Class Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(3)
Class Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(3)
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by an elite notetaker on Friday February 6, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to a course at University of Massachusetts taught by a professor in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 12 views.
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Medical Ethics 012709 Phil 1643 Spring 2009 l Kristoffer Ahlstrom leayrmpyzarumamedu l httppeopleumassedukahlstro164 BTOETHTCS Bioethics or Medical Ethics The study of the ethical issues arising from the biological and medical sciences Bioethics is a branch of appiedethics ie the kind of ethics that is concerned with addressing speci c areas of poi tential ethical controversy Other instances of applied ethics are business ethics and environmental ethics However in order to address any area of ethical importance we need to have a basic sense of the structure of ethical judgments Take this one for example 1 Murdering innocent people is wrong What does it mean to state 1 sincerely What kind ofjudginent is 1 SUBJECTTVTSM Here s a rst stab at an answer Moral subiectivism Moral statements are neither true nor false They do nothing more than express our at titudes toward various actions On moral subjectivism to utter 1 would roughly amount to saying Boo for murder This is not the kind of statement that is true or false unlike the following 2 That chair is brown This has a couple of funny consequences Diiagreemenl lfmoral statements are neither true nor false we can t disagree with one another on moral mat ters When I say that abortions are sometimes permissible I m just saying Yay for abortions and am not disagreeing with someone saying that abortions are never permissible any more than someone saying Yay for the Red Sox is diiagreeing with someone saying Boo for the Red Sox Peepexiy Sometimes we feel perplexed about moral issues in the sense that we really don t know what is right or wrong However if moral statements are neither true nor false there is nothing to be perplexed about there is no moral fact of the matter MemAdviee We often engage in ethical dialogue for the purpose of seeking moral advice But ifmoral state ments can neither be true nor false there is no advice to be had RELATTVTSM So saying that moral statements are neither true nor false seems to commit you to a fairly strange view about ethii cal language So let s try another answer Moral Relativism Moral statements are true or false only relative to the standards ofa cultural group More specifically a moral statement is true for a person in so far as it re ects the prevailing moral standards of her cultural group and false otherwise This may sound refreshing but has a couple of strange consequences Disagreement lfwe aren t members of the same cultural group and different moral standards prevail in our re spective groups then we re not in disagreement If we are members of the same group the my to resolve the dispute is by my efan epinienpell Pewwig What should we be doing ifwe re perplexed according to the relativist Identify the relevant culi tural group and go with the majority MoraAdria What kind of advice can we give on moral relativism One kind and one kind only Identify the relevant cultural group and go with the majority This sounds far less progressive than one would ve expected from relativism Indeed it sounds utterly reactionary And it gets worse Consider 1 above When is 1 true according to the relativist Well first of all no ethical judgment is ever true as such according to the relativist Ethical judgments are only true relative to a cultural group So when is 1 trueferjeit The statement Murdering innocent people is wrong is true for you if and only if the majority of your culi tural group take it to be morally wrong to murder innocent people So what should you do if you happen to be part of a culture that takes it to be morally right to murder innocent people That s right murder innocent people MORAL OBJECTTVTSM Here s a third attempt at an answer Moral objectivism There are correct answers to moral questions which are independent ofwhat any indi7 vidual or group ofindividuals believes Let s see what follows from moral objectivism in relation to the above themes Disagreement At least one person is right in cases ofmoral disagreement but the objectivist doesn t say who that person is This is in line with how itfeesthen we re disagreeingwith someone on a moral matter Peepexiy There is a right answer to the moral question you re perplexed about but the objectivist doesn t tell you what it is This is in line with how itfeeswhen we re morally perplexed MoraAdria The objectivist says that there is advice to be had but does not tell us what that advice is This is in keeping with our tendency to seek advice So moral objectivism implies that there are morally correct answers to moral questions However it doesn t tell us what the correct ethical answers are As such it implies something that seems true that ethics is hard GOAL OF THE COURSE What I ve tried to do so far is to throw some doubt on some things that we re prone to say about ethics before paying careful attention to the details such as It s all relative and There are no moral facts However there is one thing commonly said about ethics that I think there s some grain of truth to and that is that every ethical case is unique and not always arnendable to systematic rules and norms This also gets at the core ofwhat I m hoping that we ll attain in this course which is net to work out simple rules that will tell you what s morally right or wrong but rather provide you with some conceptual tools that may help you think clearly about often quite complex ethical matters in the medical sciences
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