- Cephalus tells us what justice is: tell the truth and pay your debts. What is wrong with this as
a definition of justice? Does Polemarchus improve on the definition when he says that justice
means “giving people their due”? What does this discussion tell us about what we might
already know about justice?
- What is relativism?
o Is the belief that “everyone has their own version of the truth” or everyone has their
own thoughts on what they think are right
- What is ethical relativism?
o The belief that nothing is objectively right or wrong and that the definition of wrong
depends on the prevailing view of a particular individual, culture, or historical period
- What is cultural relativism?
o The view that moral or ethical systems, which vary from culture to culture, are all
equally valid and no one system is really “better” than any other. This is based on the
idea that there is no ultimate standard of good or evil, so every judgement about right
and wrong is a product of society. Therefore, any opinion on morality or ethics is subject
to that cultural perspective of each person
- What is subjectivism?
o “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experiences”
o Descartes; accords primacy to subjective experience as fundamental of all measure and
- What is ethical Subjectivism?
o the meta-ethical view which claims that: 1) Ethical sentences express proposition 2)
some such propositions are true. 3) those propositions are about the attitudes of people
o stands in opposition to Moral realism
- What is objectivism? (Ayn Rand)
o Its central tenetns are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human
beings have direct contact with reality though sense perception, that one can attain
objective knowledge from perception though the process of concept formation and
inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own
happiness, that the only social system consists with this morality is full respect for
individual rights embodied in laissez-fair capitalism, and that the role of art in human life
is to transform humans metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a
physical form – a work of art – that one can comprehend and to which one can respond
- What is ethical objectivism?
o Holds that moral values are absolute truths and never change.
o These values are universal, as they apply to all beings around the world and throughout
o Allows straightforward application of logical rules to moral statements
o Facilitates the settling of moral disagreements because if two moral beliefs contradict
each other, then only one can be right - What is egoism?
o The drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself
- What is ethical egoism?
o is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-
o It differs from psychological egoism, above
o Can be divided into three categories
Individual: holds that all people should do whatever benefits them
Personal: hold that he or she should act in his or her self-interest but would
make no claims about what others ought to do
Universal: would argue that everyone should at in ways that are in their self-
- What are the arguments we have seen in favor of cultural relativism?
- What are the arguments we have seen in favor of ethical egoism?
- How does Hobbes attempt to show that egoism is compatible with morality?
- What is Thrasymachus view of morality?
o the right thing is to act unjustly/immorally because one should always act in one’s own
o Is Thrasymachus a relativist?
YES, he is one who denies that justice is anything beyond obedience to existing
- What is Glaucon’s view of morality?
o Justice is legally enforced compromise between doing injustice to others and having
unjsutice done unto oneself
- What is the right of Gyge, and what is it intended to show?
o Intended to show that all people will be unjust given the opportunity, with no
o The hobbit ring
- What is the experience machine, and what is it intended to show?
o is using it as a though experiment to illustrate his claim against utilitarianism.
- What is hedonism?
o School of thought hat argues that Pleasure is the only intrinsic good.
o Hedonists strive to maximize net pleasure
- What is the difference between Bentham’s hedonism and mill’s hedonism?
- Why are consequentialist’s theories prospective?
o It is the view that morality is all about producing the right knods of overall
o they look at the consequences of ones actions, both in the short term and long term and
determine if that said action is one which produces favorable outcomes vs. unfavorable
- Why are deontological theories retrospective? o It is thenormative ethical position that judges the morality of an action based on the
action’s adherence to a rule or rules
o It can be described as a ‘duty’ or an ‘obligation’
o i.e. if I do X what will come of me since I have certain duties and obligations?
- If virtue theories are neither retrospective nor prospective, then what are they?
- What are the 3 formulations of Kant’s categorical imperative?
o 1) act as if your maxim were a universal law of nature. i.e. What if everyone did this
o 2) treat another rational being as an end in himself, not as a mere means. This means
that we should value the other person solely for who they are and not merely use them
to serve our needs
o Act as if your maxim would harmonize with a kingdom of ends. This means that the
action should be consistent with a world in which people are treated as end in
- What is a categorical imperative anyway?
o Is the central philosophical concept in moral philosophy, it may be defined as a way of
evaluating motivation for actions
o CI denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all
circumstances, both required and justified as an end in itself.
- What is a hypothetical imperative?
o Tells us how to act in order to achieve a specific goal. i.e. I must study to get a degree
- What kind of intrinsic good does W.D. Ross think there are in the world?
o He denies that there is one single overarching moral principle or rule, he thinks we can
make moral progress one step at a time by learning more and more about our moral
duties, and do our best at balancing conflict obligations and values
We have self-evident prima facie moral duties
He argues that we have the following duties
1. Duty of fidelity: the duty to keep our promises
2. Duty of reparation: the duty to try and pay for the harm we do to others
3. Duty of gratitude: the duty to return favors and services given to us by
4. Duty of beneficence: the duty to maximize the good
5. Duty of non-injury: the duty to refuse to harm others.
He proposes that some things have intrinsic value
Pleasure is “good just for existing” and is worthy of being a goal. The
decision to eat candy to attain pleasure ‘makes sense’ if it has intrinsic
value, and we all seem to think that eating candy to attain pleasure is at
least sometimes a good enough reason to justify such an act
Ross suggests that; justice, knowledge, virtue, and “innocent pleasures”
are all intrinsically good o However, minds, human life, and certain animal life could also
have intrinsic value
- How does he argue for them?
- What do you think of his argument?
- What is a prima facie duty?
o Prima facie duties can be overridden
o Duties can determine what we ought to do ‘nothing else considered’ but they do not
determine what we ought to do all things considered.
o Whatever we ought to do all things considered will override any other conflicting duties
I.e. the promise to kill someone would give us a prima facie duty to fulfill our
promise, but it would be overridden by our duty not to injure others.
- How might this concept help a deontological theorist?
- What is the difference between act utilitarianism and rule utilitariasm?
o Rule Utilitarianism: measures the amount of ‘good’ an individual action does in
reference to a rule or law
i.e. there is a law that says murder is wrong. Rule utilitarianism would say
“murder is wrong because if everyone follows the law, no one will have to be
afraid of being murdered or society will be more orderly”
o Act Utilitarianism: does not judge the value of an act in terms of laws. Rather it states
that actions are moral when they benefit the most people
whether or not there is a law or rule associated with the action in question is
irrelevant to an act utilitarian
i.e. “ it is moral to kill someone if they are a danger to society”
- What are the 11 criticism of utilitarianism that Harwood puts forward?
1. Too demanding – demands too much sacrifice; have to concider all the possible
consequences, even those we don’t have control over, we are responsible
2. Supererogation – only one rule; to maximize utility, may go above and beyond the
call of duty
3. Unjust – the corrupt sheriff; the notion where you set up an innocent person to save
4. Promises don’t work for Utilitar. – I promise to do X at a certain time, however an
emergency happens and I have to attend to that, from util. it is permissible to break
promises if it creates greater happiness
5. Absurd results – voting someone off an island to increase overall happiness
6. Rule utilitarianism does not work – act on the rule that maximizes happiness/utility/
7. Experience machine – maximizes positive consequences, why would a utilitarian not
8. Over states duties to animals – some say you need to include animals into the factor
9. Bigots and racists – they must be counted in, no way to exclude them 10. Interpersonal comparisons – how can you tell what brings more happiness? If
people find pleasure in different things.
11. Secretive/undemocratic – do util. need to be called out in private? Political
- Which of these are really effective?
- What about Williams critique of Utilitarianism?
o He states that utilitarianism doesn’t care about how the act was brought about, but as
long as it brings about the greatest happiness.
o He states that utilitarianism must contain what he calls “doctrine of negative
Lets “s” say that in a specific situation I can do X or Y. X brings about the
greatest happiness. Y is basically doing nothing. I choose Y. Since Y does not
bring about the greatest happiness, I am blameworthy.
- What is that all about?
o It is about, a utilitarian must say that just as I am responsible for the things I DO, I must
also be responsible for the consequences of the things I DO NOT DO. In this case I
should have done X, but I didn’t. I did Y, which was to do nothing. SO I failed to bring
about the greatest happiness
- What is the moral of the story about Jim an