rule doesn’t give us a reason for acting so much as an indication of the probable actions of others. The rule “keep to the left side” then is not a logical reason for action but an anthropological datum for planning actions. The extreme utilitarian doesn’t appeal to artificial feelings, but only to our feelings of benevolence. Chapter 22: The Singer Solution to World Poverty (Peter Singer) * Donated to one of a number of charitable agencies, that money could mean the difference b/w life and death for children in need. * If American’s failure to donate the money is that one more kid dies on the streets of a Brazilian city, then it’s in some sense just as bad as selling the kid to the organ peddlers. * Bob’s situation resembles that of people able but unwilling to donate to overseas aid and differs from Dora’s situation (train coming at a child - car or a child?). * Follow-the-crowd ethics: the kind of ethics that led many Germans to look away when the Nazi atrocities were being committed. We don’t excuse them b/c others were behaving no better. * Since there are a lot of desperately needy children in the world, there will always be another child whose life you could save for another $200. Are you obliged to keep giving until you have nothing left? At what point can you stop? * Someone may say: “If every citizen living in the affluent nations contributed his/her share I wouldn’t have to make such a drastic sacrifice. So why should I give more than my fair share?” Others say the Government ought to increase its overseas aid allocations since that would spread the burden more equitably across all taxpayers. * We know that them money we give beyond that theoretical “fair share” is still going to save lives that would be lost. While the idea that no one need to do more than his/her fair share is powerful, should it prevail if we know that others are not doing their share and that children will die preventable deaths unless we do more than our fair share? That would take fairness too far. * Conclusion: us w/ wealth surplus to his/her essential needs should be giving most of it to help people suffering from poverty so dire as to be life-threatening. Whatever money you’re spending on luxuries should be given away. * Psychologists tell us that human nature isn’t sufficiently altruistic to make it plausible that many people will sacrifice so much for strangers. If we don’t do it, then we should at least know that we are failing to live a morally decent life. Knowing where we should be going is the first step toward heading in that direction. Chapter 11: The Good Will & the Categorical Imperative (Immanuel Kant) * Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Important elements: good will & categorical imperative. (1) Actions are morally acceptable only when the principles that inspire them can be acted on by everyone consistently. The 2nd requires us to treat humanity always as an end in itself & never as a mere means. * Without the basic principles of a good will, virtues can become extremely evil. * Duty: good will under certain subjective limitations & hindrances. To preserve one’s life is a duty & besides everyone has an immediate inclination to do so. This then has no inner worth & their maxim has no moral content. They look after their lives in conformity with duty but not from duty. An action has genuine moral worth if the action w/o any inclination is done simply from duty. * Moral worth of an action doesn’t lie in the effect expected from it or in any principle of action that needs to borrow its motive from this expected effect. All these effects could have been also brought about by other causes so that there would have been no need for the will of a rational being, in which the highest & unconditional good alone can be found. * Representation of the law: the determining ground of the will. * I ought to never act except in a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law. * Whether a lying promise is in conformity with duty? Ask: would I be content that my maxim (to get myself out of difficulties by a false promise) should hold as a universal law for myself & others? * Categorical imperative: an action as objectively necessary of itself w/o reference to another end. If the action would be good merely as a means to something else, the imperative is hypothetical. Categorical imperatives doesn’t have to do w/ the matter of the action and what is to result from it but with the form and the principle from which the action itself follows (imperative of morality). - Only a single categorical imperative = act only in accordance w/ that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law. - Nature: existence of things insofar as it determined in accordance w/ universal laws. Act as if the maxim of your action were to become your will by a universal law of nature. * We would find a contradiction in our own will, namely that a certain principle be objectively necessary as a universal law & yet subjectively not hold universally but allow exceptions. * All objects of the inclinations have only a conditional worth - if there weren’t inclinations & the needs based on them, their object would be w/o worth. The worth of any object to be acquired by our action is always conditional. * Rational beings are called persons b/c their nature already marks them out as an end in itself, limits all choice and is an object of respect. If all worth were conditional & therefore contingent then no supreme practical principle for reason could be found anywhere. * Universal practical law: must be an end in itself & an objective principle. The ground for this principle: rational nature exists as an end in itself. * Practical imperative: Act that you use humanity whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means. A human being isn’t a thing and hence not something that can be used merely as a means. We cannot dispose of a human being by maiming, damaging, or killing. * He who has it in mind to make a false promise to others sees at once that he wants to make use of another being merely as a means. * With respect to contingent (meritorious) duty to oneself, it’s not enough that the action doesn’t conflict w/ humanity in our person as an end in itself; it must also harmonize with it. The natural end that all human beings have is their own happiness. It’s only a positive agreement w/ humanity as an end in itself if everyone tries to further the ends of others. Chapter


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