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Moral Motivation:Act Utilt. .docx

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McMaster University
Religious Studies
Stefan Rodde

Monday, September 9, 2013 Moral Motivation Why should we do the right thing? Why should we avoid doing wrong things? - Because it’s wrong, a rational person can recognize that it isn’t right - Ethical incompetent: doing something you shouldn’t - The recognition that an act is right provides a reason for doing it - The recognition that an act is wrong provides a reason for not doing it Moral Dilemmas/Disagreements - More dilemmas arise when there are moral reasons for accepting contrary positions - Should women be allowed to have abortion on demand? o Yes: Women have a right to control their own bodies o No: it is wrong to take a human life (including the lives of unborn humans) Philosophical Approaches to Moral Dilemmas - Analysis of the arguments o Reasoning’s for believing - Appeal to general ethical theories General Ethical Theories - Studying general ethical theories helps clarify key bioethical concepts Moral Justifications - Cannot be justified empirically - Cannot be confirmed or denied - Principle  Judgement - Why is it the right thing to do (because) “Abortion is wrong because we should never take a human life” o Abortion is wrong (judgement) o Never take a human life (principle) Reject Moral Justification - Reject principle o Never take a human life  Abortion is wrong - Show that there is another moral principle which supports the contrary position o Never take a human life  Abortion Is wrong o Respect autonomy  abortion is permissible Theory and Argument - How does an understanding of ethical theory help asses moral arguments? o By helping to identify and clarify genuine moral principles o By identifying relevant contextual factors Utilitarianism (act and rule) Act Utilitarianism - Jeremy Bentham (1754-1832) - What makes an action right/wrong? o The Consequences - An action is right if it has good consequences (utility) and wrong if it has bad consequences (disutility) - There are 2 questions which any AU needs to answer o What is utility (the good) o Whose utility determines rightness/wrongness Utility/Disutility - Pleasure and pain (Bentham) - Happiness and unhappiness (Mill) - Preferences and Dis-preferences (Singer) - Whose utility determines the rightness/wrongness of an act? o The utility to everyone who is affected by the action without anyone being privileged Principle of Utility (POU) - An action if right if and only if there is no action which I could have performed which a) would have produced a greater amount of utility over disutility or b) would have produced a smaller amount of disutility over utility Maximizing Utility - How do
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