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Lecture 2

PHIL 2075 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Divine Command Theory, Cultural Relativism, Deontological Ethics

Course Code
PHIL 2075
Kristin Andrews

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class 1 - 7 ethics toolkit lecture 2 theory
Good = god approves
o The divine command theory:
o Actions are right because god commands them
God could have chosen anything, he commanded them
No other standard for good except God’s choice, God doesn’t have basis to choose love over hate, no
independent reason to choose one over the other
If there were an independent reason, good would equal something else
Wouldn’t just be god approves, ethics is arbitrary because God commands them
o God command actions because they are the right things to do
God’s commandment doesn’t create goodness
Other standard of goodness that exist in the world
What the good is? What that standard is that God relies on to command us
Doesn’t explain why they are good, God would just command things that are already good
But WHY are these things good?
The divine command theory serves as a signpost of good, points towards what’s good
Would have to reject this definition of the good that which God commands or approves us to do
Good = my culture approves
o Cultural relativism an act is goo if majority of ppl in culture believe that act is good
o The good varies from culture to culture & relative to a culture
o In many ways we feel we’re better than we were then, morally improved
o Open to culture diversity, lots of improvement in society but according to cultural relativism there is no moral
improvement, we are morally no better than we were then
o You need to take a vote, what majority feels, that’s the right thing to do
o Ethics should be universal, it’s wrong in one culture, should be wrong in all
o It’s not our opinion, it’s wrong across cultures, good arguments against certain things
o Cultures can improve by changing their views about things
o Cultural differences based on deeper foundation of similarity, views respecting ancestors, just disagree about
implementations, how to treat your ancestors something agreed upon
A view rejected as possible definition of good
Good = treating all agents as intrinsically valuable, as important for who they are and not what they can do for you
o Ethical theory based on deontology = ethical theory based on following rules
Rational agent = adult human act freely for reasons
Treat someone as ends in themselves treating as important for themselves, treating that person as
a goal in and of themselves, an end is an goal, we are all our own goals b/c we form goals
Set goals for ourselves & work towards them freely, we can b/c we have autonomy
If we treat other people some people as a means to an end violating Kant’s categorical imperative,
use people as stepping stones to get to a goal
Kantianism (Good) treat yourself & others as intrinsically valuable, as important for themselves
It’s not immoral to treat someone as means as long as there is an end
Any conclusion that makes a wrong/right or good/bad claim = ethical argument
Good = acting to maximize happiness for all, what is good is consequences of action, analyze to see if made people
overall, we’ve done a good thing
o Consequential theory your consequences of your right action will maximize happiness & minimize suffering
good action is going to create most happiness in world, doesn’t mean greatest number of ppl are happy
o Doesn’t mean actor themselves will be happy, might do right thing but be sad about it
o Makes greatest amount of happiness for greatest amount of people
o 10 mildly happy, 1 person very happy, choose the 1 person according to Mill
John Stuart Mill happiness is the only thing valuable in itself
o Utilitarianism (Good) no rules, look case by case, which action will maximize happiness
o Act so as to maximize happiness in the world