PHL275H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Subjectivism, Principle Of Double Effect, Category Mistake

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9 Aug 2016
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PHL275 Week 7
Monday, August 8
Final Exam Review
Arguments (Only MC questions)
Descriptive vs Normative
Descriptive Claim: A claim about what is the case (2+2=4)
Normative Claim: A claim about what ought to be the case (murder is wrong), value
claims are normative claims
Epistemological Claim: A claim about what one ought to believe or how one
ought to reason (2+2=4)
Prudential Claim: A claim about what one ought to do out of self-interest (i.e.
about what’s prudent) E.g. you should drink 8 glasses of water
Moral Claim: A claim about how one ought to act/be/relate
Is does not imply ought
Descriptions don’t imply Prescriptions
Descriptive claims on their own can’t generate Normative claims
An argument for a Normative conclusion requires at least one Normative premise
Validity and Soundness
Valid Argument: A logically well-formed argument: If the premises are true, the
conclusion must be true
Invalid Argument: A logically ill-formed argument: If the premises are true, the
conclusion may still be false
Sound Argument: A valid argument with true premises: The argument is valid & the
premises are in fact true, so the conclusion must be true
Unsound Argument: An invalid argument or a valid argument with at least one false
premise
Moral Theories
Utilitarianism: Mill
Utility of an Act: The sum of all the pleasure it produces minus the sum of all the pain
it produces
Hedon: A unit of pleasure
Dolor: A unit of pain
Utilitarianism = Consequentialism + Hedonism
Utilitarianism: An action is morally right if & only if it maximizes utility/happiness
Consequentialism: An act is right if & only if it results in the best possible (i.e.
maximal) consequences out of all acts available to the agent
Hedonism: The only things good in themselves are pleasure & freedom from pain
Universality: An act is right if & only if it aims for the happiness of all concerned
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Impartiality: An act is right if & only if no concerned party is shown favour
Greatest Happiness Principle = Utilitarianism + Consequentialism + Universality
Objections to Utilitarianism
A doctrine worthy of swine
Distinct human pursuits
Too high for humanity
Do not confuse praiseworthy motives and right actions
Most people are never in the position to promote happiness on a large scale,
Singer would disagree and say that we are in fact able to promote happiness
globally with our advanced technology
No time to calculate
Mill distinguishes between Criterion of Right and Decision Procedures
Over time we have developed Decision Procedures, Moral rules, that track the
Criterion of Right
Criterion of Right: An act is right if it maximizes utility/happiness
Decision Procedures: Commonsense “rules of thumb” about how to act
morally
Utilitarianism: Nozick
Experience Machine
1. If hedonism were true, we’d plug into the Experience Machine
2. We wouldn’t plug into the Experience Machine
3. Therefore, Hedonism is false
Reply: What if the Experience Machine were modified so that you could be the
person you want to be? Transformation Machine
Nozick: We want to actually have an effect on reality, We want to be certain kinds
of people
Transformation Machine
1. If hedonism were true, we’d plug into the Transformation Machine
2. We wouldn’t plug into the Transformation Machine(because we want to actually
have an effect on reality)
3. Therefore, Hedonism is false
Reply: What if the Transformation Machine were modified so what you want
to happen while in the machine actually happens in the real world? Results
Machine
Nozick: We value being “in contact with reality.”
Results Machine
1. If Hedonism were true, we’d plug into the Results Machine.
If Hedonism were true, we’d only value pleasing & pain-relieving experiences,
and these include the experiences of being who we want to be and knowing
that what we want to happen in the real world does happen in the real world.
The Results Machine maximizes these.
2. We wouldn’t plug into the Results Machine (because we value being “in contact
with reality”)
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3. Therefore, Hedonism is false
Utilitarianism: Smart & Rawls
Smart
Justice: Getting what one deserves.
Commonsense Punishment: Punishment should be given according to what is
deserved
Utilitarian Punishment: Punishment should be given according to what maximizes
pleasure & minimizes pain.
Rawls
Compensation: Recompense for suffering.
Commonsense Compensation: Recompense should be given to those who suffer
for it
Utilitarian Compensation: Recompense should be given according to what
maximizes overall pleasure minus pain
Smart & Rawls
Commonsense Distribution: Goods & ills should be given according to what is
deserved
Utilitarian Distribution: Goods & ills should be given according to what maximizes
overall pleasure minus pain
Rawls thinks this is a fundamental problem. Therefore, a poor way to distinguish
between morally right & wrong acts
Whereas Smart thinks these are very rare cases and therefore supports
Utilitarianism as the best what to distinguish between morally right & wrong acts
Kantianism
Argument from Control
1. Whether I have acted rightly or wrongly should depend on things within my
control
2. I can hardly control the consequences of my actions, but I can control whether I
act on universalizable maxims.
3. Therefore, whether I have acted rightly or wrongly should depend on whether I
act on universalizable maxims
3 Step-program
1. Formulate Maxim (what + why)
2. Imagine a world where everyone acts according to that maxim.
3. Does it make sense to act on this maxim in this hypothetical world
No: Hold up. It’s not a universalizable maxim
Yes: Go for it. It’s a universalizable maxim.
Immoral acts are unfair and irrational
Problems with Universalizability
Home owner and mailman example
Some acts are universlaizable but are clearly not morally permissible
Immoral acts violate others’ autonomy
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