Philosophy is the rational investigation into the fundamental questions of: ● Existence
○ Does God exist?
○ Do we have free will?
○ How do I know I’m not dreaming right now?
○ Is eating meat okay?
○ Why is killing usually wrong?
Why is reading philosophy challenging? We also discuss several other topics like What stage at which self-control and rules are learned?
● Often old
● Makes us ask questions that can’t always be answered We also discuss several other topics like Who is the world’s first pediatric clinical psychoendocrinologist and developmental sexologist?
● Challenges social norms
● Various answers, not always a correct one
● Can make reader angry
● Not always written linearly
Altruism Peter Singer’s way of thinking
Charity performed only through the genuine care for others’ well being
Supererogatory act an act that is good, but not morally wrong if not carried out ● Peter Singer does NOT believe that charity is a supererogatory act, but one that is morally required of those who are capable
● Peter Singer’s strong principle
○ Is famine a bad thing?
○ Is it in our power to prevent famine?
○ Are the things we’d have to give up in order to make large contributions of money, time, and/or energy to famine relief less important (morally speaking) than life, food, shelter or medical care? If you want to learn more check out What are the primary functions of the security council in the united nations?
○ If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing something of comparable moral value, then we are morally obligated to do so. ● His moderate principle differs only in that comparable changes to anything of moral value (ex. Donating 5 dollars instead of your college savings)
We also discuss several other topics like What is the main definition of discrete outcomes?
Peter Singer’s Argument
1. If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we morally ought to do it
2. Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad. 3. We can prevent suffering and death by donating our money and time to charity 4. What we are sacrificing would be of less moral importance than the prevention of famine Conclusion: Therefore, we morally out to donate our time and money to charity.We also discuss several other topics like What is the meaning of debit cards?
● When does something have moral importance?
○ Something that is essential for carrying out one’s life projects
Killing is usually wrong because we have been taught that it is so. Morris argues that this is not a substantial answer because what if we had been taught that is it not wrong? There must be better reasons for why it is wrong.
1. Against the law
a. But this does not tell us WHY it is illegal
2. Against god’s will
a. Again, does not tell us why
3. Damages killer’s character
4. Grief, loss, fear, chaos
a. 3 and 4 do not mention the VICTIM
5. Infringes on victim’s freedom
6. Destroys something of intrinsic value
7. Harms the victim
Argument structured set of statements used to persuade someone of the truth of another statement.
● Specific structures:
○ Premises reasons/evidence
○ Conclusion statement the premises support
● Two ways to critique an argument: Don't forget about the age old question of What is asexual and sexual reproduction?
○ Show that one of the premises is false or likely to be false
○ Show that the conclusion does not follow from the premises
■ Even if the conclusion is true, the premises could still be false
■ *Principle of charity always give the author the best interpretation
Freedom of Conscience
● Believe what you want without harassment
● Holding a belief for reasons that make the belief likely to be true
Morality vs. Legality
● Legal question should abortion be illegal?
● Moral question Is abortion morally permissible
○ That which is immoral is not always identical with that which is illegal ■ Ex. drinking a beer at 18 is illegal but not immoral
● Must be satisfied in order for something else to be the case
○ Ex. having a ticket in a lottery is a necessary condition for winning that lottery Vs.
● If it is satisfied, it would guarantee that something is the case, but it is not necessary ○ Ex. earning an A on every assignment is a sufficient condition for getting an A in this class, but not necessary as you could have gotten an A+ and a B on some assignments
Prima facie correct until proven wrong, not always wrong
Marquis’s argument for the immorality of abortion
1. Killing is prima facie seriously wrong
2. For any killing where the victim did have a valuable future like ours, having that future by itself is sufficient to create the strong presumption that the killing is seriously wrong 3. Fetuses have to have a future like ours
a. Their futures include sets of experiences, projects, goals, relationships, etc. which are identical to the futures of adult humans
4. Killing a fetus (abortion) deprives the fetus of the value of its future
Conclusion: therefore abortion is prima facie seriously wrong
● His argument does not rely on the personhood view of calling the fetus a person
● Zygote single cell after conception (complete set of DNA) fertilized egg ● Embryo few days post conception
● Fetus 89 weeks post conception “technical sense”
CDC: 66% of U.S. abortions occurred prior to 8 week gestation
Objections to Marquis’s argument against abortion
1. Standard fetuses do NOT have valuable futures because a necessary condition on having a valuable future is currently valuing your future, and fetuses do not currently value their futures.
a. His reply: Just because the fetus can’t value it does not mean that future doesn’t have intrinsic value. This is not a necessary condition on having a valuable future.
b. 4 different interpretations of Marquis’s phrase “someone having a valuable future” (defending Marquis)
i. Someone currently values their future (Marquis does not like this one) ii. Someone will come to value its future
iii. Someone’s future has value independent of anyone valuing it
iv. Somebody else values someone’s future
2. Even if we use these as our interpretation of “valuable futures” most fetuses still lack valuable futures on the post conception interpretation
a. 2 interpretation of “standard fetus”
i. Post conception interpretation anything from zygote to birth
ii. Technical interpretation a developing human at 8 weeks or more
1. ½ of fertilized eggs are lost without knowledge
2. Miscarriages happen around 7 weeks or early
3. ⅔ of abortions occur prior to 8 weeks
3. The conclusion that abortion is prima facie wrong does not follow from the premises if we use the technical interpretation of “standard fetus”
a. Given the data that of abortions occur before 8 weeks, we can only conclude ⅔ that the minority ( ) of abortions are of standard fetuses, and are morally wrong ⅓ 4. Issues relating to contraception
a. Using contraception deprives the sperm and egg of their valuable future i. If contraception was morally wrong, premise 2 would be false because it prevents a future from happening
1. The “future like ours” view is false. Why? In contraception, you
deprive an egg/sperm of its valuable future, but this is not
sufficient for it being wrong
ii. Marquis reply to this: sperm and egg do not individually have valuable futures, only their combination does
Fetal Personhood argument against abortion
1. Assumption that fetus is a person from the moment of conception
2. Every person has a right to life
3. The fetus as a right to life
4. Adult has the right to bodily autonomy
5. Right to life is stronger than bodily autonomy and so outweighs it
Conclusion: Abortion is morally impermissible
When does a being have a future like ours?
● When the being currently values their future
● If the being will come to value their future
● If they value their future independently
● If somebody else value’s their future
Violinist thought experiment
● Similarities between fetus and violinist
○ Need someone else to life
○ Reduce quality of life
○ Rights to life
○ Both are innocent
Right to life
1. Right to be given at least the bare minimum one needs for continued life a. Positive right
b. Example If you are dying and the only thing that can save you is for a certain person to lay their hand on your brow, they are not morally obligated to do so 2. RIght to life only entails the right not to be killed by anyone
a. Negative right
b. Example Someone can have a right to life as well as the right to be killed, such as cases of self defense or unplugging the violinist
3. Right to life entails only the right not to be killed UNJUSTLY
a. Negative right
1. The fetus is a person from the moment of conception
a. She does not believe this, but grants it to her opposer because her argument has nothing to do with the personhood of the fetus
2. Every person has a right to life
3. The right to life consists in not being killed unjustly
4. An abortion is not an unjust killing and hence a violation of the fetus’s right to life only when the mother has explicitly or implicitly given the fetus a right to use her body 5. A mother gives a fetus a right to use her body only when pregnancy results from a voluntary act undertaken in full knowledge of the chance of pregnancy and no reasonable precaution was taken to prevent pregnancy
a. Or if she voluntarily wanted to gestate the fetus
6. Some pregnancies result from different cases
a. Contraceptive failures
c. Voluntary acts undertaken in less than full knowledge
Conclusion: some abortions do not violate the fetus’s right to life, some are morally permissible
Thomson believes that if someone is dying and the only thing that will save their life is the touch of Henry Fonda’s hand to their brow, he is not morally obligated to do so. This is because she believes that one is not obligated to give another the bare minimum of which they need for continued life. This is not an unjust killing.
What would Peter Singer say to this?
● Peter Singer would say that if it is in Henry Fonda’s power to prevent something bad (this death) from happening, then he is morally obligated to do so as long as he is not sacrificing something of moral importance. If Henry Fonda was shooting a movie, and this movie was essential for carrying out his life’s purpose, he would not be obligated to provide his touch if it meant missing the filming of this movie.
What would Marquis say to this?
● Marquis would say that the person has a future like anyone else’s, so they have a right to the bare minimum of life to survive.
Little’s argument is based on the ethics of an intimate relationship
● Gestation is an intimacy in and of itself as the mother and fetus are intertwined ● One is only morally obligated to carry a pregnancy to term if they so feel that they have a personal relationship with the fetus
○ A personal relationship is build on experiences (thick relationship)
● One can be a biological parent (thin relationship) but not experience parenthood on an intimate level
○ If one only has a relationship to a fetus biologically, then it is their obligation to be OPEN to a relationship, but they are not obligated to carry out that relationship if they feel they do not have space in their lives for a child or any other reasons
○ Example: A child needs a kidney to survive. He has an adopted father who has raised him since he was an infant. He has never met his biological father. His adopted father would feel more of a moral inclination to supply a kidney to save the child’s life, whereas the biological father has no personal relationship. He must be OPEN to (consider) giving up his kidney, but is in no moral obligation to carry out that task.
● A fetus’s right to live ends at the mother’s bodily autonomy if the mother does not consent to gestation
1. One has a responsibility to share one’s body only when one is in a thick, personal relationship and there are no morally compelling reasons for declining
2. The (thin) biological relationship grounds only a duty to be OPEN to the relationship 3. A biological relationship exists between a mother and a fetus
4. A thick, personal relationship exists between a mother and a fetus when the mother shares an emotional connection through shared experiences with the fetus (thick relationship)
Conclusion: Therefore, while all pregnant women have a duty to be open to the relationship/carrying to term, only those who have a personal, thick relationship have a responsibility to gestate.
Consent voluntary agreement to what another person proposes
Vacation vs. Kidnapping
Gift vs. Theft
Physician assisted suicide vs. Voluntary Active Euthanasia
● In Physician assisted suicide…
○ The patient acts last (pushes the button, takes the pill)
● In Voluntary Active Euthanasia…
○ The Doctor acts last (pulls the plug, etc.)
● In BOTH
○ The patient has given full consent to end their life
● Involuntary: the patient refuses
● Passive: withholding care
● Nonvoluntary: patient is incompetent (depression, a coma)
○ These three are not a part of Voluntary Active Euthanasia
Brock’s Central Argument for Voluntary Active Euthanasia
● Based off of two central values which are
1. The values of selfdetermination and wellbeing support Voluntary Active Euthanasia 2. If the Values of selfdetermination and wellbeing support VAE, then this is a sufficient condition for VAE’s being morally permissible
CONCLUSION: Voluntary Active Euthanasia should be legal
Objections/Criticisms of the Central Argument:
● Objection 1: premise 2 is false
○ (see pg 68)
○ Even if the patients selfdetermination and wellbeing support euthanasia, it is still morally impermissible and not a sufficient condition for moral permissibility because killing an innocent is always wrong, and VAE is deliberately killing an innocent
Brock’s Counters to Objection 1
● In medicine, doctors let patients die all the time and this is not considered wrong, so we can conclude that deliberately killing an innocent is not always morally wrong. ○ Brock here is assuming there is no relevant difference between killing and letting die
● Killing is morally wrong because it deprives one of a valuable future, but if the patient decides that their future is no longer valued and now is a burden, then killing of an innocent is not morally wrong
Allowing to die vs. Killing
● Allowing to die: Ludwig is sailing in his beloved million dollar boat. He sees Sylvia drowning a few meters away. If he saves her, he will wreck his boat, but he will not die. If he does not save her and just sails past, she will die.
● Killing: Ludwig is sailing in his beloved million dollar boat. There is a rock in his path which if he sails through it, he will live but his boat will be wrecked. Sylvia is drowning a few meters away and directly in the alternate path her could take so as to not damage his boat. If he sails this path, he will plow through her and kill her with his boat.
Objection 2 to the Central argument for Voluntary Active Euthanasia (VAE) ● Even if the premises were true, the conclusion is false
○ Even if it is morally permissible, VAE should not be legal due to its potential negative consequences which outweigh the positive consequences of its legalization
The 4 alleged negative consequences of legalizing VAE
1. It would stop doctors from offering optimal care to dying patients. One of the reasons is that keeping patients alive is more expensive than euthanasia
a. Brock’s counter: This is not the case in the Netherlands where VAE is legal. There is no firm evidence for this possible consequence
2. It would be incompatible with the physician's moral and professional moral commitment to heal and protect life, and it would undermine patients trust in physicians. a. Brock’s counter: Trust would not be undermined because the euthanasia is VOLUNTARY, so this does not undermine their moral commitment
3. It would threaten the progress made in giving patients and their surrogates the right to make end of life decisions. This would result in court involvement as it is now a legal matter, and physicians must protect themselves from lawsuits. IT would also result in abuse of authority and those who strongly support euthanasia will always turn to it as their option.
a. Brock’s counter: Again, there is little evidence for this as it is just a POSSIBLE consequence.
4. The slippery slope argument (fallacy) is it could lead to euthanasia being performed in many other cases where it is not voluntary and is morally impermissible. Some of these cases could be doctors or family pressuring patients, Nasism if the wrong person got their hands on it, and there is no way to prevent it from happening if it is legal.
a. In a slippery slope argument, a course of action is rejected because with little evidence, one insists it will lead to a chain reactions resulting in an undesirable result. Slippery slope arguments are fallacies (fault in reasoning)
b. Brock’s counter: You must also weigh the good consequences
Brock’s 4 good consequences of legalizing VAE
1. Respects the selfdetermination of competent patients who want it.
2. Reassures healthy people who would like it as an option (he uses the home insurance against a fire example)
3. Relieves physical and psychological pain.
4. Allows for a human death, foster’s dignity
Our Duty To Animals
Kant believes we have a duty to animals in which “Duties to animals are an indirect duty to mankind”
● It reflects our morality and the “heart of man”
● It damages ethics if one is cruel to animals
● Acts toward animals are analogous to human acts
● We have duties toward animals because they help support us in our duties to humans
Criticisms of Kant's view
● It is a slippery slope argument to say if you start killing animals, you will start killing people
● Animals are self conscious, where Kant says they are not and our duty to them is solely based on its indirect duty to humans
○ We have direct duties to animals if they are self conscious
One can use Kant’s argument to justify vegetarianism:
● The way most animals intended for meat are kept is inhumane. This could lead to humans keeping other humans in these conditions (cages, unclean, etc.) One can also use Kant’s argument to justify eating meat:
● He thinks that animals are not self conscious, therefore they are unaware of our killing them
● One could say as long as animals are kept in good conditions and killed painlessly, then we are still serving our humane duty to them
“Marquis inspired” argument against eating animals
1. Animals have valuable futures
2. Depriving one of a future like ours is prima facie wrong
3. Eating animals takes away their future like ours.
Conclusion. Thus, it is prima facie wrong to eat animals.
^Criticism: animals don’t have futures like ours, so Marquis’s argument only applies to human futures
Singer's argument from his strong principle against eating animals
1. If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, then it is our moral obligation to do so. 2. Eating animals causes animal suffering
3. Animals suffering is bad.
4. It is in our power to prevent animal suffering
5. Making dietary changes is not sacrificing something of comparable moral importance. Conclusion: Therefore, it is our moral obligation not to eat animals.
^Criticism: changing one’s diet is sacrificing something of comparable moral importance for health related reasons (ex. Extreme dietary restrictions preventing one from eating meat alternatives)
Singer’s Principle of equality
1. All sentient beings are entitled to have their interests taken into consideration and weighted equally against all other similar interests
2. All sentient beings have a similar interest in avoiding pain
Conclusion: So the interest non human animals have in avoiding pain is to be taken into account and given the same weight as the interest humans have in avoiding pain
The Argument from marginal cases
1. If animals do not deserve moral consideration, then neither to human beings such as mentally disabled, children, elderly with dementia, and other so called marginal cases 2. But in marginal cases, these humans do deserve moral consideration Conclusion: Therefore, animals do deserve moral consideration
Pollan could say premise one is false; just because a human does not have as much mental capability as an animal, you cannot compare their life to that of an animal ^Rebuttal: This is unjustified speciesism
Defenses of eating animals: Pollan
1. “If you eat one another, I don’t see why we may not eat you.” Benjamin Franklin saying animals are carnivores and eat each other, so why should we not be able to eat them. a. Objection: There is a big difference between the commercialised meat industry and natural predators
2. Life would be worse for animals in the wild
a. Objection: The majority of animals raised for meat live in farms with far worse living conditions than if they were in the wild. For example, many animals are kept in cages which they cannot move, and in the wild they are free. It is better to live a life with risk of predators than living a life of suffering that ends surely in being killed.
3. Many animals wouldn’t exist without being bred for meat.
a. Objection: existence is not valuable if your entire existence is suffering and confinement
4. We shouldn’t use human morality for animals. Our morality is based individually, whereas animal morality is based on the good of their species as a whole. a. Even if you used morality based on the good of a species as a whole, this does not justify breeding animals when their species is just used as meat. It is not good for the species as a whole when they are suffering and serve only the purpose to be used as humans’ food.
5. Animal pain is not the same as human pain.
a. Just an assumption, no evidence.
Practice, not the principle: What’s wrong with eating animals is the practice, not the principle. This means the way we keep animals who are being used for meat is what’s wrong, not the actual eating of animals.
Punishment is causing pain and to inflict pain on any person needs justification Two Theories of Justification
1. Teleological: punishment is justified if it yields in fact, some further effect which is desirable
a. Get info through torture
b. Prevent future crime
c. Reform (not capital punishment)
2. Retributive: the deserved suffering for wrong doing is just or intrinsically valuable, irrespective of any further good consequences
Mill’s argument in favor of capital punishment
1. Capital punishment will have a greater deterrence factor than other forms because it seems so awful
2. Yet, capital punishment is not as cruel as other punishments, such as life in prison. Therefore, it will prevent crime and decrease the suffering of the convict
Retribution vs. Revenge
How is retribution different than revenge?
● Revenge is personal for the agent of revenge, not for the agent of retribution ● Revenge doesn’t guarantee what is deserved
● Retribution is done for a wrong while revenge may not be done for a wrong (ex. Burning down ex’s new partner’s car)
3. Retribution is fair and punishes like for like, revenge need not be
4. Revenge has an emotional tone, retribution need not
Kant: punishment is justified if it conforms to the Law of Retribution
Law of Retribution: the kind and degree of the punishment must correspond to the kind and degree of the crime
H = magnitude of harm done
R = responsibility for the harm done
H x r = punishment
Kant draws the line at death, no torture
2 Options to argue Kant
1. THe Law of Retribution is false
2. Even granting that Kant’s theory of punishment is current, Capital Punishment is not justified by that very theory
Camus’s objection to retributive justification of CP (Kant)
1. The death penalty is not proportional to the crime and hence cannot be justified on retributive terms
a. CP = H > crime … the waiting for death is a greater punishment than deserved 2. Killers are not completely responsible for their crimes, therefore CP cannot be justified on retributive grounds
2 Options to argue Mill
1. The Teleological theory is false
2. Even if it is correct, it does not justify CP
Camus’s objection vs. a teleological justification of CP
1. Society does not believe in this justification of CP, we are inconsistent since it is not publicized and this would block a teleological justification
a. Mill’s defense: we don’t need to publicize it, society already knows about it 2. No proof that it deters, CP is useless if we are unsure that it deters, using a very final punishment for an unsure outcome
a. Mill’s defense: CP is more merciful
3. It is a repulsive example and harmful (see pg 197 of Camus reading for examples) a. Mill’s defense: the good effects outweigh the bad
Sarah Conly: Against Autonomy, Why Value Autonomy?
1. What problem does Conly have with our decision making?
a. She thinks we act too impulsively, only to later regret it. Sometimes, our liberty causes us harm.
2. There are three solutions to the problem:
a. Coercive Paternalism: The government interferes and takes away some of our freedoms so to ensure the wellbeing and security of its people
i. Only when taking away freedom of someone which will only affect
ii. Strong position, sometimes it is a moral obligation to force one to refrain from certain actions
iii. Two cases where it is permissible
1. Person does not know what they are choosing (needing to see a
doctor for a prescription)
b. Libertarian Paternalism: Makes it harder to make decisions which will affect one negatively, while making the good decisions more attractive
i. Still provides all options, does not take the ability to make a negative decision away
ii. Make the best retirement plan the default
i. Ex. Warnings on Cigarettes (education)
ii. Ex. Learning from mistakes (experience)
1. Does not work because “we think we are above average)
2. Ex. 50/50 chance of marriages not working, but still getting
Conly’s Objections to education and experience (Liberalism)
● Not successful, people still smoke for example
● It is difficult to know when your judgement is biased
● Only implemented in public schools for the most part
● It is somewhat successful, and at least with no infringement on freedom ● Youth are more influenced than adults who already have beliefs established ● At least now people will know the consequences
● Try to educate better
● Some bias is necessary for decision making
● People don’t always learn from their mistakes
● By the time they do learn, it my be too late (ex, smoker with lung cancer) Replies
● Others can learn from the “too lates” mistakes
○ Conly replies that most people are over optimistic, they do not think those mistakes will apply to them
Conly’s reply to Libertarian Paternalism: “can’t have its cake and eat it too…” see pg 32 in the green textbook
Pretty much this means that Libertarian Paternalism does not respect our autonomy, yet it does not protect us from executing bad decisions either.
Conly’s main problem: we often act in ways that harm our own interest
Two classic objections to coercive paternalism
1. It does not respect our autonomy or persons (Conly said it is not al all clear what it means to respect a person.)
2. It treats people unequally by assuming some people's’ judgement is superior to other (lawmakers)
Argument by analogy: cites uncontroversial similarities between two things to support the conclusion that some further similarity exists between them.
1. An adult pig’s mental capacity is relatively like a human toddler’s
2. You don’t believe it is morally permissible to kill the toddler to eat it
Conclusion: So you also shouldn’t believe it is morally permissible to kill the pig and eat it
Structure of Argument by analogy
1. ANALOGY: case A is relatively like case B
2. STATEMENT: concerning A you think P is true
Conclusion: Therefore, concerning case B, you should also think that P is true
Conly’s argument by analogy (pg 34)
1. Forcing others to act or refrain in your benefit is relatively like forcing you yourself to act or refrain in your own benefit (coercive paternalism)
2. You don’t believe it is disrespectful to force others to act or refrain in your benefit. Conclusion: Therefore, concerning coercive paternalist actions, you should think that they are not disrespectful.