Module 1 - definitions of core terms.doc

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14 Apr 2012
Definitions of Core Terms
Ethics – how you should live your life
oThe values and ideals that apply to our actions
Nested in the definition of ethics is
Morality – how should you treat other people?
Nested within morality is
Justice – how should social institutions be shaped?
oVital social institutions that have a huge impact on how we get treated:
Legal system – who gets to make all the decisions (decision making
Governing process – political process
Education – what should we teach
Religion – some people include this, some people don’t (how
powerful are religious institutions in modern day society? 100 years
ago but still today?)
Health care – how should it be structured and funded? Free-market?
Economic Organization – how the economy is organized and its
core ground rules. It has a lot to do with power and peoples
How should the economy be put together? Should there be
free market or regulation?
Teleology/Virtue Ethics
Definition: the roots – telos and logos
oLogos - The study of something or an inquiry into something (biology is the
study of life, psychology is an inquiry into the human mind
oTelos – Goal, end, or purpose
oDefinition of teleology: An inquiry into purpose
oAristotle: an ancient Greek philosopher.
Said that what makes human beings unique from animals is
Rationality this gives us the capacity for reason which brings us to
asking the question of ethics: how should I live my life.
Aristotle believes that we should live our lives...
Live a life according to reason
To the fullest extent capable/
oTeleologists believe there is a purpose of life and the point of life is to fulfill
it to the best of your ability – achieve a goal and realize an end.
oWhat is the rational life? Reason
Theoretical – doesn’t concern us in an ethics class
Formal logic
Practical – does concern us in an ethics class
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The application of reason
To life in general and more importantly - to an individual’s
oHow can I exhibit rationality in my actions?
If you try to be the best you can be. Aristotle believed we could
completely fulfill our nature as human beings.
oWhat is the human perfectibility? What is the ideal that Aristotle is talking
Eudaimonia – a Greek word – roots
Eu – a Greek prefix that indicates goodness and positivity
Daimon - refers to spirit or personality
Definition: Flourishing or well being. Doing well and
feeling well at the same time.
Summary/Review of Teleology/Virtue of Ethics
We alone have rationality
This is natures clue to us as to how we should behave in life
What does it mean to behave rationally in the practical spirit of our affairs?
To pursue our own well-being and flourish
To fail to have that as your objective is to think irrationally and fail.
What is flourishing?
Aristotle says there are 3 constituent components to a flourishing life or
oPleasure – pleasure is important but its not everything. It is a necessary but
not a sufficient condition.
oExternal goods – Things that are not part of your character
Financial resources – you don’t need to be extremely wealthy but
you don’t want to be poor because you will be trapped in always
looking for your next meal
Good upbringing – you can’t achieve excellence if you have had an
abusive upbringing
Friends – they are morally important because they are your most
regularly human relation and give you the opportunity to display
moral behaviour
Just society – you need to live in a society that is not war torn, one
that does education
Good looks – beauty helps
oInternal goods - virtues
Personal characteristics that somehow are produced through free
Physical appearances are not a moral virtue (having brown
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Personal characters that you have to work at to achieve, things that
are difficult to achieve.
They are corrective of natural human tendencies. We are not
always naturally virtuous
Beneficial to self and others
A characteristic that is worthy of moral praise
Greek culture – the Four Cardinal Virtues
Wisdom – we would rather play than gain knowledge
Courage – we naturally are inclined to fight or flight
Christian Virtues
Charity – we are not naturally generous
Application of Theory
How to apply an abstract moral theory to a concrete problem in business ethics
How would each other these theories solve a moral dilemma in business
Ethical Issues in Business
Conflict of interest
Intellectual property – who owns it if intellectual property is created
Affirmative action – is it an appropriate hiring policy
Mandatory retirement
Health and safety – what kind of health and safety issues does a business owner
owe to their workers
Teleology/Virtue Ethics Theory How would you solve a moral dilemma?
Decision process
1. What would a virtuous person do in my position?
This is a short term solution that teleologist would recommend
2. What are the resources and education that I need to become such a person
This is a long term solution
Stress the importance of education.
For Teleologists, it’s all about education and character. It’s about
becoming a virtuous person, a person of integrity – one with
wisdom, faith, hope love, courage, etc.
Criticisms of this Teleology
1. Selfish – its too selfish to be a plausible perspective on morality
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