Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to Ethics PHIL 1175
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Date Created: 10/11/15
James P Sterba Three Challenges to Ethics The Challenges Environmentalism Feminism Multiculturalism Setting the Stage Relativism Rationality Practicality Claim Traditional ethics has suf cient resources to address all three challenges Relativism Relativisms Dif culties Ethical Egoism The main obstacle to showing that morality is rationally required Individual V Universal Ethical Egoism the overall selfinterest of one particular person V each person s overall selfinterest UEE avoids the objections to IEE Everyone has a similar justi cation for adopting UEE The Ring of Gyges Begging the Question Altruism v Egoism Prima F acie Relevance Philosophical Rigor cf Aristotle eg Utility Maximization cf J S Mill amp David Hume the Hedonic Calculus Jeremy Bentham the greatest good for the greatest number Aristotelian Kantian amp Rawlsian Social Contract Theory Thomas Hobbes John Locke lt Jean Jacques Rousseau The Kant in Rawls s Kantian Theory the veil of ignorance and the CI Chapter 3 Feminism A Care Perspective nontraditional conclusion Liberalism libertarianism welfareliberalism Rawls s Sense of Justice Just Families The absence of any account of the nature of just families is a signi cant failing for a theory of justice Canonical Inequality Most major gures in the history of ethics Aristotle and Kant e g have defended inequality between women and men as natural and right The PublicPrivate Distinction In practice it has been applied in ways that are biased in favor of men aka publicprivate domains or spheres US Supreme Court zones of privacy Roe v Wade 410 US 113 1972 the 14th Amendment Virtue amp Gender cf eg Hume s Virtues Chapter 4 Multiculturalism Central Claim If Western moral ideals are to be defensible they must be able to survive a comparative evaluation with other moral ideals including nonWestern ones The Assumption of Moral Status Harmony with Nature American Indian cultures and indigenous African cultures generally have a greater respect for nonhuman nature than do traditional Western cultures Confucius predates Plato Virtue ethics stresses lial obligation Ought Implies Can Avoiding Bias Another Look at Conquest depopulating amp repopulating the Founding Fathers enslaVing Africans amp killing Indians Holmes amp Hume American Indians amp the Jewish Holocaust The treatment of the American Indians was used by Nazi leaders to justify in icting the Holocaust on the Jews The Importance of History Questions of Recti cation the Kanaka Maoli Immanuel Kant 17241804 Grounding for the Metaphysics 0f Morals 1785 Aim to seek out and establish the supreme principle of morality Preface 1 Formal Philosophy Concerned solely with the form of understanding amp reason themselves Logic 11 Material Philosophy Concerned with some object A Laws of Nature IAW which everything does happen Physics aka natural philosophy B Laws of Freedom IAW which everything ought to happen Ethics aka moral philosophy Ill Empirical Philosophy Rests on the basis of experience a posteriori IV Pure Philosophy Sets forth doctrines depending entirely on a priori principles When Wholly formal Logic When con ned to determinate objects of the understanding Metaphysics V Conclusion A TwoFold Metaphysic A Metaphysic of Nature Pure part of Physics B Metaphysic of Morals Pure rational part of ethics Empirical part practical anthropology First Sect Transition From the Ordinary Rational Knowledge of Morality to the Philosophical The Will A kind of causality belonging to living beings insofar as they are rationa The faculty of determining one39s causality through the representation Of a I39lllC Critique of Practical Reason The Good Will A kind of motivation a subtle determination to do one39s duty to do What is morally required Good Without quali cation unconditionally good good through its Willing alone good in itself What makes a Good Will good is What it Wills not its consequences The Good Will is not the same as benevolence inclination to do good bene cence doing good to others altruism unsel sh concern for the welfare of others 6 A Good Will is a necessary condition for being worthy of happiness Happiness Functions of the Will 1 To secure one39s own happiness conditioned good which is subordinated by 2 To manifest a will good in itself unconditioned good The Good Will and Duty GW manifested in acting for the sake of duty Obstacles make the GW more conspicuous Why is the concept of duty which involves the overcoming of obstacles inapplicable to a perfectly good will Moral commands are unnecessary for a perfectly good will Who has a perfect will God The Motive of Duty Examples 1 Shopkeeper Not Overcharging Children IAW duty a selfinterest wants parents to send their kids there no moral worth b inclination acts spontaneously From duty action has moral worth morally good 2 Preserving One39s Life Most of the time we do so spontaneously Kant thinks that we have a moral obligation to do so ie to do so from duty moral worth 3 Being KindHelpful to Others Some do so by nature inclination If the reason is because it is the right thing to do then it has moral worth If the reason is because it is the right thing and one enjoys it even better Note To quotassure one39s own happinessquot is an indirect duty Kant39s Second Proposition An action done from duty has its moral worth not in the purpose that is to be attained by it but in the maxim according to Which the action is determined 10 Hence moral worth does not depend on the realization of the object of the action Moral Worth Morally Right IAW duty ie What duty requires Morally Good done from duty ie done with a good will Kant s Third Proposition Duty is the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law MORAL WORTHGOODNESS An action even if right has moral value only if one s motive for acting was to do What is morally right Moral worth or goodness then depends on one s motive or intention and not on What is actually done morally right IAW duty morally good from duty Inclination V Reverence Inclination The dependence of the faculty of desire on sensations always indicates a need Reverence For the activity of the will Maxim V Practical Law Maxim the subjective principle of volition the subjective principle of acting It contains the practical rule which reason determines in accordance with the conditions of the subject and is thus the principle according to which the subject does act Practical law The objective principle ie one which would serve all rational beings also subjectively as a practical principle if reason had full control over the faculty of desire CC valid for every rational being and it is the principle according to which he ought to act ie an imperative First Statement of the Categorical Imperative Never act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law First Discussion of a Lying Promise Prudence V Morality Prudence The ought of selfinterest quotWhat would happen if I did Morality The quotwillingquot suggests a rational question if I could not be willing then I ought not since in doing this I would be making an irrational exception for myself quotCould I be willing that everyone do this Second Sect Transition From Popular Moral Philosophy to a Metaphysics of Morals Examples amp The Concept of Morality Popularity amp The Doctrine of Morals Moral Concepts amp A Priori Reasoning The Will amp Practical Reason Imperfectly Rational Beings Imperative The formula of a command of reason Command of Reason The representation of an objective principle insofar as it necessitates the will Imperatives amp The Divine Will Categorical V Hypothetical Imperatives Hypothetical Objective moral laws addressed to imperfectly rational beings that do not apply absolutely since they can change with purposesobjectives quotIf then one ought to The ought is defended by reference to a purpose an action needed in order to achieve a further purpose willed by the agent Skill Prudence in the narrowest sense skill in the choice of means to one s own greatest well being Categorical Objective moral laws addressed to imperfectly rational beings commands quotOne ought quot The ought is not defended by arguing that the act is necessary to achieve a purpose The imperative of morality Analytic V Synthetic Propositions Analytic Propositions amp The Matter of Willing Derives the concept of actions necessary to this end from the concept of willing this end IOW the concept of willing the necessary actions are contained within the concept of willing a presupposed end towards which we are inclined 6g 1 will cease to be a bachelor The necessary actions getting married are derived from the concept of willing the end ceasing to be a bachelor 20 Why is the CI 3 Synthetic A Priori Proposition The concept of willing the necessary actions is not contained within the concept of willing a presupposed end towards which we are inclined ie the CI does not analytically derive the willing of an action from some other willing already presupposed for we possess no such perfect will IOW the concept of willing the necessary actions to do one s duty is not contained within the concept of some presupposed volition or inclination on the part of an imperfectly rational will towards some end Viz doing one s duty Hence the CI is synthetic not analytic 21 However the CI is connected a priori and therefore necessarily to the act with the will Without presupposing any condition taken from some inclination to the action IOW the Objective Moral Law the Absolute Moral Imperative is connected to the actions necessary to do one s duty Without rst supposing that as a condition for this that we are inclined to do our duty The CI is connected Wholly a priori with the concept of the will of a rational being qua rational being Hence the CI is also a priori 22 Summary of Imperatives Imperatives of Skill HypotheticalAnalytic Imperatives of Prudence HypotheticalAnalytic The Categorical Imperative Categorical Synthetic a priori 23 The Categorical Imperative quotAct only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law quot aka the Principle of Universality Kant39s Fundamental Principle of Morals Note by can Kant means Without contradicting yourself ie Without a contradiction in the will 24 The Maxim of an Action Statements of intention quotI will quot Formal Maxims abstract from purpose quotI will do my dutyquot the only ex Kant gives Material Maxims include reference to a purpose end a policy stmt quotI will do A in C in order to achieve Pquot Note important for applying the CI circumstances ll out the material of the maxim 25 Contradiction in the Will When the purpose end in a maxim would be defeated by your willing it wrong action Contradiction in Conception When a conception is effectively done away with Perfect V Imperfect Duties Perfect Duties strict no latitude quotone that admits no exception in favor of inclination eg duty to self in the case of suicide case 1 duty to others in the case of a lying promise case 2 Imperfect Duties have latitude duty to self to develop one39s own talents case 3 duty to help others case 4 26 Applying the Categorical Imperative 1 State the maxim 2 Universalize the maxim now a potential stmt of universal law 3 Try to will 1 ie will the purpose and at the same time will 2 Wo Willing the defeat Case 2 Promising to pay back money that you know you can39t repay Lying Promise 1 State the maxim quotWhen I am in need of money I will borrow it on a promise to repay even though I know I won39t be able to in order to get the money I need get out of my difficulty Wo takes for granted the purpose of making the promise 27 2 Universalize the maxim now a potential stmt of universal law quotWhen anyone is in need of money they willmay borrow it on a promise to repay even though they know they won39t be able to in order to get the money they need to get out of difficulty THE MAXIM CONTRADICTS ITSELF WHEN 3 Try to will 1 willing the purpose and at the same time will 2 willing the defeat Universalizing the maxim makes achievement of the purpose by anyone impossible while at the same time being willing to achieve the purpose Therefore If the purpose end in the maxim would be defeated then you have a contradiction in the will wrong action To act IAW this maxim would be to make an irrational exception for oneself This would also be a contradiction in conception since in effect there would be no such thing as promising if the purpose in the maxim could still be achieved the maxim is morally permissible 28 The Principle of Humanity Act in such a way that you treat humanity whether in your own person or in the person of another always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means Since only rational agents persons can have unconditional and absolute value it is wrong to use them simply or merely as a means to some end which only has relative value Unlike the 1st formulation of the Cl this 2nd formulation the most popularfamous version does not direct respect towards an abstraction Illustrations Kant Applies the Principle of Humanity to Cases 14 29 The Formula of Autonomy Rational agents are bound to obey the CI and to serve as the ground for it Hence the law we are bound to obey must be the product of our own will as far as we are rational ie the law rests on quotthe idea of the will of every rational being as a will that legislates universal lawquot The quotRealm of Endsquot quotKingdom of Endsquot The realm in which every subject is also a legislator everyone acts IAW as well as legislates the rules 30 Autonomy V Heteronomy Autonomy self government will Heteronomy when we allow ourselves to be governed by objects other than the will eg inclination Third Sect Transition from a Metaphysics of Morals to a Critique of Pure Practical Reason The Concept of Freedom amp Autonomy of the Will Freedom A causality IAW immutable laws 31 Freedom of Will Autonomy quotThe property that the will has of being a law to itself A will to which only the lawgiving ie universal legislative form of a maxim can serve as law a free will is independent of all empirical conditions Critique of Practical Reason Principle of Autonomy Persons are subject only to laws Which are made by themselves and are yet universal The third formulation implication of the C1 General Review of the Argument 32 What Human Reason is Incapable of Explaining quothow pure reason can be practical by itself without any incentives taken from whatever source ie how the mere principle of the universal validity of all reason s maxims as laws can by itself furnish an incentive and produce an interest which could be called purely moral A Possible Reply from David Hume My Dear Prof Kant You are quite correct to raise this matter of the inexplicability of pure reason s ability to be practical in itself However the answer to the question of how it can has apparently escaped you The answer is simply this it cannot