EthicsEverything has been figured out- except how to live. Jean Paul Sartre
What should I do?Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands of experience. - A Einstein
How do we think about what is right or wrong, or good or bad?
How did you come to know what is right and wrong?Write a brief (and solitary)reflection on how you learned, or developed your moral compass
More than personal questionsSocial questions:Should drugs be legalized?Is abortion justified?Are there limits to free speech?Is there such a thing as just war?
Can we talk about moral knowledge?What works of ethics exist? Is it just criticism? Is anything produced?Skeptics claim that most morals and judgments are matters of tasteie: torture is acceptable/torture is unacceptable or I like spinach/I dont like spinach
Butwe do not ask for taste justificationsObviously we take value judgments a bit more seriously-
Justifications for: suspension, plastic surgery, stealing, being rude, cheating
4 systemsMoral Principle
Or the idea that there is a universal right and wrong
Examples of ethical arguments/justificationsCheating on a test is wrong Tom cheated on a test Therefore Tom is wrong
What is the moral principle?
Other principles?Paula shouldnt have kept the money she found. It doesnt belong to her.Danny is malicious- hes been spreading rumors about everyone.Marco shouldnt have told that joke- it wasnt funny, it was racist.
So, moral principles are one path to ethical decisionsTwo problems-Not always clear if we disagree on the principle, or on the facts and consistency of application
When arguing about ethics, two common themes:Consistency in judgments
Veracity of facts which support judgments
Consistency?Anti-abortionist who supports the death penaltyVegetarian who buys leather shoesSocialist who educates his children at a private schoolPolitician who espouses family values but has an extra marital affair
Values disputes are often about facts, more than valuesWhat facts are relevant in assessing the following?Child labor should be outlawed.Marijuana should be legalizedGenetically modified food should be banned.Rich countries should give more financial aid to poor countries.
Problem: We do not all share moral principlesPerhaps our values have no ultimate justification?Moral Relativism, or Self Interest, as ultimates
Moral RelativismOur values are determined by the society we grow up in. No universal. Just codified customs.Arguments for:Diversity ( sheer variety of principles)Lack of Foundation (No independent moral reality to test against- no perception or reason!!!)Your arguments for?
Which of the following would you say are morally wrong, and which are matters of convention?You should not burn your countrys flag.A man should not go to work wearing a dress.You should not torture the innocent.You should not have sex with an animal.You should not execute adulterers.You should not execute murderers.You should not eat meat.
Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger -David Hume
Objections to moral relativismYour objections?
Although it seems to deny cultural imperialism, tolerance may be a cultural value
Tale of the thugs
What values do you think might be universal?Think of the shared values of the worlds religions
Just as a color blind person cannot see red, is it possible to say that a values blind person cannot see right from wrong?
Self Interest theorywe all know people are basically selfish!Definitional: people always end up doing what they most want to do(tennis or help the old lady? Donald Trump or Mother Theresa?)
criticismsRobs selfish of meaning
Cant we get pleasure out of others pleasures?
Evolutionary self interestThe Selfish Gene Looking at capitalism vs socialism- which won out?
Criticism: empathy seems to be a positive evolutionary trait
Other possible universal explanationsHidden benefits - ?
Fear of Punishment - the ring of Gyges
If you could commit a crime which would harm no one, and with no fear of being caught, would you?
Kant - Categorical Imperative
Mills - Principle of Utility (the happiness principle)
Religious ethics - exampleshow different from other explanations?
Kants moral theorySingle moral obligation: the categorical imperativeThis is intrinsically valid, and all moral choices flow from thisAll actions depend on intention. All actions must be chosen as if they were part of a universal law of natureLet justice reign even if all the rascals of the world perish from it
Mill on Utilitarianism The Greatest Happiness Principle: actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness
Choose one question to write onDoes history carry any ethical responsibility? Take as an example the points of view of countries at war.Discuss 3 examples of how feelings can alter ones ethical perspective.How do you apply reason in ethics. How can that differ from another perspective?
Write a reflectionAssess the categorical imperative, the happiness principle, the idea of universal moral principles, and the idea of moral relativism as you see them applied in the world. Which system do you find most useful? How do you think our society decides ethical issues, in the realm of law?
Examples of religious ethics?