Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy – the love of wisdom
From the Greek: philo = love
sophos = wisdom
Philosophy – the discipline which tries to improve our understanding of certain fundamental
intellectual problems that resist solution
Ethics asks: How should we live?
What is the standard or criterion of right action?
What do we mean when we say that something is morally ‘good’ or ‘right’?
Cultural institutions (state/church/social group) make claims about what is right or wrong, permissible or
Political Philosophy asks: What social and political institutions are best?
What type of community should we strive for?
What is a ‘good’ society, and what roles do justice, fairness, and equality play?
What is the relationship between human rights and government power?
How will we approach these questions?
Philosophy – the activityradically reflective theoretical thinking
Radical = questions allbeliefs; takes nothing for granted
Other disciplines ask questions within a frameworassumptions that are never questioned.
E.g. The historian doesn’t question whether the past is realassumes that the world has existed for a
long time, and that its events are discoverable.
The philosopherchallenges background assumptions.
Asks: Does the past reallexist?
What proof do we have? How do we know? Reflective = an openminded, dispassionate search for Truth
Emotions are an important part of human life, but they are not helpful in the search for truth.
Philosophy attempts to avoid all bias and form beliefs purely on the basis reason .
The point of doing philosophy isn’t tprove some prior belief. Rather, it is to discover the mrationally
Doing philosophy r