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Notes for Chapters 1-5

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Philosophy 2074F/G
Amanda J Porter

Philosophy 2074 Notes Week One Fundamentals Readings Chapter 1 Ethical Theory and Business Practice Part One Fundamental Concepts and Problems pp 118 The text and the authors are referred to as BBA from now on What is ethics Definitions are an important part of philosophy Finding and proposing proper definitions can illuminate the course and boundaries of our arguments Moralityconcern with the social practices defining right and wrong BBA 1Ethical theorymoral philosophyconcern with the nature and justification of right actions BBA 2 Morality is a sociological political and perhaps psychological concern Ethical theory is a philosophical concern We wish to understand the concepts of right and wrong and the way that we reason or should reason about them As BBA point out the task of investigating ethics involves attempts to introduce clarity substance and precision of argument into the domain of morality An important part of all philosophy is argument An argument is an attempt to persuade hopefully through proper reasoning using premises a set of statements said written or left implicit that supposedly support another statement the conclusion of the argument The strength of an argument is measured in how well the premises actually do support the conclusion In most readings we will find arguments based on some moral claims that are thought to support a specific moral claim or claims as a conclusion When making your notes try to determine what are premises and what are conclusions Often writers will build one argument out of a number of smaller arguments or they will strengthen their own argument by pointing out flaws in a counterargument Because of these quite useful tactics it is important to try to determine the ultimate conclusion that a writer supports rather than merely identify a writer with an argument or position that they merely mention Confusion on this point is something that causes many students to lose marks Clarity substance and precision of argument are key considerations when reading and writing philosophy Philosophers write to clear something up they write to show the consequences of an idea or a theory and they write to make an argument better or show where it might fail When reading philosophy the three tasks clarity substance precision of argument can be used to help identify the point of a writer When picking a topic to write about one can choose to make a specific part of morality clearer one can choose to add substance to a concept one can try to make an argument or part of an argument better or show its flaws or one can carry out a combination of these tasks ClarityOne introduces clarity when one introduces definitions or explanations that ensure the transparency of argument the limits to which an argument applies or a clearer understanding of the terms involved in a debate Sometimes disagreements arise because of mistakes of communication See the section entitled Definitional Clarity on page 12 of BBASubstance One introduces substance when one provides evidence for an argument or when one produces the consequences logical or otherwise of a position In both cases this serves to provide new information to the topic See the sections entitled Obtaining Objective Information and ExampleCounterexample on pages 12 of BBAPrecision of argumentOne introduces precision of argument when one makes explicit the logical form of an argument when one introduces a argument of a new logical form on an issue or when one exposes a fault in the logical form of an argument For the purposes of this course we will be taking a very informal view of the logical form of an argument We will not need to address arguments in any kind of translation into logical symbols See the section entitled Analysis of Arguments and Positions on page 12 and 13 of BBA Resolving Moral Disagreements In practice there are a number of ways to resolve moral disagreements Take a look at the description of this in BBA page 1113 Providing clarity substance or precision of argument is a part of the resolution process y Obtaining objective informationInformation that both parties can agree upon can be part of providing clarity determining the specific nature of the actions in question or of providing substance determining the specific consequences of the action in questiony Definitional clarityThis is pretty straightforwardly providing clarityy ExamplecounterexampleThis is part of the task of providing substance to the area Notice how in the ATT case cited by BBA the details of the example change the position that the example supportsy Analysis of Arguments and PositionsThis is the task of adding precision of argument to an areaMorality and Prudence An important distinction to make in ethical theory is that between moral rules and prudence Prudence is general selfinterest or practicality it is not necessarily selfish to be prudent It is important to note that business ethics is not about doing what is practical in business If it is not immoral one should probably do what is the most practical thing to do In other words if it is prudent to do something and not immoral to do that thing then do it Yet if taking some action is immoral then there is a reason not to take that action Deciding whether or not something is a prudent business decision is in almost every case an issue for another class In this class we
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