Philosophy 4: Intro to Ethics
Philosophy 4: Intro to Ethics
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Date Created: 04/30/14
Phil 4 Midterm Study Guide A Key Moral Concepts and Distinctions readings by Singer and T immons lectures I and 2 What is ethics The discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation MerriamWebster Dictionary The branch of knowledge or study dealing with moral principles Oxford English Dictionary Evaluating Actions An act is either right or wrong More speci cally an act is either obligatory optional or wrong These are Deontic concepts they refer to what we have duties to do or not to do Investigating what has moral value Good positive value Bad negative value disvalue Intrinsically good it is good in itself or inherently good Extrinsically good it is good because of its relation to something else that is intrinsically good Hedonism the only thing that is intrinsically good is pleasure and the only thing that is intrinsically bad is pain Evaluating persons Someone can generally be good or bad We typically think of a good person as praiseworthy and a bad person as blameworthy Definitions An obligatory act is one that a person morally ougQ to perform An act is wrong when it is one that a person ought not to perform An action is optional when it is neither obligatory not wrong one is morally permitted to perform the act but it is not required to do so Timmons broad and narrow Timmons distinguishes two different sense of the word right as it applies to acts 0 A broad sense a right act is an act that is not wrong an act that is permissible o A narrow sense a right act is an act that is obligatory Justification vs Excuse o If you were justi ed in doing something then the act was not wrong 0 If you have an excuse for doing something then you are not to blame even though you did the wrong act TRUEFALSE QUIZ 1 It is always appropriate to blame someone who does the wrong action FALSE 2 In the broad sense of right a right act is an act that is not wrong TRUE 3 Good and bad are deontic concepts FALSE 4 A good person is a person who possesses positive character traits we call virtues TRUE 5 If you have an excuse for doing something then what you did was not wrong FALSE B Career Choice reading by MacAskill lecture 3 MacAskill asked How can you make the most difference with your career MacAskill suggests that through high z39mpact ethical careers you can make an even bigger difference MacAskill s Four Arguments 9 why you can do more good through professional philanthropy 1 Professional Philanthropy a If you were a developing world doctor you would save lives on a regular basis b But if you were a professional philanthropist you could pay for several developing world doctors and thus save several times as many lives i i 3 L W 2 Doing something different a Making a difference requires doing something that would not have happened anyway if you were not a doctor another person would take your place as said doctor b But if you turned down professional philanthropy another banker would probably not donate as much as you 9 thus almost everyone saved by your donations would die 1 1 S P n 1 1 f 6 f I 3 Flexibility a Money can be used to further almost any cause you could donate to more causes and fund the ones you believe to be the best b In contrast as a charity worker you would be much more restricted in where you could work 4 Uncertainty a As a charity worker it is difficult to shift the field in which you work b On the other hand a professional philanthropist can switch causes easily Researchers have also done huge amounts of good 9 e g Norman Borlaug developed disease resistant wheat directly saving 250 million people j g Influeneer 9 the canny persuader encourages others j to pursue highimpact ethical careers and over her J i A i ii i i i lifetime convinces 100 people to become professional philanthropists 2 it 5 5L k 5k e7e7ea5 aa G 3A9A9a9K9 9 V Objections Many lucrative careers are not harmful but for the ones that are 0 No one might be worse off 0 Even if some people are worse off you d likely do less harm than whoever would have done the job instead Are you supporting an unjust system 9 Remember you can fund any cause What about my integrity 9 Of all lucrative careers MacAskill reckons you should be able to find one that doesn39t violate your integrity 0 If it does violate your integrity is your loss of integrity sufficient to outweigh the thousands of lives you can save Won t you burn out or get corrupted in your lucrative career and then end up donating nothing 9 These worries can be avoided if you were part of a community of people who share your ideals TRUEFALSE QUIZ 1 MacAskill estimates that we each spend roughly 40000 hours of our lives on our careers FALSE 2 MacAskill argues that you are morally required to pursue a highimpact ethical career FALSE 3 MacAskill argues that you can make more of a difference as a charity worker than as a professional philanthropist FALSE 4 MacAskill is himself attempting to be a canny persuader TRUE 5 MacAskill argues that the danger of corruption is so great that most people should not consider becoming a professional philanthropist FALSE C Torture readings by Mathuna and Dershowitz lecture 4 What is torture Intentional in iction of extreme physical or psychological suffering Targets autonomy itself Tries to overwhelm the tortured person s rational control over his own decisions Goal is to gain control over person by breaking them Aims to strip away all qualities of human dignity from victim The Ticking Time Bomb Scenario Two bombs have been hidden one in NYC and one in LA Your intelligence provides you with 100 certainty that they will go off at midnight Your intelligence indicates that you are 98 certain the man you have in custody knows where the bombs are located You need to know the location by 1130 PM so you have enough time to diffuse the bombs You are the president of the United States do you give the order to torture the terrorist Kantian Argument Against Torture Deontology 9 we should never act in ways that treat people as merely means towards our end goals It treats human beings in undignified ways It is not just painful it is humiliating degrading and terrorizing The person is treated as an object It leads to negative psychological effects on torturer as well Torture doesn39t work It could lead to a wider more systematic use of torture Goes against human dignity as inherent and applicable to all humans Undermines belief that everyone has basic human rights P1 P2 C Moral Principle Facts Concl re Morality of Action An action is wrong if and only if and because it would involve treating others as mere means to one s own ends Torture treats another as a means to one s own ends It is wrong to torture the terrorist we have in custody Utilitarian Argument For Torture Utilitarianism 9 focus is on results and says that something is ethically justified if it leads to the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run maximizes good Good consequences of discovering the bombs outweigh the bad consequences of torture Finding and diffusing bomb prevents many deaths harm of in icting pain on terrorist is a small price to pay in comparison If torturing one man can save all the lives of NYC and LA isn t that enough If the torturer can t handle the psychological side effects find someone else who can Slippery slope 9 Torture warrants Pl Moral Principle Something is ethically justi ed if it leads to good outcomes for lots of people the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run P2 Facts Torturing in the ticking time bond scenario ought to lead to the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run C Concl re Morality of Action It is ethically justi ed to torture the terrorist we have in custody Taking stock I Lc omm A 1 Greatest Happiness for the Greatest Categorical Imperative is Violated Number 2 Find a Hardcore Torturer Psych Damage to Torturer 3 In Ticking Time Bomb its Worth a Torture Doesn39t Work Shot 4 Torture Warrants Slippery Slope D Utilitarianism reading by Sandel lecture 5 The fat man on the bridge dilemma The starving sailors on the boat dilemma Consequentialism VS Nonconsequentialism According to consequentialism whether an act is morally right depends only on consequences as opposed to the circumstances or the intrinsic nature of the act or anything that happened before the act According to nonconsequentialism whether an act is morally right does not depend only on consequences Conseguentialist moral Nonconseguentialist moral E i 02 Utilitarianism 02 Kant s Deontological as Actutilitarianism Theory 8 Ruleutilitarianism C48 Rightsbased theories 02 Ethical Egoism 03 Natural rights as Human rights 02 Virtue Ethics Utilitarianism I Classical utilitarianism focused on the question of which acts are rightwrong I Relies on view of what things have intrinsic valuedisvalue Hedonism I What is intrinsically good 0 Utility pleasure or happiness I Bentham pleasures differ only in duration and intensity I Mill distinguished higher and lower pleasures I What is intrinsically bad 0 Disutility pain or unhappiness I Bentham and Mill 9 ActUtilitarianism 0 An action is morally right if and only if of those actions available to the agent in the circumstances it would produce the greatest total net happiness I If an act is not a realistic option for the person in the circumstances then it cannot be the right act I Whether an act is right depends on it being comparatively better than the other available acts I The impact of the act on all those affected are summed to reach a grand total score I Total net happiness 9 Who matters 0 Whowhatever can experience pleasure and pain 0 Comparable pleasures count equally 0 Doesn39t matter when the pleasurepain would occur Attractive features of ActUtilitarianism 1 It relies on the plausible idea that one person s welfare matters the same as any other person s we are all morally equal 2 Only happiness is intrinsically valuable 3 Offers a single criterion by which the moral rightness of all acts can be judged 4 Provides a societal standard Objections l Impractical because there is not enough time to do the relevant calculations 2 It offers a criterion not that you should hold this criterion in deciding what to do I the right act maximizes overall happiness 9 an agent can do the right act yet be blameworthy for doing it TRUEFALSE QUIZ l Bentham held a version of What is today called ruleutilitarianism FALSE According to actutilitarianism if an act is not available to an agent then it cannot be the right act TRUE 3 Actutilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory TRUE 4 A possible objection to actutilitarianism is that it places an objective value on human lives TRUE 5 The experience machine thought experiment purports to show that hedonism is true FALSE E Racism reading by Blum lecture 6 Blum s account of racism I Racism is a certain kind of racial ill 0 Racial ill X is morally bad in the way it relates to either a racial group G or a person S in G Blum rejects the Conceptual In ation claim with three arguments The Metaphysical Argument against claim 0 X is not a racial ill 0 X is not racist 0 Therefore not all racial ills are racist 0 Examples Prank case soccer case 9 the act might be plausibly racist but the person themselves might not be racist The Linguistic Argument for Blum s thesis 0 The term racist is used to refer to things that are considered especially egregious and worthy of the utmost reproach 0 Not all racist ills are especially egregious and worthy of the utmost reproach o The term racist should be reserved for racial ills that are especially egregious and worthy of the utmost reproach o Blum is arguing that the term racist carries a strong degree of moral force 0 Thick concept a concept that has both descriptive and ethical content cruel 9 Blum argues that racist is a thick concept 0 Thin Descriptive concept a concept that has only descriptive content water 0 Thin Ethical concept a concept that has only ethical content good The Moral Argument for Blum s thesis 0 The moral force of the term racist will be diminished if we use it to refer to everything that we consider a racial ill What Blum thinks racism is Inferiorization treating the racial other as inferior or of lesser value and antipathy a strong dislike often tinged with hostility toward individuals or groups because of their race Racist motives those based in antipathy toward or inferiorizing of a racial group the latter category including contempt disrespect and the like Racist beliefs beliefs in racist propositions whose content is of a racial group characterized as deserving of racial antipathy or inferiorization Racist believing state of belief to which one is led because of a racist attitude or sentiment Strength of Blum s account 1 Explains the egregiousness commonly associated with racism 2 Allows for many things to be racist beliefs attitudes motives feelings acts persons words statements jokes movies symbols practices institutions Allows for degrees of racism Allows for racial ills that need not be especially egregious 5 Can also serve as a model for morally problematic phenomena against other oppressed marginalized or stigmatized groups Objections 1 Race isn t real 59 F Libertarianism reading by Sandel lecture 7 Central claim of libertarianism Each of us has a fundamental right to liberty ie the right to do whatever we want with the things we own provided we respect other people s rights to do the same Moral basis of libertarianism Self 0wnership and rights What I own What moral rights do I have My body and mind Rights not to be killed injured enslaved or violated without my consent Rights to free speech and freedom of association Right to use or provide or sell my labor as 1 My labor see fit Rights to acquire and do what I wish with 39 The fruits Of my labor my personal property Mapping the moral terrain Consequentialist Moral theories Nonconsequentialist moral theories Utilitarianism Kant s Deontological theory Actutilitarianism ie Bentham Mill Virtue ethics Ru1euti1itarianiSm Rights based theories ie Libertarianism Scenarios The Fat man on the bridge Act Utilitarianism 0 Push him if it produces the greatest overall net happiness Libertarianism 0 Don39t push him he has a right against being killedinjured without his consent The people at sea captain kills cabin boy so him and the other sailors can survive Act Utilitarianism 0 Kill and eat the cabin boy if it maximizes overall utility Libertarianism 0 You can t kill or eat him without his consent because you will violate his moral rights Ticking time bomb torturing innocent Act Utilitarianism 0 Get out the pliers and torture the innocent Libertarianism 0 Don39t do it Torture interferes with bodily rights of innocent persons Ticking time bomb torturing terrorists Act Utilitarianism o Torture terrorist Libertarianism 0 Has the terrorist forfeited hisher rights by violating someone else s rights Saving the drowning child passing shallow pond stranger s child is drowning Act Utilitarianism 0 Save the child Libertarianism o The child has no rigQ that you save him he doesn39t own you or your labor 0 Does this imply that it is morally permissible not to save the child Rights and morality Libertarian view Libertarians hold that if an act violates a right then it is the morally wrong act An act might be morally wrong even if it does NOT violate anyone s right Standard libertarian view state coercion is illegitimate if it violates its citizens moral rights Implications of Libertarianism The Libertarian rejects three types of laws that modern societies commonly enact 1 No Paternalism libertarians oppose laws to protect people from harming themselves a Paternalistic laws are laws that restrict a person s liberty for hisher own sake Eg Wearing a seatbelt 2 No Morals Legislation libertarians oppose using the coercive force of law to promote notions of virtue or to express the moral convictions of the majority a E g Against Good Samaritan laws or laws banning prostitution or gay marriage b For libertarians the State cannot legitimately prohibit voluntary euthanasia on the ground that the majority finds it morally objectionable 3 No redistribution of income or wealth typically libertarians oppose laws requiring some people to help others including taxation for redistribution of wealth a For any libertarian the state cannot legitimately tax some persons in order to promote the welfare of others Clarification Notice that libertarianism does not claim that these policies are necessarily wrong Rather in each case it suggests that a certain policy cannot be justified by a particular reason Justice in Holdings Robert N0zick s Entitlement T heorjy 1 Justice in Acquisition a How are unowned things justly acquired 2 Justice in Transfer a How are owned things justly transferred A distribution is just when all holdings were acquired and transferred in accordance with these principles 3 Justice in Recti cation a How ought past injustices to be rectified Nozick s proposal ideally reallocate holdings to bring about the set of holdings that would exist had past injustices not taken place Objections to libertarianism Kidneys for cash objection to the idea that We fully own ourselves Consensual cannibalism another possible objection to the idea that we fully own ourselves TRUEFALSE QUIZ The moral basis of libertarianism is selfownership TRUE Libertarians advocate paternalistic laws FALSE Libertarians oppose Good Samaritan laws TRUE Libertarianism is a consequentialist theory FALSE A possible objection to libertarianism is that it would support laws permitting consensual cannibalism TRUE V3939gtquot t G Abortion reading by Thomson lecture 8 Is abortion ever morally permissible And if so when Would a law prohibiting abortion be legitimate Different cases Would abortion be permissible 1 To save the mother s life where the fetus would die anyway To save the mother s life where the fetus would otherwise live Pregnancy due to rape For a pregnant 12 year old girl Where the mother cannot afford to feed any more children Where the child would be born into slavery For whatever reason up to 3 months For whatever reason up to 6 months 9 For whatever reason up to 9 months Liberal v Conservative views Extreme Conservative with no exceptions abortion is seriously morally wrong Extreme Liberal abortion is never morally wrong A prolife argument Premise 1 From conception the fetus is an innocent human being Premise 2 It is seriously morally wrong to kill innocent human beings So Conclusion Abortion is seriously morally wrong Mary Anne Warren s critique ambiguity of human beings 9 genetically having human DNA or morally a member of the moral community At what stage is the embryofetus a person Judith Jarvis Thomson A Defense of Abortion She argues that there would be many circumstances where abortion is not morally wrong The Violinist dilemma the fetus s right to life does not always trump the woman s right to choose what happens to her body ie abortion is morally permissible in cases of rape o The right to life does NOT include a right to use someone else s body to keep you alive ie Henry Fonda Case The right to life does not entail a right not to be killed rather only a right not to be killed unjustly But how could someone ever come to have a right to use your body to stay alive 9 if you grant them permission ie in rape you are not granting the fetus the right to use your body The PeopleSeeds shows that abortion is morally permissible in cases where the woman was using contraception Abortion may not be permissible where the mother has voluntary intercourse with no contraception The Rapidly Growing Child killing a fetus is morally permissible where the mother s life is in danger whether or not the mother has granted the fetus the right to use her body If the fetus is viable the mother cannot insist that the fetus be killed V 39gtquot TRUEFALSE QUIZ 1 The extreme liberal view of abortion is that abortion is never morally permissible FALSE 2 The main point of Thomson s article is to show that the fetus does NOT have a right to life from conception 3 The peopleseed thought experiment is intended to show that abortion is morally permissible where the mother s life is in danger TRUE 4 Thomson argues that even if the fetus has a right to life from conception abortion is never morally Wrong FALSE 5 According to Thomson a right to life entails a right not to be killed unjustly TRUE
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