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PHL275 Lecture Notes.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George

Lecture NotesLecture 1Wednesday July 4IntroductionA look at the syllabuscourse requirements tutorial participation 10 2 critical summaries 800 words each 15 and a final exam 30get the course packAssignment 1 due July 1 Turn it inclass ID 5242121 enrollment pass Ethics999What can you expect from this courseThe term ethics in a philosophical context could the investigation of any number of topicsWhat constitutes the good life for a human beingWhat makes right actions right and wrong actions wrongThe study of practical ethics how should we treat animals What duties do we have to the poor etcThink of ethics as the practice of trying to convince yourself and others of the truth or acceptability of ethical beliefs and practicesour focus will be giving argumentsShort intro to ethicsChallenges to ethicsin the next class well look at 2 challenges to the practice of doing ethics 1psychological egoism2moral relativismNormative v DescriptiveDescriptive make factual claims about the way the world isie the ice is thin or Julia is selfishNormative make claims about the way the world ought to be the ice is thin so you shouldnt step on it or Julia ought to be less selfish Its common rule in ethics that you cant derive a normative conc from descriptive premisesdoing so is called the naturalistic fallacyie bc human beings are naturally violent they ought to be violent2 kinds of egoismPsychologicaldescriptive claimall people are in fact selfish all the time Ethicalnormative claimwe ought to look out for 1If psychological egoism is true it would undermine the practice of ethics altogether1psychological egoism is true desc2if one morally ought to do something then one must be able to do that thing the ought implies can principle norm3ethical behavior requires that people sometimes act altruistically norm4but given 1people cannot act altruistically desc5we cant ethically require that people act altruistically so theres no point in practicing ethicswhether or not its truewhat well talk about next classLecture 2Monday July 9Tutorial 4 2155Juanassignment 1 is due July 18thcritical summary it has 2 goals Description of the piece and then the second comp is a critical analysis you can be agnostic the 2 criteria 1 show that youve done the reading carefully and understand it 2 that you can say something criticalinteresting about it Only 800 words part of the challenge is to editorialize the summarybe sure to read the article more than once tipswrite with verbs and nouns and not adverbs and adjectives give the author in question the benefit of the doubtnot required to have a thesis but you should ease your reader into your discussion and structure your summary accordingly when reading target articletry to answer questionswhats the authors goal What are they setting out to prove What arguments do they give to accomplish that goal Are some arguments more importantinterestingproblematic include those dont use many direct quotes common knowledge dont cite in the context of philosophy dont have to cite it but if its a particular view of the author then cite it just use the p number imagine your writing a coles notes for the articleSocrates vs GlauconSocrates hypothesis to be just is always better than to be unjustGlaucons counter proposal 3 classes of good things 1 those desired for themselves 2 those desired for themselves and their results Socrates 3 those that are troublesome but are desired for their results GlauconGlaucon wants to argue that justice is not good for itself but only for its resultsGlaucon on the nature of justicebecause its worse to suffer injustice that to do injustice and one cant be certain of having either its best to have neitherso we get together and make laws and mutual covenants backed by the threat of punishmentjustice is a compromise a lesser evil because its best to do injustice but not suffer from itThe Ring of GygesGlaucons claim if a person can benefit from injustice without suffering a penalty hell do itThe Gyges story arg 1 if we give the just and the unjust persons power to do as they please without the threat of punishment theyll be indistinguishable we can also isolate justice from injustice to compare them arg 2he wants to compare them in their purest formswhere the unjust person appears just and benefits from unjust deeds and a good reputation but the truly just person would desire justice for itself and would choose justice even while being impaled for being unjustvalue of justice is in its resultsGlaucon wants to compare the bottom right category to the top left categoryrecall that Socrates hypothesis is that its always better to be just than unjust well find out how Socrates ultimately responds to Glaucon next classProblems for Psychological EgoismFeinbergs understanding of psychological egoism each individual is capable of pursuing only her own selfinterestFor any action ones own selfinterest is the ultimate goaleven altruistic acts are ultimately done for selfinterested reasons this is often understood as the pursuit of pleasure pleasant sensationrecall that its an empirical or descriptive hypothesis not a normative one The problem of psychological egoismif psychological egoism is true if one morally ought to do something then one must be able to do that thing the ought implies can principleethical behavior requires that people sometimes act altruistically but given that psychological egoism is true people cannot act altruistically we cannot ethically require that people act altruistically so theres no point in practicing ethicsIntuitive args for psychological egoismaany desire I pursue is my desire so Im only ever trying to satisfy my own desiresbwhenever we get what we want we feel pleasure so what we really want is our own pleasurecpeople often deceive themselves altruism is a masked form of selfishnessdpeople only behave well when theyre punished for not doing soFeinbergs responsesargument a is a logical fallacy
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