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Deontological Ethical Theory.doc

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Joseph Boyle

Deontological Ethical Theory ethics in which duty is a basic category • don’t depend on the good at all • or only depend partially • cancel Korsgaard • Kant: intention of the agent • some others evaluate the act of moral worth Williams: 353-363 A Critique of Utilitarianism • it distorts moral thought • it focuses exclusively on the outcome of actions • we are just as responsible for allowing others to cause harm than causing it ourselves • b/c we have to sacrifice, it alienates a person from the projects and attitudes with which he is most closely identified • undermines an agent’s integrity • a project involves acting and not allowing others to act • consequentialism is indifferent to whether a state of affairs consists in what we do • cause and effect focus, if I want that, I have to do this • makes no difference whether the causation of a state of affairs lies through another agent or not • consequentialism attaches value to states of affairs and the concern with what states of affairs in the world contains • negative responsibility: If I am ever responsible for anything, then I must be just as responsible for things that I allow or fail to prevent, as I am for things that I myself, in the more everyday restricted sense, bring about • as a moral agent, I must consider this on the same footing • essence of morality: principle of impartiality • there can be no relevant difference from a moral point of view which consists just in the fact not further explicable in general terms, that benefits or harms accrue to one person rather than to another • it is never a morally comprehensible reason that “I” am the one who has committeed the morally good act • from the moral point of view, there is no comprehensible difference which consists just in my bringing about a certain outcome rather than someone else’s producing it • I can’t ultimately control the actions of others • moral philosophy begs two questions: 1) cut off the range of alternative courses of action 2) present one with the situation as a going concern and restrict questions about how the agent got into it Two Kinds of Remoter Effects • the examples (2 of them) • what about the sentiments that arise from the decisions (regret, remorse, etc.) • these are irrational • precedent effect (psychological effect on the agent) • Sir Thomas More • one morally can do what someone has actually done Integrity • take into account the benefit of all others following the moral act of utility that the agent performs • Jim’s case is private and George’s public • Jim would consider the integrity of himself and how his wife would feel about his integrity while George would consider a whole town • what one does is not included in the outcome of what one does, while what another does can be included in the outcome of what one does • the utilitarian decision, a function of all the satisfactions which he can affect from where he is • the projects of others determine his decision, b/c they are involved in how the satisfactions of others are played out • may be positive or negative, positive if agents have aims that are harmless, negative opposite • it is absurd to demand of such a man when the sums come in from the utility network which the projects of others have in part determined that he should just step aside from his own project and decision and acknowledge the decision which the utilitarian calculus requires What Makes Right Acts Right? – Ross: 374-384 • rejects that happiness is the only good and our moral duty is to maximize happiness • agrees that duties include the promotion of happiness and other goods as well as keeping promises, promoting justice, and developing our talents • calls these duties prima facie • we know they are our duties by apprehension • what makes actions right is that they are productive of more good than could have been produced by any other action produced to the agent • substitution for hedonism: of productive of the greatest good for productive of the greater pleasure • the view that what produces the maximum pleasure is right (utilitarianism), has its bases the views 1) that what produces maximum good is right 2) that pleasure is the only good thing in itself • aka what produces the most pleasure is right • if it can be shown that productivity of the maximum good is not what makes all actions right, he will refute hedonistic utilitarianism • theory of ideal utilitarianism: the only morally significant relation in which my neighbours stand to me is that of being possible beneficiaries by my actions • what about all other relationships? husband-wife, friend-friend, promiser- promisee, creditor-debtor • each of these relations is of a prima facie duty or conditional (a duty that is right until proven otherwise) • it is my duty sans phrase in the situation • prima facie suggests that one is speaking only of an appearance which a moral situation presents at first sight and which may turn out to be illusory • not the whole nature of duty, but in an objective fact involved in the nature of the situation • relies on circumstance • 1) some duties rest on previous acts • a) (the duties
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