PHILOS 2TT3 Lecture Notes - Deontological Ethics, Primum Non Nocere

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Published on 27 Sep 2012
School
McMaster University
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHILOS 2TT3
Professor
September 20
W.D. Ross Ethical Pluralism
- Criticism of Utilitarianism
o Claims moral life is messy and complicated, universal principles are not necessarily
applicable.
o Utilitarianism oversimplifies the moral life, giving it one goal, one principle to solve
all.
o Oversimplifies the relationships found between people.
Different relationship gives rise to various obligations and responsibilities.
Utilitarianism looks and treats others all as beneficiaries, in one sort of
relationship.
o Morality is not always forward-looking; only looks forward in the sense of
consequences.
- Criticisms of Kant
o Right/wrong not inferred because it falls under a rule capable of universalization
Universalization does not necessitate morality
o Not only one motive has value
There is more to morality than Kant claims, according to Ross.
o Untrue that rules don’t admit of exception
Strict rule without exception does not allow for flexibility that to Ross, seems
to be wrong in and of itself.
- Ethical Pluralism:
o Pluralistic, mixed, deontological theory of obligation
Several irreducible moral guides and rules that ought to guide our
behaviours
Deontological: list several rules that express our moral obligations
o Principles are self-evident
Intuitions form our moral theories -
o Principles specify prima facie duties
A duty you have to uphold, unless you have a stronger duty that overrides it.
- Prima Facie Duties
o Fidelity keeping promises
o Reparation adequate compensation to someone who has been wronged
o Gratitude returning favour for favour
o Justice and fair distribution of goods -
o Beneficence
o Self-improvement
o Non-maleficence
- All-thing-considered duty
o Actual duty, what we have most reason to do the overruling duty in the end.
o Based on our considered opinion our own list of reasons why we should follow
one prima facie rule over the other.
- Criticism against Ross
o Very little agreement in intuitions very much potential for different ideas
o How do we weigh principles? How do we choose which duty is more important?
o What happens in cases of conflict? There is no criterion for how to choose; there is
little concrete guidance in this theory.
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Document Summary

September 20: claims moral life is messy and complicated, universal principles are not necessarily applicable, utilitarianism oversimplifies the moral life, giving it one goal, one principle to solve all, oversimplifies the relationships found between people. Different relationship gives rise to various obligations and responsibilities. Utilitarianism looks and treats others all as beneficiaries, in one sort of relationship: morality is not always forward-looking; only looks forward in the sense of consequences. Criticisms of kant: right/wrong not inferred because it falls under a rule capable of universalization. Universalization does not necessitate morality: not only one motive has value. There is more to morality than kant claims, according to ross: untrue that rules don"t admit of exception. Strict rule without exception does not allow for flexibility that to ross, seems. Ethical pluralism: to be wrong in and of itself: pluralistic, mixed, deontological theory of obligation. Several irreducible moral guides and rules that ought to guide our behaviours.

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