PHIL215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Business Ethics, Confirmation Bias, Asteroid Family

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2 Feb 2017

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PHIL 215 (ARBUS 202) Lecture 1 Introduction to Ethics & Morality
Textbook is 2010 Edition of Business Ethics Canadian Edition by Damian Grace and Stephen Cohen.
Will need to bring i-clicker, participation in this class is worth 15%.
In business, is it your goal to work towards destroying people's lives? Of course not - so who are all
these bad people?
Loan sharks, crooked business people - do they know they're bad?
We all have the potential to be bad people - to listen to the devil on our shoulder instead of the angel.
Confirmation Bias - Focusing on the evidence that proves you're right, and ignoring the evidence that
suggests we are wrong (You see what you want to see).
There can be a number of influences on formation of ethical worldview: Parents, Media, Religion,
Friends, Etc.
Are you confident in your ability to make ethical choices? Are you confident in others' abilities to make
ethical choices?
Everyone thinks they are ethical and they are the exception - they do not have faith in others ethics
though, and could see why others would have to take an ethics course. They do not think they would
have to take an ethics course, because they have much more faith in their own ability to make ethical
Is philosophy about truth and facts? Or is it about opinions? It's actually about facts.
Not all opinions are equal, and some opinions are better than others.
Philosophy is about giving good reasons for your beliefs thoughts and opinions you need to give
legitimate reasons in a structured argument instead of just stating how you feel about something.
Philosophy involves argumentation, which is when you give good reasons for your opinions, beliefs,
actions, etc. all of which has to be done systematically. (The systematic part is where you'll probably lose
the most marks in your first essay - it's the most important part).
The Nature of Ethics/Morality - some people see these as two different things. For the purpose of this
course, the terms are used interchangeably.
Misconceptions about Ethics
The first misconception about ethics is that it's a personal thing - if you want to be bad or good then
that is your own choice. Insofar as our actions affect the well-being of another person, ethics has
something to say about it. Because no one is an island, humans are social creatures.
Second misconception - ethics is about following rules. Misconception Rule 1: living according to "an
eye for an eye". This is a misconception because ethics is not a set of rules to follow. However, the
retribution style of ethics does involve a punishment for 'bad' deeds. Misconception Rule 2: Take no
chances, shoot down all unidentified aircraft. Rule 3: When the alarm sounds, launch the attack. False
alarms of nuclear attacks were identified and prevented a nuclear war in 1983.
Third misconception that there is an ethical formula that will just give us an answer - it's algorithmic.
However it is not - there is no ethical formula.
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