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Crim C163 - Week 2 Notes

by: Edward Avakian

Crim C163 - Week 2 Notes Crm/Law C163

Edward Avakian
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These notes cover everything that was on Lectures 3 and 4 (week 2 notes).
Ethics and Politics of Justice
Geoff Ward
Class Notes
Crim, Law, criminology, ethics, Justice
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This 14 page Class Notes was uploaded by Edward Avakian on Thursday April 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Crm/Law C163 at University of California - Irvine taught by Geoff Ward in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 105 views. For similar materials see Ethics and Politics of Justice in Criminology and Criminal Justice at University of California - Irvine.

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Date Created: 04/07/16
Crim C163 Lecture 3 Week 2 04/04/2016 ▯ Ethical Relativism ▯ ▯ *covers Reading, chapter 4 ▯ ▯ Outline  Levels of Reasoning  Absolutism  Relativism ▯ ▯ Levels of Reasoning  Description o What “is”; the way things are  EX) walking across street to UTC, see two cars slammed into each other; that moment in time (description), what kind of car it is, the angle, glass on the pavement, etc.  Explanation o How or why it “is”  EX) one car was coming down the street 60mph; how chain of events occurred  Normative judgment o What “ought to be”  EX) should or ought ▯ ▯ Moral Reasoning  Normative ethics holds that one’s conduct should take into account moral issues – that one should act morally, using reason to decide the appropriate course of action o EX) what should I do? Have a reason behind it  But how should we reason, morally?  What moral law or principles can guide us? o Absolutism = the notion that we can say absolutely that there is a right or wrong thing to do o Relativism = the challenge of modern society (20 century) th ▯ ▯ Absolutism  The idea that there is one eternal, universal and unchanging moral law that is available to all o Eternal = forever o Universal = everywhere o Unchanging = unchanging, constant, fixed o All = not secret, not you have to figure out, everyone should know this and it should be available to everyone; therefore, everyone should be expected to do it ▯ ▯ Objectivity and Objectivism  Objective: o Of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality o Independent of one’s own perspective; fixed regardless of who’s thinking about it  Objectivism: o A knowledge claim, asserting that all reality is objective and external to the mind; that knowledge is reliably based on observed objects and events o Meta claim; claim that we can know this o This is necessary for Objective^ to be true o In order for us to say that we are being objective, we have to believe that there are objects in the world that we can be objective about ▯ ▯ Types of Objectivism Aesthetic o Beauty, taste, preferences o Harder to be objective about Moral o Right, wrong o Whether we can objectively say whether an action was right or wrong Cognitive o Events, things, phenomena o Of whether or not we can be objective about these things independent of observers^ o EX) Police body cameras o Very tempting for us to say that they exist independently of us ▯ ▯ A question…  Is moral objectivity possible? o Ethical objectivism says yes ▯ ▯ Ethical objectivism  Certain acts are objectively right or wrong, regardless of circumstance ▯ Ethical universalism  Objective moral truths can be applied to anyone, anywhere, and any time ▯ ▯ Objections to ethical absolutism  Unclear what this one supposedly “true” perspective is… o Many different answers  Unclear how that perspective is to be established/proven to be true… o Where these answers came from  Unclear whether/how that perspective is changed/improved over time… o How these answers change over time ▯ ▯ Sex & Morality: Are any of these objectively wrong?  Polygamy o No; raises question of culture and upbringing  Pornography  Prostitution o Just because it happens everywhere, does it mean it’s the right/wrong thing?  Zoophilia (sex with zoo animals)  Necrophilia (sex with dead people)  Pedophilia (sex with children – what age?) ▯ ▯ Malum in se  Something is wrong in itself, inherently wrong, morally repugnant ▯ Malum prohibitum  Something is wrong because it’s prohibited/we say it’s wrong ▯ ▯ Convention  It’s what you do  The thing that’s accepted ▯ ▯ Some problems with objective and universal truth…  Disentangling convention and truth: differentiating patterned beliefs/practices from principle  The problem of moral authority : on what objective or universal authority can we support a claim of ethical absolutism  The problem of ethnocentrism: a way of perceiving the world (and truth) from the perspective of one’s own culture or social group, which often leads to effort to dominate and oppress “other,” allegedly inferior, cultures or social groups o Often tends to be used to dominate and oppress other groups because they are immoral or uncultured, etc.  The problem of dogmatism: the refusal to entertain criticisms of or challenges to one’s beliefs o Someone who refuses to judge or acknowledge criticisms of other people ▯ ▯ Relativism  What is morally right or wrong varies across situations; people; societies; history o Everything is relative o Nobody has the one right answer for everybody  This is a contextual approach to moral reasoning o Before you say something is right or wrong, you ask who, what, when, where, why, how in order to figure out if in fact is morally wrong ▯ ▯ Two dimensions of relativism  Meta Ethical relativism: o Given cultural (and historical) variability, there is no objective sense in which moral truth (right/wrong) can ever be discussed  Normative relativism: o Because there is no objective truth, we should avoid judging the beliefs and practices of others (cultures), and accept that our beliefs are not necessarily more right or wrong than others  All truth is contingent, context dependent ▯ ▯ The challenge of relativism  If all beliefs are potentially right or wrong, how do we morally reason to resolve ethical dilemmas?  The challenge ethical absolutism and relativism share is finding an adequate source of moral authority by which to justify our choices and actions o What do I base my decisions on, where does the truth come from? ▯ ▯ An example  The reading for this week discussed the practice of “honor killings.” In light of our discussion of moral absolutism and relativism, can we say that such practices are morally wrong? Why or why not? o Honor killings = idea that if the behavior of a daughter brings shame upon family, the father would kill the daughter to redeem honor of family o Pure personal gain ▯ ▯ Regulating Relativism  Pragmatic Relativism: We should abandon the search for absolute truths and commit ourselves to functional beliefs – that is, notions of right and wrong, of justice, that yield a well-ordered society. Sociologically functional beliefs and actions are those we should consider right  Ethical Pluralism: Holds that in most situations there are many truths rather than one single truth. In such cases, specific (pragmatic) principals may be useful in choosing between competing ethical perspectives o I.e. principle of understanding; principle of tolerance [ex. I’m going to tolerate other beliefs contrary to mine]; principle of standing up against evil; the harm principle (do whatever you want except for harming them) ▯ ▯ Legal moralism  Government can and should pass laws to regulate behavior, and prohibit behavior deemed (by who?) to be immoral? Examples?  The rationale is pragmatic – legal moralism defines “moral delinquency,” and thus helps maintain the moral integrity of communities ▯ ▯ Pros and Cons of Ethical Relativism  Benefits of ethical relativism o Recognizes particularity and difference  Not all the same, not all have the same beliefs/cultural backgrounds o Emphasizes the value of an open mind  Objections to ethical relativism o Problem of identifying actual ‘cultures’ o Leads to individual relativism o Cultures actually overlap, so how to distinguish them?  EX) not some Muslim cultures have honor killings; not all cultures who have honor killings are Muslim o Fails to provide answers, abandons debate altogether ▯ ▯ Crim C163 Lecture 4 Week 2 04/06/2016 ▯ <Egoism & Contractualism>  How it is that we become moral; if we’re capable of becoming moral ▯ ▯ Ego, in Check: Can we be Moral?  Normative ethics, or the question of whether and how we should be moral, presumes that the morality is possible (meta-ethically)  If so, what makes morality (i.e., consideration of the interests of others) possible?  A few considerations: o Egoism and moral psychology o Psychological vs ethical egoism o Inclusive fitness and reciprocal altruism (mutual interest)  Reciprocal altruism = treating others how you want to be treated; example by which we act beyond our self- interest and because it is in our self-interest; expect kindness to be returned to us  Inclusive fitness = idea of self-preservation in a kinship sense; motivated to promote the well being of those close to us; others close to us are a reflection of ourselves; family unit; inclusivity point is to include others in consideration of ourselves; people connected closely to us genetically/biologically o Social contracts and mutually beneficial self-sacrifice o Problems of ethical egocentrism and fading ▯ ▯ Moral psychology  An area of study concerned with the psychological issues within ethics, including such questions as: o Moral motivation: What motivates people to be moral? o Psychological egoism: is it possible to be motivated by something other than self-interest. Is the appearance of altruism veiled self-interest? o Moral development: Do people develop morally? What are the changes, stages or levels associated with development? ▯ ▯ Egoism  Egoism = form of motivation where decisions and acts are motivated primarily, if not exclusively, by self-interest  Egoism contrasts with ALTRUISM: an unselfish motivation where acts are undertaken solely to benefit others  EXAMPLE) mutual reciprocity is recognizing that we act altruistically in part out of self-interest because we want others to treat us kindly  Within conventional morality, and much of popular culture, ethical egoism is regarded as a moral flaw o In some cultures, it is common to be selfish o In market cultures, self-interest is incredibly common as a sort of moral reference  Yet some argue that we are only capable of egoism, and/or that we should be primarily motivated by self-interest ▯ ▯ Is egoism natural? Is it ethical?  An egoist is self-centered, inconsiderate, unfeeling and pursues their own satisfaction, whatever the cost to others. But is that all we can/should do? o Psychological egoism (study of how people actually behave) theorizes that all persons are egoists in their sense that our actions are always motivated by our own best interest o Ethical egoism (philosophy of how we ought to behave) claims that promoting one’s own greatest good is always to act in accordance with reason and morality; that is, everyone out to pursue self-interest exclusively ▯ ▯ ***Reinterpreting motives  Psychological egoism argues that underlying seemingly altruistic choices/acts are actually self-interested motivations  The argument is that motives can almost always be reinterpreted to reveal egoism  Thomas Hobbes proclaims that: “of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himself”  Consider the underlying motivation of your own acts. Is there something you have done, seemingly for altruistic reasons, but actually for egoistic motives?  Two examples: o Charity: Hobbes argues that charity involves taking delight (perhaps subconsciously) in demonstrating one’s own power o Pity: Hobbes reinterprets pity as concern for the self. The imagination of our own future suffering by witnessing other’s misfortunes ▯ Criticisms of egoism  Ethical egoism contrast with nearly every other normative theory of ethics, which recommend acting unselfishly, taking other’s interests into account, and caring for others  Ethical egoism is logically inconsistent – one’s interests often are not served by selfishness (i.e., prisoner’s dilemma)  Psychological egoism is irrefutable – how do we prove or disprove this claim about underlying motivations?  Even in the case of “reinterpreting motives,” showing that selfish interests are served by altruistic acts doesn’t prove that self-interest causes these acts ▯ ▯ What about instincts to survive?  Is it ethical to kill to save one’s own life, the ultimate self-interest?  Under what circumstances, and from what moral perspective, would killing another person be justified?  To take a less extreme choice, can deception be justified as means to some good end, and what’s the good end? The plank of Carneadas  Thought experiment of killing someone else to save your life  There are two shipwrecked sailors, A and B. They both see a plank that can only support one of them and both of them swim towards it. o Sailor A gets to the plank first. Sailor B, who is going to drown, pushes A off and away from the plank and, thus, ultimately, causes A to drown. Sailor B gets on the plank and is later saved by a rescue team. o Should Sailor B be tried for murder – considering this was an act of self-defense? ▯ ▯ Do we follow the contract? Or, which rules do we actually acknowledge in our moral choices and actions?  Example) Is it right to exploit the rules for gain in sports? o “Winning at flopping” ▯ ▯ <Contractualism>: how we actually become moral actors and act in ways that recognize the interests of others ▯ ▯ Social contract theory  Claims that what matters morally are self-interests, however, we have a stake in collective good  The social contract provides a basis for moral consciousness and action (i.e., consideration of others) Rationale for contractualism  Humans are self-interested and competitive (egoistic)  Left unchecked this would yield endless conflict and war  We need basic rules for living to regulate this “state of nature”  The state (organized civil society) provides a basis for trust and cooperation, through a social contract o All of the organized elements of society, not just government o State has monopoly on authority, including the power to punish, which is not to say that other entities don’t punish (tend to be more informal than formal though)  The social contract provides us with a basis of trust and cooperation, therefore providing the capacity for us to be “moral” actors ▯ ▯ Problems with contractualism  The problem of overreach o = How much regulation is warranted, is even necessary to establish a basis of trust and cooperation  What prevents cheating; inequality? o People don’t actually play by the rules; people, corporations, organizations engage routinely in what the social contract defines as malfeasance, whether its athletes and teams with unsportsmanlike conduct or students cheating on exams  Still rooted in self-interest, though some (moral psychologists) suggest we are barely capable of more ▯ ***…Racial and sexual contracts  Charles Mills (The Racial Contract) uses contract theory to clarify the nature of racialized power relations and, specifically, the moral and political system of white supremacy. Here, nonwhites are “less than full persons,” less than fully-protected under the terms of the social contract. Invisible and enviable morally.  Similarly, Carol Pateman (The Sexual Contract) uses contract theory to explore gender-based power relations, and to describe the moral and political system of patriarchy, which frames men as full persons and women as less-than-full persons ▯ Newspaper in India  “Window of Opportunity” o family and friends climb walls to make answer chits available to those taking high-stakes exams in an Indian city ▯ ▯ Market principles of cheating students, school systems, athletes, and so on…  There are similarities between market principles and attitudes exhibited by students (and others) who engage in dishonest behavior for personal profit  Both reflect a value system where: o Economic goods are prioritized, o Success is quantified, o Self-interest is defined narrowly, o Personal benefits are accrued by shifting costs onto others, o Appearances of virtue are more profitable than real virtue  In both cases, dishonest behavior is often reframed as virtue o The businessperson is shrewd or astute, while the student (or the “flopper” in sport) is “being smart” by enhancing future prospects ▯ ▯ Impediments to ethical choices and behavior  Banaji et. Al note several quite common, often subtle forms of unethical decision making and behavior that undermine organizational/societal well-being: o Implicit prejudice o In-group favoritism o Over-claiming credit  Epley & Caruso and Tenbrunsel & Messick note two important mechanisms of ethical disengagement o Egocentric ethics o Ethical fading ▯ ▯ The problems of ethical egocentrism  Egocentric Bias and the Lack of Reflection o People are automatically inclined to interpret their own actions egocentrically o People automatically evaluate those interpretations as good/ bad o Moral judgments about fairness/ unfairness are based upon these automatic evaluative responses.  Automatic egocentrism—produced by automatic and unconscious psychological mechanisms – occurs because personal experience is more efficient than inference, people automatically interpret objects/events egocentrically, rather than reflect. o Positive automatic evaluations—the perception that an ethical event is moral o Negative automatic evaluations—the perception that an ethical event is immoral  Conscious reasoning is shaped by unconscious behaviors and judgments – it occurs after impressions have already been made. ▯ ▯ The problem of ethical fading  A related mechanism of retreating from moral reflection is described as “ethical fading.”  Ethical fading—the process by which the moral colors of an ethical decision fade into bleached hues that are void of moral implications. Self-deception is at the root of this.  Enablers of self-deception: o Language euphemisms—disguised stories we tell ourselves about unethical actions o Slippery slope of decision-making—self-reproof is diminished through repeated exposures and induction mechanism (if past practices were considered ethical then similar, current practices are as well) , without additional reflection o Errors in perceptual causation—inaccurate assignment of blame o Constraints induced by representations of the self—no real understanding of an objective truth.  Ethical decisions involve a trade-off between self-interest and moral principles. We aren’t very good at choosing the later. ▯ ▯


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