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PHIL 215
Rachel Mc Kinnon

Ethical Theory Part 1: Lecture 1 Key Concepts:  Terms ; impermissible , permissible, obligatory , supererogatory, prescriptive , descriptive , naturalistic fallacy  Theories : Egoism ( narrow and wide), Utilitarianism , Rawlsian , Distributive Justice Terms: Descriptive claims, are those that describe a situation and what people do, verses prescriptive claims which describe what we ought to do (prescribing a solution to a problem) , in general ethics is concerned with prescriptive claims, helping people decide what they ought to do , anthropologist simply tells us what people do ( they have no opinion as to what they think the people should be doing ) Naturalistic fallacy – thinking a descriptive claim is a prescriptive claim, just because something is a certain way that doesn’t mean it ought to be this way , turning an is into an ought Actions are permissible if they are ethically acceptable not necessarily obligatory but it is not forbidden, actions are impermissible if they are not ethically acceptable, and are forbidden, obligatory actions are actions that are required to be ethical, they must be performed and are stronger than permissible actions, supererogatory actions are ethical actions that go above and beyond what is required Ethical Theories: Egoism Egoism – if it’s in your best interest it’s the right thing to do (ethically correct) Psychological Egoism – people only do what’s in their best interest (descriptive),there is no such thing as altruism (an unselfish act done to others), because we only do unselfish acts because they make us feel good, giving to charity makes us feel good therefore it isn’t unselfish and we still have our best interests in mind Ethical Egoism – people should only do what’s in their best interest (prescriptive), clear example is Adam Smith ( economist) who believed that the only reason the market works is because people do things out of their best interest , as well as that people only cooperated if it was in their best interest , the fact that people only do what’s it’s in their own best interest is a descriptive claim but that doesn’t mean that we ought to continue this or turn it into a prescriptive claim ( naturalistic fallacy) for how businesses ought to treat each other Narrow self-interest Egoism – you only think about what will benefit you the most right now (short term) , you don’t think of how others might respond to your actions or the future effects of your decisions ( one shot prisoners dilemma, always confess) you do the best by confessing no matter what the other person does ( you don’t worry as to what the other person does and only think of the short term effects ) Wide self-interest Egoism – you consider the long term effects of your decisions and how they might affect the way people behave because of your actions (iterated prisoners dilemma, better to remain silent) if you think of the other person and how they might respond to your answer and what this would cause over time then its wide self interest Ethical Theories: Utilitarianism ( evaluate consequences) Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are the father of this theory , they cared about pleasure, only valuing things that created pleasure , value happiness because its good and not because of what it produces ( happiness = intrinsic good ) , they wanted to maximize happiness and reduce unhappiness , greatest good for the greatest number , Bentham thought all pleasures were equally good where as Mill believed that intellectual pleasures were better than others ( produced more happiness ) , they measured happiness in terms of utility ( utiles ), everyone is treated morally equal ( 5 utiles for you is the same 5 utiles for me ) this theory is a consequentially theory as it only focuses on the consequences of an action ( as long as you get some pleasure at the end it doesn’t matter how you get there, the ends justify the means ) ,intentions and motivations are irrelevant , in order to analyze a situation as being the right one for utilitarianism think of the consequences and the utility received from completing the action Decision Procedure: 1. Create a list of potential actions 2. Do a utility calculation , showing increases or decreases for each person involved according to decision made 3. From here chose the option that maximizes overall utility , if one option is chosen this option is obligatory ( as it is ethically required ) if there are more than one option that maximizes each of these are permissible as they ethically accepted but not required the one from the set of permissible then becomes obligatory Ethical Theories: Distributive Justice - Distributive justice , describes how wealth or resources should be distributed within a society , there are various way to distribute the wealth : egalitarianism holds the view that these resources should distributed equally amongst the society ( any inequality is bad ) difficult to fulfill because the levels of things that people need vary ( expensive taste, what makes you happy varies) , luck egalitarianism holds the view that inequalities are okay as long as they aren’t a byproduct of one person have more luck than another , in a sense saying that everyone should have equal opportunities of getting what they want, satisfacting is a theory were we make sure everyone has enough to survive ( food , shelter , water) ie the society is responsible for provided enough , any inequality beyond that is okay Ethical Theories : Rawlsian ( Justice Theory) ( evaluates procedure) - Believes that if a process is fair anything that comes out of it is fair and just , even if it’s an inequality - In order to ensure a process is fair we need to ; be in the original position ( what would a rational person chose if they didn’t know who they would be in a society or better off or worse off ) - In the original position , there is no cooperation within the society , everyone is self interested and they aim to maximize their personal utility ,we have no knowledge of race, marital status , skills, intelligence ( veil of ignorance ) - We must think of the action , as a policy ( since we care about fair procedures) , then we ask ourselves if a rational person in the original position under the veil of ignorance would accept this policy if so then we must see if the policy passes the liberty principle and the difference principle - Liberty principle – is the policy consistent with the basic liberties that people need to have (Freedom of speech, personal property, freedom from arbitrary arrest ) and would it be consistent if everyone had this liberty - Difference Principle – if the policy creates an inequality , this must be the greatest benefit to the least well off in the society Decision Procedure 1. Create a list of potential actions 2. Turn these actions into policies 3. Determine whether the policy would be accepted by a ration person in the original position and under the veil of ignorance , if yes move on, if no unethical 4. Does the policy pass the liberty principle and the difference principle , if yes move on 5. Chose option that is most consistent with the principles , if only one its obligatory if more than one they are permissible Readings The What and Why of Business Ethics -Fritz Allhof and Anand Vaidya - Business is the sum total of all relationships dealing with the trading of goods or services for profit ( arena where rewards are ideally distributed on the basis of merit) - Ethics explains or prescribes how humans should live , legally does not mean it is ethically or morally permissible - Metaethics , deals with morality and the fundamentals questions and concepts - Applied ethics is applying normative ethics to a situation - Normative ethics is determining what’s right and what’s wrong - Business Ethics is the area which we try to answer ethical questions by using normative theory , these issues arise from the relationship of those trading for profit , issues can be external (btob)or internal (employees and employer) , we study business ethics in order to help us deal with and analyze issues we might face Ill founded criticisms of Business Ethics- Anand Jayprakash Vaidya - Business ethics seems like an oxymoron because the concept which they are rooted from are completely opposite - Ethics is a concern for the other even if it’s at a cost to yourself - Business is a concern for yourself at the cost of others - People believe that business ethics is useless because you can’t change the moral view of a person after a certain age; this is not true because a person’s moral character is not static is it revisable , it is difficult to sway this character after a certain time but not impossible, if this were true we would then hire based on morals - Other people complain that there are more than one school of ethics and that they don’t agree on what is wrong or right which would leave us confused ,therefore rendering ethics indeterminate / valueless , this is not true because the fact that they can’t agree means that there is value to fight for - Business ethics is besides the point because people know the way they should act we just have to get them to do it , not true because technology is always evolving so new problems will arise - Some people believe business and ethics don’t fit because we sell out of self interest not ethical codes, but these ethical codes are what allow business to flourish Do Business Ethics make Economic Sense -Amartya Sen - Businesses operate on the basis of common behavior patterns , mutual confidence in the ethics of different parties - Just cause we have self interest as our motivation this is not what causes business to flourish but mutual confidence , we trust that the other person will deliver on their promises - Japan is an example of a capitalist country that does not rely on a motivation structure of self interest instead on the rules and ethics of their society - Public good is something everyone can use , these types of goods serve as an example of when self interest motivations don’t work , in order to allocate these public goods we must compare the combined benefits with the cost of production - Business ethics makes economic sense because companies being ethical leads to the improvement of public good , as well as good business behavior leads to happy workers which leads to higher productivity and more money Ethical Theory Part 2: Lecture 2 Key Concepts: Virtue ethics ( define virtue) , Deontology Ethical Theories: Virtue Ethics ( evaluates agent) - Aristotle is the father of this theory , wrote that people are rational being and have a telos or goal in life, this telos or goal is achieving eudaimonia ( flourishing and well-being, stable happiness rather than pleasure) get to this state after having fulfilled or accomplished what you want from life ( similar to self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) , you need to get to this state of eudomania by being a good person, concerned with the characteristics of a good agent in that situation , changes the view from evaluating the action to evaluating the agent , the right thing to do is being the best agent in the situation - Virtues are the excellences that allow to be the best agent we can be , virtues are ( bravery , honesty ) , to Aristotle virtues are the perfect middle ground of being too much of something and not enough of something else ( coward and rash – virtue = courage) , we also need to take into account what the characteristic function of the agent is ( what are they expected to fulfill, a business sells safe , high quality products for profit) Decision Procedure: 1. Create a list of potential actions 2. Determine the characteristic function of the agent 3. Determine what virtues the agent has ( the excellences that makes them a good agent ) 4. Determine what a good agent would do in that situation 5. Chose the option that is most consistent with what a good agent would do Ted Talks Barry Schwartz talks about how our society has become overridden with rules, causing us to lose moral skills, therefore losing wisdom since we don’t apply moral skills and moral rights. His example was the father who bought his child a beer mistakenly and the boy was then taken into foster care for a while due to that being the required procedure, this lead to greater harm than good (lowering overall utility for all of those involved) Shows us the importance and difference between rule and act utilitarianism , rule utilitarianism – we ask ourselves if the general rule will maximize overall utility, act utilitarianism – we ask ourselves if the action lead to the overall maximization of utility , in the case of the father and boy , rule utilitarianism worked against them , as not following the rule would of resulted in higher utility, but overall having a rule will always lead to higher utility in general cases since people can’t make decisions  Practical wisdom , combo of moral skills and moral right , knowing when to ignore the rules if it applies, knowing when to improvise , depends on experience , you don’t need to be brilliant to be wise , without wisdom it is not enough to be bright , rules create a downward spiral in the long term , causing our morals to decline , too many rules not enough improvisation , incentives compete with each other  Celebrate moral exemplars ,any moral work depends on moral experience , you must embody morals to teach it Ethical Theories: Deontology ( evaluates intentions) Kant, the study of duty, intrinsically good is done for its own sake not good because of its effect, something that is instrumentally good because it is good because of its effects/consequences, for kant the only intrinsic good was “good will” , this is also the only thing he believed we could control ( things are good because of our intentions ) non-consequential theory , only intentions matter he doesn’t think of consequences , he only cares about our intentions because this is the only thing we can control , we can’t control the outcome so if we have good intention no matter what happens after we did the right thing , you do something because it’s your duty , Kant’s theory is categorical imperative , something must be good no matter what the situation is , so Kant aims to provide categorical imperatives ( universal non contingent rules that apply to everyone no matter the situation , once followed you are being ethical) the action must pass the universal law and formula of humanity (mere means test) Universal Law – the act will become a universal law, when someone else is faced with a similar decision they will act in the same way (precedent) in turn does this application universally undermine the goal of the action ( lying as a universal principle doesn’t work because the goal of lying is to get people to believe you , if everyone lies then people will never believe you therefore undermining your goal) Formula of Humanity – you must respect people as a moral agent, and respect their autonomy (respect that they can make their own choices), don’t treat people as a mere means Decision Procedure: 1. Create a list of potential actions 2. Formulate a general rule for each action 3. Determine whether the rule passes the Universal Law , if yes move on 4. Determine whether it passes Formula of Humanity , if yes move on 5. Determine if the motivations of the action are good ( done because of duty, are they doing their duty for duty’s sake, intrinsic) On Bullshit, Assertions, and Advertising: Lecture 3 Key Concepts: distinguish between Frankfurt’s and Black’s definition of bullshit, distinguish between lying and bullshit, distinguish between speech acts; questioning, assertion , commanding , describe Moore’s paradox and Moore’s view of assertion as a kind of representation , define manipulative advertising , distinguish between coercion , manipulation and rational persuasion , define Levitt’s conjecture Speech Acts  Speech Acts – questions , commanding , promises , expletives,  Assertions- claims , lies , bullshit o Assertion – Is when we say something and claim that something is true, proposition (part of a sentence that can be true or false) o When we assert we are doing more than just speaking were taking on a commitment to defending what we are saying , we are using them to give influence to the hearer they can then act on them or reassert them (tell someone else) o Assertions can go wrong because they are ;false , lack good reasons , rude or imprudent o Some people believe you have to know what you are saying in order to assert something in order to know something you must ; believe it , it must be true and you must have good reasons for saying it , if you don’t know what you assert you are not making a good assertion  Lies fail all three knowledge requirements of an assertion therefore making them a bad assertion , the speaker think they are false ,the speaker doesn’t believe them and they don’t have good reasons for it being true , lies are when we think things are false but assert them anyways  normally we represent ourselves as believing what we assert , we also represent ourselves as knowing what we assert , Moore’s paradox is when we assert something that appears as a contradiction but it isn’t 'It's raining but I don't believe that it is raininthe first proposition makes it seem like we believe and know it’s raining where as the second seems to contradict this  Frankfurt believes that lies don’t have to be false , Frankfurt believes that bullshit doesn’t have to be false  Lies misrepresents the way the world is (state of affairs), bullshit misrepresent what the speaker is trying to do with their speech act/ doing, bullshit can be true or false because the speaker doesn’t care about what they are saying, the liar and honest person care about what the world is like but a bullshiter is not sensitive to what’s true or false, is bullshit insincere? Are they assertions we don’t believe? , bullshit isn’t sensitive to what the person believes , essentially bullshit is a fake assertion , neither sincere on insincere , being sincere is believing in what you are saying  If you bullshit you lose track of the world and the truth , enemy to the enterprise of telling the truth , you lose the skill of telling the truth  Black defines bullshit as a deceptive misrepresentation , short of lying , in word or deed, of someone’s feelings or attitudes  Frankfurt defines bullshit as the speaker having no sensitivity towards the truth , they don’t care or try to say the true thing , indifference to the state of how things actually are Advertising - Goal of advertising is to influence consumer behavior / purchasing decisions - This influence is accomplished through : rational persuasion , manipulation , coercion , deception - Rational persuasion : using rational arguments to convince the customer to rationally decide to buy something they otherwise wouldn’t have ( least manipulative) - Associative advertising : influencing customers to draw inferences or linkages between buying a product and the effect it will bring to their lifestyle ( selling the image that comes with the product) , most associative advertising is far from rational persuasion because these linkages( axe and getting girls) are highly unlikely therefore not rational - Coercion : the ad forces the customer to make a decision they otherwise wouldn’t have through non-rational persuasion - Manipulation : the ad makes it more likely that the customers will buy the product than if they use non-rational persuasion ( using other factors rather than the product attributes to make the sale ) - Deceptive advertising : false or misleading representations or omissions that make the customer make erroneous decisions towards the nature of the product - Manipulative and deceptive will be seen hand in hand - Levitt’s conjecture : states that we need art , architecture and literature in order to embellish our otherwise drab lives , ie we need illusions to help us keep living and survive a life that would otherwise be drab - Michael Phillips uses Levitt’s conjecture to justify manipulative advertising by saying that people demand advertising as a way to not make life drab and that we want to be lied to ,leading to manipulative advertising leads to a net gain in utility verses using non manipulative advertising - The dependence effect : we rely on advertising to manufacture our desires or our wants , however these wants are not important to being happy they actually lead to disutility ( you think they will make you happier than they actually do leading to loss / disappointment in expectations ) - Manipulative advertising creates , advertising induced desires which don’t lead to higher utility but lower utility , because it is not a stable state of happiness ( eudiomonia) and since its work to worry about making sure you have the newest item in the market , if we stop manipulative advertising people would then fulfill their real desires, increasing happiness leading to greater utility - Phillips argues that people don’t buy products because of their functionality but their image , if businesses didn’t keep up their image they would go out of business ( counter example ;dyson, functionality) , he also goes on to say that it is easy for people to note when they are being manipulated - Manipulative advertising undermines a consumers autonomy Profit and Corporate Social Responsibility: Lecture 4 Key Concepts: Economic Efficiency Argument, Milton Friedman, Objections to EEA, Shareholder Approach ;Social responsibility of CEO, Stakeholder approach , externalities Profit is an instrumental good, we value it because of the things we can do with it , economic profit takes into account opportunity cost where as accounting profit doesn’t it is simply ( revenue-expenses) Milton Friedman , believer that free market capitalism is the best and most efficient way to benefit people , freidman argues that business people’s goal is only to increase profit ,Milton believes employees have a responsibility to employers to conduct business as they desire , increasing profits while still maintaining social and ethical customs , argues that the executives of corporations are best at creating profits not making decisions about social policy therefore it’s not their responsibility , believes that only people can have responsibilities and not companies however corporations are defined as separate legal entities ,claims that free market is what maximizes overall utility Jacobsen goes on to explain that the Economic Efficiency Argument states that a free competitive market (where people are action out of self interest) is the most efficient way to distribute resources, alleviating scarcity therefore maintain high quality of life and, participants of a free market can act to increase quality of life by being responsible for increasing profits, argument falls apart because externalities do not maximize overall utility, an externality is when a third party who hasn’t consented to a transactions bears a cost of the transaction Freeman believes that the stakeholder approach is what corporations should consider, considering all those that would be affected by a company’s decision when making decisions (all those you have a fiduciary. ethical and trust based relationship with) , management , suppliers , employees ,customers , local community, shareholders , are all affected by the decisions of the firm therefore should be thought of when pursuing a decision EEA is not true because it does not maximize overall utility or overall standard of living due to externalities as well as we might not care as to the total utility but how it is distributed ( distributive justice , Rawls ;difference principle ) Case Study method 1. Identify the ethical issue 2. Identify two plausible courses of action 3. Identify and define ethical theories 4. Analyze course of actions using the theories 5. Weigh considerations and come to a single recommendations 6. Justify your recommendation Readings The Social Responsibility of Business is to increase its profits – Mitlon Friedman - Milton argues that only people can have responsibilities and not companies , the people who are then responsible for the actions of corporations are the corporate executives who have a direct responsibility to the owners of the business namely the shareholders, this responsibility includes managing the business in accordance to their desires which are usually to increase profits as much as possible while staying within ethical and legal customs - Milton also argues that it is not the corporate executives job to act favorably towards the environm
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