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PHIL 1400. Week One. Book Notes.

by: Harley Hall

PHIL 1400. Week One. Book Notes. PHIL 1400

Marketplace > University of North Texas > Philosophy > PHIL 1400 > PHIL 1400 Week One Book Notes
Harley Hall
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About this Document

These notes cover a brief introduction of morality and the reading selection over Henrik Ibsen's "The Enemy of the People."
Contemporary Moral Issues
Jared Opoien
Class Notes
philosophy, contemporary moral issues, Morality




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Harley Hall on Wednesday August 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 1400 at University of North Texas taught by Jared Opoien in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 31 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Moral Issues in Philosophy at University of North Texas.

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Date Created: 08/31/16
Week One. PHIL 1400 Book Notes (1-6, 166-184) Section Key Term Concept Intro to Morality-  Ethics- is the study of morality using methods of philosophy o Systematic, rational search for answers to moral questions o Careful philosophical examination of moral judgements, principles, values, and theories  Morality- beliefs about right/wrong actions and good/bad persons/characters o Moral judgements, principles, values, and theories o Does not describe how things are but rather how things should be o Morality is a normative (evaluative) realm  Moral norms seem to have a stronger hold on us that nonmoral norms  Moral norms have impartiality (they are thought to apply to everyone equally)  Everyone should be considered of equal moral worth  Everyone’s interests should be given equal consideration  Moral norms have universality (they apply in all circumstances that are relevant and similar)  Morality is reason driven  Ethics is all about the search for moral understanding o Moral understanding can be reached through careful reflection and sorting through reasons for belief o Emotions can help us empathize with others and heighten our understanding of the stakes involved in moral decisions o Our conscience can sometimes alert us of things of moral importance, but because our conscience is a result of our upbringing, cultural background, and similar influences, our conscience may sometimes be the result of irrelevant influences (to that particular moral issue) and can be wrong. o Critical thinking is the only way to rise above emotions, our conscience and our personal interests in order to achieve moral clarity o Social standing, race, gender, etc. are clear differences between people but they are NOT morally relevant differences  Philosophy- systematic exploration of life’s big questions using both critical thinking and logical argument  Many people misuse the terms “morality” and “ethics”  Two types of moral norms o Obligation- what we are obligated to do/our obligatory conduct  Generally applied to actions o Value- our estimations of moral worth (what we think is good/bad)  Used to judge the moral worth of people, their character, or their motives  Right and Wrong o Right- can mean a permissible action or an “obligatory” action (required, it would be wrong not to do it) o Wrong- prohibited action o Supererogatory- an action that is “above and beyond,” an action that is praiseworthy but not required  Morality is both personal and social o Personal- how we live our lives, what we are working to become o Social- morality recognizes that we are not independent beings with no need for each other The Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen  Setup- a small Norwegian town is famous for its baths, people coming from miles around to experience their healing powers. Dr. Thomas Stockmann notices that during the previous summer many of the baths’ visitors contracted typhus; he sends water samples to a nearby university for testing. The university finds that the water is EXTREMELY (and dangerously) polluted. Dr. Stockmann writes an article on the issue, which the editor is pleased to print in the People’s Messenger. Aslaksen supports Stockmann’s quest for truth, looking at it as an opportunity to undermine the power of capitalists. When the town’s powers hear about Stockmann’s article, they tell the town that for the piping system to be redesigned the townspeople will be taxed for around 20,000 pounds and the baths will have to be closed for 2 years. Upon hearing this, the liberals switch sides. Peter warns Stockmann to not publish the article. Hovstad no longer wants to print the piece and Aslaksen wants moderation, even Katherine asks Stockmann to stop pushing the issue. Only Petra supports Stockmann. The textbook begins with Peter discussing the aricle with Stockmann.  Characters: o Dr. Thomas Stockmann- the town’s medical officer, in charge of overseeing the baths, founded the baths o Peter- mayor of the town, Dr. Stockmann’s brother o Hovstad- liberal editor of the People’s Messenger o Aslaksen- printer of the People’s Messenger and leader of the skilled workers’ guild o Katherine- Stockmann’s wife o Petra- Stockmann’s daughter o Ejlif and Morten- Stockmann’s sons o Horster- an old sea captain that lets Dr. Stockmann use his hall for a public meeting  Peter is worried that this pollution news will destroy the town. o The baths will have to close for at least 2 years o It would cost the town around 20,000 pounds o No one would want to come back to the baths even after being fixed if the information got out o Other towns nearby have the opportunity to open baths as well o He believes that the town is better off continuing to function just as it has been o Peter tries guilt-tripping Dr. Stockmann, reminding him that it is because of him that Dr. Stockmann was appointed as the chief medical officer  Stockmann is worried about the health of his people o In the summer the water is at its worst o Believes that the town is “making [their] lives by retailing filth and corruption” (172) o He feels guilty because the sick and poor from all around come to the baths and pay big fees to use them for their healing powers  Mrs. Stockmann asks her husband to reconsider releasing the article more out of self- preservation than disagreement  Dr. Stockmann manages to rent a hall to reveal his findings to the public, a crowd comes to listen. This crowd includes Hovstad and Peter. Stockmann uses his meeting to say that not only is the water supply poisoned, but so is the foundation of the community’s moral life. Stockmann also explicitly calls the town’s leadership stupid (“…the first thing I realized was the colossal stupidity of the authorities” page 175). He suggests that the liberal majority in the town are the root of the problem- that while the majority has might on its side, the minority (himself and his supporters) have right on their side. After degrading Hovstad in front of everyone, Stockmann goes on to say that the uneducated are not what makes up “the people” and that only the intellectually superior should govern (to which many people protest).  “Broad-mindedness is almost precisely the same thing as morality.” Dr. Stockmann (page 180)  In his own words, Dr. Stockmann would rather ruin the town economically than see it flourish on a lie.  Dr. Stockmann is declared an “enemy of the people” after a vote is called. His family is ostracized. Rather than leave the town, Stockmann perseveres and opens up a school to serve the poor. The citizens couldn’t handle the truth.


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