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Lecture NOTES Philosophy until Feb 7

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Professor Nefsky

Philosophy: Lecture 1 Introductory examples Ethics: Philosophical study of morality The attempt to understand the nature of morality and what it requires of us Examples of moral questions Should I tell someone they have alzheimers? Or let them live with the hope?  She has a right to know, even though it would be better for her Is it okay to spend money on whatever I want? Or… give it to poverty? Is euthanasia okay? First we look at attempts at theories of morality Unit One: Moral Theories 1. Utlilitarianism 2. Kantianism Moral Theories: attempt to explain, at the most general and fundamental level, what differentiates right actions from wrong actions Utilitarianism  Whether an act is wright or wrong, depends on its consequences  It depends on how much pleasure and pain the act producesand how this compares t o the other actions available to the agent Kantianism  Something intrinsic to the action  Looking at the action itself Utilitarian:  Less pain and suffering? Mother better off or no? Kantianism  It comes down to the act itself. NOT TELLING THE TRUTH***  It is wrong because she does not treat her with the respect she deserves as an autonomous human being Attempt to tell us facts about morality with these theories Maybe morality is subjective? Unit 2: challenges to morality  Moral obligation  Can there be morality without god  Psychological aspects  Talking about specific moral issues: particular cases Unit 3: Moral issues  Abortion  Global poverty (do we have all the necessieities to aid the human poor)\  The treatment of animals (eating meat, biomedical research) Utilitarianism theorists believe in calculating pain and pleasure, happiness and suffering. They do it in units COURSEPACK: a11 2013 Whatever happened to good and evil: Russ shafer- landau / [email protected] January 10 Lecture 2 Descriptive Claim: A claim about what is the case (attempts to describe the way things are in the world)  Obama is the president of the USA  50% of the marriages end in divorce  Whales are fish  Leafy green vegetables contain tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants  FACTS, or a true or FALSE statement Normative Claim: A claim about how things OUGHT TO BE  It is wrong to break a promise when keeping it would merely be inconvenient  Eating meat is morally permissible  You should eat a lot of salsa  YOU SHOULD BELIEVE that it was professor peacock in the library  What you SHOULD think, or what is right and wrong Both of the descriptive and normative claims can be true or false  The difference between descriptive and normative claims is a difference in subject matter:  Descriptive claims are claims about how things ARE – they attempt to describe the world. But they can be mistaken.  EX: Whales are fish: descriptive claims that are false. o Salsa is the #1 condiment in North America. DEBATABLE descriptive claim Morality is a NORMATIVE domain  Moral claims are how things OUGHT to be/ must be/ should be  They are claims about how people should act rather than how people DO ACT  EXAMPLE: It is wrong to break a promise when keeping it would merely be inconvenient  Eating meat is morally permissible  These are moral normative claims Other kinds of normative claims  Prudential claims: claims about what would be prudent or in your self interest  You SHOULD eat a lot of leafy greens. You SHOULD eat a lot of salsa.  These are normative claims, they say something about what you ought to do  They are not moral claims. Normative Epistemic Claims Claims about what one should believe, how one should reason Epistemic: concerning knowledge  One ought not hold inconsistent beliefs  This is also a normative claim, but it does not seem to be about morality  The claim isn’t that you are doing something Morally WRONG ****Normative rather than descriptive: because they concern on how things SHOULD be rather than how things are They are a particular kind of normative claim. Not all normative claims concern morality How can we investigate moral questions?  The chief tool cannot be experiment or observation  We cannot settle normative questions empirically (by means of observation and thinking)  Psychology, anthropology and sociology: can tell us about how we do in fact behave  They can tell us about how people act and why they act as they do  One cannot infer a normative claim from a purely descriptive claim  One cannot go from an “Is” to an “Ought”  The fact that people DO behave in some way does not tell us whether or not they OUGHT to behave that way How DO we investigate moral questions  We cannot investigate these questions empirically  BUT WE CAN GIVE ARGUMENTS  WE can start from claims that are highly plausible or uncontroversial and try to argue from those claims to conclusions that are less obvious Arguments: what are they?  An Argument: a series of propositions aimed at establishing or justifying some point  An argument contains the following o A conclusion: the proposition the argument is trying to establish or justify o Premises: the starting points of the argument  Premises1:One should not cause tremendous pain just for one’s own amusement  Premises2: Putting kittens in boiling water cause them tremendous pain.  Conclusion Therefore, one should not put kittens in boiling water for one’s amusement. Two ways an argument can go wrong  It could start with a false premises  It could have FAULTY INFERENCES: the moves it makes from the premises to the conclusion What would it take for an argument to definitively establish its conclusion?  An Airtight Argument: A sound deductive argument  The premises are true  The inferences are VALID: the conclusion FOLLOWS from the premises Validity:  The conclusion follows from the premises  THE TRUTH OF THE PREMISES LOGICALLY GUARANTEE THE TRUTH OF THE CONCLUSION  If the premises are true, the conclusion must be true An Airtight argument 1. The premises are true 2. The inferences are valid: the conclusion follow from the premises When 1 and 2 both hold: the conclusion is guaranteed to be true. 1 and 2: two completely independent things MODUS PONENS 1. If A then B 2. A 3. Therefore, B = VALID If Charlie is in Toronto, then Charlie is in Canada. Charlie is in Toronto. Therefore Charlie is in canada P1: if the moon is made of tofu, there is bean curd in the sky P2: the mon Is made of tofu. Therefore, there is bean curd in the sky. P2 IS FALSE. The premises is not true. IF 1 and 2 were true, but C was false, the inference is invalid. If I play tennis today, I will get some exercise. I will get some exercise today. Therefore, I will play tennis. =VALID If A then B Not A THEREFORE NOT B = INVALID If Charlie is in tornto, then Charlie is in Canada. Charlie is not in Toronto. Therefore, Charlie is not in Canada. Implicit Premise Underlying assumption January 15: Lecture 3 Unit 1: moral theories  Attempt to explain, at the most general and fundamental level, what differentiates right actions from wrong actions  What makes right acts right and wrong acts wrong? Three Categories of Moral Evaluation of Action 1. Obligatory; acts that you have an obligation to perform, that are morally required, that you morally ought to do 2. Permissible or Right: acts that are morally acceptable, allowed, permitted 3. Impermissible or wrong: acts that you are obligated not to perform that are morally acceptable, allowed, permitted Every act is either permissible or impermissible  Obligatory: a kind of permissible action; an act is obligatory when, more than just being permitted, it is required. An act is obligatory when it is the only right action  Example: child drowning in a shallow pond – not only it is permissible to step in and pluck them out, it is obligatory. It would be wrong not too Utilitarianism  Classic formulations: Jeremy Bentham, John stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick  To this day, one of the most influential and widely discussed moral theories  The Greatest Happiness Principle: o An act is right if and only it brings about the greatest total amount of happiness – or, utility – out of all the actions available to the agent  One ought to maximize total happiness, where by happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain TWO MAIN PARTS 1. Consequentialism 2. Hedonism Consequentialism  Whether an act is right or wrong is determined entirely by its consequences.  AN act is right: if and only if it produces the best consequences out of all the acts available to the agent.  If and only if the total good produced minus the total bad produced is no lower than it would be for any other action available Example: The Alzheimer’s Case from the first class. Should she tell her mother the dreaded diagnosis, or is the right thing to do to let her “live in hopes that she has escaped it” Consequentialism: The question comes down to whether the consequences will be better overall if she tells her if she doesn’t. Contrast: a view that says that what is right depends on the kind of act that it is. EG LYING/BEING DISHONEST Consequentialism  An act is right if and only it produces the best consequences out of all the acts available to the agent  Need a theory of the good: need an account of what it is for the consequences to be better or worse Utilitarianism: Two Main Parts  Hedonism o The goodness of consequences is determined by how much happiness is produced, where “by happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain” o Pleasure, and the freedom from pain, are the only thing desirable as ends; and all desirable things are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as a means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain o The right act is the one that brings about the best consequences  Where consequences count as best when they produce the greatest total amount of happiness (or utility) compared to the other actions available  And where happiness is measured solely in terms of the amounts of pleasure and pain 1. Universality: everyone’s happiness matters; utilitarianism takes into account all of those who will (or might) be affected by our actions 2. Impartiality: everyone’s happiness matters in the SAME way. It doesn’t matter who is experiencing the pleasure or pain Happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct, is not the agent’s own happiness, but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial is a disinterested and benevolent spectator. Utility An act’s utility = the sum of all the pleasure it produces minus the sum of all the pain Hedon: A unit of pleasure Dolor: A unit of pain Utilitarianism An act is right if and only if it maximizes utility  Utility: Total hedons produced – total dolors produced  Do the act with the greatest utility  If there is – say between B AND C for first, either is permissible Example: a child is drowning in the shallow pond.. what do you do? Utilitarianism’s answer: there is more happiness/less unhappiness overall if you save the child. Mill has three objections with utilitarianism. OBJECTION 1: A DOCTRINE WORTHY OF SWINE  An objection to utilitarianism’s hedonistic conception of the good  “Such a theory of life excites in many minds… inveterate dislike. To suppose that life has no higher end than pleasure – no better and nobler object of desire and pursuit – they designate as uttlerly mean and groveling as a doctrine worthy of swine  it only matters pleasure and freedom and pain? People object this is worthy of only swine  Surely human have higher ends than that  The picture does not capture human good life Mills Reply  It is the accusers, not utilitarian who represent human nature in a degrading light, since the accusation supposes human beings to be capable of no pleasure except those of which swine are capable  The accusers do not take into account all the pleasures  Higher pleasures: intellectual pleasures, pleasures of imagination and creativity, aesthetic pleasures  Lower pleasures: bodily pleasures: relaxation, food, sex  The higher pleasures are more valuable, they are of higher quality and so should weigh more heavily in the calculation of utility Why think the higher pleasures are of higher quality, or more valuable? 1. If all or almost all of the people who are competently acquainted with both higher and lower pleasures, prefer one kind over the other, then what kind of pleasure is valuable 2. People who are competently acquainted with both higher and lower pleasures, clearly prefer the higher pleasures 3. CONCLUSION: The higher pleasures are more valuable It is better to be dissatisfied, than be satisfied as a fool. By being satisfied by the lower pleasures  Uses this point with the second premise  Would people be okay for lower pleasures being given up for just the higher pleasures? Objection 2: too high for humanity  It is exacting too much to require that people shall always act from the inducement of promoting the general interests of society  This theory is too demanding of us  Promoting the general interest of society  Utilitarianism says you have to take into account everyone, and something that maximizes everyone’s happiness  Greatest overall utility Mills reply  Someone who saves someone from drowning, is doing what is morally right whether It is his duty or the hope for being paid for his trouble  It doesn’t matter your motive  DO YOUR DUTY  It doesn’t require you act with the aim or motive of benefitting everyone  It requires we DO OUR DUTY it doesn’t require that we act from the motive duty Follow up objection  Maximizing everyone’s happiness is still to demanding  Is it permissible for me to go to the movies tonight? o Surely there is something else I could do instead that would produce more total happiness o Ex: volunteer at a homeless shelter o TOO DEMANDING, whether I should be motivated by the role of maximizing happiness Part of Mill’s reply to objective two:  Your theory tells me I need to maximize happiness overall  His reply o You only have to do the act of those available to you o Most of us don’t have the power, we are not in position to benefit people on a large scale o When we focus on ourselves and those around us, we are the most happy o His theory is not that demanding o You are going to end up maximizing utility Different Follow Up Objection  Pinky is visiting aunt mildred who is seriously ill  Pinky puts poison in his aunt’s glass  Poison reacts with the medication, creating a substance that instantly cures the aunt of the disease Mills reply  Motive has nothing to do with the morality of the action, though much to do with the worth of the agent  Whether your act is right or wrong is one thing, whether you are praiseworthy or blameworthy for it is another  Pinky has malicious intentions might mean that he is not a good person, even IF BY LUCK< he did the right thing  The motive doesn’t matter.  He is NOT TO PRAISE, he is a bad guy Objection 3: No Time to Calculate “There is no time prior to acting for calculating and weighing the effects of any line of conduct on the general happiness” The last thing you should do is watch someone drown.  Mill’s reply It is truly whimsical supposition that if mankind were agreed in considering utility to be the test of morality, they would remain without any agreement as to what is useful  There is no difficulty in proving any ethical standard whatever to work ill 1. Criterion of right: It’s account of what makes right acts right and wrong acts wrong a. The method you should use in everyday life is reading the criterion of right 2. Decision procedure: what it says about how one should in practice go about figuring out what the right thing to do is a. How you should GO ABOUT what should you do in practice to figure out what the right thing is to do Criterion of right: an act is right if and only if it maximizes overall utility. But this does not mean that the decision procedure is: calculate all the utilities and compare. Use commonsense “Rules of Thumb”. Rules of Thumb  These are secondary principles we can use as a rough guide of conduct  Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t lie…  We observed these in history, but they are not perfect  When rules of thumb conflict: they appeal to the fundamental principle to figure out what to do January 22: the experience machine  While plugged in, you wouldn’t know that you were, everything would seem completely real to you  There would be a way of ensuring that you’d be having the experiences that you wanted to have (imagine the machine is smart and can figure out your preferences  You don’t need to worry about the welfare of other people: everyone can plug into their own machines  Every two years they unplug you and you can choose experiences, imagine that the machine can read what you want Utilitarianism  The greatest happiness principle: an act is right if and only it brings about the greatest total amount of happiness out of all the actions available to the agent, where by happiness is intended pleasure over pain.  Consequentialism: whether an act is right or wrong depends entirely on its consequences  An act is right if and only if it produces the best consequences out of ALL the acts  If and only the TOTAL GOOD PRODUCED minus the TOTAL BAD produced is no lower than it would be for any other action available  Hedonism: how good the consequences are depends on how much pleasure and pain they involve  The only thing that is good in itself is pleasure and the absence of pain  Pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends 172 Hedonism  Intrinsically valuable: valuable in itself; desirable for its own sake  Instrumentally valuable: valuable as a means to bringing about something else that is valuable  Hedonism: the only things that are intrinsically valuable are pleasure and the absence of pain o How well your life goes depends entirely on how much pleasure and pain you experience over the course of your life The Doctrine Worthy of Swine This objection is making an false statement The experience machine: an objection to hedonism  Most people say they wouldn’t plug in  This seems to tell us that something else matters to us others than how our lives feel from the inside  Pleasure, and freedom from pain (experiential states) cannot be the only things that aer intrinsically valuable. If they were, then everyone would eagerly plug in  The experience machine can give you the best possible balance of pleasure over pain. Your experiences – how things feel and appear to you “from the inside” could be as good as possible. The argument 1. Hedonism says the only things that are of intrinsic value – the only things that matter to us for their own sake – are pleasure and freedom from pain 2. If hedonism were true, then we would eagerly plug into experience machines that give us whatever experiences we want 3. We are NOT willing to plug into experience machines 4. Hedonism must be false: something matters to us besides our experiences – besides how much pleasure and pain we feel What are we missing when we plug in?  We want to DO things and not just the experience of doing them  We want to BE a certain way, to be a certain sort of person  We want to actually make a difference in the world  Nozick considers some further machines to try to draw out what exactly is missing from the hedonistic picture of the good Transformation machine Transforms you into whatever sort of person you’d like to be Would this be enough to satisfy your desire to be a certain sort of person?  No you wouldn’t  Something matters in addition to one’s experiences and what one is like Why not plug into these machines for life?  Nozick: what is most disturbing about them is their living of our lives for us  Something that seems to be valuable in itself other than pleasure and pain: living ourselves “IN CONTACT WITH REALITY” Potential problems with the argument Why don’t people
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