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Lecture

PHIL 120W Lecture Notes - Psychological Egoism, Act Utilitarianism, Egotism


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 120W
Professor
Sam Black

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THEORY
EXPERT
DESCRIPTION
DISADVANTAGES
Psychological egoism
Everyone acts according to their own interests, our psychology makes us act that way
Unfalsifiable
Ethical Egoism
People ought to act to satisfy their own interests
Endorses immoral/evil actions
Utilitarianism
Bentham
“Pushpin is as good as
poetry”
What would promote the greatest amount of happiness for those that would be
affected?
Fails to consider rights and justice (act
utilitarianism in particular)
Hard to know the long-term consequences
Fails to consider special/close relationships
Mill
“Better to be Socrates
dissatisfied than a pig
satisfied”
Higher vs. lower pleasures
Competent judges
Act Utilitarianism
Perform the action that has the best consequences or promote greater happiness
Whether you should keep a promise depends on the consequences of that particular
promise. It’s what leads to the conclusion that you can do anything that has the best
consequences.
Rule Utilitarianism
What policies or rules tend to promote the greatest happiness?
It may be that a general policy of keeping promises would lead to a greater
happiness than alternative policies. If so, then I should keep my promise not to tell
a secret even if, on this particular occasion, breaking the promise would lead to
more happiness than keeping it.
Kantianism
Immanuel Kant
Notion of DUTY
Means vs. ends
Categorical Imperative Tests:
1. Is it universalized? What if everyone did what I’m about to do? If it undermines
what you want to do, then it’s immoral and you shouldn’t do it.
2. Always treat people as an end, and never a means to an end. Humans have
intrinsic value.
Moral intentions, duty/obligation
Non-moral desires, feelings, inclinations, consequences, prudence
Inflexible
Conflict of duties
Virtue Ethics
Aristotle
Virtue vs. vice
Judgments about character are more important than judgments about rules, duties,
and obligations.
Ask, “What sort of person ought I to be?”
Virtue = positive character trait manifested through habitual action
Virtues = averages of extremes (excess vice and deficiency vice)
o Courage is a mean between the extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness
it’s cowardly to run away from all danger but foolhardy to risk too much
Fails to provide answers or guidance to
specific moral questions
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