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Affirmative Action, Aristotle, and Moral Individualism

by: Thomas nelson

Affirmative Action, Aristotle, and Moral Individualism PHL 2008

Marketplace > High Point University > PHIL-Philosophy > PHL 2008 > Affirmative Action Aristotle and Moral Individualism
Thomas nelson

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About this Document

These notes cover the weeks of April April 10, 2016 and April 17, 2016.
Social Ethics
Thaddeus M. Ostrowski
Class Notes
social, ethics
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Thomas nelson on Saturday April 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHL 2008 at High Point University taught by Thaddeus M. Ostrowski in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 19 views. For similar materials see Social Ethics in PHIL-Philosophy at High Point University.


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Date Created: 04/23/16
Thomas Nelson  3 arguments for affirmative action 1) Correcting for testing gap → Bias, preparation  2) Compensating for past wrongs and their persisting effects 3) Promoting diversity (Teological)  Educational mission of the school  Social mission of the school  Cultivating Virtue and the Good Life o Aristotle (virtue ethics) → Teological but nonconsequentialist  The first 2 theories try to remain neutral of the good o The “welfare” approach (utilitarianism) wants to maximize pleasure, but refrains  from judging pleasures or what gives us pleasure o Rights and Freedom approach says the right is prior to the good, maximizing  freedom so that people can choose to pursue their own private/personal vision of  the good  384­322 BC → Mentored by Plato and tutored Alexander the Great  After death of Alexander the Great, a charge of impiety (not believing in the gods of the  city) was brought against Aristotle  Left Athens “in order not to give Athens the opportunity to commit another sin against  philosophy”  “School of Athens” by Rafael  o Plato (Doctrine of the “forms”) → The essence of things will last forever, even if  it doesn’t actually last forever itself o Aristotle (Empirical method)  Virtue is necessary but not sufficient for happiness (Eudaimonia; flourishing)  There is a sort of “completeness” to happiness: possess all virtues, throughout one’s life,  but also have all other things necessary  Ex: noble birth, good looks, sufficient wealth (money can’t make you happy, but you  can’t be happy if you live in deprivation)  Glaucon’s case against justice  Aristotle: “No one would call the life of such a man happy, except for the sake of  maintaining an argument.” Thomas Nelson REALITY REPUTATION Person 1 Perfectly unjust Just Person 2 (Jesus or Socrates) Perfectly just Unjust  Aristotle does say that the virtuous person bears misfortune as well as possible  So happiness or Eudaimonia is human flourishing, a life of exercising the virtues with all  the externals and material conditions necessary to sustain that flourishing  Preliminary definition of virtue o “Every virtue or excellence  Renders good the thing itself of which it is the excellence  Make us good human beings  Causes it to perform its function well”  Live well  The things we have to learn to do, we learn by doing them (habituation)  Virtues are characteristics that perfect our nature, acquired by habituation, to the point  nd where they become like 2  nature  o “Habit brings nature to completion”  A very important point: virtue as the mean o “By the mean relative to us I understand an amount neither too large nor too  small, and this is neither the one nor the same for everybody”  Differs from person to person because people are not the same  Generosity is a virtue in everyone, but it looks different for each of us  o Bill Gates has more money than most, so he can donate more money  Virtue is a mean relative to each person and vice is an extreme  Justice is giving each their due (Have to find the fit between the 2 dimensions)  2 dimensions (according to Sandel) 1) Teological – What is the purpose? 2) Honorific – What virtues/excellences are necessary to achieve the purpose? o Ex: Best flutes deserve to go to the best flute players because the best flutes  deserve to be played the best Moral Individualism  We are responsible only for what we ourselves do  To be free is to be subject only to obligations I voluntarily incur  Little room for collective responsibility/duty to bear moral burdens of ancestors Thomas Nelson o Reparations for slavery  Ex: Locke, Kant, Rawls  If we think of ourselves this way, “as individual selves, unbound by moral ties we  haven’t chosen, we can’t make sense of a range of moral and political obligations that we commonly recognize, even prize” (Sandel, p. 220) o Ex: parents, the way we talk about actions of the U.S. as what “we” did (“we”  won WWII) o Counter Ex: we disown “them,” those who enslaved people o No one wants to be involved with the bad stuff, by want to take credit for the  good stuff  Narrative Self o Sandel says sometimes we experience ourselves as “encumbered” with certain  responsibilities we didn’t choose because of the way we are historically situated  (accidents of birth)  Alasdair Macintyre: Our identities are wrapped up in stories – our own and the larger  ones of which we are a part – and at least some of them we don’t choose, but inherit: o “Of what story do I find myself a part? What is good for me is what is good for  someone who inhabits these roles” o Ex: Inigo Montoya is Princess Bride  3 types of moral obligation 1) Natural Duties – Universal to persons as persons; don’t require consent 2) Voluntary Obligations – Particular; Arise from consent (deals, contracts) 3) Obligations of Solidarity – Particular, involuntary, not chosen; flow from  membership in community  3 objections 1) If obligations are born from membership, then it creates conflicting  duties/responsibilities (lots of them) 2) Idea of “obligations of solidarity” are inherently problematic: they are emotional  on affective prejudices, not truly moral duties/responsibilities/obligations 3) These counterexamples are actually based on liberal ideas of autonomy  (voluntary) or reciprocity (mutual benefit) (2 foundations for valid contracts),  Thomas Nelson rd which can account sufficiently for the apparent examples of a 3  kind of  obligation


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