Values and Society – Lecture 1 Notes
The Nature of Philosophical Ethics
“Ethics is not about just any question, but about the way one should live” – Socrates
Example: views on capital punishment, abortion, etc.
Two Types of Statement:
1) Descriptive (or “is” statement). This statement makes claims about the way the world is, was, or
will be (either true or false). Most things we say every day are descriptive statements. Examples:
“The earth is flat”, “I will arrive at 5:30 sharp”, “Temperature is a mean kinetic energy”, etc.
2) Normative (or “ought” statements). All moral claims are normative statements. They make
claisms about the way the world ought to be or have been (whenever we have a desire).
Examples: “I should get dressed before noon”, “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the
Philosophical ethics: is the reasoned attempt to resolve important practical dilemmas. Its conclusions
are action guiding. That is, it tells us which actions are permissible.
Some examples of practical dilemmas are:
- Should we allow euthanasia?
- Under what circumstances are we perm