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PHIL 150B1 Final Exam Study Guide

by: AmysNotes

PHIL 150B1 Final Exam Study Guide PHIL 150B1

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PHIL 150B1 Fall 2015 Semester Personal Morality with Ana Sartorio
Personal Morality
Ana Sartorio
Study Guide
philosophy, Personal, Morality
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This 9 page Study Guide was uploaded by AmysNotes on Monday January 18, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to PHIL 150B1 at University of Arizona taught by Ana Sartorio in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 152 views. For similar materials see Personal Morality in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Arizona.

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Date Created: 01/18/16
Final Exam Review Meta-ethics Distinction between ethical and meta-ethical questions o Ethical Questions:  Questions about the content of morality  (Questions about what morality demands us to do or not do) o Meta-ethical Questions:  Questions about the nature of moral claims, and the status of morality.  (Questions about ethical questions themselves) Main examples of ethical questions o Is abortion permissible? o Should we maximize happiness? o Is there a moral difference between doing and allowing harm? Objectivity: o Can moral claims be objectively true (or false)?  What makes them objectively true (or false)? o Objective truths: Truths that obtain independently of people’s beliefs  The Earth is round o Non-objective truth:  Vanilla is the best ice cream flavor o Possible answer:  Morality is objective  What makes moral claims objectively true/false is that God has made certain commands. Ethics and Religion Divine Command Theory: o God’s command -> act is right  But why does God command what he commands? o God’s commands make moral claims objectively true o Example: God’s command: Be kind to others!  This makes “We should be kind to others” objectively true o Morality is grounded in God’s commands  Kindness is right -> God commands it. o Ex) Being kind to others is (objectively) right because God commands it. o WHY does God command it?  For a good reason: because it is right! The Euthyphro dialogue: o Seeking truth about something by dialogue  (S) Is [holiness] not loved by all the Gods, according to your definition  (E) yes.  (S) Because it is holy, or for some other reason?  (E) No, because it is holy.  (S) Then it is loved by the Gods because it is holy; it is not holy because it is loved by them?  (E) It seems so o Socrate’s conclusion:  Being loved by the God’s is a mere attribute of what is holy. It is not what makes it holy.  Ex) That your parents said that you should be nice to your little sister is not what makes being nice to her right. o Euthyphro’s account of holiness  Being loved by (all) the Gods. o Socrates’s Objection  Interlocutor’s initial views. o Distinction between “attributes” and “essences”  Attributes: Something that is true of something without making it what it is.  Essence: What makes it what it is. Debate between Craig and Sinnott-Armstrong o Craig’s arguments for the claim that the objectivity of morality requires God’s existence  Craig: An Argument for God’s existence 1. If God doesn’t exist, there are no objective values. 2. There are objective moral values. 3. Therefore, God exists.  Premise 1: If God doesn’t exist: 1. Moral values are mere biological adaptations 2. Human beings are not special: o We are the product of “blind” evolutionary processes  Premise 2 1. Moral abominations o Mass Murder, child abuse, rape. o Not just socially unacceptable behavior. o But, objectively wrong behaviors  Craig’s main line of reasoning: 1. If God doesn’t exist, moral values lack a solid foundation  Other argument: 1. If God doesn’t exist, it would be a very improbably coincidence of the fact that we have the right values. o Sinnott-Armstrong’s replies:  Evolutionary explanation of our moral values doesn’t mean that moral values aren’t objective 1. Not killing each other could be both evolutionary advantageous and objectively right.  We are different from, say, lions in that we are moral agents. 1. We are responsible for our choices.  Reply to Craig’s main line of reasoning 1. The Euthyphro objection again 2. God’s existence contributes nothing to the foundation of moral values Moral Skepticism Statement of Moral Skepticism o Even if there were any objective moral truths, we couldn’t know what they are. o We don’t have any evidence of objective moral truths. Harman’s main question: o Could objective moral principles be confirmed in the same way scientific principles are confirmed? Observations in ethics: o Thought experiments and moral observations  Utilitarianism entails: 1. In Runaway Trolley, we should flip the switch. o Our intuitive judgment on this confirms Utilitarianism. 2. In Footbridge, we should sacrifice the man. o Our intuitive judgment refutes Utilitarianism  Harman: Moral observations are also possible Harman’s two examples: o Cat on fire:  We see the children doing wrong.  They are guided by our basic concepts, beliefs and values. 1. We see that the children are setting the cat on fire: because we have the concept of setting something on fire. 2. We see them doing wrong: because we have certain values.  Observation: the children acted wrongly 1. Observation is NOT evidence of the objective wrongness of the act 2. The acts being objectively wrong is not part of the best explanation of our moral observation o What’s the best explanation?  Our upbringing 1. Results in a certain moral sensibility o Casual Isolation:  Even if there were objective moral facts, we would be isolated from them. The concept of a best explanation o the most reasonable explanation of the observation, in the circumstances. o EX) Wet streets  Observation: The streets are wet this morning  Best explanation: it rained last night Harman’s Principle of Evidence and Explanation o An observation is evidence for a theory only if the theory is part of the best explanation of that observation. Harman’s argument that objective moral facts don’t enter in best explanations of observations. o Disanalogy between Science and Ethics o Objective scientific facts are part of the best explanation of scientific observations o Objective moral facts are NOT part of the best explanation of moral observations Objective moral facts are out of our reach o We cannot casually interact with objective moral facts. o They are not physical things, in the same way protons are. Disanalogy with proton: the causal isolation of objective moral facts o Why protons?  So small that we can’t directly perceive them  How can we know that they exist? What properties they have?  Observation: Vapor trail in cloud chamber 1. Evidence of a proton: o Proton IS part of the best explanation of the observation o (Proton caused vapor trail)  This is so even if we don’t have direct access to protons because they are so small Cultural Relativism Meta-ethical question: o Is morality objective? o Objective truth: the earth is round Distinction between objective and relative facts o Objectivism: Moral facts are objective  That dog is a Chihuahua. TRUE o Relativism: Moral Facts are not objective; they are relative.  That dog is large.  Makes no sense to ask of a relative fact whether it holds, period. o FALSE with respect to other dogs o TRUE with respect to other Chihuahuas o ARE MORAL TRUTHS LIKE THAT? Gensler’s statement of Cultural Relativism o Moral truths are relative o They are relative to a culture. o Our moral principles merely describe cultural conventions “X is right” means “The majority (of the society in question) approves of X” “X is wrong” means The majority (of the society in question) disapproves of X.” 3 Motivations for Cultural Relativism: o Morality as a product of culture o Cultures disagree widely about morality  Across time: 1. Infanticide was quite common in the ancient Roman empire.  Across Space: 1. Still common in certain parts of the world o There’s no clear way to resolve moral disagreements o Another possible motivation:  Cultural Relativism promotes Tolerance 1. Other cultures aren’t wrong, they are just different… Objections to Cultural Relativism Gensler: o The conformity objection  If CR is true, we can’t consistently disagree with the values of our society.  We can.  Therefore, CR is false. o Illustration with dialogue between Ima Relativist and Lika Rebel  Lika: 1. Member of racist and oppressive society 2. She is a rebel: she opposes the values of her society o Dialogue:  (I): “Lika, your word “good” refers to what is approved in your culture. Since your culture approves racism and oppression, you must accept that these are good. You can’t think otherwise. The minority view is always wrong—sing what is “good” is, by definition, what the majority approves.”  When (L) says: “Racism and oppression are wrong” 1. According to Relativism this is: o “In my culture racism and oppression are wrong.” 2. This is FALSE  The only way for her to utter a truth about morality is to conform with the values of her society.  So she can never really disagree with the values of her society  But this seems wrong! Gensler: o Replies to 3 motivations for Cultural Relativism  Morality is a product of culture. 1. A product of culture can still express an objective truth. 2. Any book is a product of culture… 3. Yet many books express objective truths.  Cultures disagree widely about morality. 1. Questioning the claim that deep moral disagreement is wide spread: o Some values are almost universal: prohibitions on killing, stealing, lying. o Some apparently moral disagreements are not disagreements about values.  Ex) Some disagreements about abortion) 2. The existence of disagreement doesn’t imply there is no objective truth. o Ex) Some scientific disagreements, disagreements about religion  There is not clear way to resolve moral differences. 1. We do think that there is a way to talk about intelligent and open-minded people about morality. 2. Even if we couldn’t know what moral claims are true, this doesn’t mean that there are no such truths. o Ex) Did it rain at that particular spot exactly 500 years ago? Shafer-Landau: o The argument from disagreement for Cultural Relativism (concept of best explanation)  There is a widespread and persistent disagreement about moral values across different cultures.  Cultural Relativism is the best explanation of that disagreement.  Therefore, Cultural Relativism is true. 1. Ex) Wet streets o Best explanation: Rain o Alternative explanation: neighbors prank Shafer-Landau’s response to: o Argument from disagreement:  Alternative explanations: 1. Insufficient information o Disagreements based on insufficient non-moral information:  Not essentially about moral values. Ex) some disagreements about abortion o Same as Gensler’s point 2. Inadequate processing of information o Disagreements based on inadequate processing of the information, such as failures of reasoning:  High personal stakes produce self- interested biases. Ex) Racism, sexism, animal rights 3. Ethics as a branch of Philosophy o Moral problems are philosophical problems o There is very little consensus in philosophy. o The methodology is not empirical o We believe in “normative” facts, even if they don’t have casual powers.  Normative Facts: Facts that fix certain norms or ideal standards, which determine what the correct way to do something is. o Harman’s argument for Moral Skepticism:  We have no evidence of objective moral facts because they are not explanatory.  They re not explanatory because they lack casual powers.  Our knowledge of normative facts 1. Normative facts: o Facts that fix certain norms or ideal standards, which determine what the correct way to do something is. o Not reasoning in accordance with the rule is irrational. o An objective fact without casual powers.  epistemic facts: facts about what we ought to believe Logical Rule: o A->B o A o Therefore, B  Moral facts 1. Facts about what we ought to do. o Shafer-Landau:  They are objective facts without casual powers.


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