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University of Waterloo
PHIL 215
Brian Orend

Are you a good notes-taker? Looking for a collaborator: e-mail me at [email protected] PHIL 215 Lecture #2 Last Lecture: Virtue-Based: - Character Traits - Kind of Person: has the virtues - Results: being the best you can be, morally Duty-Based: - Duty (not God, not Reason); isn't about character; all about actions - Not results; obeying rules, following correct procedures Today: 1. Finish Moral Theory 2. Case Study Method Consequentialism: - Consequences of actions - Measurable - Verifiable - Not about character or intention Utilitarianism: - A form of consequentialism - Pleasure - Usefulness - Bentham - Secularist; Believed in health care, free vaccination; Democracy. - "Greatest Happiness for the Greatest Number" (1750) - "Ethical Science" - J.S. Mill Hedonistic Calculus - A or B - How much pleasure vs. how much pain does each give? - (e.g. 200 units of net utility from 250 units of pleasure and 50 units of pain) Strengths of Utilitarianism: 1. We like pleasure; pain is a drag 2. Historic Link & Progressive Reform 3. “Greatest Happiness for Greateset Number of People” seems impossible to avoid in a democracy. (--> Politics → Utilitarian Common → English-Speaking World) 4. World be better: what can I do to make the world a better / happier place? 5. Critically reflect on our lifestyle choices Peter Singer: - Famous current-day Utilitarian. - Believes strongly in vegetarianism because of animals’ capacity for pain Weaknesses of Utilitarianism: 1. Aristotle: Pleasure is not the only, or even the main, human good. 2. End Justifies the Means. (All about the end, the result). This raises the problem that Utilitarianism allows for controversial means. But this is only for “the greatest number” - leaving minority rights at a disadvantage. 3. Nozick: a) “The Experience Machine” - It would be a very incomplete world if everyone was just hooked up to “pleasure machines” in the name of a utilitarian world. b) “Utility Monsters” - Utilitarianism would justify the situation where some people would be allowed to inflict pain onto others as long as the pleasure they receive is greater than the pain they output. 4. Problems with the Calculus: a) Presuppose we know the future b) Arbitrary c) Too Complex to be Desirable (“Occam’s Razor”) 5. Too Demanding on the Self? Rights-Based Theory: - Entitlements that people have to the ingredients of a minimally good life) - “What you want, no matter what you want” - All purpose means to achieve your goals - $$$ - Freedom / Liberty - Food - Life - Pursuit of Happiness - Property - The most flexible theory. To determine whether you can do something, ask whether you will violate someone else’s rights. - Rationality: “My right ends where your nose begins!” John Locke (1650): - Medical Doctor who went on to become a Political Activist - 2 Routes: - (God Route) Asserts that if we are to perform that duties that God impose on us, it must follow that God must want your rights respected (to perform these duties) - (Reason Route) Asserts that if we are to survive + pursue happiness, we must have rights. - Social Contract; Consensus Strengths of Rights-Based Theories: 1. Compelling: - “What you want, no matter what you want.” - How can anyone deny that? 2. No Ends Justifying Means problem here: - Always must respect rights while performing means. 3. Least Demanding Moral Theory, allowing greatest individual (...?) 4. “Ethic of Our Age” - Multicultural, globalized world Weaknesses of Rights-Based Theories: 1. Criticism that the Righ
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