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Lecture 1

PSYB01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Eudaimonia

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Anna Nagy

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Only call professor Professor or Doctor Burke
Is ethics subjective? That is one thing we will look at
We will look at different forms of justifications for what is right and wrong
Types of Claims
Objective—the truth of the claim does not depend on the speaker. For example, the Earth is spherical
Subjective—”Chocolate is delicious”, “Autumn is the best season”—truth of the claim depends on the
Intersubjective—”Murder is wrong” (this is a normative claim, it is claiming that something is either right
or wrong to do)—do not have prescriptive content, they do not talk about what is right or wrong to do;
“Obama is best suited to be the leader of the world”, widely held by a lot of people, content has the
form that it prescribes what is right or wrong to do
Normative—ethics claims are of this type—normally have prescriptive content, “you should do this”,
“you should not do this”
Normative claims prescribe something that ought to be done, tell us what is right or wrong to do, not
what is true or false
Can any of types of claims have any score of justification going beyond merely subjective interest?
Some say that normative claims cannot have any legitimate justification, it is merely subjective
There are also other arguments
It remains an argument whether or not a normative claim can be objective
The law is normative, and is objective in the sense that it has a positive existence... (check slides)
However, it does not exist independently of human beings
So it depends on human beings, unlike the claim that “the Earth is spherical”
The question is, is there any type of normativity that does not depend on human beings?
Some normative claims are intersubjective—”Murder is wrong”, “Reciprocity is the best policy”
One of the claims we will look at is that normative claims are no different from aesthetic claims, it is
about subjective preference
Some would claim that “Murder is wrong” is objective—religious view
Religions often claim that their normative prescriptions are objective
Note that “God exists” is objective because its truth/no truth does not depend on the speaker
“It is hot in here” is subjective, “It is 18 degrees” is not subjective, it has a truth value
Normative claims cannot be true in that way, they do not have a truth value
All of the philosophers from history of philosophy in Unit 1 could be construed as considering normative
claims to be objective
What is unique about the 20th century is its focus on language
Page numbers on Syllabus will be changed to match the 5th edition
Participation component: Professor will know your names. Make an effort to contribute to class
First assignment due June 3rd
The School at Athens
Edios means the essence of the conceptual content of things
Plato thought that the essence of things were independently existing, so there is a form for anything
that can be grasped conceptually
Plato in the painting points up to the platonic heaven of the forms—ideals exist above and beyond the
material/appearance of things
What does this have to do with normative content?
What is “the good”?
There are different uses of the word “good”—good interview, good meal, etc.
We have to have a conceptual grasp of the good itself to be able to apply it to different particulars
For Plato, “the good” was ideal such that all materials existed on a plane
Plato was a mathematician, so they studied math and geometry
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