Sciences and Values - September 16.pdf

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History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Paul Thompson

HPS200: Science and Values Important Ethical Theories 1. Natural Law - been around for a long time and heavily criticized, but still persists 2. Kantian 3. Social Contract - many decisions being made by Canadian courts assume this basis 4. Utilitarianism - one of the dominant ways in which people look at harms and benefits Natural Law Ethics - has a very long history stretching back to Plato and Aristotle (Aristotle is main formulator) - over the last two thousand years it has had many faces - underlying principles have not changed all that much however - in essence natural law ethics connects what is right and wrong conduct to what is natural - what's "natural" is not an obvious term in this theory - "True law is right reason in agreement with nature: it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting... Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly considered punishment" (Cicero, De Re Publica, 51 BCE) - i.e. even if you escape a crime you will have debased your nature and no longer be a "whole" person - “Whatever is contrary to the order of reason is contrary to the nature of human beings as such; and what is reasonable is in accordance with human nature as such. The good of the human being is being in accord with reason, and human eveil is being outside the order of reasonableness ... So human virtue, which makes good both the human person and his works, is in accordance with human nature just insofar as it is in accordance with reason; and vice is contrary to human nature just in so far as it is contrary to the order of reasonableness” (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 1265-1273) - the important elements in both are: 1. Reason is inextricably connected to human nature, right action, and virtue 2. Failure to live according to the dictates of right reason debases the person (corrupts their nature) 3. Goodness of the human person (virtuousness) and the goodness of the action (works) of the person and inextricably connected - Aristotle said that humans are rational, and that they are featherless bipeds 4. True law (the consequence of right reason in agreement with nature) applies universally, and is unchanging and everlasting (Cicero states this explicitly in the quoted passage; Aquinas holds this as well); in today’s language ethical principles apply to everyone, in all places and in all times. - once rationality becomes the essence of humanity, if you go against correct reason you become less human - i.e. if you kill someone you are not acting naturally, and thus your humanity is debased - underlying idea of natural law is that reason is a human characteristic and going against it lowers your humanity - natural law resting, as it does, on reason and reasonableness relies also on "self- evident" truths--truths that any right-thinking person would accept - this seems tenable within a common framework - the self-evident truths are considerably more contentious when viewed across different frameworks - appeal to natural-law-type theory today occurs in two different contexts 1. inalienable human rights 2. Roman Catholic Church's arguments against "unnatural behaviors" e.g. contraception, homosexuality, abortion - what is it to correctly reason? - for some, this is self-evident truths--things that any right-thinking person would know and follow - but what is a self-evident truth? they often exist within a common framework, like a religion - The United States Declaration of Independence, in the second paragraph states: - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - The United Nationals Universal Declaration of Human Rights has another employment of the language of rights; it makes no reference to self-evident truths: - "whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world..." - in this statement, the grounding of the inalienable rights is: - not in self-evident truths, - but in requirements for "freedom, justice, and peace in the world" - This formulation is consistent with at least two other theories we will examine – theories that also do not rest on self-evident truths: – social contract theory – utilitarianism - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms - Rights and freedoms in Canada 1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. - Fundamental Freedoms 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association. - there is, however, a clause that allows you to go against this charter - this "notwithstanding clause" has only been used once: Quebec passed a language law that required French-only signs - may be used again if Quebec fully implements the non-religious symbols in the civil service law - The broad challenge is: 1. To provide a non-value-laden definition of “right reasoning in accord with nature” 2. To consistently declare things unnatural to be wrong - Specific challenges: David Hume and G.E. Moore - Hume and the is/ought barrier - value statements are "ought" statements, while is statements are fact - Hume says you will never get an ought statement from is statements alone - War involves pain, suffering and death 㱤 War is wrong - you need to add that "pain, suffering, and death are wrong" - you will never get a value just from thinking about nature--you have to assume one and put it in - Moore and the Naturalistic Fallacy - does nature allow you to get an ethical conclusion? – “good” is a non-natural property – The “open question” - Any statement of fact - any claim about the nature of things - is subject to the question, “is it good?” - therefore the good is not part of the "is" claim that you made - you will never get values from facts alone Kantian Ethics - Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) - Foundational Principle: Universalizability - has to apply everywhere to everyone - “Act only on the maxim through which you can at the same time will that it be a universal law” - This is known as The Categorical Imperative - An operational interpretation: - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you - The Categorical Imperative is broader – It provides the basis for social justice and social obligations (duties) as well as guiding individual action - Means and ends Social Contract Ethics - The basis of ethics lies in tacitly accepting a social contract - agreeing to live in a certain sort of society - Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) – the “war of all against all” (state of nature) – Social compact - cooperation enhances survival and capacity to satisfy interests - e.g. in Agrarian society, tending sheep from wolves, better to gather all sheep together and take turns rather than each individual guarding their own sheep - Jean-Jacques Rouseau (1712-1778) – "Attempt to reconcile what right permits with what interest prescribes, so that justice and utility are not divided” (Contrat Social,1762) - rights and interests should interact - Social contract theorists take as a starting point self-interest and attempt to provide a foundation for a collective (society) and a concept of justice - difference between this and other theories: self-interest underlies our motivation for action - John Rawls – ATheory of Justice (1971) - constructing a just society based on individual self- interest - self-interest has to be a starting point – The original position - everyone for themselves – The veil of ignorance - this is how you build a just society - in a society-less situation and going to build one - start asking questions: e.g. should women be paid the same as men? - behind the veil, you don't know who you are--are you a woman? this way you will act according to the most rational idea - problem is that some answers may be destabilizing: if the society exists on equality nobody will put in extra effort and the society will not function – Maxi-min principle - this deals with destabilizing answers - the just society is one in which the least well-off person is as well-off as the least well-off person could be in any other society - the person that has the least has to be able to have the most that the least could have - Evolutionary theory and the social contract - evolutionary theory also takes rational self-interest as a starting point - To this point the ethical theories considered are “deontological” – from Greek: • “δεον” deon: duty (that which must be done) • “λογοs” logos: study, science, reason • hence, the study of, reasoning about, the science of, duty – Right and wrong are based on fundamental principles - The next theory is “consequentialist” – Right and wrong are based on consequences - self-evident truths do not drive moral reasoning Utilitarianism - First comprehensive statement was by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) - Greatest exponent was John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) - Foundational principle: utility (pleasure, happiness, good, interests) must be maximized - Standard formulation: - One should always act such that the greatest good for the greatest number is achieved - One should always act such that the individual utility is maximized for the greatest number - Contrast between deontological and consequentialist: - e.g. a man has a gun pointing at you, and a gun pointing at ten kids--if you kill one kid the other nine will go free; if not all the kids will be killed and so will you - utilitarian may say that if I can save one, it is worth it to kill nine - e.g. six people waiting for transplants and one healthy man is killed to help them--although this benefits more people, it may have secondary effects (e.g. shake confidence in the hospital system) - I indicated that harm and benefit permeate all the different kinds of values • Natural Law – harm to oneself: ceasing to be fully human by going against one’s nature • Kant – harm from treating others as means only • Social Contract – harm from a dysfunctional social structure • Utilitarianism – harm from frustrating the achieving of the interests of others • Individual values – harm from having the achieving of ones own interests frustrated • Social values – harm from social organization and rules, laws and enforcement Harm Principle - John Stuart Mill’s version (In “On Liberty”): - An individual may do whatever he or she wants, so long as such actions do not harm any other individual - Scope – Physical: psychological (or both?) – Humans only (what about animals?) – Intentional or inadvertent (what if the harm is inadvertent?) – Active: passive (killing or letting die) - The meaning of “Harm” - trickier than it may sound Harms and Interests - Everyone wishes to be, and should be, treated as a person - The most famous formulation derives from Immanuel Kant - “Act always so that you treat humanity, in your own person or another, never merely as a means but also at the same time as an end in itself.” (Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals 1785). - Being treated as a person (an end) is usually expressed as respecting an individual’s legitimate pursuit of her/ his interests - you can be treated as means, as long as you are also treated as an end - e.g. certain health benefits are implemented so that workers are treated as an end and not just a means towards an end Harm - Ethical version: Harm is the thwarting, invading, defeating or setting back of legitimate interests. (Joel Feinberg) - Legal version: Harm is the invasion of legally protected interests (Restatement (Second) of Torts) Risk - Risk refers to the probability and magnitude of future unwanted harm. The Harm Principal in a Canadian Context - Key Moral Concepts in the Relevant Cases -Indecency, Immorality, Obscene - Relevant Sections of the Criminal Code of Canada - 167 & 168 Obscene, Indecent, Immoral Scurrilous - 173.1 Indecency - 174.1 Nudity - Prior to the last two decades, appeal to community standards was common in rendering judgments - Immoral theatrical performance 167. (1) Every one commits an offense who, being the lessee, manager, agent or person in charge of a theatre, presents or gives or allows to be presented or given therein an immoral, indecent or obscene performance, entertainment or representation. - Person taking part (2) Every one commits an offense who takes part or appears as an actor, a performer or an assistant in any capacity, in an immoral, indecent or obscene performance, entertainment or representation in a theatre. - since "immoral" was not strictly defined, it was usually left up to what the public was willing to put up with - in Toronto in the 1970s, the standard of tolerance was much greater than that of smaller towns - this meant that where you were affected whether or not you would be charged or found guilty for putting on an "immoral performance" - this became very problematic - an example of how this sort of disparity can affect people is when abortions became legal in Canada, however hospitals were not obligated to set up abortion centers--this meant that where you were affected if you could get an abortion - there is right now no legislation on abortion in Canada - Mailing obscene matter 168. (1) Every one commits an offence who makes use of the mails for the purpose of transmitting or delivering anything that is obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous. - Exceptions (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who (a) prints or publishes any matter for use in connection with any judicial proceedings or communicates it to persons who are concerned in the proceedings; (b) prints or publishes a notice or report under the direction of a court; or (c) prints or publishes any matter (i) in a volume or part of a genuine series of law reports that does not form part of any other publication and consists solely of reports of proceedings in courts of law, or (ii) in a publication of a technical character that is intended, in good faith, for circulation among members of the legal or medical profession. - Punishment 169. Every one who commits an offence under section 163, 165, 167 or 168 is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction. - the problem here is in relying on community standards for making judgements--in some communities Playboy would have been considered obscene whereas it would not have been in Toronto - In the Criminal Code of Canada indecent acts and nudity fall under “Disorderly Conduct” - Indecent acts 173. (1) Everyone who wilfully does an indecent act in a public place in the presence of one or more persons, or in any place with intent to insult or offend any person, (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years; or (b) is guilt
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