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PHIL111 13/14 WEEK 7.docx

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PHIL 111
Jon Miller

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Week 7 October 22, 2013 Introduction to Ethics - We will study three ethical theories and the answers they give to an important question - What comes to mind when you hear “ethics”? o Morality o Virtue o Codes of conduct o Human rights - Applied vs. Theoretical Ethics o Applied ethics  Involves the application of ethical principles to moral problems o Theoretical ethics  Involves the study of the principles themselves o We will be engaged in theoretical ethics; our reflections will be distantly related to ordinary moral thought and practice - Theoretical (philosophical) ethics can study many issues o What is the proper focus of moral evaluation? o What is the proper response to moral sceptics? o What is the meaning of terms like “right” and “duty”? o What makes a life good for the person living it? o How impartial must morality be? - The broad question we will be examining o What is the source of moral value?  That is, suppose something is morally good- say, an action or a person. The question we will be considering is: what is it about that action or person that makes it or her/him good?  The three moral theories we will be studying give very different and incompatible answers to those questions Consider the Following - The idea expressed by Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov o If you have no god, what crime is there to speak of? o Jean-Paul Sartre’s paraphrase of this passage  If god does not exist, then everything is permissible The Major Claim of the First Moral Theory We Will be Studying - Many people think that ethics depends on god - We will explore the case for basing morality on god; there are two broad stages to our exploration 1. We will begin by trying to clarify the meaning of claim that ethics depends on god 2. Then, we will produce reasons for taking it to be true A Danger Lurks - But how can we know that god exists? - For present purposes, we will assume that god does exist. We will return to this when we look at the case against divine command ethics What does or could it mean? - What does or could it mean to say that ethics depends on god? - Here’s one loose characterisation o Things are morally good or bad, obligatory or prohibited, solely because of God’s will or commands - A second, stricter characterisation o The moral status of at least some and perhaps all normative entities (acts, events, character traits, etc.) depends on what god wills or commands - More formally, we might use the following schema to formulate the idea that morality depends upon god o Moral status M stands in dependency relation D to divine act A  If that’s our understanding of what we may call the divine command theory of ethics, then to understand it properly, we need to understand its three main components: M, D, and A. October 23, 2013 Moral Status - The various kinds of moral statuses can be divided into two broad groups o Deontology  Things can be morally permitted, obligatory or prohibited. All of these pertain to whether or not something is right o Axiology  Things can be morally good, morally bad, or morally indifferent. All of these pertain to whether or not something has value - When we say that “Moral status M…”, then, we are speaking of things that are morally right or morally good o Note that divine command ethics is neutral as to whether it is deontological or axiological in orientation. It could be one or the other or both. Dependency Relation - If the class of moral things have their status as moral because of god, what exactly is the nature of their dependency on him? There are differ
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