PHIL 237 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Meta-Ethics

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3 Aug 2016
Department
Course
Lecture1
Whatismoralphilosophyorethics?
● nocleardistinctionintermsofthenormativequestioningsormethodstheyinvolve
● sameoriginsfromanetymologicalPOV
● subtledistinctionswhentheexpressionspointtoacademicdisciplines:ethicsismoreapplied
towardpracticalquestions
● moralphilosophy=ethicsforthepurposeofthiscourse
● bothdisciplinescandealwithmorefundamentalorappliedquestions
Table1:Thedescriptive/normativedistinction
Descriptive
Normative
Describetheworldasitis(factsabouttheworld)
Ex:Thesun/earthdistanceis149.6millionkm
Howtheworldoughttobe.(Prescriptions,value
judgements)
Ex:Killingafetusiswrong
Disciplines:
Physics,moralpsychology,politicalscience...
Disciplines:
Metaethics,moralphilosophy...
Whatethicsisnot
1) Notaboutsex
2) Notgoodintheorybutimpossibleinpractice
3) Notbasedonreligion
4) Notrelativetoasociety:
Weakerrelativism:OK
Strongerrelativism:No
5) Notsubjectiveopinionsortastes
Subjectivismasanextremeformofrelativism:No,samereply.
Subjectivismasnotobjectiveordescriptive:Yes
Whatisethics?
Shortanswer:aseriesofuniversalizabletheories,claims,beliefs,etc.thataimtobegoodforeveryone,
forever.
Ex:slaveryiswrong.
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