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PP224 Module 1 Notes.docx

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Byron Williston

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Module 1 Notes Two kinds of statements: 1. Descriptive – “Temperature is mean kinetic energy”  Make claims about the way the world is, was, or will be. 2. Normative – “I should get dressed before noon”  Make claims about the way the world ought to be or have been. Ethical justification  to make claims about the way the world ought to be and provide reasons for these claims 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.  Important practical dilemmas put us in a position of conflict. What is important reflects how deep of significance it is to our lives, which derives from our actions and the effects and on lives in interests of ourselves and others. Moral agent  anything/anyone that can act for moral reasons (I will do __ because it is the right thing to do) Moral patients  entities towards whom or which we may have duties (deciding our action based on interests of such entities that may affect what we are justified in doing)  The interests in moral patients count in our moral deliberations Environmental Ethics  is the investigation of the scope of our duties to certain non-human entities: non-human animals, plants, species, ecosystems and the biosphere Ethical egoism  is the view that for each of us it is best to perform those actions that fulfill our own desires and interests regardless of the effect such actions have on others  Plato’s dialogue “The Republic”  Glaucon believes we do not follow rules of justice or morality because these rules are right or worthy of being followed, but we follow them because we would probably suffer at the hands of the unjust if such rules were not in force; although it would be best if we could be immoral or unjust and get away with it.  Glaucons theory of justice is described as a “mean”  This means it is a midway between practicing injustice and getting away with it, and suffering injustice with no revenge  People value justice not as a good because they are too WEAK to do injustice with impunity. The Ring of Gyges Gyges is a Sheppard finds a gold ring that makes him invisible and has powers. He uses the ring and seduces the queen, kills the king and takes the throne. Would any man in possession of such ring take advantage of such properties?  Glaucon believes no man would choose to act justly if we could get away without punishment  Glaucon’s bet is that all of us would use this power to perform unjust or immoral actions. If he is right, then all of us really are ethical egoists because what we would all prefer is the unbridled freedom Gyges has. Arguments of Ethical Egoism Ethical egoism is a challenge because ethical theories lay down duties that very often run counter to the claims of self-interest.  The publicity argument  If a moral theory is deemed to be correct, there would be publicized principles of what’s right and wrong  Ethical egoists cannot make their intentions public, or else others would protect themselves from the exploitation of the egoist, therefore ethical egoism is not a moral theory  The friendship argument  Ethical egoists cannot receive the things friends provide us with (companionship, emotional support, material support)  Goods of friendship demand one must pay interest into the other – this goes against self-interest – the ethical egoist must abandon their ego in order to fulfill their desire for friendship  The ethical egoist could say in response that everyone deserves to reap the benefits of friends, regardless of the other decisions or actions they make.  Could also say that they could hide their self-interest ego from their fellow friend  The counterintuitive results argument  For an action to be permissible, it must follow with what the ethical egoist believes to be in his/her interest. However, the crux of this argument is that the extreme results of an action (someone wants to wipe out the Amazonian rainforest and has the power to do so) is not necessarily plausible. Meta-ethics  the study of abstract questions concerning the nature of moral justification Permissible action – right Impermissible action – wrong Supererogatory action – go above and beyond call of duty  Can be morally praised, but cannot be blamed for failure to do so Ethical relativism  is the view that moral codes and the practices associated with them arise from particular cultures and that there is no set of transcultural moral standards against which any particular code or practice can be assessed Ethical relativism is a challenge because moral theories are universal; they purport to apply to all people, whereas the relativist denies that any theory can do this. Two key points 1. Multiculturalism has made many people realize that there is something suspect about one group forcing its moral code on another. The e
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