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PHIL 347
Rahul Kumar

Thomas Nagel: Altruism 9/13/2012 7:37:00 AM Thursday, September 13 2012 Altruism: What does he means by altruism? Definition: Seeing others as real terms What is your reason for doing kind things (I.e. Picking up the brick off someones foot) The reason we should do it is simply because the other person is in pain The way others peoples reason can give you a reason to do something or react Why would you feel guilty about not picking up the brick unless you already believe its wrong - Altruism: Responding to the needs of others People are required to help others (we see it as necessary) Ex #1: You feel it necessary to help others Most simple example: Housemate is hurt and you need to help them, you drop everything to help them The natural form is to be compassionate towards others needs and everyone else is deviant from the norm [ Why do they feel that way? ] Rational requirement on action Nagel gives a parallel: Ex#1:Modus Ponens Rules of formal logic You seem to believe P and accept Q Therefore P The requirement of Altruism is a rational requirement of action or practical reasoning There are rules the govern practical reasoning You respond to other people reason with little cost to yourself Whoever does not have altruism have a problem with their reasoning How is the fact that someone is in pain gives you this sense of obligation to the other person 1 Amoralist I understand what is the rational requirement but they dont care and it doesnt influence them Doesnt understand the talk about morality Is he like you and me and just has different tastes Nagel says no he is not like me and you he just sees no reason why he ought to Nagel tells what went wrong with those people: Internalism vs. Externalism Torture is wrong: Externalism: Sanction 1) Sanction - Theistic: God tells you not to do so or else you go to hell 2) Hobbes: its in our own self interest / for our own preservation - To not do what is wrong is not in our own self interest 3) Contingent: They dont care about their self interest 4) Externalist gives the wrong sort of answer (non moral reason) Nietchez: Core truth - True that theres a rational drive or motivation to be moral (and not do what is morally wrong) but that its a mistake for the population [ Nagel: Internalism ] Internalism would say: Immediate reason Nagel says that doing what is right should be a sufficient reason enough Once they realize something is wrong it moves them to do the right thing Doesnt think that morality deserves a further reason Nagel follows Kant but doesnt agree on the particulars: Hypothetic vs. categorical imperative Why is these imperatives bound by these requirement They would not be able to see themselves as free agent if they follow this Ought implies can 1) You figure out what people can do and that determines what you ought to do 2 a. Any claims of what you ought to do is derived by their self interest b. This constrains what they ought to do But Nagel thinks this is the wrong way to look at ought 1) We need to start of what people ought to do not what they can do 2) Starting with thoughts like others peoples pain brings actions We work backwards We start with ethics and figure out what kind of psychology behind ethics Ex: Take the person that is hungry - they ought to get something to eat - How do we get to they ought to get something to eat to the person picking up something and eating - People think about it, they make a plan and then they execute that plan to eating - Nagel wants us to think about this rationality of how rational agent reason to getting of what ourselves want We might get clues why we do things that we dont get immediate satisfaction [ Kant says: What makes people special is that we are rational beings ] 3 Nagel VS. Hume 9/13/2012 7:37:00 AM Comment Sheet: 6 Comment Sheets Focus in on 1 or 2 arguments and explain them in your own words Raise a doubt and think of what the philosopher would respond Detail is key: work out what you are trying to say Graded: The degree of effort taken 1 Page/can be single spaced/margins adjusting Write as you are reading Office hrs: Thurs, 3-4pm Nagel wants to attack the Humean view: Every time a person has a desire Humean (unmotivated desire) Brute want and they have some sort of belief how to get what they want Motivated desired doesnt fit the Humean desire (only unmotivated desires would get you to act) Nagel wants to attack this: N. thinks that if you choose the Humean action this will lead to unintelligible action because your are not reasoning the actions H. Want cannot be evaluated by a bad or good want (they just want things there are no reasons for wanting them) N. concern: Draw attention with a problem with Hume how does H. explain reasons to do things in the future N. question: You dont currently have the desires but you do in the future H. response: you have a desire to always be prepared You have an unmotivated response to want to want to satisfy your future desires You may know that you want something in the future but realize that you may not want it once you get it H. view doesnt actually evaluate what people want - Desires can compete with what we want now and what we want in the future - N. you have 2 competing desires (desire now and a belief that you would want something) So you would want to prevent yourself knowing that you would want to do something else in the future - H. If you accept that you would want to do something in the future then you would make preparations even though once you get to the future you might not want to do it anymore 4
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