Introduction To Ethics
Introduction To Ethics PHIL 160
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Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Unit 3 Handout 1 DesJardin s Environmental Ethics Chapter 6 Biocentric Ethics the Inherent Value of Life Introduction So far we have focused on attempts to extend traditional ethics in an effort to diagnose and solve our environmenml problems Desjardin calls this ethical extensionism But all such attempts seemed suffer from three core problems Three Problems for Ethical Extensionism 0 1 The principles and concepts used in the applications of such theories are too narrowly focused 0 They are at bottom still too human focused if not entirely anthropocentric Moral consideration in ethical extensionism is still determined by comparing entities to rational adult humans and extending moral consideration on the basis of those 0 similarities 0 2 Ethical extensionism is still individualism O Focusing on individuals might extend our ethical considerations to include none humans but it will still only consider them as individuals This leaves out species habitats and the relationshipinterconnectedness of nature out of the moral sphere 0 3 Ethical extensionism is not and was never intended to be a comprehensive environmental ethics 0 It tells us what not to do but not how to live a good life In short ethical extensionism is a negative and critical offering no positive solutions 0 Some of the stuff it leaves out ofmoral consideration matters morally eg global warming pollution species extinction In light of these problems Desjardin suggests that we need to do more than to extend traditional ethical theories based on old philosophical assumptions What we need to do is adopt the point ofview of an environmenmlist or more simply ofa concerned citizen seeking to articulate develop and defend a coherent and comprehensive environmental philosophy Where we start 0 Revisit the quote on the bottom ofpg 127 0 These facts startle us make us concerned but why 0 Answering this question is our starting ground for a new environmental philosophy Instrumental Value and Intrinsic Value Central to a comprehensive environmenml philosophy is a consideration of the nature and scope of value 0 Instrumental Value a function ofusefulness An object with instrumental value possesses that value because it can be used to attain something else ofvalue The instrumental value of an object lies not in the object itselfbut in the uses to which that object can be put 0 Emphasizing only the instrumental value of nature means that the environment is held hosmge by the interests and needs of humans 0 Intrinsic inherent Value a value that is to be found or recognized rather than given To say that an object is intrinsically valuable is to say that it has a good ofits own and that what is good for it does not depend on outside factors or judgments It has a value in itself and is not to be valued simply for its uses The value of such things is intrinsic to them 0 The kind of concern that is evoked when one considers the passage on pg 1277128 suggests that many of our environmental concerns rest on the intrinsic value we recognize in nature 0 To say that human activity degrades the environment is often to say that our respect for intrinsic value has eroded or been lost entirely Thus an acceptable environmenml philosophy is one which requires a reigrowth of awareness and respect for the intrinsic value ofboth the things which compose our environment and of the environment as a whole Biocentric Ethics and the Reverence for Life Biocentric Ethics refers to any theory that views all lzfe as possessing intrinsic value Biocentric means lifeicentered An early Biocentric thinker Albert Schweitzer 0 Schweitzer s reveremefor lzfe principle 0 Schweitzer sought to reestablish the connection between ethics and nature and thought that it was the intrinsic value ofliving things being ignored that severed the connection 0 Schweitzer believed that the most fundamental fact of human consciousness is the realization that I am zfe wbieb wills to live in the midst oflge wbieb wills to live and that it is around this fact that ethics should be built 0 Schweitzer was not however a philosopher and as such did not develop his View or consider the many objections that could be raised Eg does reverence for all life mean that I count as much as the mosquito whose trying to bite me Does it mean I ought to let her drink and not smack the little bugger Toylor s Biocemric Ethics Paul Taylor in his 1986 RevyjeetforNature provides a more comprehensive account ofa Biocentric ethics Taylor s goal a systematic comprehensive account of the moral relations that exist between humans and other living things Taylor s reason for thinking that all forms oflife deserve moral consideration all living things have a good of their own because they are teleologiml enters oflge 0 To be a teleological center of life means that the actions ofyour life direct you toward some telos or distinctive goal Eg the telos of an acorn is to become an oak tree 0 When one sees living things as teleological centers oflife it is easy to make see that some things are good for that being and some are bad 0 Once we undersmnd the life cycle and know the environmental conditions an organism requires to ourish survive in a healthy state and help to propagate its species it is easy to see how such organisms can be kem ted or harmed by changes in their environmental conditions 0 So as teleological centers oflife all living organisms can be viewed as having a good of their own The neXt step that Taylor needs to make is to connect a living organisms intrinsic worth the good it possesses to the normative claim that we ought to take that value into our moral considerations Taylor notes that having a good of one s own is a necessary but not sufficient condition for having inherent worth The normative claim that living things have an inherent worth is to be explained and justi ed by reference to the Bioeerttrz39e Outlooe 0 The Biocentric outlook is a system ofbeliefs that provides a fundaInental view of the natural world and our natural world Recognizing the inherent worth of things from the fact that they have a good of their own is a natural rational inference from the Biocentric outlook The 4 Central Beliefs of a Biocentric Outlook 0 1 Human beings are members of Earth s community the same as all other species 0 2 All species are part ofa system ofinterdependence 0 3 All living things pursue their own good in their own ways 0 4 Humans are not inherently superior to other living things Practical Implications Taylor then draws out his View by suggesting that adopting a Biocentric View and thus having proper respect for nature leads to 0 4 general duties 1 nonmale cence 7do no harm not the same as keep safe 2 noninterferencegdo not interfere with the freedom of individual organisms 4don t manipulate control modify or manage natural ecosystems 3 delityi we cannot mislead or deceive or betray wild animals ie no more hunting trapping fishing 4 restitutive justice ihumans who harm other living organisms have to make some kind of comparable restitution to those organisms 0 these duties are ranked in order of importance nonmaleficence is our top duty and in the event ofa conflict of the other three duties justice takes precedent then fidelity then none interference One thing to note in order to be loyal biocentrists we cannot allow human interest to automatically take precedent when moral conflict arises To make sure that there is some account of how to prevent this Taylor argues for several formal or procedural rules to provide fair impartial solutions to moral conflicts These rules are selfidefense proportionality minimum wrong distributive justice restitutive justice Challenges and Developments 1 What exactly does it mean to not interfere with nature It seems to suggest a dichotomy between humans and nature one we are trying to get away from Can something noninatural even come out ofa natural thing Le why are the changes that humans make to the environment ethically different from the changes other species make to it 2 While it is not anthropocentric Taylor s ethics remains individualistic 0 Moreover it suggests an adversarial relationship between individuals That it is all about balancing the needs of competing individuals Thus it deemphasizes the importance of mutual dependency and cooperation that are important elements of ecosystems A dilemma for Taylor can I dig up a chunk ofmy lawn and build a stone patio O lfl am not allowed to build the patio then Taylor s view requires too much ofus It is too strict O lfl am allowed to build the patio then Taylor must explain how a nonibasic trivial human interest trumps the value of the lives of countless blades ofgrass and many insects 0 And he has to do it without appeal to retribution since one cannot give restitution to dead individuals and again as an individualistic theory he cannot claim that restitution should go to the species 0 Taylor view derives normative principles from a set of empirical facts Can you get an ought from an this way We have argued many times throughout the semester that we cannot or at least that we should be highly skeptical of any view that relies on such an inference is James Sterba s revision Sterba attempts to revise the Biocentric view so that it gets around many of the problems raised for Taylor s view Sterba calls his view Biocentric Pluralism to emphasize his attempt to bring ecological wholes such as species and ecosystems into the perspective A Summary of Sterba s Argument 1 Some object X has a good ofits own if it can be harmed or bene ted 2 le has a good ofits own then it would be wrong to harm it unless we have a good reason for doing so 3 There are no noniquestion begging reasons to assume that human interests always override the good ofX 4 Therefore Xs have moral standing X s are subjects to the same fundamenml principles ofjustice that govern human relationships 5 Liberal justice a balancing ofliberty and equality is the most defensible principle of social justice to guide humaninonhuman relationships Discussion Have the advocates of Biocentrism given any good reason to think that all living things have a good and that that good entitles them to our moral considerations Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Handout 7 Rachels s The Elements of Moral Philosophy Chapter 12 THE ETHICS OF VIRTUE 131 The Ethics of Virtue and the Ethics of Right Action Classical Formulation Aristotle39s Nichomachean Ethics I Summary 0 quotThe moral virtues are the virtues ofpersons as suchquot 162 quotCategoricalquot Virtues I not just quothypotheticalquot virtues as leathery as mmz39mzm say I39m a bad teacher amp you just condemn my pedagogy I say I39m morally bad amp you condemn ME outright O Aristotle says quot This account of the chief human good might perhaps be given ifwe could first ascermin the function ofman For just as for a uteiplayer a sculptor or an artist and in general for all things that have a function or activity the good and the 39well39 is thought to reside in the function so would it seem to be for man if he has a function Have the carpenter then and the tanner cermin functions or activities and has man none Is he born without a function quot 1097b25 Aristotle s Argument 1098a20 I quotThe function ofF eg ofa harpist is the same in kind as the function of an excellent F eg an excellent harpistquot I a harpist is someone who plays the harp I an excellent harpist is one who plays the harp well I quotThe same is true unconditionally in every case when we add to the function the superior achievement that expresses the virtue proper to that functionquot I the virtue ofharpists m barfzktx resides in their harp playing ability I the virtue of teachers at leathery resides in their teaching ability I the virtue of fuel pumps asfuelpumpx resides in their fuel pumping ability I The human function is to live a human life I not just to feed amp breed plants do as much I not just to eiy39oy feeding breeding etc beasts do as much 0 I a life subject to rational oversight I Subordinates the question of right conduct to the question of good character 0 Good character I having certain human excellences or virtues we naturally admire in others and wish for in ourselves I Examples courage wisdom generosity friendliness honesty 0 Good conduct doing the sort of things that I spring from virtues in those that already have them I inculcate and perfect the virtues in those who yet aspire I Good deeds are just the sorts of deeds that good rational amp admirable people do Legalistic Morality Contrast I Good conduct obedience to moral law 0 God given Divine Command 0 As dictated by Utility Rule Utilitarianism 0 As dictated by pure reason Kant 0 As part of the social contract SCT I Virtue or good character propensity to follow these rules I Good people are the sort ofpeople who do good lawful deeds I Contrast o Virtue ethics I begins with a conception of the good person I defines good conduct as the sort of conduct that I people who are that way go in for I and that makes people that way I rules just rough generalizations I about what sorts of things good folks do under various circumstances I quotamong statements about conduct those which are particular are more genuine since conduct has to do with individual cases and our statements must harmonize with the facts in these casesquot 1107a28 o Legalistic ethics I begins with rules I defines good conduct as that which accords with the rules I defines good persons as those who conduct themselves accordingly Should We Return to the Ethics of Virtue Anscombe39s complaint I legalistic ethics rest on the incoherent notion ofa quotlawquot without a lawgiver DCT unaccepmble I and the alternative sources ofmoral quotlegislationquot are inadequate substitutes 132 The Virtues What Is a Virtue I they are traits of character I expressed by habitual patterns ofbehavior 0 same patterns ofbehavior through which they are acquired I that are good bad for people 515 MM to have 0 traits we take to be desirable undesirable or admirable shameful for people as such virtue of anything consists in performing or having the capacity for performing its proper task well I eg virtues of cars reliability handling braking acceleration O I virtues of cat burglars stealth agility fearless of heights skillful at lock picking o c Proper function of humans as such I Aristotle I vegemtive fulfillment health amp reproduction I animal fulfillment pleasure amp sensation amp travel I personal fulfillment I thought I artistic creativity I self direction moderation amp self control I Freud to love amp work What Are the Virtues To name a few What Do These Virtues Consist In I Aristotle o a Virtue is quotthe mean by reference to two vices the one of excess and the other of deficiencyquot quotto feel and do things at the right times with reference to the right objects towards the right people with the right motive and in the right way is what is both intermediate and best and this is characteristic ofvirtuequot I Examples 0 Cowardice 7 Courage 7 Rashness facing dangers for at the right place at the right time for the right purposes I Geach v Rachels issue about courage were any Nazi39s or 911 bombers have I Geach amp Aristotle 7 no it39s not for quotthe right purposesquot I Rachels jex o Stinginess 7 Generosity 7 Wastefulness sharing ofgoods o Dishonesty 7 Honesty 7 Tactlessness telling the truth I Geach v Rachels concerning lies I Geach an honest person never lies 77 but he approves ofAthanasius39 deception I Rachels an honest person never lies except quotin rare circumstancesquot for quotcompelling reasonsquot 179 I Discussion o Is Loyalty to family and friends a Virtue Bringing the notion ofimpartiality back into question Why Are the Virtues Important I Aristotle the cultivation and exercise of the virtues is selfeactualizing W truly quotvirtue is its own rewardquot o Virtues are characteristics that make for human fulfillment a well rounded amp happy life 0 for psychological health amp mental balance psychological selfeactualization Are the Virtues the Same for Everyone 0 Discussion 0 Why isn t virtue ethics just a kind of relativism 123 Advantages of Virtue Ethics Correct Account of moral motivation the case of Smith the dutiful hospital visitor the problem ofmoral schizophrenia 2 Makes room for partiality return to the question ofwhether loyalty and friendship are virtues one is allowed W even required W to show partiality for family friends etc I to the right right persons in the right circumsmnces to an appropriate degree etc A Speaks to feminist concerns about masculine bias I restores focus on the personal amp private on individual ties to particular people I not just the impersonal and public on humanity amp society A Explains centrality of Moral Heroes in almost Every Ethical Tradition Jesus amp the saints WWJD I MohaInmed Moses and the prophets Buddha amp the Bodhisattvas Heroes of Old in Greek amp other traditional lores The Problem of Incompleteness I Gives us no formula for deciding conflict cases 0 Eg between friendship amp justice case of the rapist buddy o Eg between filial piety amp patriotism Sartre39s case 0 Eg between truthfulness amp prevention of suffering Gestapo questioning case I Reply ethics is like that 0 Conflict cases cause trouble for other theories as well eg Kant39s 0 life as art a creative adventure no rules for artistic creativity Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Handout 5 Rachels s The Elements of Moral Philosophy Chapters 8 amp 9 Deontological theories are not ends oriented like consequentialist theories They are dutyi based rightness or wrongness of an act not explained in terms ofits consequences but its own features Perfect vs Imperfect Duties our mom dutiex arepmfert dutiex Hypothetical vs Categorical Oughts mom ougbtx are 5511630722511 mighty The Categorical Imperative Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law A maxim is a rule of the following form Whenever I am in circumstances I act as follows Kant s Ethical Theory Cl An act token A is morally right if and only if the maxim M that the agent invokes in performing A is such that the agent could consistently will that M become a universal law Discussion The Inquiring Murderer Are Moral Rules Redlb Absolute Problems for Kant s Ethical Theory The multiple maxims objection 1 If Cl is a practical theory then there will never be an instance when an act abides in more than one maxim 2 It s not the case that there will never be an instance when an act abides in more than one maxim 3 Therefore It s not the case that Cl is a practical theory The inconsistent maxims objection 1 If Cl is true then it is possible that one and the same act is both morally right and morally wrong 2 It is not possible that one and the same act is both morally right and morally wrong 3 Therefore Cl is not true Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Handout 3 Rachels s The Elements of Moral Philosophy Chapter 5 Ethical Egoism A Common Sense Assumption CSA We have a natural duties to others simply because tbg are otherpeople who mule he beg ed or harmed k what we do Ethical Egoism denies CSA EE each person ought to pursue his or her own self interest exclusively Note EE says that a person ought to do what realb is in his or her best interests over the long 7101 According to EE then CSA is false because our only natural duty is to do what is best for ourselves What EE Is NOT EE is not the same as a related theory Psychological Egoism PE Each person does in fact always do what is in his or her best interest alone 0 EE is a normative theory More speci cally it is a theory in NEB PE is an empirical theory It is not an ethical theory at all but a psychological theory 0 AND if PE is true the whole pursuit of ethics is in trouble lfwe always do what is in our own best interests regardless then trying to gure out what we ought to do is a pointless endeavor The Battleground of PE is the question whether there are ever any truly altruistic acts If genuine altruism is possible then PE is sunk That is to say ifwe can think ofa situation in which a person acts sel essly to bene t another person for the sake of that other person then PE cannot be true Question Is Altruism possible The Argument from Altruism 1 If PE is true then altruism is impossible 2 Altruism is not impossible 3 Therefore PE is not true 0 Rationale for premise 2 0 If altruism is impossible then Raoul Wallenberg acted from completely sel sh motivations Raoul Wallenberg did not act from completely selfish motivations 0 Therefore altruism is not impossible The Argument that we always do what we most want to do 1 Every time we act we perform that action because it is the one that we most want to do 2 If this is the case then PE is true 3 Therefore PE is true 0 Critiiisln Preinise 2 Inaees an assumption that people always Inost want to do what is in their genuine hest interest This is ilearb zlse We o en want Inost to do things that are not in our hest interest at all The Argument that we do what makes us feel good 1 People only act unselfisth when it makes them feel good to do it 2 If so then they are not truly acting altruistically but because it feels good 3 And if this is true then so is PE the strategy of reinterpreting motives once the motives ofa person performing an allegedly altruistic action are properly examined we can see that at bottom they are still acting in their own selfinterest Critiiisln Preinise 7 is false While it o en does feel good to art unsel shl this is not I thine always one s onb Inotire or even the Inain Inotire Hg 1 aving the drowning hahy Critiiisln Preinise 2 assuines that what feels good is the same as what is in one s hest interest Again we o en nd ourselves indulging in aetions that feel quite good hut are not in our hest interests Thus Preinise 2 is llse 80 PE is not true and even ifit were it would not help out the Ethical Egoist in any way Three Arguments in Favor of Ethical Egoism The Argument That Altruism is SelfiDefeating 1 Everyone will be better off if each ofus looks out exclusively for our own interests 2 Therefore we each should look out exclusively for our own interests Rationale for premise 1 I each knows their own wants amp needs best I looking out for others is unwarranted intrusion on their privacy I charity degrades the recipient Crz39tz39n39sln Preinz39se 7 z39s zlse Looeing at the rationale 7 sarnetz39lnes Inather knows hest 2 hetj is not always nnwelealne quothattz39ng in 3 eharz39g doesn t always degrade the renpz39ent It seems that there are eases z39n whieh it is more degradz39ng to starve or he denied Inedz39eal treatment than to reeez39refaad or treatment as eharz39y More serious draped not realh an argmnentfar ethz39eal egoz39sin sz39nee z39t presupposes sarnethz39ng eantrag to egaz39snz ethical egoism to pursue the good of the one endorsed not as end in itself here I but as means to social betterment the good of the many so social betterment the good of the many is presupposed as the overriding consideration Ayn Rand39s Arg1 1ment 1 We each ought to regard this one life as of supreme importance or ultimate value to us 0 since we each have just one life 2 Ethical egoism and only ethical egoism allows each individual39s life to be of supreme importance or ultimate value to them 0 Other moral theories all directly or indirectly enjoin altruism I Altruism regards the individual life as something one may be required to sacri ce for the sake of others I so altruism does not allow each individuals life to be of supreme importance to them 3 Therefore we ought to be Ethical Egoists I Rachels39 criticism the argument rests on a false dichotomy How Rachels sees the argument 7 BE or RadieaAtmz39snt RA 2 regarding your life as afNO z39rnpartanee 2 NatRA 3 Therefore EB Rachels s rejoinder altruism doesn39t demand regarding your life as of NO importance 0 due concern for oneself doesn39t require regarding one39s self as the ONLY important thing 0 there is a middle ground quotthe commonisense viewquot sometimes you should look out for the interests ofothers 0 sometimes you should look out for number one Ethical Egoism as F quot with F MoralitV an 39 t to the best explanation following Hobbes 1 The egoistic quotpursue you own interestsquot principle actually equlainx why we acknowledge the various altruistic obligations we do I We should do good unto others because ifwe do others will be more likely to do good unto us I So altruism is justified instrumentally by being in the best interests of each individual 2 Therefore we ought to acknowledge this egoistic principle I Two Objections 1 doesn39t show that altruistic concern is always warranted 0 If I enow I an get away with Innrder enow I won t oefonnd out and punished or my to revenge then on ibis view I would do it 2 Proves less than it tries to 0 Even altruism is in In enlightened next interext tbere Inig oe other reaxonx wJy it x good Mayne ootb inxtmmentalb good vi a vi In own 5e interext and intrinxiealb good good in and ofitxew eontrag to egoisni Three Arguments Against Ethical Egoism The Argument that Ethical Egoism Cannot Handle Con icts of Interest following Kurt Baier 1 Morality is supposed to help us resolve conflicts ofinterest 2EE gives no help in this regard 3 So EE is not an acceptable morality I Pro EE rejoinder 1 is false morality shouldn39t try to ao ndieate moral disputes o disputes are resolved by someone winning out or by compromise between the warring parties 0 not by appeal to some supposedly impartial smndards The that Ethical Egoism is I naicallv I 1 Assuming EE people will often have conflicting duties 0 it39s in B39s best interest to kill K so B has a duty to do so according to EE 0 and it39s in KS best interest to avoid being killed K has a duty by EB to prevent it 2 It39s wrong to prevent someone39s doing their duty 3 So EE entails a contradiction I it39s not wrong for B to kill K since it39s in B39s best interest to kill K I it is wrong for B to kill K I K has a duty to avoid being killed I and it39s wrong for B to prevent K from doing K39s duty 0 So EE being selficontradictory is false I Rejoinder o the contradiction doesn39t derive from EE alone 0 it derives from EE plus premise 2 quotIt39s wrong to prevent someone from doing their dutyquot 0 Friends of EE will reject this premise I it39s only wrong according to EE to prevent someone from doing their duty z39t x a eantrag taJan interests taprerent it I here it plainly is in K39s interest to prevent B from doing his duty so K is not wrong W in fact K is Inaralb aal ged by EE W to prevent B from doing his duty The That Ethical Egoism is IT 39 ArbitrarV 1 We eanjmtzjj treatingpeaple dg39 erentb any we ran than that there 239 507716 etnal alg39 erenee aetween tbern that 239 relevant tajmtzjjz39ng tbe dg39 rerenee in treatment 2 Ethical egoism says we should treat others and ourselves differently 3 But there is no factual difference between self and others that justi es this difference in treatment 4 So EE is unaccepmbly arbitrary I Rachels on this argument 88 0 quotcomes closest to an outright refutation of Ethical Egoismquot quotsheds light on why the interests of others would matter to others I for the very same reason we care about our own I because they are in all relevant respects iee m 0 Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Unit 2 Handout 3 DesJardin s Environmental Ethics Chapter 4 Responsibilitiesto Future Generations P 39 F I 39 andE 39 39Ethics I I PAT 0 this formula states that environmental impact I is determined by population af uenceconsumption A and technology A cluster of ethical questions that are raised by lPAT 0 Do we have ethical obligations to regulate our population size If so how should we attain the goal of reaching our target population 0 Do we have ethical obligations concerning the amount or rate at which we consume resources Does it make a difference if those resources are nonrenewable 0 Do we have long term ethical obligations concerning our rate ofwaste production etc 0 Do we have ethical obligations to avoid developing cermin kinds of technologies A central ethical question underlying all of these others Do we have a moral responsibility for future generations of people lfwe do then we have a responsibility to place limits on our development so that it may be sustainable 0 The Brundtland Commission proposed the following definition 0 sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs 3 Arguments that we do NOT have a moral responsibility to future generations The Argument from Ignorance 1 We have absolutely no idea what the needs and desires of future people will be 2 If so then it is impossible to specify what our responsibilities to these future people are 3 And ififs impossible to specify what those responsibilities are we do not have a moral responsibility to them 4 Therefore we do not have a moral responsibility to future people The Ar ment from Disa earin Bene ciaries version 1 aka the eas version 1 We have no obligation to bring future people into existence 2 lfwe have no obligation to bring future people into existence then we have no moral responsibility to future people 3 Therefore we have no moral responsibility to future people The Ar ment from Disa earin Beneficiaries version 2 aka the hard version 1 lfwe have a moral responsibility to a set of future people A then we must alter our behavior so that we live sustainably 2 But ifwe alter our behavior then there will be a different set of future people B than there would have been if had not altered our behavior 3 Since our initial responsibility was to A and not B the supposed beneficiaries of our altered behavior disappear 4 Thus we could never fulfill a moral responsibility to a future generation ofpeople since everything we do changes the group 5 lfwe could never fulfill a moral responsibility to a future people then we have no moral responsibility to future people 6 Therefore we have no moral responsibility to future people Annette Baier s response to the Disappearing Beneficiaries Argument We can make sense of the claim that a person could be worse offby our actions even if the alternative is to never exist at all Mag Anne Warren s Response to the Disappearing Beneficiaries Argument The DBA confuses the notion of future people with the notion of possible people While it is true that we have no moral responsibility to the set ofpossible people for one thing there are infinitely many such possible people we can still recognize that we have Mimi minimal mom requirements to future people We have a minimal moral obligation thinks Warren not to bring into being person s who will almost certainly be unhappy The Temporal Location Argument 1 We only have moral responsibilities to those people with which we are temporally coilocated 2 Future people will not exist for many years ie they are distantly temporally located 3 Therefore we have no moral responsibility to future people Sylvan and Plumwood s response to the Temporal Location Argument They focus on the exaInple ofwhether we have an obligation to future people not to use nuclear power now The thought experiment the toxic package on the train The upshot our use of nuclear power now due to the highly dangerous and only tentatively safely stored waste that results creates a high risk of disaster for a future generation Discussion What are the arguments in favor of the claim that we have a responsibility to future generations Who in this debate has the burden ofproofr Why What Do We Owe Future Generations Or in the words of Warren what 239 our minimal moral aalz39gatz39an to tbepeaple aftbefatare A utilitarian response 0 minimally we should seek to minimize unnecessary suffering for future people and maximally we should seek to maximize future happiness A problem But another utilitarian response seems to imply that we may owe the future a bit less than this There is a tradition among utilitarian thinkers to discount the Value of future happinessunhappiness when it is being weighed next to present happinessunhappiness 0 Then again Williams has argued on utilitarian grounds agaimt the act of discounting the value of future happiness Mag William s Utilitarian Argument against discounting future interests Discounting the future value of resources can be consistent with utilitarian goals so long as those resources remain to produce value in the future In that case maximizing present value also maximizes the total overall value because in the future these resources will continue to produce value However when resources with future value can be removed from production like when we run out of nonrenewable resource the total overall good is not maximized This provides an argument in ver afxmtaz39naale development as described by the Brundtland Commission Williams s positive utilitarian claim we should seek to maximize the present return on our investments eg environmental or agricultural resources without jeopardizing the investments themselves A more convincing problem for the Utilitarian account of our responsibilities to the future Does our responsibility to maximize happiness to future generations mean that we should aim to increase total bappz39rzem or average happinem 0 This makes a difference when we realize that what decisions we make now will affect the number ofpeople in the future 0 It also puts the Utilitarian in a real dilemma since neither alternative is very good 0 To say ifs the total happiness that matters commits us to increasing population size something we already know is bad 0 To say that its average happiness that matters implies that we should do things like kill unhappy people or the poor and destitute etc and provide incentives for those in affluent nations to reproduce Discussion this problem ofmaximizing future happiness is really just a version of the normative irrelevance ofjustice argument against utilimrianism Can you see how A deontological or rights based account 0 The people of the future aspeople have a fundamenml right to both life and to health Both of these rights trump any desire anyone might have in the present 0 Kantians here point out that the utilitarian account of how best to meet our responsibilities violates not only the rights of future people to life and health but also violates their rights to equal treatment and equal opportunity All four of these rights are preserved in the rights based approach A problem Can future people even have rights rights are given to actual people who actually eXist but the function ofa right is to limit the behavior of other people it functions to prevent other people from behaving toward the righteholder in a way that violates that right 0 Put this way we seem to be able to speak meaningfully about the function of rights for future people even though they don t eXist Brian Barry s solution to the rights problem look toward a theory ofjustice to help sort it all out 0 We need to provide equal opportunity for resources to the future even if they are not the same kinds of resources ie ifwe use up all of the oil we had better leave an opportunity for a comparable fuel source for the future As far as natural resources are concerned depletion should be compensated for in the sense that later generations should be left no worse off in terms ofproductive capacity that they would have been without the depletion 3 Further Conclusions about Our Responsibilities to the Future 0 We have a responsibility to make a sincere and serious effort to develop alternative energy sources 0 We have a duty to conserve resources We owe the future a reasonable chance for happiness Consumption and Sustainable Development Back to l PAT 0 Do present population consumption patterns and technologies create such an environmental impact that they violate the responsibilities we have to future generations 0 Many think that because P is going to continue to grow like it or not we need to focus on A and T 0 If economic growth continues to occur and consumption rates continue to rise the ecosphere will not be able to continue to support life An alternative to the classical economic model Sustainable Economics 0 the basic idea behind SE is that contra the classical model which is concerned with growth SE is concerned with development 0 to grow is to make bigger to develop is to make different expand or realize the potentialities of something The earth as an ecosystem develops but does not grow Thus the economy cannot continue to grow but may develop inde nitely Discussion ls Sustainability a good thing Why might we be critical of this idea Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Unit 2 Handout 1 DesJardin s Environmental Ethics Chapters 1 amp 2 Tquot 39 T 39 39 to 39 39Problems The irony of DDT and other pesticidefertilizer overuse Whether it is overkill soft bird eggs or massive areas of hypoxia in all of these cases people were attempting to provide a technological solution to a basic human problem that is to improve human well being Question How could it have happened that our attempts to use scienti c and technological means to improve our environment actually make it worse Science Ethics and the Environment 0 Relying on science and technology or on economics or the law without also considering the ethical and philosophical issues involved raises as many problems as it solves 0 A basic assumption ofDesJardin s book 0 Environmental policy ought to be decided in the political arena and not in scientific laboratories corporate boardrooms or government bureaucracies Question Is scienti c objectivity really a myth 0 example pg 10 Question Does philosophy get us any closer to objectivity than science DesJardin seems to just assume so What is Environmental Ethics 0 A systematic account of the moral relations between human beings and their natural environment Discussion Why Protect Endangered Species
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