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Lecture 2

PHIL 1F90 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Relativism, Emotivism, Meta-Ethics

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Richard Brown

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Ethics – A prelude to “the cold equations”
Divisions within ethics
1. Metaphysics of morals
Some will argue that if you are determined then you are no free, and if you are
free then you are not morally responsible for your actions therefore you should
not be punished
2. Normative ethics
Settings rules, and setting norms we can all live with
Is there to prevent accidents of morality
3. Meta-ethics
If normative says what is good and bad meta-ethics wants to know how is good
and bad used
Three meta-ethical camps
1. Defines
Values like good or bad can be reduced to some facts (all values = some fact)
oPsychological egoism:
I do what is in my own best interest (fact)
oEthical egoism
I should always do what is in my own best interest (value)
Psychological hedonism:
I do whatever gives me pleasure (fact)
oEthical hedonism:
I should always do whatever gives me pleasure (value)
2. Utilitarianism
Hedonistic calculus: measuring pain and pleasure “units” (bedons)
Founder: Jeremy Bentham
Acts so as to bring about the greatest good (happiness, pleasure) for the
greatest number of people. – Principle of utility
Motives are irrelevant, results only matter
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