PHLA11H3 Lecture Notes - General Idea, Homeless Shelter, Consequentialism

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
School
UTSC
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHLA11H3
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 / Ethicsintroa11@gmail.com
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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)
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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
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Document Summary

The attempt to understand the nature of morality and what it requires of us. First we look at attempts at theories of morality. Moral theories: attempt to explain, at the most general and fundamental level, what differentiates right actions from wrong actions. 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. 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. Talking about specific moral issues: particular cases. 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. Whatever happened to good and evil: russ shafer- landau / ethicsintroa11@gmail. com.

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