PHIL 237 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Immanuel Kant, Virtue Ethics, Universalizability

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16 Aug 2016
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PHIL 237
Lecture 3
Virtue Ethics: a less popular form of ethics. Until the mid 20th century, contemporary moral
philosophers sought out to reestablish virtue ethics
-Socrates (no first hand info)
-Plato (student of Socrates)
-Aristotle (student of Plato)
Deontologism
Exodus, Chap. 20: 2-17 — The Ten Commandments
-A set of rules and guidelines for people to follow (The Ten Commandments are very popular
guidelines for people to follow)
-Not just specific for Christianity, but is common in many religions
Immanuel Kant — Foundations of Morals
-Moral laws exist a priori in practical reason (they do not depend on empirical experience)
-Morality applies to everyone, must come from reason
-A series of ideas or claims that are considered rational reasons
Two consequences, moral laws are:
1. Objectives as in not subjective are the same for everyone
2. They have a categorical force — considered rational
-Ex. it is not rationally moral to kill your parents
-A moral being acts morally with the intention of complying with these laws for from duty
-Distinction between hypothetical and categorical imperatives (absolute, unconditional
requirement that must be obeyed in all circumstances and is justified as an end in itself)
Formulation of laws:
-Universal or universalizable laws — laws that are valid for everyone at all times (ex. slavery-
most people would agree that morally slavery is wrong)
-Humanity as end in itself, not a mean — treating people in a nice way, as opposed to a mean
way to lead humanity into a better light (treat humans with respect)
-Synthesis of above: harmonious in a kingdom of ends — everyone should be moral and live a
morally rational life
In a world where everyone is moral there would be no problems with people lying
Kant: important **one of the most important texts of western Philosophy or western moral or
political philosophy
-Systematized philosophy and the anthological ethics
-Broad and general ideas that can be found throughout history
Sir William David Ross — What Makes Right Acts Right?
-British philosopher and a translator of Aristotle
-Most well known for The Right and The Good (1930)
6 Prima Facie Duties: duties that humans seem to have right away but are not the final real
duties that people have, used to discuss ethics with a brief list of duties
1. Fidelity: duty to fulfill explicit and implicit promises. agreements which one has entered —
one’s own previous actions
2. Reparation: duty to make up for wrongful acts previously done to others
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