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Ethics, November 9.docx

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Brock University
Brian Lightbody

PHIL 1F91 November 9, 2012 Lecture Ten: Ethics Definitions and Terms - Ethics: Originates from the Ancient Greek word “Ethos” which means: “character” - Later the Romans re-interpreted “ethos” to mean the correct or proper principles of the good life (ETHICA) Non- Normative Ethical Approaches 1. Descriptive Ethics  Descriptive ethics chronicles the actual ethical norms and morals of a given society or culture – think anthropology 2. Metaethics  Involves a conceptual analysis of ethical terms and concepts. Example: what do we mean by the „good‟? Normative Approaches 3. General Normative Ethics  “Attempts to formulate and defend basic principles and virtues governing moral life”  Normative means: to establish ethical principles which would apply “across the board in all situations” and to all persons  These rules are PRESCRIPTIVE 4. Practical Normative Ethics  Practical Normative ethics tries to facilitate findings in normative ethics to “real life” situations  Resource allocation, for example, is a perennial problem when dealing with health care. (No one is in favor of raising taxes! That‟s political suicide) Ethical Objectivism vs. Ethical Relativism 1. Ethical Objectivism holds that there are objective moral values in the sense that at least some ethical norms are true for all peoples at all times 2. Ethical Relativism denies that there are any objective moral values - We will look at various ethical objective theories first before turning to the ethical relativist position Philosophical Ethical Theories 1. Consequentialist Theories  Consequentialists are concerned about the consequence of an action. That is, whether the end result will produce more good than harm Welfare and Non-Welfare Consequentialism o Welfare consequentialism holds that the end result of any act must increase the net benefit for all 1 PHIL 1F91 November 9, 2012 o Non-Welfare consequentialism argue that the end result of my action must increase the net benefit for myself The Principle of Utility o The most important welfare consequentialist theory is Utilitarianism. Utility in this case means whatever is „good‟ for human beings o The Principle of Utility states that one should only ACT to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number. This is the „Utility‟ Calculus o Example: The Life guard and the Rude Wally wingnuts How do we determine the greatest good? o Jeremy Bentham, the first proponent of utilitarianism, claimed that happiness and
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