PHIL 2400 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Egotism, Cultural Relativism, Relativism

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21 Sep 2016
Philosophy – Intro to Ethics
Psychological Egoism (PE)
A. Claims – ALL human behavior is motivated by self-interest
Theory of human nature
B. Relevance to ethics – If PE is true, then no one would care about right and wrong
C. Criticisms
1. Immediate reaction of sympathy
2. What about with habits? (Are you even thinking about self- interest?)
3. Sympathy: does it exist if PE is true?
4. One could say that PE is not appreciating how fast the human brain works
5. What about sociopaths? (Does PE mean we are ALL sociopaths?)
Possible candidates for correct moral standard
A. Consequentialism
1. Always produces the greatest amount of pleasure overall and/or least amount of pain.
(overall meaning outlook for everyone involved)
Good = pleasure
Bad = pain
Pleasure is the only thing with intrinsic value
2. Strengths of consequentialism:
Very democratic (no one
B. Potential obstacles to ethical discussion:
Relativism – claims there are no objective moral claims, and there are no moral facts.
Right and wrong is a matter of opinion.
Cultural relativism
Historical Relativism
Personal Relativism
1. Relevance to ethics – if relativism is true, then there would be nothing to figure out about
right and wrong.
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